Here’s an imperial IPA review for yez. Last week I had a dentist appointment and afterwards took to the streets of downtown Hingham in search for the Brigham’s that my mom used to take us to as kids. I was craving a chocolate frappe. On my way there I stumbled into a high end wine store that had a small, but fairly impressive craft beer selection. Unfortunately I already had tried the majority of what they offered but there were a couple beers there that I had yet to taste. I ended up picking up a bottle of Port Brewing Co.’s (of San Marco’s, CA) Mongo India Pale Ale and during a brief conversation with the store’s owner I was told that this was probably the hoppiest beer he sold. So I bought it.
Port Brewing is the spawn of San Diego-based Pizza Port owners Vince and Gina Marsaglia. The small pub brewery had gained tremendous recognition since its induction in 2005 and was crowned Champion Small Brewery and Small Brewer at the 2008 World Beer Cup competition, one of the youngest breweries ever to win the back-to-back honors.
Apparently there once was a cat living in Port Brewing’s brewery named Columbus, but was nicknamed Mongo by the brew staff. Mongo was enormous for a cat and only lived for about 15 months so in his honor, they named this big beer after him. It features Columbus, Amarillo, Centennial, Cascade, and Simcoe hops and holds an 8.5% ABV. This is one of Port Brewing’s most recent year-round offerings.
Appearance: Poured a beautiful sunset orange color with a generous, pure white head…probably a good two and half fingers worth. Being a bottle conditioned beer there was an ample amount of yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle which resulted in the “snow globe” effect of particles floating in the beer. This might bother some people but I don’t mind it one bit. Very hazy. Slight carbonation. But a real nice color which West Coast IPAs usually boast.
Aroma: Was kind of surprised by the lack of aroma here. I was expecting a huge waft of hop stinkiness but instead had to really dig my nose in there to get a scent. Maybe because the foamy head was so thick? Or it could of been bottled months and months ago which will mute the flavor. But once I could pick up on it I got this really nice lemon zest scent with a hint of orange rinds. Definitely expecting something a little bit more lively here.
Taste: This is a very hop-forward beer. The malt is definitely taking the back seat on this beer and allowing the hops to do their work on the palate. Right away you can taste the bitterness of the Columbus hops used to bitter this beer which gives a resiny “hello” to your mouth. You get that spicy fruit flavor and an unrelenting hop bitterness just lingers on your taste buds. A very dry beer due to the hops sucking the life out of the sweetness of the malt. But because this was a bottle conditioned beer that flavor wasn’t so sharp which is typical in imperial IPAs and made for an easy drinking 8.5% early afternoon beverage.
Final Thoughts: Not bad. I will admit, I thought I was getting into something pretty big here hop-wise. Although there was definitely a strong hop presence in the flavor of the Mongo, the aroma was lacking and immediately began to depreciate my opinion at first. But, with that being said, I really respect this beer because of its drinkability, especially since it’s an imperial IPA clocking in at 8.5% ABV. If you can get through the lingering bitterness of this beer than you will enjoy it for its’ otherwise subtle attitude.
Unofficial Rating: B