Friday, April 15, 2011

Burly Porters — Mactarnahan's vs. Flying Dog Brewery

Ink Blot Baltic Porter
ABV 7.5%

Dark brown with a touch of red.
Sweet and malty with some berry fruit and coffee.
Sweet and smoky with some coffee notes.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Acidic with mild, lingering coffee.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

Flying Dog
Gonzo Imperial Porter

ABV 9.2%

Dark as a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night.
Aroma: Sharp, spicy hops.
Flavor: Berry fruits, then some coffee maltiness and finally some big piny hops.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Malty coffee flavors at first, then burnt coffee ground bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good

Blow by Blow
Tonight we battled Porters, but these weren't your average porters. These were porters on steroids. The Ink Blot from Mactarnahan's called itself a Baltic Porter which is basically a regular porter with more alcohol. The Gonzo from Flying Dog called itself an Imperial Porter which is also a regular porter with more alcohol. Two different names, same basic style.

The Gonzo really caught us by surprise. We were expecting a boozy, malt bomb, but we were confronted with a hop monster instead. As a matter of fact, if we didn't know what style of beer it was we'd have guessed it was either a double IPA or a CDA (or Black IPA). It had some coffee notes, but they were mostly dominated by an intense hoppiness throughout.

The Ink Blot was a totally different story. It focused much more on sweet and malty flavors and had just a trace of hops to keep it from being too sweet. It also had nice coffee and smoke flavors that proved to go quite well with our chicken molé enchiladas.

Befitting of the name (and the person it was named after, Mr. Hunter S. Thompson), the Gonzo was a big, bold and intense beer. In the end though, it was just too amped up for me so I scored the fight in favor of the more subdued Ink Blot. Ellen, however, was drawn to the brash and unapologetic Gonzo and ended up choosing it because it was a richer, fuller beer.

Both are worth your dollar, but be mindful that they are totally different beers, one appealing to the hopheads and one to those who prefer a sweeter and maltier beer.

Split decision: Ellen chose the Gonzo, I chose the Ink Blot.

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