Matt Brewing – Saranac High Peaks Chocolate Orange

Tasting: March 29, 2012
Style: Porter (Baltic)
ABV: 9%

Matts High Peaks Choc. Orange

Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives. Bias can come in many forms.

Stout was originally called stout porter to indicate it was a more robust style of porter. They share similar characteristics (color and roasted flavors). Over time, stout has distanced itself from its porter heritage. Like whoa — who are you calling a porter? I just don’t get porter. To me, if I want something lighter than a stout – I’ll have a different style, like an IPA. For some reason, each time I have a porter all I can think is that I’ve just had a watery stout. That’s bad. It’s like holding the opinion that skim milk or diet soda tastes better than the full calorie version. They just don’t. We just drink skim milk and diet soda for other reasons.

So, why am I here again with another porter? This particular porter is a “Baltic Porter”. It’s a variation that started in the Baltic states in the 1700’s. Yes, it descends from English porters, however it is typically higher in alcohol content (9.0% ABV in this one) and has a sweet malty character. It has much more in common with a Russian Imperial Stouts and that’s what draws me in. Baltic Porters were largely forgotton in the West until the late 1980’s when craft brewers reintroduced the style. This one is brewed with blood orange rinds and chocolate nibs.

Pours dark as a stout with a coffee colored head. Has a strong roasted grain aroma and my first sip is full and rich. Full of rich chocolate and roasted goodness. I can’t pick up on the orange rind — but if I focus in – I think I get it waaaaaaay in the back. Has some roasted bitterness to finish, not as much sweetness as expected. Where’s the chocolate? I’ll have to agree that this is closer to stout than porter. A little too fizzy — character comes up short. Good for a porter, and ‘eh for a stout. I’ll put it at an 83.

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