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Beer of the Month: Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager

August 11, 2011|By Charles Perry | Special to the Los Angeles Times

In the Middle Ages, brewers sometimes stoked their brew kettles by throwing in rocks that had been heated red-hot. They were on to something, as Port shows in this intriguing dark lager, a collaboration with Bend Brewing in Bend, Ore.

What do the hot rocks do? They caramelize and even scorch some of the malt, giving a new layer of browned flavor — not just the caramel, chocolate or molasses notes (there is a tiny amount of the last, a huge amount of the first) but also a little of that burnt sugar taste we learned to love the first time we toasted a marshmallow.

This is a super-malty beer, pouring brown with a little glint of red under a really colossal head. Hops very much play second fiddle — the finish is long and sweet, with hops merely nipping sarcastically at your tongue once in a while.

Obvious food pairings are barbecued pork with a Kansas City-style sauce, Korean barbecue (galbi) and flan (crème caramel).

Quick sip

Style: A big, forgiving mouthful that says life is sweet, even with its regrets.

Price: $4 per 22-ounce bottle

Where to find it: Wally's Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606,; Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463,; Wade's Wines in Westlake Village, (818) 597-9463,; Beverages and More stores,; and Total Wine stores,

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