Being a beer blogger, I frequently end up fielding a lot of questions about different styles of beer.
One that I’m asked about frequently is dark beers, particularly about stouts and porters. “Aren’t they high in alcohol?”
Typically, no. In fact many stouts and porters range from a mild 5% ABV to around 7%, which puts it in the neighborhood of most other craft beers. With one caveat: Imperial stouts and porters.
Imperial-style beers were originally brewed by the British (who, at the time, made the best dark beers) starting a couple centuries ago for the Russian czars. Since the Russians had a higher tolerance for alcohol, the Brits were requested to make them a bit boozier than normal.
As a result, they tend to be very heavy-bodied beers, full of flavor, and noticeably more bitter.
And, in the case of Flying Dog‘s Gonzo Imperial Porter, they tend to live with alcohol numbers like 9.2% ABV.
It pours a very opaque black, with good carbonation. The dark color comes from the roasted barley malt, and sweet aroma coming from the glass is lovely.
The rich taste of the malt is what you notice first, with a slightly bready flavor, but also some slight, bitter sweetness that I think is reminiscent of molasses or toffee. Despite the extra hops, it’s really not overly bitter, but there’s a slight alcohol burn. And, in a style like typical British porters, it has a dry finish.
Like many of Flying Dog’s beers, this one is really in-your-face, but worth a try if you’re a fan of dark, heavy beers. Probably not a good one for your first foray into them, however. And if you can find it cask-aged in bourbon, DEFINITELY try that.
So what are your favorite porters? Let us know – we’d love to sample them if we can.