Imperial Porter - Breckenridge Brewery, Breckenridge
The Imperial label carries a bit cache. When I see an Imperial Stout or Imperial IPA on the shelves I know I'm in for a rough ride. Not rough in the sense that the beer is bad, just that it will be big, if not extreme. The nomenclature isn't something I'll bore you with, I'll just leave it at this: seeing the Imperial prefix on a label means the beer is usually double or triple the original. Double or triple what? Well, that's up to the brewer... That's the question I was asking myself when I saw this bottle of Breckenridge's Small Batch Imperial Porter. You don't see Imperial Porters often, and this was my first so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Breckenridge Porters are among my favorites so I figured it was worth the purchase price even if I really had no idea what exactly to expect.
The Porter style is something I've learned to enjoy. As a novice drinker Stouts and Porters didn't appeal to me, but now I love them. I generally like more mellow and balanced Stouts over their Imperial cousins. I assume the same would be true of Porters. After drinking Breckenridge's Imperial Porter, I'm not sure if I'd entirely refute that...
This beer pours out of the bottle rather light, similar to the color of lighter Doppelbock. The body settles into a more familiar black with a light tan head, but the highlights of this beer hint that there's a bit more going on here. The aroma is about what I expected. I was expecting a malty but mild aroma, maybe a little chocolate... that's pretty much what I found but there is a hint of roastiness. Just a hint, it's very faint. The most remarkable thing about the aroma is how unremarkable it is. If you had to pick this out from a line up of regular Porters on aroma alone you'd have a hard time.
The flavor of this beer is decidedly "more" than a regular Porter beer. The Imperial Porter has a mellow flavor over all (it wouldn't be a Porter if it weren't), but there is more here than you'd think based on the aroma alone. The maltiness hits your tongue as mild and sweet flavors that taste like caramel wafted with milk chocolate. This isn't a chocolate Porter by any means but the darker malt lets a little of the chocolate flavor sneak by. It really is a great combination of flavors. It's also nothing groundbreaking or extreme. In a world full of extreme imperial beers, this is a very nice change of pace.
I really enjoyed the flavors and balance in this bottle of Breckenridge Imperial Porter. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys Stouts, Porters and Doppelbocks. It's full of flavor and 7.5% but remains incredibly smooth and infinitely drinkable. If you're looking for an extreme Porter along the lines of a double digit ABV Imperial Stout, this may not be quite right for you. Masterful flavor combinations and balance win out in this beer. The Imperial Porter is more about creating the most flavorful Porter possible, not the most extreme Porter.