Originally we were going to use portions of Jason's post in our next session of Back to (Beer) School, but cutting it up seemed to ruin the story. So here it is, uninterrupted. Stay tuned for Beer School #4 tomorrow.
A little less than a week ago, the Knights were invited to Matt's (of Matt's Beer Blog) home and do a porter and stout sampling event. It was a brilliant night that involved tasting 11 beers of varying quality. Having a slight case of OCD, I felt that not going for an even dozen beers would be irritating. Not having another bottle around, we opted to try the Kikkoman's Soy Sauce and pretend that it was a beer. But more about that venture later.
We began by tackling porters. First up was Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, which has been determined by beer judges and beer websites to be the cream of the crop as far as English Brown Porters go. And this is one situation where tradition out performs American ingenuity and gusto. The balanced, roasted malt goodness from the Taddy Porter outperformed the Left Hand Black Jack Porter (listed as an English Porter) and the Sierra Nevada Porter (an American Porter). Both were unbalanced with odd lingering flavors (carbon notes in the Left Hand; soapiness in the Sierra Nevada).
The other porter that we tried was the 2000 Sinebrychoff Porter from Finland. This Baltic Porter, while not superior to the Taddy Porter, was interesting and enjoyable. The smell reminded me of my fourth grade lunch box (I left an orange in my lunch box over summer vacation, leaving a lasting moldy orange scent to everything that would go in it from that time on), but had a peatty taste like a good scotch. I would definitely try this one again in the future.
The next seven beers were stouts. We started with a Dry (Irish) Stout: Murphy's Stout. Unlike the porters, I find that the original/traditional versions pale in comparison to some of the American craft varieties. The Irish Stouts tend to have a watery consistency to them that, while not unpleasant, leaves you unfulfilled. Mackeson's Triple Stout (Milk Stout) had a sweetness to it and was milky smooth in mouthfeel. I found this to be uncomplicated yet enjoyable and worth another taste at some point.
The Avery Out of Bounds Stout (Irish Dry Stout) poured with a big head and notes of scotch, coffee, and hops. This was superior to the Murphy's in my opinion and should receive a full review in the future. The Goose Island Oatmeal Stout was bitter with hints of oatmeal. I've had better Oatmeal Stouts. The Bell's Special Double Cream Stout (Milk/Sweet Stout) has a smooth and dry mouthfeel with a certain twang in its flavor from the combination of malts used. The North Coast Old No. 38 (Irish Dry Stout) was yet another scotchy type stout that reminds me of some whiskey barrel aged beers that we have had in the past. Another one I want to discover again in the future.
We finished with the Abyss by Deschutes Brothers in Oregon, an Imperial Russian Stout that Matt traded a Dark Lord for. In my opinion, he came away the winner in that trade. I can't put my finger on what it is that I like about this beer. It is very alcoholly. It has a complex flavor profile. The best way I could describe this is like Dark Lord without the candy sugar taste and mouthfeel. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. But that's just me.
So that is eleven beers. To make it an even dozen, we opened Matt's last bottle of Sam Adams Triple Bock (circa 1997, I think). Which doesn't fit into the porters and stouts category, but what the hell. The aroma (I really wanted to write odor) smelled of soy sauce. The taste was of soy sauce. It looked like soy sauce. And it stained Matt's clear glass drinkware a nice amber color. I seriously think this is better suited on top of fried rice that in a beer glass.
Holy crap, that was not good. How not good? I'd chug a Chelada over this any day of the week. Just goes to show that my OCD tendencies are never right, and no matter how odd a number to stop at, eleven was the clear winner on this day.