Perfection is difficult to achieve, perhaps impossible.
In English, the term is still used quite often. A perfect game denotes a baseball game in which a pitcher allows no hits, no runs, and no errors to accrue over the course of nine innings. It’s used as a response to phrases like, “I’ll be outside your house at eight o’clock.” Perfect. It’s used to describe an advantageous situation, like an open highway at rush hour or a seat mate on a flight not showing up. It’s also a visceral thing, like Ken Griffey Jr.’s swing or the Sistine Chapel.
It’s a word designed to mean there is nothing upon which to improve.
There are more than 6,000 breweries in the United States. There are many more across the entire globe, which makes it impossible to drink all of the world’s beer. We’re lucky if we try a fraction of a percent of it all. But in the beers we do drink, we find a lot that we like, a few we hate, some we love. It’s extraordinarily hard to craft a product upon which no improvements can be made. While so much of enjoying beer is about the experience – who we’re with, where, in what circumstance – the other element, the beer, also has to be well-crafted.
Is there such thing as an objectively perfect beer? Are there metrics by which to determine this? Is it possible, in a product that produces so much variation from batch to batch, to create something where it is consistently great? Or, with a constant tweaking of water temperature or hopping schedules or whatever the variation, is it impossible to achieve?
It’s a beer that’s multi-layered without overwhelming with booze.”
That asked, Hill Farmstead’s Everett is a flawless beer. I’m sure Shaun Hill, its creator, is constantly tweaking and obsessing over this offering, making those minor changes that further separate Everett from the pack of its peers, but it's still perfect every time.
Hill Farmstead is challenging to get to, especially in the winter and muddy months, and yet somehow I manage to secure a couple bottles or pours of Everett each year. Maybe there’s something about the sanctity of those few pours a year. They tend to be an occasion to themselves.
Named after Hill’s grandfather’s brother, Everett is a porter “crafted from American malted barley, English and German roasted malts, American hops, our ale yeast, and water from our well,” according to the Hill Farmstead website. It pours dark, dark brown, bordering on black with a sandy head. There are big chocolate and roasted coffee notes in the nose.
In the body, there are just waves of flavors: From a biscuit, cracker-ish bite of the toasted malts to bitter chocolate and coffee to the nuanced sweetness of the finish. It’s a beer that’s multi-layered without overwhelming with booze (which is problematic in some porters). As the beer comes to room temperature, it’s just getting better, with each individual wave of flavor presenting itself a little clearer, but also in a subtly different way.
At just 7.5%, this beer is proof that a porter doesn’t have to be laced with buckets of adjuncts and a double-digit ABV to be complex and decadent, worthy of our time, and consideration and, yes, perfect.