From Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek, Michigan: London Porter (7.2%abv)
I like Arcadia. They brew on a Peter Austin unit which is cool. I wrote a piece about them for Indianabeer.com. Check it out here
, and to learn what a Peter Austin system is.
The London Porter is cool. It's brewed with smoked malt, not peated malt, but the equivalent of German Rauchmalt, beechwood smoked malt. And at 7.2%, not a small beer.
You can almost see through this beer. Held up to the light you can definately just barely see through its deep mahogany redness. Minimal carbonation and a nice beige/brownish head that is small but persistant.
Get mostly rich caramel notes in the nose mixed with warm, smokey undertones. Also just a hint of alcohol.
I swear to god I get red delicious apples when I drink this beer. It's really nice. You smell the smoke a bit just before you swallow then I get red apples. Not tart or too sweet, just the flavor is there. Also get some nice caramel flavors, but not too much. No roasty and minimal chocolate notes. I think this is cool actually as it's more to style for a traditional London Porter as they used to be made with all 'brown malt', no chocolate or roasted. Finished with a nice English-citrusy hop flavor and minimal to medium bitterness. Smoke is fairly minimal on the palate, but seems to add to the richness. Low to medium final gravity for such a big beer. Really quite drinkable.From Flying Dog Brewery in Denver, Colorado: Gonzo Imperial Porter (9.5%abv)
Flying Dog makes a good to very good line of 'everyday beers'. Their brewmaster knows his shit, that's for sure, and he makes those smaller beers very tasty and very consistently, which is much harder than making a good big beer. Read an article I wrote about him for Indianabeer.com here
. But not usually as exciting to drink. Who doesn't get a kick from sampling 9.5% porter? Anyway, luckily Flying Dog is now making some bigger, more adventurous beers including this homage to Hunter S. Thompson who was a cofounder of the brewery actually.
This brew is black black black black black. The head is a deep chocolate brown color and nicely persistant with a touch of lacing here and there.
It has a big nose. You can smell it as soon as you're pouring into the glass. Mostly chocolate malts, maybe some roasted or black patent and some just barely there sweetish-raisin notes maybe with a touch of what I take to be fermentation character, something just a little spicey. Also some hop notes too for sure. Nothing really super citrusy or anything distinct, but they're there. The 9.5%abv is really well masked or maybe just not a lot of higher alcohols.
This beer has a long palate...so to speak. I don't know if that's the way to put it, but it seems like a lot of different flavors develop over the course of a single drink-act. In the beginning, Flying Dog made this porter fucking awesome. So rich. So big. So velvety smooth. Huge, complex malt character ranging from subdued chocolatey notes to mildly sweet, warm caramel. Definately a substantial hop character up from too that really melds nicely with the malts. Wow. Incredible front palate. Unfortunately, things don't finish as well as they started, but they don't finish badly. During the swallow, the hop flavor seems to stand out more, still good, but the aftertaste is quite bitter and the malts flatten out into a flakey, cardboard, acrid, burnt, roasted kind of thing. It's not that bad, just in comparison to the monumental smoothness, mellowness and utter fucking ectasy that is the beginning of this beer, the end disapoints me a bit.
Quite drinkable, but watch that 9.5%abv, you can't tell it's there until after you're done.
Also, big hops in the burps. I think this beer might be a bit too hoppy for a Baltic Porter.