Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

My Photo
Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Porter Tasting

In a continuing quest for objectivity in gauging my own beers, I introduce my own Sixteen- Penny Porter to Anchor Porter, in a battle to the death.

Visuals: Similarly red-tinged black. My beer is half a shade darker and perhaps 15-20 percent more opaque. Neither beer has a super-retentive head, but 16-Penny's is a trifle darker and a little bigger and longer lasting.

Aromatics: The first impression from the Anchor is coffee--good, delicate, city-roasted arabica. Also a little bit of a fruity, winey, estery thing. The first impression from mine is heavier coffee, more like the harsher tones of a Thai coffee--not terribly harsh or anything, but definitely more on the robusta end. In place of the fruitier winey hints is a deep raisiny, chocolatiness. Getting some chocolate now in the Anchor too and I want to link the winey esters to some of the flavors you get in the darker Belgian beers, a yeast thing perhaps.

Mouthfeel and flavor: The Anchor is very clean and tight, dominated by coffee flavors and a dry spiciness. It's not at all heavy, but it does linger substantially. My beer has a substantially thicker mouthfeel and tips the scale from sharply focused coffee, toward rich, earthy, expansive chocolate. It also lingers more, probably too much.

Finish: The Anchor has an indelible finish--totally focused, coffee-laden, spicy, aromatic all the way into the throat. It lingers well. I'm clearing my palate with a bit of bread to adequately gauage 16-Penny's finish. Its finish is a little thicker and heavier and this is probably a small stylistic flaw. But it's not a disagreeable or sharp finish, just a little thicker and a -tiny- bit harsh. This may in part be due to the fact that the beer's only been in bottle for seventeen days. Still, it does suggest a mistake in recipe formulation I had already surmised. I made an awfully good beer and got away with it to a degree, but I did nevertheless overload this porter with specialty malts.

Solution: Cut back the chocolate and black patent by at least 1/3 each, perhaps a touch more. This would allow more fruitiness and other elements to integrate with the roasted flavors, and would make the beer more of a porter--it veers toward stout, frankly. Nevertheless, it's cheering to note that, alongside a venerable example of the style, Sixteen-Penny Porter tastes pretty damned good--imperfectly balanced, a little less subtle, in need of tweaking, but nevertheless rich, interesting, roughly within the flavor parameters of the style, and very pleasant to drink. This was a revealing exercise as always. Now . . . dinner.


Post a Comment

<< Home