PORT BREWING MONGO IPA

This beautiful beer doesn’t appear on draft where I live.  I’m lucky it’s here at all.  The Mongo is a huge West Coast DIPA that has meandered its way to Aleheads’ new Appalachian Command here in the Berkshires (Massachusetts).  I snagged this one in a bomber from my local bottle store.

The brewery says they made this prince primarily out of Columbus, Amarillo and Cascade hops, with a side of Centennial and Simcoe.  I don’t know shit from shinook but I think the wrong turn this beer took was when they added the Amarillo hops.  True to that strain, this beer smells better — or at least bigger — than it tastes.  But it’s still awesome.

The Mongo pours a hazy, sediment-filled gold with a huge foamy head.  If you’re a dregs-drinker, this is for you.  Carbonation is mild, more like an imperial IPA than a double.  There’s sparse lacing up and down the glass.

The smell is sublime but it over-sells the taste.  It is predominantly citrus, with lots of pine backing it up, and hints of tropical fruit.  These are just hops aromas, and you can’t tell from the smell whether the beer will have balance.

And… the Mongo’s weakness is that it doesn’t taste enough like those tropical fruits–and it’s not quite balanced enough.  I taste-tested it opposite the Avery Maharaja (also in a bomber) and the Maharaja kicked its ass.  Where the Maharaja tastes like a face full of bananas, the Mongo just tastes like hops.  Don’t get me wrong; you can still taste a host of flavors, again mostly citrus, with secondary flavors of pine, peaches and pineapple.  And it’s a tremendous beer–just not the best in class.

Mongo’s mouthfeel is par for the style: relatively thin, light-to-medium carbonation, alcohol burn.

Rating: One of my 10 favorite DIPAs, but still a 3.0.  It’s a great beer; just doesn’t stack up to the competition.

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9 comments

  1. Man, it’s getting hard to impress the Commander these days.

  2. Dude’s got high standards.

    I love this beer, by the way.

  3. Indeed. If you met him, you might not necessarily think so.

  4. The Captain · · Reply

    3? really? I think the Mongo is better than Pliny.

  5. I’ve been taking some flak for the 3.0 rating. I hear the argument for a 3.5, though I stand by my rating.

    There is tremendous competition at the top of this style. And I justify giving a 3.0 to the Mongo in particular because of the competition in the subset of IIPA’s that taste kind of like it, which I would describe as citrus-heavy west coast IIPA’s. It’s not just Avery Maharaja, though in my mind that’s the best example out there. There is also Moylan’s Hopsickle and Pliny the Elder. Those three beers are the only three IIPA’s to which I’d give our highest 4-hop rating. There are a host of other examples that I think stack up favorably to the Mongo, including Bear Republic Racer X and Green Flash Imperial IPA… I’d even put the Lagunitas Hop Stoopid up there, though I admit that I’m biased by the significantly lower price on that one.

    When you consider all the IIPA’s that DON’T taste like Mongo — all the non-west coast IIPA’s, I guess — in my view, its rating starts to drop even further. There are a handful of these beers that I’d give a 3.5, such as Bell’s Hopslam, Founders Double Trouble, Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf (I have not had the Dreadnaught), Southern Tier Unearthly, Southern Tier Gemini, and Avery DuganA.

    But yeah, I’ll admit to being a little harsh on the Mongo. If it’s any comfort, I’m even harder on the Hop 15.

  6. Personally, Maharaja would really not be the beer I’d compared Mongo to. Maharaja seems much fuller and sweeter, maltier and boozier to me, with more of the tropical fruit thing.

    The Mongo, on the other hand, I think you described perfectly as “citrus-heavy west coast IIPA”. Very orangey, in particular.

  7. I try not to harp too much on the ratings since they’re entirely personal. I actually think this is a very good tasting note since it clearly reveals the Commander’s preferences. I MUCH prefer the Mongo to the Maharaja so I would have a very different overall rating if I were writing this note. But since the Commander likes the flavor profile of Avery’s DIPA, it stands to reason that the Mongo does not meet his criteria for personal favorites (no matter what your preference, you have to admit that those are two very different brews). I think the Czar was the one who strongly argued in favor of comparisons in tasting notes and this one is a perfect example of why.

    For the record, the Mongo is awesome…as is the Hop 15. I also had Port’s 3rd Anniversary Ale this weekend and it was just beautiful.

    And speaking of DIPAs, while in Boston last weekend, I happened upon an alehouse serving up Bear Republic’s Racer 15. Mmmm.

  8. Cask Beerouac · · Reply

    The only thing I’ll harp on as an asshole outsider, it seems tough for a DIPA, which is arguably the most saturated category with prestige beers maybe other that imperial stouts, to only be a 3.0 rating and be one of your person Top 10 Favs. Just saying…

  9. Kid Carboy Jr. · · Reply

    On the other hand, it just makes that rare DIPA he gives a 4 to all the more special.

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