To continue a little series I've been doing on different ale styles, I've decided to highlight my favorite porters.
When I speak about porters, it's assumed that I'm referring to American style porters. Quite frankly there isn't much difference between english porters and american porters other than american style porters tend to use more interesting ingredients like smoked flavor, coffee beans, bourbon, but the process of making and the basic tasting scheme is the same.
First a little history of the beer from Beer Advocate: "Porter is said to have been popular with transportation workers of Central London, hence the name. Most traditional British brewing documentation from the 1700’s state that Porter was a blend of three different styles: an old ale (stale or soured), a new ale (brown or pale ale) and a weak one (mild ale), with various combinations of blending and staleness. The end result was also commonly known as "Entire Butt" or "Three Threads" and had a pleasing taste of neither new nor old. It was the first truly engineered beer, catering to the public's taste, playing a critical role in quenching the thirst of the UK’s Industrial Revolution and lending an arm in building the mega-breweries of today. Porter saw a comeback during the homebrewing and micro-brewery revolution of the late 1970’s and early 80’s, in the US. Modern-day Porters are typically brewed using a pale malt base with the addition of black malt, crystal, chocolate or smoked brown malt. The addition of roasted malt is uncommon, but used occasionally. Some brewers will also age their beers after inoculation with live bacteria to create an authentic taste. Hop bitterness is moderate on the whole and color ranges from brown to black. Overall they remain very complex and interesting beers."
These days with all the creative stouts being made, it can be tricky to distinguish a good porter as the two styles are very similar and often indistinguishable. But Porters are usually much lighter in flavor, alcohol content, and body. They are somewhere between a brown ale and stout, but tend to be much closer to a stout. Here are my favorites:
Deschutes Black Butte XXI - This is Deschutes anniversary batch of it's premiere and most popular brew. But those who have had the Black Butte will be pretty amazed by this creation. It's actually an Imperial Porter and it's amazing.
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron - It's hard to classify Palo Santo as any traditional beer style, but probably closest to a Porter. It's a lot like drinking a thick wine, but it's really amazing. I have an older entry on this beer that you can read more about.
Rogue Mocha Porter - A mixture of chocolate and coffee tones from Rogue make up the third on my list, another well crafted beer worth trying.
Stone Smoked Porter - I sometimes shy away from smoked porters because they can be overly smokey, like putting out a cigar in your mouth. But Stone's version of this popular beer has it really nailed.
Stone Vanilla Bean Porter - This is a recent release that I just tried last week at the Daily Pint. Some might find it too sweet, but I think it mellows out as you drink it. A great mixture of chocolate and vanilla sweetness with just enough bitters to keep it worth drinking.
Others worth mentioning and trying: Deschuttes Black Butte Porter, Alaskan Smoked Porter, Anchor Porter, Ballast Point Victory at Sea Vanilla Imperial Porter, Russian River Porter,