Either I’m frequently wrong about what I do and don’t like — or I like beer enough that it can turn me around on things that otherwise gross me out. Just to cite two very-recent examples: Yeastie Boys ‘Hud-a-wa” tasted of marmalade, and Emerson’s ‘Taieri George’ is like liquid Hot Cross Buns. Hell, nevermind individual beers: I don’t really even like citrus fruit at all but am frequently delighted by American-esque pale ales.
And then there’s coconut. Barring this — and its part in making the soupy half of a good laksa, and as the sprinkling on the outside of a lamington; two uses in which you can’t really taste it, anyway — I’ve got very little time for coconut. This, though? This is delicious. I’ve had it before, on my Birthday last year, as part of a suite of bloody-marvellous beers which I used to close off the original Diary.1 So I already knew it, and knew it would make a fantastic follower to the stonkingly-beautiful 8 Wired ‘iStout’ Ice Cream Float I’d just had.
I wanted to have it out of some weird sense of solidarity, too, given that a Certain Beer Writer2 had recently been maligning and ridiculing the mere idea of canned beer. That just struck me as needless, outdated, and wrong. As a blurb on these very cans will tell you, Aluminum3 is way better than glass for the storing of beer. It’s lighter, cheaper, more recyclable and utterly opaque — forget the vexed question of what colour glass blocks what types of light best: this isn’t a variously-tinted window, it’s a wall. There’s a stereotypical correlation between cheap-and-crappy beer and cans, sure, but it’s hardly any stronger than the statistical link between beer at all and bad beer. Good beer is still the minority, whatever its packaged in — and to the extent that slightly-more-than-average dodgy beers might be canned than bottled that’s not somehow the can’s fault. And it’s difficult to square anti-can sentiment in people who’ll also say that beer is usually better on tap than from a bottle — kegs are just fucking-great-big cans, made from a different metal, but with all the same advantages for all the same reasons.
Back to the beer. Especially if you followed the footnotes, it’s been a while since I mentioned it, so I’ll reiterate: it’s delicious. Previously-basically-useless coconut finally finds its destiny in providing a gorgeously complementary toasty dryness to the relaxedly rich and chocolatey porter. It’s a softer version of the effect you get with the stronger ‘roastiness’ you might find in a nice stout — which is arguably (though probably not) part the dividing line between porter and stout. You won’t get me near a Bounty Bar, though, so there’s got to be a fair amount texture-aversion going on behind my mostly-anti-coconut stance.
I was never quite sure about a few aspects of the labelling of the can, though. 1) That’s a weirdly-hideous drawing on the front, there. 2) The tagline “Like hot chicks on the beach” hardly seems to make any sense, nevermind the potential gendery sexisty minefield. And 3) “Certified made on Maui”? By who? And how, and why? Was there actually a dispute about this, at some point? I draw attention to these things mostly to point out the sorts of things which pop up in my mind but are quickly forgiven in the presence of a sufficiently-awesome beer. Slagging off Aluminum, or calling it “Aluminium”, though? That I won’t abide.
Verbatim: Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter 15/4/11 $10 @ NWT, because cans were recently needlessly maligned, and because it’s lovely. 355ml We bodged it up with Tuatara Porter on the Hopinator, but this is the real deal, and it shows. Light, fresh, delicious. Toasty cocoa / coconut, without any stodge.
1: The latter half of Diary I is still stuck in a Not Uploaded Yet limbo, for which I keep apologising. I really will get around to it, some day. Partially because I’m as much as completeist as I am a procrastinator (imagine the headaches that internal tension causes…), but mostly because there are just some bloody-marvellous beers in there, to which I’m always annoyed I’m unable to refer.
2: Neil Miller. I’m not actually shy about naming names; I just know that him and I are approximately-equally fond of footnotes. [Later edit: on noticing this and a later reference, a More Nuanced Neil appeared than the one who provoked my disbelieving, can-defending near-outrage.]
3: Oh yes: Aluminum. One i. Does not rhyme with Sodium. This isn’t negotiable, and isn’t just one of my peculiar pieces of Occasional North American Idiom.a Humphry Davy — the chemist who properly isolated it identified its existence (and who hired one of my personal heroes, Michael Faraday) — initially called it alumium (since he got it from it occurs in a compound simply called alum), but soon changed his mind (for reasons unknown) to Aluminum. The change to “-ium” stems from an anonymous review in a non-scientific journal, and comes for the inexcusably-daft reason of objecting to the “less classical sound” of Davy’s chosen name. Seriously? Piss off. Some anonymous literary critic doesn’t trump Humphry Motherfucking Davy (come back when you invent and discover a tenth of what he did, whoever you are); you don’t get to overrule the name given to a thing by its discoverer;b and half the goddamn Periodic Table doesn’t have a “classical sound” — who cares? So no. No second i. It’s Aluminum.
— a: Which I certainly do exhibit, and which are mysterious (along with my mangled, Mongrelish accent) because I haven’t been on that continent for more than a few weeks of my entire life; perhaps I just watched too much TV, as a kid.
— a: Er, except in rare cases like when William Herschel (otherwise a seemingly cool guy, and doubtlessly great scientist) discovered Uranus and wanted to call it George’s Star or the Georgian Planet, after the king who just happened to’ve recently given him a stack of cash. But then, I’m still unsure “Uranus” is much better.
3 thoughts on “Maui Coconut Porter”
Phil, I’d just like to say I’ve already used this blog and its glorious footnote 3 to settle two debates about aluminum vs aluminium which have come up. Strangely coincidentally. Anyway, thanks 🙂
Turns out Davy didn’t isolate Aluminum/Aluminium. At least according to the well regarded science magazine Wikipedia: “Wöhler is generally credited with isolating aluminium (Latin alumen, alum), but also Ørsted can be listed as its discoverer.”
The Quarterly Review criticism of the name appears to have happened a good decade before the metal was properly isolated in 1825.
Er, oops. Right you are. Davy didn’t actually extract it properly. I think him figuring out the still-bound-up nature of it, and naming it — and the absolute daftness of the “unclassical!” objection still makes Aluminum the right choice, though. As the Wikipedia goes on to observe, it’s perfectly compatible with Lanthanum, given the names of their oxides — and there are other -ums on the Table, like Tantalum, Molybdenum and Platinum if people are worried about limited rhyming partners.