Cue the Rocky music, da, da da da, da da daaaaaaa, because ‘Versus Battles #5’ is here. The segment that pits two beers of the same style head to head against each other. The 2015 BJCP style guide lines have been used to judge both beers on aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel, with my own personal opinion rounding out the analysis. I fully understand that most breweries don’t brew beers to match style guide lines and that is why I have added my own personal opinion. Matching style guide lines means that even though a beer is brilliantly made and extra tasty, it won’t necessarily win any awards due to not matching style. The style guide lines for American Porter have been added to the bottom of this article for anyone who wants to have a look.
The first porter is from Beer Garden Brewing in Port Lincoln, South Australia. Mark and Janie completed a brewer course at TAFE SA before taking over the old bakery building, purchasing the old Prancing Pony brew house and opening their brewery. Their porter is 4.5 percent ABV and named after Captain William Field Porter, who sailed into Port Lincoln in 1839.
Porter number two comes from a well-known brewery that has cemented itself in the craft industry. Bridge Road Brewery comes from Beechworth in the high country of Victoria. A robust porter that is a regular in the Bridge Road core range. A little higher in ABV at 5.2 percent, this porter is said to be high on the roast malts.
|Style Factors||Beer Garden||Bridge Road||Category Winner|
|Aroma||Quite sweet aroma, with a hazelnut smell. A little chocolate but no roast characters. No hop characters. Some mild fruity esters.||Boozy aroma with some sharp acidic smell. No real roast characters as the esters overpower.||Beer Garden|
|Appearance||Light brown in colour with a slight ruby hue. Super clear with a medium white head.||Dark brown, tending towards black. A moderate dark brown head. Some hop matter floating||
|Flavour||Grainy, some light roast notes and quite sweet. Medium bitterness. Small amount of toffee.||Some dark chocolate flavours coming through. Quite boozy with a light bitterness||
|Mouthfeel||Light to medium bodied. Low carbonation.||Medium bodied with medium carbonation.||
|The King’s Opinion||Quite an enjoyable, tasty porter. Personally, I like the sweetness. Maybe a tad light on the body but body comes with added booze content.||This was bottled on the 23/11/16 so it should be still good but I get a big acidity taste from it. This strong aroma and flavours over power the porter flavours.||
THE WINNER IS…… Beer Garden 4 Points to 1.
This one was not even close, as the Bridge Road Porter had definitely seen better days. I know many people would tell me that I shouldn’t have used this beer for a versus battle if it wasn’t at its best, but if a regular consumer can buy this beer, then they can be turned off as well. It is a shame that this beer wasn’t at its best but Versus Battles are about the best beer in the ring. Having said all this, I found the Beer Garden Porter to match style, I enjoyed it quite a lot and was definitely the best porter of the night.
A substantial, malty dark beer with a complex and flavourful dark malt character.
Medium-light to medium-strong dark malt aroma, often with a lightly burnt character. Optionally may also show some additional malt character in support (grainy, bready, toffee-like, caramelly, chocolate, coffee, rich, and/or sweet). Hop aroma low to high, often with a resiny, earthy, or floral character. May be dry-hopped. Fruity esters are moderate to none.
Medium brown to very dark brown, often with ruby- or garnet-like highlights. Can approach black in colour. Clarity may be difficult to discern in such a dark beer, but when not opaque will be clear (particularly when held up to the light). Full, tan-coloured head with moderately good head retention.
Moderately strong malt flavour usually features a lightly burnt malt character (and sometimes chocolate and/or coffee flavours) with a bit of grainy, dark malt dryness in the finish. Overall flavour may finish from dry to medium-sweet. May have a sharp character from dark roasted grains, but should not be overly acrid, burnt or harsh. Medium to high bitterness, which can be accentuated by the dark malt. Hop flavour can vary from low to high with a resiny, earthy, or floral character, and balances the dark malt flavours. The dark malt and hops should not clash. Dry-hopped versions may have a resiny flavour. Fruity esters moderate to none.
Medium to medium-full body. Moderately low to moderately high carbonation. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth. May have a slight astringency from dark malts, although this character should not be strong.