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For an incredibly dark beer, Porter beer certainly has a colourful history. Not only are Porters associated with the birth of the popular Stout beer style, they also helped to transform the brewing landscape in London, quenching the thirst of hard-working labourers in the British capital. Brewed traditionally with dark malts such as black and brown malt as well as using an ale yeast means this is usually a hearty beer with lovely chocolatey coffee nutty flavours. Averaging at 5% ABV, it makes for the perfect session beer too!
Interestingly one could say porter beer was born out of convenience rather than anything else. Like many things in beer history, there is always some speculation as to how true the stories are but the following is what many agree to be the most accurate version of events. Going back to 18th Century London, at the time it was common for pub landlords to serve mixed pints, consisting of three different kinds of beer – usually Pale, Brown and Old Ale – called ‘Three Threads’. It was very popular amongst beer drinkers and it was a rather convenient way for landlords to use up their old beer.
A local brewer in Shoreditch, East London, allegedly went on to develop a recipe that would replicate the above beer which was called ‘Entire Butt’ (in reference to a large cask). Like we’ve said there is some debate as to how true all of this is, and many have stated that this ‘Entire Butt’ was rather more likely based on the highly popular Brown Ales of the time, but hey don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story right? At the time these beers were not only brewed with dark malts but were also well hopped – the stronger versions were labelled as stout porters, which as you might have guessed, eventually led to the stout as a beer style of its own! Nevertheless, this beer, dubbed Porter, as it was largely consumed amongst these men (porters were folks who would carry goods across London) became incredibly popular and soon it was all that the local breweries were producing! In fact, one brewery had such large vessels to store Porter that when one collapsed, eight unfortunate souls drowned in beer!
Just like a stout, a porter beer is usually as dark as can be. However, don’t be mistaken that it should be completely black and opaque. Brewed with black and brown malts means that whilst it might look like a black beer, if you hold up your porter against the light you should see that it can vary from being a light brown to a dark brown. In fact, some of the lighter porters available can even be a deep ruby colour rather than dark brown, but this is less common. Just like a stout, depending on the brew, porters can also have a nice creamy head making it an overall a very enticing looking beer!
It would be boring if there was only one kind of porter available to drink but luckily, over the years the beer style has evolved and nowadays you can find an array of different kinds of porter. Let’s begin with the classic brown porter, the most traditional kind out there and the one you will have most likely tried if you’ve enjoyed a porter before. Usually lower in alcohol at 4-5% this is a nice session porter, perfect to drink away on an afternoon or evening or at any time really! A Robust porter is a slightly stronger version of the classic brown porter and some may associate it with the ones that have been produced more recently by craft brewers, experimenting with higher ABVs as well as with American hops.
If you’re looking for something even stronger then how about a Baltic porter? As the name illustrates, these became popular throughout the Baltic states and differ from the other two types in that they’re usually brewed with a lager yeast but at warmer fermentation temperatures, resulting in a cleaner finish. However, averaging at 8-9% with some stronger than 10%, this is a hardy porter and bound to warm you up on a cold wintery day!
The great thing about a porter and its strong chocolate coffee like flavours is that you don’t need to shy away when food pairing. Just like with a stout, it is the perfect accompaniment to red meats such as your burgers and sausages! Perfect if you’re thinking of firing up the bbq!
Beer and cheese pairing has become increasingly popular over the years and porter should be no exception especially so if you’ve got a porter with nutty flavours, it will complement your nutty cheeses too. If this still doesn’t tickle your fancy then perhaps something for your sweet tooth? Porter and chocolate cake has been described as being the ultimate pudding combo as they share many of the same flavours and as such complement each other perfectly!
So, what do we have for porters here at Uiltje? Well for a brewery that usually specialises in hoppy fresh IPAs you’ll be reassured to hear that we have also dipped our toe into the world of dark beers. Over the years, we have brewed porters that have been immensely popular including the Matryoshka Doll, a Baltic Porter at 7.5% and if you were lucky enough to come across our Meneer de Uil Barrel series you’ll have noticed that we did a barrel aged porter too. Whilst we haven’t got any porters being brewed at this moment in time, if you are a big fan of the darker beers then we would recommend that you check out our range of available stouts too. Head to our website and if you take a look at our beer release calendar, you’ll notice that we have got a range of stouts due to be released through our Mind your Step series as well as our Grandson series. These are usually higher strength stouts and brewed with all sorts of crazy ingredients, they will certainly keep you entertained. These delicious stouts will hopefully keep you going until we do release a porter once more!
Getting thirsty? At the Uiltje brewing webshop you can order all kinds of different craft beer! Enjoy your day!