What Makes a Porter a Porter?

As both the craft beer industry and the home brewing hobby expand, new beer styles continue to emerge and existing beer styles are improved on and twisted to reflect modern times. One of the historically original beer styles, the porter, can now be seen on almost every tap list.  Porters have been refined, barrel aged, had additional flavors added to them, and been kept more traditional depending on the season, current trends, brewer’s preferences, and customers taste requests.

The porter style beer has been around since the early 18th century and was one of the first beers to gain popularity and helped to drive a revolution in brewing. While there are a few different stories about how porter originated, most people believe that it was created by London brown ale brewers who were being pressured to create better beers. These improved beers had more hops and were aged longer, and were named after the porters who carried goods around the city and were big fans of this new style of beer.

 
Hazelnut Porter
 

Although the recipe for a porter has changed over the years, it is still known for its depth of color and flavor. This style of beer ranges in color from dark copper to black depending on the variation and typically has an ABV between 4-7% and a lower IBU, usually in the range of 18-35. These beers don’t typically have much of a hoppy taste and aroma, but some porters do have a slight bitter flavor quality to them for balance. Depending on the exact style and the brewers addition to the beer, porters can have a roasted malt taste that may incorporate notes of chocolate, coffee, molasses, or toffee - just to name a few.

Porters are a favorite among many people, and this style continues to grow as new breweries and new beer lovers are born everyday. While this rich, dark, and complex beer may have traditionally been thought of as more of a fall or winter brew, it has defied any box it was previously put into and is now enjoyed year round. A porter brings a lot to the table with its mix of depth and drinkability, and will continue to be a beer that captures the taste buds of all those that try it.