On May 17, I had 5 other people (2 women and 3 men) join me in tasting 11 different porters. Here are the results.
Beer has four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. All can contribute to the flavor with the most obvious flavor characteristics coming from the malt (usually malted barley) and the hops. Malt is generally associated with the sweet and hops with bitter.Style:
For the most part, porters are properly ales, although there are a few which may still be bottom-fermented (causing them to fall into the lager category). Originally brewed only from brown malt, porters are darker in color although should still be translucent with a hint of ruby red undertones. These are a maltier beer and so will have some more of the esters available to taste.Tasting:
I do a blind tasting so that I am the only one with any knowledge of which beer is served at which point. I ask my guests to answer into 5 categories for each beer. The categories are:
Appearance - how does it look?
Aroma - what do you smell? Esters? Hops? Malt? Anything?
Flavor - what do you taste? How does it taste?
Mouthfeel - any holes? Anything that really stands out? Thick? Thin?
Overall Judgment - here we use a scale of 1 - 5
1 - spit it back into the glass there is no way I'm drinking that.
2 - I'll try it but not finish it.
3 - I'd drink it if it were given to me.
4 - I'd pay for it.
5 - I'd go out of my way to find it again.
1. Black Hook (by RedHook) -
very pretty color, anemic nose, light hoppy flavor, the best description for this one was, "Did someone slip some food coloring into an IPA?"
Average: 3.42. Rogue Mocha Porter -
full mouthfeel, more opaque but rich color, bready aroma,
Average: 3.73. Sierra Nevada -
Ruby tones, roasted malt, silky mouthfeel,
Average: 3.94. Arcadia Shipwreck Porter -
more of a malt extract aroma - smelled syrup-y, beautiful warm color, very sour aftertaste,
Average: 45. Anchor -
the most ester-y of them all, to me it tasted like banana candy, the rest of the group enjoyed it more, though.
Average: 3.76. Bells -
smooth, caramel-y, malty
Average: 37. Nightmare (out of Stafford) -
roasted, yeast-y, water-y, nothing spectacular
Average: 2.38. Summit -
the two big fans actually did pick this one out.
Balanced, clean finish, well received in the mouth,
Average: 49. Flying Dog -
appearance of a finely finished piece of cherry, malt aroma, smooth mouth feel,
Average: 3.810. Boulevard -
creamy, crispy, bitter, weak
Average: 1.811. Avery -
smooth, creamy, very very malty
My favorite's were the BlackHook and the Flying Dog, which were the least like a porter. I honestly tried each one. I really did. But I just don't like them.