must be 21

Let's Get Scientific

March 15, 2015
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When Surf Brewery’s Oil Piers Porter ages in French oak barrels that previously housed merlot, something scientific happens: Specifically, it becomes A-01 Robust Porter in the Ventura brewery’s Scientific Series, a recently launched line of barrel-aged and bottle-conditioned beers.

The limited-release porter—only 2,712 bottles were produced—is a coffee-colored blend of porter aged nearly three years in French oak merlot barrels and un-aged Oil Piers. Bottled mid-December 2014 and released in February, a secondary fermentation is happening inside the bottle. Hence the cork top and wire cage.

As you’d expect, the resulting porter is complex with a roasty, coffee and chocolatey essence that opens up when consumed in a snifter or Belgian beer glass. Tasters note a tart finish, which may be attributed to the barrels’ residual tannins and the wild yeast Brettanomyces, explains Doug Mason, mastermind behind the Scientific Series.

To coax the most from the flavors, drink it at the optimal temperature of 50 to 55°, suggests Mason, Surf Brewery’s co-founder and self-professed beer geek.

Checking in at 6% alcohol, the midrange for most beer, the aged porter is food friendly. But you’ll need to pair it with heartier foods that can stand up to its strong, dry flavor. Mason suggests lamb and roasted or barbecued meats. Chili might be a good pairing as well.

Mason swirled the porter in his snifter, watching it move around the glass, as he contemplated the question asked of all the Must Be 21ers: If this beverage was a person or animal, what would it be? It took a moment. “It has to be something woodsy,” he says, adding “an earthy, foresty beast that’s bold. It’s a bold beer.” A black bear, it is, he decides. Yes, a black bear, indeed.

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