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Beer Style Guide; Porter

Though an old style, porter is essentially modern. It was boosted in its infancy by Britain’s industrial revolution and revived in recent decades by craft brewers in both Britain and the US. Roasted grains are the feature of this hardy brew, with a few variations providing diversity in the style. For those looking for a little something different, or a warming drink for cold weather, porter can fit the bill.

Brown Porter - This is a brown to almost-black beer of fairly moderate alcohol, with some balanced roasty notes. Some versions use a high percentage of Brown malt, others use small amounts of Chocolate malt, Black malt, or similar dark roasted grains. Brown porters are often more distinctly British, with fruity esters from the yeast and earthy notes from the hops common. Try experimenting with specialty grains like Victory or Biscuit malt for added complexity.

Robust Porter - This is a bigger, stronger-tasting porter favored by many American craft breweries. More focus on roasted grains brings out coffee and chocolate flavors. Chocolate malt is an old favorite for a robust porter, and it is common to give it a fairly big malt backing, often with some crystal or caramel malts. American versions typically use a clean American-style ale yeast, but may also have elevated hoppiness, even dry hops occasionally.

Baltic Porter - British porters were often exported to the Baltic Countries, where their popularity encouraged local brewers to pick up the style. The result is an intriguing twist on the classic porter that ups the alcohol and complexity. Baltic brewers commonly used lager yeast instead of ale yeast, which helps promote a very clean, smooth flavor. The roasted character is still the focus of the beer, but it is not nearly as sharp or aggressive as many robust porters. A malty backbone supports the higher alcohol level, which can range up to 10%.