Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
Like many of you I’m a cat lover and I’m also a proud cat Dad to the six month old Cricket who is sitting on my lap purring away as I type this. It saddened me to read that this wonderful beer I’m about to review is brewed in tribute to a feline named Columbus, a brewery cat who spent his short life living in the brewhouse at Port Brewing Company and passed away aged just eight months old. Columbus was a larger than life character and during his short tenure as brew kitten earned the nickname ‘Mongo’ after which this incredible west coast double IPA takes its name.
Paws for thought
Port Brewing Company is located in San Marcos, California which lies just north of brewing Mecca, San Diego. The current brewhouse which opened in May 2006 was previously owned by the well known Stone Brewing and is also home to Port Brewing’s sister brewery, The Lost Abbey. Where The Lost Abbey concentrates on producing highly experimental Belgian influenced ales Port Brewing brews the kind of beers that put North American craft brewing on the map, highly hopped pale ales, huge imperial stouts and the beer to which I’m about to lend my two cents, Mongo Double IPA. I won’t go into the full history of Port Brewing right now, but if you’d like to find out a little more about this brewery then you can do so here.
In the UK Port Brewing is one of those producers of craft beer that is often spoken about with hushed reverence, although their beer is available over here it is rare and it is expensive, a good place to find it in the UK being any of the Brewdog bars. I picked up this particular bottle of beer from Wilburs Total Beverage during my recent visit to Fort Collins, Colorado and paid $7.99 (about a fiver) for this 22 fluid ounce bottle or bomber as most beer geeks affectionately refer to these larger bottles. Before I get into this beer and tell you about how much I enjoyed it I do have one complaint, this beer is bottle conditioned but it does not say so anywhere on the label. I don’t mind a bit of sediment in my drink but I would prefer a warning so I can avoid tipping huge lumps of yeast into my glass if I want to.
For this beer I select my favourite drinking receptacle, an Odell branded 12 ounce tulip. Mongo pours a delightful, slightly hazy pale gold with an amber hue where the light catches it, thanks to it’s bottle conditioning it’s very lively on the pour and produces a tight, voluminous five centimetre off white head which leaves some nice lacing around the glass as I sup away. On the nose there are great globs on mango, passion fruit, lychee and lemon sherbet with just a hint of digestive biscuit giving away the massive amount of malts used to support the equally massive amount of hops used in this beer.
The taste is initially and surprisingly quite sweet, not dissimilar to candied pieces of orange or lemon but then a tsunami of piney bitterness washes over your tongue in a fashion not dissimilar to the picture of a surfing young Columbus on the front of the bottle. The 8.5% ABV is practically undetectable thanks to the massive amount of flavour crammed into this beer which is only given away by the slight warmth in the long lasting, slightly grassy bitter finish. Mongo is an excellent beer and its slight sweetness is something I find quite typical in strong west coast American IPAs, it’s that sweetness which for me means the beer falls just short of two thumbs aloft but it’s a damn excellent drop that I’d happily gobble down again in a heartbeat.