Beer Styles - Porter

Beer Styles: Porter

The Beer style Porter whilst associated by most people with Guiness and Ireland actually originated from good old England approximately 300 years ago at the turn of the eighteenth century. Around this time a brewer named Ralph Harwood spotted the trend of pub patrons mixing up several beers together from those available in the pub  and produced his own single beer blended together from three others. It became known as three threads by his customers but he named it entire (a name which can still be seen inscribed in historic pubs today). The beer was strong and dark and then  became known as Porter in approximately 1725 as it was adopted and loved by the hard working porters of London.

The beer quickly becoming a phenomenon; it was first brewed in Dublin in 1764 and by 1803 Guiness only brewed this style. In 1810 over 1.2 million barrels were brewed in London alone and by the 1830’s it was exported widely to Europe.

The Production of  porter involved ageing it, in huge casks known as butts for months. This lead to a calamity in London in 1814 when a vat of over twenty feet in height filled with thirty two tons of porter burst apart causing a beer wave. Whilst this may sound like a fortunate event to you my fellow beer lovers the wave partially demolished four houses and killed 8 people from a mixture of drowning, poisoning by porter fumes and drunkenness.

The beer became the dominant style in the UK and remained so for over a hundred years however if fell from fashion and had stopped being produced in the UK and even by Guiness by the 1970’s. Thankfully for me as its one of my favourite beers it was brought back into production by the craft beer movements that took place in the UK and the USA and can now often be found in bars and pubs throughout the Uk and beyound..

Porter is an ale that is mid brown to black, it is fairly opaque and can often have a scarlet tint. Its strength is 4.5 to 6.5 % abv and it is often typified by flavours of coffee, chocolate and smokiness. It is often enjoyed in the winter months.

David Brumley is the owner and Proprietor of Twelve Hundred Postcards a traditional ale house in Queens road Hastings.

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