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Updated: Mar 27, 2023


Porter is a dark, full-bodied beer that has its origins in London, England. The style emerged in the 18th century and quickly became popular with the working-class population in London.

The history of Porter is closely tied to the development of the industrial revolution in England. In the early 18th century, a new style of beer called "brown ale" was gaining popularity in London. This beer was brewed with brown malt, which was made by drying malted barley over an open flame. The resulting malt was darker and had a smoky flavor that was popular with consumers.

In the mid-18th century, a new style of beer emerged that was even darker and richer than brown ale. This beer was called "porter," and it quickly became the most popular style of beer in London. The name "porter" is thought to have come from the fact that the beer was favored by porters, who were laborers who worked in London's bustling markets and docks.

Porter was brewed with a combination of brown malt, pale malt, and roasted barley, which gave it a deep brown color and a complex flavor profile. The beer was also hopped more heavily than other styles of beer, which helped to balance out its sweetness.

As the industrial revolution continued, the demand for porter grew. The beer was exported to other countries, including the United States, where it became a popular style of beer in its own right. Over time, porter evolved into different sub-styles, such as stout and Baltic porter.



Porters are typically dark brown to black in color, with shades of red or mahogany visible when held up to the light. The color comes from the roasted malts used in the brewing process, which impart flavors of coffee, chocolate, and caramel.


Porters are generally a clear beer, with no haze or sediment visible. However, some brewers may intentionally leave a slight haze to add to the mouthfeel of the beer.


When poured correctly, Porters should produce a thick, creamy head that lingers for a few minutes. The head should be tan to light brown in color, and should leave lacing on the glass as you drink the beer. The head is a result of the carbonation in the beer and the proteins in the malt.


The malt character in Porters is typically rich and complex, with flavors of roasted coffee, chocolate, caramel, and toffee. The aroma is often reminiscent of freshly baked bread or toasted grains. The malt sweetness is balanced by a moderate to high level of bitterness from the hops, which helps to prevent the beer from becoming cloying or overly sweet.


The hop character in Porters is typically moderate to low, with flavors and aromas that are earthy, herbal, or spicy. Hops are used primarily as a bittering agent to balance the sweetness of the malt, rather than for their flavor or aroma.


The yeast character in Porters is typically subdued, with little or no discernible aroma or flavor. However, certain yeast strains can contribute a subtle fruity or spicy character to the beer.

Other flavors:

Porters can also exhibit a range of other flavors depending on the specific recipe and brewing techniques used. Some common flavors include:

  • Smoke: Some Porters are brewed with smoked malt, which imparts a distinctive smoky flavor and aroma.

  • Dark fruit: Some Porters may have flavors of dark fruit, such as raisins, plums, or figs, which can come from the malt or from the use of specialty ingredients like molasses or brown sugar.

  • Nutty: Some Porters may have a nutty character, with flavors of hazelnut or almond.

  • Spices: Some Porters may be brewed with spices, such as cinnamon or vanilla, to add complexity and depth to the flavor.



Porters typically have a smooth and creamy consistency, with a medium to full body. The mouthfeel can be described as velvety or silky, with a slight thickness that coats the tongue and mouth.


The carbonation level in Porters is typically moderate to low, with a smooth and gentle effervescence. The low carbonation allows the malt and hop flavors to shine through, while also contributing to the smooth and creamy mouthfeel.


Porters have a medium to full body, which contributes to their smooth and velvety mouthfeel. The body is a result of the malt bill, which typically includes roasted malts that add body and viscosity to the beer.


The finish of a Porter is typically smooth and satisfying, with a slight bitterness from the hops that balances the sweetness of the malt. The finish can be described as lingering, with the rich flavors of coffee, chocolate, and caramel lingering on the palate. Some Porters may have a slightly dry finish, while others may have a sweeter finish.

Overall, the mouthfeel of a Porter is one of its defining characteristics. The smooth and creamy consistency, moderate carbonation, and medium to full body all contribute to the beer's velvety mouthfeel. The finish is satisfying and complex, with a balance of sweetness and bitterness that lingers on the palate. FOOD PAIRINGS

Porters are a versatile beer that pairs well with a range of foods. Their rich, complex malt flavors and moderate bitterness make them a great match for hearty, savory dishes. Here are some specific food pairing suggestions to consider:

  1. Grilled or roasted meats: Porters pair well with grilled or roasted meats, such as steak, lamb, or pork. The beer's maltiness and bitterness complement the rich flavors of the meat, while the carbonation helps to cut through the fat.

  2. Smoked meats and cheeses: Porters are a great match for smoky flavors, such as smoked meats or cheeses. The smoky flavors of the food complement the roasted malt flavors in the beer, creating a complex and satisfying flavor combination.

  3. Chocolate desserts: Porters have a natural affinity for chocolate, with their rich flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. Try pairing a Porter with a rich chocolate dessert, such as chocolate cake, brownies, or truffles.

  4. Spicy dishes: Porters can stand up to spicy dishes, such as chili or curry. The beer's maltiness helps to temper the heat of the spices, while the bitterness helps to cleanse the palate between bites.

  5. Stews and hearty soups: Porters are a great match for hearty, savory stews or soups, such as beef stew or lentil soup. The beer's rich malt flavors and smooth mouthfeel complement the heartiness of the dish, creating a satisfying and comforting pairing.

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