What’s the Difference Between a Porter and a Black IPA? Sam Adams Dark Depths Baltic IPA vs. Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter

May 9, 2012

Not much, as far as I can tell. I tried a porter and a black IPA side by side, and while the black IPA was a bit hoppier, it was only just a touch so, certainly not so much that I would necessarily be able to tell them apart in a blind taste test. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive study, but I have now tried enough to think that black IPAs are just a marketing tag and not much more. That does not mean they are not good beers. Some of them are excellent. I just don’t know that they deserve their own classification. I also recognize that no one else cares about this distinction, so I will shut up and get to the beers.

The Dark Depths is quite a tasty offering from Sam Adams

The Black IPA: I sampled the Sam Adams Dark Depths Baltic IPA. This poured a dark brown with a creamy cola like head. Roasted malts are immediately apparent in the aroma, along with some flowery and fruity hops. The flavor followed the aroma with the addition of some mild dark chocolate notes. I enjoyed this beer and tt is certainly a bit different from the standard brews from Sam Adams. Would I have another? Sure, with a grade of 6.5/10, I would definitely have it again. Would I say “no way can this be described as a porter”? Absolutely not.

The Porter: The always excellent Ska Brewing was represented by their Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter. Pouring a an opaque black, with a hint of molasses in the aroma, along with some earthy hops, this had a creamy tan head which quickly dissipated. It had a mild coffee flavor and a noticeable alcohol warmth. The hops are less prominent than in the Dark Depths, but they are present, and become more prominent as the glass warms. This is an excellent porter, 7.5/10, and I’d give it the same grade if Ska called it a Black IPA.

In the Porter vs. Black IPA Battle Royal, the Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter came out on top!


Ska Brewing Euphoria Pale Ale

December 22, 2010

The version of The Harder They Come that Jimmy Cliff sang in the movie is not the same version that was used on the soundtrack.*  The lyrics are slightly different, and the performance is remarkable.  Listen to that silky smooth guitar line snaking through the song, and Jimmy’s most soulful vocal performance.  I love the version on the soundtrack, but the movie version is better.

The Euphoria Pale Ale by Ska Brewing is silky smooth and easy drinking, with just a mild grapefruit bite from the hops, perfectly balanced by the toasted caramel malts.  Only 6.1% ABV, so you can drink a bunch of these at a sitting.  The folks from Ska Brewing not only have good taste in music, they make some damn fine beer also.  I am giving the Euphoria Pale Ale a 7.5/10, and am on the lookout for other offerings from Ska Brewing.

* The Harder They Come is the greatest soundtrack album of all time, and if any of you are thinking of making an argument that The Big Chill, or, god help us, Footloose is better, please leave my blog and don’t ever come back.  However, to show how magnanimous I am, I will listen to arguments made in favor of Valley Girl.


Ska Brewing Co.

November 10, 2010

I was a huge Specials fan when I was a kid.  Still am in fact, and I still love all of those old Two Tone Bands so when I came across Ska Brewing Co.’s beers, with their obvious homage to the iconography of the record label, I had to give them a try.  It was the marketing that made me pull their beer off the shelf the first time, and while it worked with me, how many middle aged beer dorks are there who are also music geeks specializing in British Post-Punk Music of the Thatcher Years? In any event, while it was the packaging that first caught my eye, it is the quality of their brew that keeps me going back to them.

The Modus Hoperandi (Great name!) is a hop bomb extraordinaire with massive amounts of piney hops in the nose and the taste, a rich amber color with a white head, 6.8% ABV and a thick chewy mouthfeel to boot.  I love this beer, 8.5/10.

The Decadent Imperial IPA is a boozier version of the Modus Hoperandi with some spice and sweetness added to it.  I noticed the 10.0 % ABV immediately upon opening the bottle.  The alcohol is that strong on this one, but it is tempered by the flowery hops, both of which carry over to the flavor.  I liked it, but not as much as the Modus Hoperandi, 7/10


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