The Taste Test: Blind Tasting 24 Minnesota Porters

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Photo by Aaron Job, The Growler

Photo by Aaron Job

Beers advanced to Best of Show round (in alphabetical order):

American-style        English-style

 AEGIR All Fathers Porter

Rich, multidimensional, and warming. Intense chocolate-forward malt with notes of anise. High and lingering bitterness and moderate earthy hop flavor. 

■ ENKI Cacao Porter

Beautifully balanced. Never too sweet or bitter. Toasted bread and caramel malt notes give background to roast. Slightly more roasted malt astringency in the finish than expected. One judge noted a distracting vinous character. 

■ HeadFlyer Vanilla Bean Porter

Rich and enjoyable. Creamy. Slightly warming. Good expression of malt—chocolate, toast, burnt. Dry finish with slightly harsh astringency. Medium-high bitterness and earthy hop flavor. 

■ Insight Devil’s Companion

Great balance of roasted malt, chocolate, and sweet notes with earthy hops. Smooth and creamy in the finish.

■ Invictus Hanley’s Porter

Verging on a black IPA. High level of malt—coffee/chocolate roast with hints of vanilla and toffee. High citrus and resinous hop flavors with long lingering and slightly astringent bitterness. “A crushable beer. Yum!” 

■ Modist Once Was Once

Rich malt with molasses and chocolate character. Medium bitterness and earthy hop flavors. Quaffable, smooth, rich, and balanced. 

■ Waconia Porter

Coffee-like roasted malt with backgrounds of toffee and biscuit. Moderate resinous hops. Low dried-fruit aroma and flavor. A bit light-bodied for the style. 

■ ■ ■

Best of Show: ■ Three Twenty Happy Wife Porter

This winning porter from Pine City’s Three Twenty Brewing Company wowed judges in the first round and the Best of Show round with its complex aroma—a little roasty but balanced with caramel notes—along with its smooth caramel flavor complemented by a soft roasted malt character, restrained bitterness, and a touch of earthy hop flavor. Finishing clean and dry, with fruity and estery notes and just a touch of roast, it exemplified all the attributes of a classic English porter. 

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Michael Agnew, A Perfect Pint About Michael Agnew, A Perfect Pint

Michael has a passion for beer. He is Minnesota's first Certified Cicerone (think sommelier for beer) with the Cicerone Certification Program, and a National Beer Judge with the Beer Judge Certification Program. In addition, Michael is himself an award-winning brewer. He writes a monthly column on beer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.