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Monday, May 31, 2010

Mayan Porter Tasting

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all those brave men and women who gave their lives for our country.

This is the second bottle of the Mayan Porter I blogged about here.  The first bottle I tried was way over carbonated and filledMayan Porter first pour up a 16oz glass with foam and I had barely poured 6oz out of the bottle.  So this time I was cautious.  A little too cautious as can be seen from the lack of head after the pour.  I improvised pouring the last 2-3 ounces straight in the middle of the glass and from a height of 8 or so inches.

I used a BJCP Score sheet as a guide for this tasting so that I remember to cover all aspects.  The judges at the Sam Adams Long Shot certainly will be.  Just so we are on the same page, I have only been a Steward at a genuine BJCP beer judging and do not have any qualifications.  I am “winging it” based on observation and study.

Bottle residue Bottle Inspection:  Residue in the bottle is minimal and obviously yeast.  The picture is slightly out of focus, but pretty good for a camera phone (I love my iPhone!).

Aroma:  No discernable hop aroma, but some malt comes through.  Definite aroma of chocolate.  I didn’t expect the chocolate to be part of the aroma of this beer, but it is unmistakable to me.  The secondary aroma is the chipotle, especially if the glass is agitated to produce a secondary head.  To me it is a pleasant, reminds me of smoked Texas style barbeque, ribs or brisket.

Appearance: The head is tan to off-white, about the perfect color for the base style (porter).  The head retention is short lived, probably due to the cocoa butter and other oils, but it should be downgraded for this flaw.  The beer is slightly cloudy, but not a “yeasty” cloudy.  To me it appears like the cocoa that is Tan to off-white head still in suspension creating that chocolate milk haze to the beer.   This beer is completely opaque and a deep chocolate brown (as I would expect).

Flavor:  I’m actually surprised at how drinkable this beer is.  Smoke beers and spiced beers I can usually only take one-at-a-time, but this is surprisingly easy to drink.  The up-front flavor is chocolate that quickly gives way to a common porter malty goodness.  Finally, the chipotle provides the “take-down” assault with a low, slow smoky burn that starts at the back of the throat and goes down, coating as it goes.  Lastly the smoke sensation backfills the senses reminding me of barbequed delectable's.  If you are prone to reflux disease, take your meds before drinking! 

Mayan Porter, glass half-full or empty? Mouthfeel:  Body is medium-light; heavy enough to be considered a porter, but not too heavy.  Attenuation is good without a lot of residual sugar.  Carbonation is good to light.  The beer is fizzy on the tongue as the mouth warms it, but not carbonated enough to produce bubbles while sitting idle.  No astringency or other palate sensations other than the “heat” from the chipotle spices described above.

Overall Impressions:   This is a very good beer that is, in all honesty, probably not “improved” by the additional spices.  The porter recipe stands on its own or it wouldn’t be in my “most brewed” recipes in Beer Smith.  I wanted to try an experiment and although it didn’t go horribly wrong, it isn’t great either.  As has been proven for thousands of years in the production of beer, simple is best.  I would not say that this is a complete waste of time, but I will change a couple of things when I do this again.  First, I would use chocolate extract instead of cocoa powder.  Cocoa powder is a mess and nearly impossible to know when it is done falling out of suspension.  Second, I would use much less chipotle.  The flavor combination is very good, but it could be improved by being more subtle.

The telling part will be the comments from the two Guinea Pigs I gave samples to for this long weekend.  They will be able to add comments below.  Let’s see what they say.


  1. As one of the tasting Guinea Pigs, I tried the Mayan Porter with cautious optimism. I had never had a chocolate beer, and was not sure how the smokey heat would actually taste when it came from a beer. The first sip of beer had a taste of chocolate, but it did not overpower the taste of the actual beer. After swallowing the first taste, I started to get the heat from the peppers. After another two to three tastes, the chocolate flavor become less pronounced and I was left with a very enjoyable dark beer that still left a nice peppery warmth from my mouth to my belly. I drank the beer while enjoying another hobby, so the beer was able to start to warm towards room temperature. There was no noticeable difference in taste between the ice cold beer and the warmer beer.

    I saved the second beer for a couple of days and ended up drinking it while eating fajitas. After getting past the initial chocolate taste, the beer paired very well with the fajita meat, sour cream, and cheese. It also complimented the chips and salsa nicely.

    This beer is easily the most unique beer that I have tasted. I would not classify it as an everyday drinker, but it is a nice change of pace for the taste buds. I would like to retest once the weather cools off. The warming sensation from the peppers should be quite nice on a brisk winter day.

  2. I should have no problem providing that opportunity since I missed the Sam Adams Longshot contest deadline. I went to get the shipping address last night and discovered that the deadline for entries was last Friday. :-(