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A tale of two Porters

by on 26 October, 2011

As Matt had been a-travelling down New Plymouth way, he had most thoughtfully dropped by Mike’s Brewery on the way back and collected some brews to share with us all.

In case you’ve not heard of them, Mike’s Brewery produce high-quality beer from Organic ingredients, in the small settlement of Urenui (that’s in the Taranaki, New Zealand).  All of the beers they produce carry the Bio-Gro “Certified Organic” mark.  Certified Organic is an assurance that the ingredients have not been in contact with any synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, and that the farming is sustainably managed for the long-term.  Organic growing tends to be more labour intensive for these reasons, which often drives costs up compared with traditional farming – however it does mean that you’re not ingesting synthetic chemicals along with your beer, and that conditions are maintained for future generations.  Both of these are good things, I think.

So what arrived at our table this Wednesday night were two infused porters for our delectation – one with Whisky and one with Coffee – and both certified organic!  Read on to see what we all thought.

Mike’s Whisky Porter
10.5% abv, 750ml glass bottle, $20 from the brewery

Mike's Organic Whiskey Porter

Mike’s Whisky Porter is, as the name suggests, a Porter style beer infused with Whisky and aged in oak Whisky barrels.  This process imparts it with the distinct peaty characters you would expect; and at 10.5% it’s best shared with friends.

Dark, almost black, thick pour, hint of whiskey on the nose, wisps of bubbly tan head.  Smooth on the tongue and filled with complex whisky characters.

Chris: Tastes like those liquor chocolates that you used to get in the 80s!
Phil: Creamy smoothness with a sting of whiskey.

When it’s gone you’re left with a lingering, smokey whisky finish with a distinct oak character.

IN SUMMATION: We all agreed this was one delicious and complex beer, which gives you something new on each mouthful.  Definitely one to try.

Mikes Coffee Porter
8.0% abv, 750ml glass bottle, $15 from the brewery

This brew is infused with peruvian coffee beans.  Again it is almost black with a frothy tan head.

To me, it smelled and tasted like cheap ground coffee, the kind your mum uses in a filter machine – slightly bitter, stale and not terribly pleasant – and I swear it smelt freezer burned too… To me the flavour was not like “coffee” but like ground coffee beans in cold water.  Which makes sense, since that’s basically what it is, but not my cup of Jo.

Chris and Matt liked it, “smooth, coffee taste lingers, inoffensive and not bitter at all..”

Josh sided with me on this one (he hates coffee anyway), where Steve and Phil had mixed opinions and weren’t too fussed either way.

VERDICT: The suggestion arose that it would be lovely on ice cream, or in a cake… I’d not mind trying that. The jury was out on this one, seems to be a love or hate beer – but interesting nonetheless.  Try it if you’re brave, but if it’s between this and the Whisky porter, I know where my cash would be going…


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