The first Peanutgator Porter was brewed back in 2005, when I had the opportunity to create something with a homebrewer who was a parent at my kids’ school (hi, Warren!). At the time I had no idea what I was doing—but I knew I wanted a dark beer heavy on the hops; and I had my rudimentary equipment from the 90s—a 5-gallon enamel camping pot and a plastic bucket. I’m not sure what combination of extract, grain, and hops Warren got me ultimately, and I can’t really remember the brew day that well. When I’m not grounded in the theory of what I’m doing, the actual doing of it can be a bit of a fog afterwards.
The beer itself was a bit sweet and thick—the hops could have been stronger. When it came time to revive the Peanutgator for the new setup, I was more intentional. An all-grain bill with a little bit of rye to add some bite. Dry-hopping was a must, but I wanted to do something different. Bramling Cross gives it a profile that’s more berry than it is citrus and provides some surprise. Definitely overcarbonated—I hadn’t dialed in my bottle conditioning yet so I just used the overgenerous corn sugar packet the brewshop gave me. Notes for the next brew.
Peanutgator Porter was also our first tribute beer. When my daughter Allison was born, I called her my Peanut. My mother separately started calling her Alliegator. These got mixed up and hence, “Peanutgator”. Peanutgators are vicious little creatures that do nothing but CHOMP their enormous jaws: flap around their tiny, almost useless forearms; and express affection by bonking their shells against one another.
For the original 2005 Peanutgator Porter I put together a sketch of an actual peanutgator (I found this sketch recently in my files and post it here for posterity) and refined it digitally with my primitive Photoshop skills. This label is therefore unique in our collection as sporting my own artwork—I think it has a charming Beavis & Butthead feel to it.
Captain Beefheart occupies a space somewhere between Howlin’ Wolf, Allen Ginsberg, and Ornette Coleman—he’s deeply rooted in the blues but is projecting his astral body deep into outer space. 1970’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby is high Beefheart, a purer grade than even the infamous Trout Mask Replica. The free-associative maelstrom the Captain experiences in this song contains not merely a wide variety of liquor products, but just about the whole damn universe.
I’m a sucker for sweet beers so Peanutgator Porter was an absolute treat for me. It tasted like a dark chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cup (coincidentally my favorite candy as well) and it went down like a dream. The peanut flavor was quite rich – so PB haters beware. By the end of this bottle I felt like I had just had the best dessert I’ve had in years. If I had drank another I may have been put in a self induced sugar coma.