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American craft breweries like to turn up the volume. While they've produced some truly great traditional porters, breweries all over the country have also been busy experimenting with high-octane Imperial Porters.
Imperial beers are high-impact variations on traditional styles. Imperial porters are full bodied, with tons of rich malt and high alcohol levels. They are brewed with dark-roasted barley, which can add a bitter punch. Some include a generous helping of hops. (American Imperial porters are differentiated from Baltic porters by the addition of fragrant hops and dark-roasted malt, as well as the fact that Baltic porters are usually lagers, not ales, but the line is a little fuzzy and some use the category names interchangeably.)
While these potent beers won't be everyone's favorite style, we found quite a few tasty examples in our roundup.
Full Sail Top Sail Imperial Porter Oregon, 9.85% ABV
This bourbon-barrel aged porter is silky and chocolaty with some musty walnut and maple flavors. The scent reminded us of port and expensive leather, vanilla and wheat. Though some found it a little syrupy, we felt like the hoppy edge keeps this beer in balance.
Four Stars **** "Awesome and worth remembering.