Tonight's beer is (take a deep breath) "Harpoon Black Forest Imperial Cherry Chocolate Porter." Whew! That's a mouthful! I'm drinking this beer because... well, upon seeing this in the store, how could I not pick it up? I like good porters. Chocolate and cherry can both be done well. Imperial is more iffy, because often it's just code for "high alcohol, hopped-up IPA." But with luck, those others would balance that element out. I'm not terribly familiar with imperial porters, but my expectation is that it should be pretty malty and roasty, which is right up my alley.
The beer poured a a clear, dark caramel with a thin, transient head. Despite this, it appears almost black in the glass. No lacing to speak of. Right away, this beer is defying my expectations--especially for one with an alcohol content of 9.8 percent! The nose is odd as well--some toasty malt, yes, but also alcohol and cola. First sip, the mouthfeel is thin. Not watery thin or Bud Light thin, but thinner than I'd think a beer with all this going on should be. There's a definite Coke-a-cola flavoring on the front end, that quickly segues into Cherry Coke. The comes malt, then deep, dark chocolate. Alcohol is well-hidden. This doesn't taste hot at all, which is a surprise given the prominent alcohol scent in the nose. Finally, there's a resurgent cola aftertaste. This is a sweet beer, with only a little bit of burnt bitterness. To be honest, it could stand a bit of sharpening more hops would give it (and given my dislike of over-hopped beers, that's saying something). Right now, hops are pretty much absent from the profile. It's not a terrible beer--they certainly managed to get the chocolate flavor right--but it is stratified, for lack of a better word. There are a number of different flavors at work here, but they're all separate, layered atop each other very distinctly rather than blended. There's no real interaction amongst them, no complexity to make this beer interesting. And an imperial cherry chocolate porter should be interesting, if nothing else. Subdued carbonation doesn't help much, either.
Harpoon Black Forest Imperial Cherry Chocolate Porter should've been a winner, in my estimation. It's got all the pieces in place, but ultimately the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
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