I’m a bit excited about this. I’ve declared favouritism for Mornington Peninsula Brewery in the past and as I’ve discovered over the last eight months or so, their range goes from good to perfectly satisfying. I even enjoy their Imperial Stout.
I picked this bottle up from the Archive’s Next Door Cellars, which means it’s been kept refrigerated and in the dark since it arrived and was kept in the same condition at my place for a week or two prior to undertaking this review.
From the bottle:
Mornington Porter is a robust Porter at 6.0% ABV. Pouring a rich dark brown with a dusty tan head, our Porter displays enticing aromas of dark chocolate and vanilla. Malty undertones support a smooth and luscious palate of vanilla and coffee. Rich, silky smooth and moreish.
The bottle cap comes off with a weak psht. I’ve taken to eyeballing bottles once I’ve opened them to see if I have a gusher on my hands. No rising carbonation levels and carbon dioxide mist in the neck are typically good signs which are present in this case.
In the glass, there’s minimal head and very little carbonation to offer. A serious swirl is required to get even the merest indication that the beer is alive. A very light tan head forms a ring around the edge of the glass but there is no lacing left behind. The porter is a very dark caramel colour, although appears black and opaque when a full glass is presented.
The aroma is enticing, with elements of rum, vanilla and raisin pudding. It livens up more as the porter warms up but it’s a shadow of what I’ve previously experienced. This is like comparing the tinny speaker on the back of your phone to surround sound stereo in a theatre.
Flat and watery is the best way to describe it in the mouth. There’s an underlying roasted bitterness that lingers well after you’ve swallowed the beer but the full flavour spectrum that I’ve come to expect is absent. Again, the porter improves as it heads up towards room temperature but not by much. Not meeting expectation would be an appropriate way of putting it.
So what to do? Do I provide a rating based on past experience or based on what’s in front of me? Gunnamatta IPA and Pacific Ale were based on the former as well as the latter. Most of reviews we’ve written were based solely on what was in that particular bottle. Is that fair? Perhaps not but the product is what the product is. If the brewery doesn’t want old stock – which I assume is the issue, not a defect in the brew itself – making its way into circulation, then they need to be more vigilant in recalling beers past their best. For the record, this bottle doesn’t have a Best Before date on it and I’m pretty sure it was one of only two or three left on the shelf. Hopefully someone less demanding will clear them out.
I’m going to split the difference. I’ll start with the rating that this specific example deserves, 2.5, and add half a point for previous, considerably more positive experiences. Under normal circumstances, I’d probably be more generous but I’m also disappointed because this should be in the 3.5 to 4 ballpark without nostalgia bonus points.
- Genre: Porter
- Regionality: Mornington Peninsula, VIC
- Strength: 6.0%
- Rating: 2 / 3 taste + 1 / 2 ancillaries = 3 / 5
- Plus: Normally pretty brilliant
- Minus: No indication of freshness (putting it on the label would help)