British Porter has a fascinating history in that its origins occurred in the early 1700s when people visited pubs and would ask bartenders to blend beers. While people still walk into bars today and might ask for a “Snakebite” (Guinness & Cider), a “Black and Tan” (Irish Stout and a Pale Beer) or a “Black Velvet” (Irish Stout and Sparkling Wine), in the 1700s, bartenders could be blending up to six different barrels to get the right flavour a customer wanted. Over time, in London, a particular blend known as “three threads” became popular, which was a mix of three beers. This beer was moderately strong, dark and tasty. Shortly, thereafter, a brewer named Ralph Harwood came up with a single beer that mimicked this three beer concoction. While he played with the name ‘Hardwood’s Entire’, the beer became known as a Porter Stout as it was popular with London’s Porters – a hardworking job where you’d carry luggage, load trains, and keep areas clean – all at a frantic pace.
Porter Beer became the most popular style in London, and soon dozens of breweries were making it. In fact, when Arthur Guinness opened up his Dublin Brewery in 1759, he started by making a porter. It wasn’t until decades later that Guinness would be known for their Irish Stout.
Porter beer has changed in style in the decades and centuries since. Modern English Porter is still dark, and full-bodied ales. However while a stout will be black in colour, an Porter will be redish-brown. A Porter isn’t as bitter as a Stout, and can best be described as having a smooth, almost chocolate flavour. A Stout on the other hand will have an espresso roast bite.
British Porter & Food
British Porters aren’t as scary as they let on. While they look like they are high in alcohol, they’re only about 5%. The bitterness of this beer is also nicely balanced against the sweetness and malt flavours. Furthermore, they have a nice fruity aromatic. This all makes for a beer that is quite silky, and quite food friendly.
Best Beer with BBQ
The roast flavours of a English Porter make them excellent with grilled meats such as steaks, burgers and even chicken. Surprisingly, they go excellent with grilled vegetables as well, making British Porter the perfect beverage with shish kabobs.
For sweeter Porters, you’ll find they go amazingly well with BBQ ribs as they will complement the sauce nicely. Sweet Italian Sausages are another great match for British Porters as are venison sausages as the dark malts pair well with the gamy flavour.
English Porter Beer and Venison Pairings
Comfort food such as Meatloaf and Shepherd’s Pie are excellent with British Porter. Venison and wild boar, whether grilled, stewed, or roasted are excellent as well as the beer’s dark malt and fruity nose dance well with the gamy flavours. The chocolatey tones of a British Porter are excellent with anything on Pumpernickel bread, such as a Rueben Sandwich.
Beer and Chocolate
When people think of Mexican cuisine, they often reach for a Corona, however a British Porter is quite the match for Mexican Mole Sauce, which features chillies, nuts, and chocolate. The chocolate overtones of British Porter (created from the chocolat malt used to brew this beer) will also go well with Chocolate desserts with medium in intensity such as chocolate mousse or souffle. For an heavy chocolate cake, you’d be better skipping the porter and reaching for an Imperial Stout.
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