If you’ve ever paddled the Nantahala River, deep in Western North Carolina, you’re familiar with Patton’s Run. It’s the first rapid you come to after putting in downstream of the power plant. The Nantahala is a relatively mild river, and it’s usually the first whitewater people get to experience in the South. But there are two places where you’re likely to swim on the run—the class III Nantahala Falls at the end of the run, and the class II+ Patton’s Run, which hits you fast and early, catching a lot of boaters off guard before they get their bearings.
Patton’s Run, the beer from Nantahala Brewing, caught me off guard too. It’s a seasonal porter released late in the fall each year, but I had it for the first time this week. Nantahala Brewing is one of those breweries that tends to fly under the radar. They have a solid core lineup of mostly easy-drinking ales, but with so many choices on the market these days, it’s easy to overlook a mellow amber or blonde ale. But Patton’s Run is a porter that demands your attention, especially right now as the temperature drops and you’re looking for a beer with a little more body. Something that goes well with sugar cookies and turkey and turkey stuffed with sugar cookies.
The thing about porters, is that it’s easy for things to go terribly wrong. A porter needs balance, it needs character, it needs to be malty but not too sweet, it needs a robust body but should be soft around the edges. I pretty much stopped drinking them a few years ago because I was disappointed by what I found. But Nantahala Brewing gets everything right with Patton’s Run, which finds balance between its creamy mouthfeel and roasted character. It has body, but it’s not too viscous. There’s enough flavor (mostly chocolate and a roasted coffee bean character) to keep it interesting, but it’s also easy to drink. It’s fun, but not too challenging. Patton’s Run is shoulder season beer, and now that there’s a crisp nip in the air, I could use a beer like this. And another. And another.