Monday, May 3, 2010

Beer Review: Same beer, different results

So I thought I would carry out a little experiment yesterday. I decided to go to the Porterhouse North pub for some food and a few beers. Porterhouse Brewing Company has been bottling a lot of their brews of late and I had a couple of bottles in the fridge so I decided that I would try the draught version of these beers in the pub and then come home and sample the bottled beers. I was interested in finding out if a) the difference would be discernible and b) which type, the draught or bottled version, would taste better.

I decided to try the Porterhouse Red as my sample beer, as I had never tasted the draught or bottled versions of this beer. Porterhouse Red is an Irish red ale, 4.4%, according to the brewers website this beer has a 'traditional hop flavour to balance the fruit character of the yeast and the luscious caramel flavour notes delivered from the malts used'. Well the first thing that strikes you about the draught version of this beer is how it looks. A striking dark ruby red colour with an almost stout like creamy head that laces the glass right until the last drop, if beer was all about the aesthetic this would be a world beater. The aroma was a little dissapointing in that it is so subtle that it is hard to discern anything really from it. The mouthfeel however is fantastic, medium bodied with a smooth finish and a nice low level of carbination. The flavour is rather unusual for a red ale in that the dominat flavour is the hops rather than the malts. To be honest I think that the hops overpower the senses and you don't really get the 'caramel flavour notes' that the brewery describes. Overall a very nice beer however I would have liked to have seen the hops toned down a little bit to allow a little of the malt profile through.

So now to do the comparison. The bottled version of this beer is the same ABV at 4.4% and comes in a 330ml serving. The first notable difference is in the appearance, gone is the thick creaminess of the draught and you are left with a lighter colour and a frothy head that dissipates quite quickly to leave a thin white line of head. Again the aroma is very subtle, however this time it is possible to pick out the hops. The mounthfeel is completely different, the bottled version is light bodied with a crisp finish, a little too thin for my liking. The taste is similar in that the hops are strong (especially the Galena) and fruity, however the overall effect is quite different as the body and mouthfeel are much sharper and crisper and this leads to a harsh bitterness, as opposed to the creaminess of the draught. Overall I would say that I was quite dissapointed with the bottled version of this beer. I realise that it is not possible to emulate the taste of a draught in a bottle, however I felt that this was nearly like drinking a different beer! I would highly recommend trying Porterhouse Red on draught, however I think I would probably pass on the bottled version.

Should you wish to try and emulate this beer as a homebrew, there is good ingredient information on the website:

Grain: Pale Malt, Crystal malt, Wheat Malt, Chocolate Male
Hops: Galena, Nugget, East Kent Goldings


The Beer Nut said...

Porterhouse Red used to be a lot less bitter than it is now. I don't think they updated the tasting notes when the recipe changed.

Mark (Halite) said...

That expalins the lack of fruity, caramel notes :-)