Beer Styles 201: What is a Porter?
Porters: where they come from, their appearance, flavour & aroma, palate & mouthfeel, food pairings and serving suggestions are all explained in this Beer Styles 201 article.
By The Beer Community on Feb. 13, 2019
What is a Porter?
A porter is a dark brown, sometimes black, beer that is brewed from malt and is partly “charred” or “browned”.
Porters were first brewed in the late 17th century and the “birth” of this beer style is still known as one of the most significant brewing matter in the past 300 years. Porter was the first beer style to gain popularity during the Industrial Revolution in England.
The name “porter” was adopted for the beer because of the beer’s wide popularity with the porters who carried goods around the cities.
Fun Beer Fact:
Porters were George Washington’s favourite style of beer.
What is a Baltic Porter?
A baltic porter is an English-style porter that blurs the line between porters and stouts even more. A baltic porter has ben fortified with a higher alcohol content to survive the journey across the Baltic Sea.
What is a Brown Porter?
Brown porters are more malty than hoppy. Flavours like bittersweet chocolate, toffee, and caramel are almost always present in a brown porter. Usually there are no significant roasted barley. Brown porters are said to be a “heftier” brown ale.
What is a Robust Porter?
As the name suggest, a robust porter is a “more intense” style porter. Robust porters are closer in style to stouts because of the use of roasted and black patent malt.
Porter Beer Essential Information
Porter Style Region:
The porter beer style was first brewed in England.
Appearance of a Porter:
Porters usually pour an opaque brown, although, sometimes are black. Brown porters tend to be slightly lighter in colour, pouring a medium brown.
Porter Flavour: What does a porter taste like?
Sometimes, porters can be described as “acidic” or “dry”. Porters can also be described as “sweet” and “moderately bitter”. Porters can be hoppy or not, this is up to the brewer.
In porters, there can be rich notes of chocolate, coffee and sometimes smokiness. Toasted malt aromas are almost always present while there is usually little to no hop aroma.
Porter Palate & Mouthfeel:
Porters can be anywhere from light to full and heavy bodied.
What foods pair well with a Porter?
Porters taste great with smoked foods. Think anything barbecued like sausages, stews, bacon, smoked brisket, and braised dishes. Dark, heavy porters also pair well with mellow blue cheeses. For dessert, pair your porter with chocolate cake.
How to serve a Porter:
Porters should be served at a temperature between 45–50°F (7–10°C) in a pint (tumbler) glass. For a fancier occasion, porters can be poured into goblet glasses. Baltic porters should be served slightly warmer than regular porters.
Comparable styles to a Porter:
Try some porters and see what you think:
Here are some of our favourites:
Now that you’re a Porter expert, learn more about these other beer styles:
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