Porter is a dark beer which was first brewed in London to refresh and sustain hard working men, and it is known to have been drunk widely by the 18th century. It probably got its name from the market porters who moved produce on the city’s streets and rivers.
When a stronger version of the beer was brewed they called it Stout Porter, a name which became shortened in time to Stout. Today the drinks are very similar, so much so that there is confusion and debate about their differences. Some beer buffs argue that Stout includes roasted barley while Porter does not.
The beer is still brewed in London today, and Fullers London Porter is a well known example. There has also been a revival of the style by the small speciality or artisan breweries which have opened in England and America in recent years. Medal winners include 1872 Porter from Yorkshire’s Elland Brewery, and Founders Porter from the American state of Michigan.
Porter is served in bottles at room temperature or lightly chilled, and poured into a glass to form a creamy and frothy head. The beer is very dark brown, or even black and rich or heavy. The head is tan coloured and luxurious.
Typically a Porter beer will have a sweet scent and taste both bitter and sweet at the same time. There will be a host of other complex flavours, varying between breweries. Typical descriptions from tastings would include hints of chocolate, nuts, fruit or coffee.