Tag Archive: Imperial Porter


Catherines Pony

Brewdog: Beavertown: Catherine’s Pony (Scotland: Imperial Porter:  8.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Good sized beige froth.

Nose: Smoked. Dried beef slices. Fresh dough. Bitter chocolate dust. Sulphur. Slightly medicinal.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Smoke. Milky coffee. Treacle. Black cherry. Charring. Grapes. Custard. Light iodine and salt. Port. A port touch.

Finish: Treacle tart. Coffee. Lots of dry smoke. Light wood. Custard slice. Blue berry.

Conclusion:  So a contender for the smoked porter range, head to head with Bristol United’s take, and by some strange coincidence, this one is a collaboration as well.  For differences however this is bigger on abv, racking in as an imperial porter. Let’s see if it brings in enough extra joy to go with the abv.

This one is big on the coffee and chocolate with light medicinal touches and a good dose of smoke. There is a smoothness of texture that the smoke, salt and medicinal prickle through, resulting in a contrast of the velvet and sudden sharp pin pricks that excite the taste buds.

This is definitely the smoother, and yet distinctly more weighty of the two contenders. The smoke is a very present character. Despite a good range of flavour it doesn’t seem to have the contrast and well defined plays and trills that the Bristol united beer does.

The extra alcohol result sin it feeling slightly spirity, almost Islay whisky character at times. I’ve had it on tap and the extra smoothness there, even on top of what it already has here, really helped the prickles define it. It’s still pretty good here with a beef broth like element that gives a bit of weight as it settles.

Slightly dry, spirit touches, smoked and smooth. It doesn’t out do the United beer but is a darker, more edged alternative.  The dash of razorblade flavour on silk.

So not the best, but bloody good and a great mix of flavour to texture. Impressive.

Background: A collaboration between my old favourite’s from Brewdog and introducing to me Beavertown who I haven’t run into before. All I know is that they are based in London and have only been brewing since 2012.  I’d had a few bottles of this before finally reviewing it, and have tried it on tap as well. I have many a time mentioned my confusion at the term Imperial Porter, but I have come to acceptance of its existence and the reasoning.

Brewdog/Lost Abbey: Lost Dog (Scotland: Imperial Porter: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: A very dark brown to cherry red. Beige froth comes up but it disappears in seconds leaving just the carbonation of the main body.

Nose: Raisins. Fruitcake and brandy cream. Liquorice. Rum. Very spirit like air.

Body: Cherry (red and black). Brandy cream. Fruitcake and raisins. Liquorice. Slightly sherbety. Coffee. Marzipan.

Finish: Malt load and butter. Almond slices. Rum. Dry liquorice. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion:  Considering the beer style and weighty abv this beer isn’t half as thick of viscous as I would have imagined. In fact given the huge fruitcake influence it seems slightly ESB like in style, or with a calling to the wine and fruitcake styling of Fullers Vintage ales.

The body is surprisingly clear on the eye. Visually it reminds be of the darker Belgium strong ales, not entirely inappropriately. I’m not sure if it is linked with the lack of viscosity to the body but the spirit influence does seem to be given a lot of roaming room.  As mentioned the beer is fruit dominated and there is a distinct spirit feel throughout.  The main counterbalance flavour wise is the dry liquorice which permeates the entire beer.

The beer is good but for all the abv and rum ageing it doesn’t seem to bring a lot more to the table than the Vintage ales mentioned earlier.  That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have it’s own quirks.  The traditional coffee elements of a porter seem oddly out of place here. They flow around the main body rather than integrate.  Also it takes on a bit more character if you are willing to risk larger mouthfuls of the potent liquid. Here it seems thicker and more brandy cream comes out.  The beer style seems to shift once again here, calling to the Barley Wine styling of beers such as Devine Rebel.

So a very fruity, very spirity Imperial Porter. A mix that calls to ESB influence and Barley wine in feel. A jack of all trades and master of none. That doesn’t mean it isn’t very good but it stops it being great. A beer with a lot of potential let down I feel by needing maybe just a bit more thickness of body.

Background: Now best I know Port Brewing and Lost Abbey are the same brewery. Lost Abbey is the name for Belgium Style beers and Port Brewing American style beers.  This beer is an Imperial Porter. Ya know Porter, named (according to some interpretations) for the popularity with porters in London.  Which isn’t in Belgium. Or America I will admit but damn it Port Brewing even has Port in the damn name!   Why is this a Lost Abbey beer? Well as mentioned in the review it does have a Belgium strong dark ale resemblance but I still stand by my rant.  Anyway this collaboration was aged in rum casks, and I’ve been looking forwards to it for a while. Also it comes in a presentation box.  Which looks really really cool but I always feel bad about needless packaging.  Strange considering I felt no problem with the mass of packaging that was needed to post it to me. Maybe I’m a touch of a hypocrite.

Uinta: Crooked Line Labyrinth Black Ale (USA: Imperial Porter:13.2% ABV)

Visual: Black, no real head but froths beige around the edges. Handles the head better in narrower glasses.

Nose: Roasted nuts and treacle. Milk chocolate. Caramel. Liquorice. Black cherry, black coffee and figs. Gin air.

Body: Slick front. Bitter frothy chocolate.  Milky coffee. Quite rough texture to the middle and rising bitterness. Slightly chalky in fact. Toffee sweet after awhile and brings out occasional subtle flavours such as banana and vanilla. On longer sessions adds sour black cherry, condensed cream, dates, plums and raisins.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Dry. Occasional milk chocolate. Charred oak and chalk. Slightly hopped, which grows over time. More roasted nuts.

Conclusion: It is times like this that you see the downside to extensive beer hunting.  The good but flawed seems so much weaker against the giants of the past.

This beer starts off great, with a decent nose to contest with the big guns of the Imperial Stout race and has a nice bitter chocolate body to match.  However it can bring in a dry chalky finish that works against everything it has set up.

This is a pity, as the hop element to the finish, while present, is artfully restrained so not to overpower, but the intruding chalkiness has much the same effect.  The beer improves over time, with the dark fruit washing over the weaker elements. However for such a strong beer you don’t want to have to be on it all night to get it at its best.

Thus the beer is good but unreliable, a great sip of amber nectar can follow a weak slightly chalky swallow.  When it’s on the rounded nose and sweet touched body are very pleasant.  A good swirl of the glass can release delightfully sweet and sticky coffee and chocolate aroma.  This also helps with drinking the beer slower, which helps the chalkiness take a break.

It also doesn’t hide the alcohol well. Usually oak ageing gives a smoother edge to the booze, but for this the oak does not seem to have made as much impact as usual, also the oddity of the liquorice seems not to have added as much as you would think, a touch of flavour, but primarily adding to the dryness of the finish.

It’s got a good range, but it’s playing against a set of amazing beers with similar flavours, and I can’t say that this beer should be picked over them.

Background: Despite knowing their definition, Imperial Porters always seems odd to me.  I was always of the school that historically porters and stouts were similar ales, differentiated by the fact that the stout was stronger in flavour and alcohol.  This however was a definition relative within a brewery and one breweries porter may be stronger than another’s stout.  Imperial * usually refers to a stronger ABV and flavour version of an existing style. Now obviously definitions have changed heavily since then allowing for more exacting classification of the styles, but you can see how this would lead to the idea of an Imperial Porter being a tad bleedin’ confusing.

Anyway, digression over. This beer has been aged in oak with liquorice sticks. I don’t know much about Uinta as this is my first encounter with their beers. Here goes.

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