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!


Big Texas Beer Festival, Dallas, April 14

April 16, 2012

Beer Festival Rules:

1. Pace yourself so that you can enjoy all the beers that you will be sampling.

2. Drink plenty of water.

3. Take regular food breaks. Read the rest of this entry »


Hey Porter! Hey Porter! Would you tell me the time?

November 23, 2011

How much longer will it be till we cross
that Mason Dixon Line?
At daylight would ya tell that engineer
to slow it down?
Or better still, just stop the train,
Cause I wanna look around.

Read the rest of this entry »


Mikkeller Chipotle Porter

February 19, 2011

Now this is a BEER!  Intensely flavored, aromatic, and beautiful to look at, this is the type of beer you drink on special occasions.  In my case, the special occasion was digging into the big pot of venison chili (using chipotle peppers, of course) which I recently cooked up.  The Chipotle Porter pours a deep rich brown with a cappuccino colored head.  Dark chocolate and smoke fill the aroma, and the flavor is smokey, with some espresso and just a hint of heat from the chipotle peppers.  Just a fantastic beer, 9/10, and rumor has it that a barrel aged version is going to hit the shelves soon.


(512) Brewing Company, Live Oak Brewing Company and St. Arnold Brewing Company

October 22, 2010

I met GEB the other night at the Ginger Man in Plano for a few beers, some idle chit chat, and some darts.  No pictures* in this post because I left my camera at home.  GEB knows I am a beer dork, having seen this blog, but I decided to play it somewhat cool and not take photos of every damn beer I drank, hold the glass up to the light to gauge the color, and stick my schnozz deep into the pint to catch the aroma, all the while scribbling notes.  We will have to see whether that was the smart play.

I had never had any beers from Austin’s (512) Brewing Company, so I was pumped to see a couple of their brews on the menu.  I tried their IPA first, and it was quite nice, not too assertively hopped, but with enough flowery hops and sweet malts to make this a balanced and easy drinking beer, with enough orange peel and grapefruit in the aftertaste to make it interesting.  This is one I could drink all night long, 7.5/10.

The (512) Pecan Porter was a nice enough porter, with plenty of coffee in the nose and on the tongue, nice creamy mouthfeel, and a touch of smokiness, but I could not find any pecan flavor in it at all.  It was good, just not what I had expected, 6/10.

I had never even heard of Live Oak Brewing Company, another Austin based brewery, so I jumped on their Liberation IPA.  It was sort of mellow on the bitterness, and had some nice toffee undertones, with a sticky mouthfeel.  Another one that I could knock back all night, 7.5/10.

I also tried the cask conditioned Saint Arnold‘s Weedwhacker, their version of a Kolsch style beer, but fermented with hefeweizen yeast.  It poured a hazy yellowish orange, with some mild spiciness and banana flavors.  It was light and refreshing, and yes, I know it is the end of October, but Texas is still damn hot, so light and refreshing is ok.  The Weedwhacker is a good one, 7.5/10.

*Did I say “no pictures”?  No pictures of beer, but here is a photo of a spider I took recently.  Texas is the home of some funky big-ass spiders.  This creature, tentatively identified as a Banana Spider, was the size of my hand.

Here is a photo of the coolest car I have seen since I don’t know when:

Want to see his gear shift? Of course you do:

Yep, that is a Bud Light Tap Handle.  While I do not approve of the owner’s choice in beers, I do appreciate his mindset.


St. Peter’s Old Style Porter

May 13, 2010

The St. Peter’s Old Style Porter is neither big nor bold, nor does it have any unique ingredients.  It does not push the envelope of what can be considered be a porter, or beer for that matter.  It may not be any of those things, but it is good.  It has enough roasted malt and coffee aroma and flavor to be a faithful rendition of the style, and has enough extra hoppy bitterness to be just a little different and set itself apart from the pack.  The Old Style Porter pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights if held up to the light, with almost no head.  It has a slightly thin mouthfeel, which is not what I expect from porters.  While I do not think they should be as chewy as stouts, I want a little more heft to them than this one has.  The V-Man proclaimed it the best porter he had ever had.  I cannot go that far but give it a 6/10.


Victory Yakima Twilight

April 28, 2010

I am a big fan of Victory Brewing.  Their offerings are usually excellent, and the Yakima Twilight is no exception to that general rule.  It was maltier than I expected, almost chocolatey, but that is not a complaint. The malts are more prominent than the hops, but the hops are definitely present in a resinous sticky aroma and flavor.  It is a complex and interesting beer, with a touch of smokiness, and well worth a tipple.  This is described by Victory as an American Strong Ale, and at 8.7% ABV, it is certainly strong.  It reminded me of a porter, albeit a hoppy porter.  No matter how it is described, it gets an 8/10.


Sierra Nevada is a Bad Ass Brewer

March 8, 2010

There are very few breweries that are as consistently good as Sierra Nevada.  I have had most of their beers, and the worst one was still pretty damn good.  Sierra Nevada is one of my ‘go-to’ brewers, along with Dogfish Head and Victory.

The Torpedo IPA is a recent edition to the Sierra Nevada lineup, and it is a great one.  Intensely hoppy, with powerful pine, citrus and herbal aromas, this beer is easy to drink, and easy to drink quite a few of them, which is a bit dangerous as it clocks in at 7.2% ABV.  It pours a dark copper color and keeps a nice head to the bottom of the glass.  This is a top notch beer and earns a 8.5/10.

The Sierra Nevada Porter is deep brown in color with a creamy head, but is surprisingly mild flavored.  Not much in the way of hops bitterness, it has a slight nutty caramel flavor behind the maltiness.  This is not as good as the Torpedo, but it earns a very respectable 7/10.

The Glissade Golden Bock is Sierra Nevada’s spring beer.  It poured a crystal clear pale gold with a snow white head that faded quickly.  The Golden Bock barely had any hops, and had a slightly sweet malt flavor.  It is probably my least favorite of their beers, but it was far from bad.  I give it a 5.5/10.

The final beer to be graded is the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  Pale ales are the redheaded step children of the beer world.  Beer snobs tend to dismiss them because they lack the punch of IPAs and other ‘bigger’ beers, and macro-beer drinkers (god help them!) who try them quickly revert back to their bud swilling ways.  I fall in the beer snob category, but not when it comes to this beer.  Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is a winner.  It is complex, fragrant, and has a helluva lot more “drinkability” than that damned Bud Light.  This one gets a 8.5/10.


Smuttynose Baltic Porter

February 7, 2010

New Hampshire’s Smuttynose is one of my favorite breweries.  They are traditionalists.  Smuttynose does not push the envelope with their beers (unlike DogfishHead for example).  They brew traditional styles, and they do those styles very well.  Smuttynose is widely available in New Jersey, usually on the lower end of the price scale when it comes to craft beers, and the worst Smuttynose beer is pretty damn good.

Case in point is the Smuttynose Baltic Porter.  Porter is a style of beer that I have always thought of as being the kid brother to stouts, which is more a reflection of my idiocy than reality.  Porters and stouts are different styles, and I will need to explore those differences in the future.  This porter had hints of chocolate, coffee and dried fruit.  This one gets an 8/10.


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