Most people prefer fairly balanced beers. The combination of malt and hops provides a fairly complex taste, balancing sweetness from the malt with bitterness from the hops. Then there are hopheads. These people generally ignore malt, except as a way to spike the alcohol content, and they add hops like they’re trying to soak up all the wort. These are the people who have given us the Double IPA, and this week’s beer is one of the best of these: Mongo Double IPA.
Mongo is brewed by Port Brewing Co., located in San Marcos, Calif. The brewery actually traces its roots back to 1992, when Vince and Gina Marsaglia began brewing at home. After realizing how much they liked their beer, they installed a seven-barrel brewery at their business in Solana Beach and called it Pizza Port. The brewery’s capacity was already maxed out when Stone Brewing announced that it was moving out of its nearby facility in 2005. Vince and Gina bought the brewery with two new partners, Tomme Arthur and Jim Comstock, and founded Port Brewing Co. Ever since then, the brewery has been pushing the envelope with barrel-aged beers, the Lost Abbey line of Belgian-inspired ales, and the focus of this week’s article, IPAs.
This beer should be served in a tulip glass or snifter, as the shape allows the aroma to be savored. The taste is robust enough to stand up to pretty much anything but should pair particularly well with Indian and Thai cuisine. I would recommend very sharp cheeses in general, as anything else will get lost, although blue cheeses will work well if you like them. To me, this is the quintessential style to have with a barbecue, along with a nice hefeweizen for the people who don’t like being pounded over the head with hops.
The beer poured a hazy, opaque golden color, which was surprising, as IPAs are typically clear. The head formed as three fingers of very fine, pillowy, off-white foam from only a moderately vigorous pour. The head retention was superb, and the beer left excellent lacing as it was consumed, rivaling the best Belgians I’ve seen. The nose was a beautiful, full piney hop aroma with a very resinous character.
The body was moderate, but it lingered. It was actually moderately full, but the sparkly carbonation offset it up front. As this beer warmed up and the carbonation dropped, the mouthfeel actually became fairly creamy.
The taste was very hop-focused, with a high but not ridiculous level of bitterness throughout. While the bitterness was significant, the hop taste was very bold as well, with the piney, resinous character observed in the aroma showing through again. There was not a lot of malt character present, although some sweetness was evident up front. This was welcome, as it balanced the bitterness somewhat, making this beer very drinkable.
If you like IPAs, definitely give Mongo a try. This beer is a fantastic example of the extreme West Coast Double IPA style, and it beautifully showcases the pine hops with the dry hopping technique. If you have never had an IPA before or don’t know that you love them, I would suggest starting off with Green Flash’s West Coast IPA first, but Mongo is definitely its bigger, badder brother.
Size: 22 ounces