Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Darker World of Porters

The darker world of PortersThe days grow shorter, the nights get colder, and beer selections get darker and bolder. The fall and winter are the perfect time for embracing the darker side of beer and jumping into Porters.

Porters come in a wide variety of sub-styles including: Brown Porters, Robust Porters, Baltic Porters (may include imperial), Smoked Porters, Specialty Porters, and Spice/Herb/Vegetable Porters. Each of these can be quite unique from the other.

Porters are ales and vary in color from light brown to nearly jet black. They can be sweet, roasty, bitter, infused with spices and herbs, hoppy, coffee-like, or aged in barrels and can range in ABV from 4% all the way up to 13% or more.

Porters can be either light bodied or nearly as thick as a motor oil. They tend to be darker and richer than Brown ales, yet less roasty than stouts. In some cases, you'll have a hard time picking out some porters from browns or stouts.

Porters also tend to be a good base for experimentation. You can infuse smoked malts, spices like peppers or vanilla, fruits and coconuts, sweets like honey, or exotics like ground coffee beans. There's no end what you can do with a porter.  Even barrel age them!

The following porter reviews span the spectrum, some are lighter in body and color, some rich and potent. Check out the reviews of the following brews below and see what dark flavors await you the next time you are looking for something dark and mysterious. All of these are available in Colorado, some of these are from a particular year, but still have current versions available. Some beers fall under multiple sub-categories.

Standard Porters (Brown, Robust, Baltic)

- Boulder Beer Planet Porter - Boulder Beer Company (CO)

- Ska Ten Pin Porter - Ska Brewing Company (CO)

- Samuel Adams Honey Porter - Boston Beer Company (MA)

Smoked Porters

- Alaskan Smoked Porter 2008 - Alaskan Beer Company (AK)

- Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter - Left Hand Brewing Co (CO)

- Stone Smoked Porter Vanilla Bean - Stone Brewing Company (CA)

Imperial Porters

- Breckenridge Imperial Porter - Breckenridge Brewery (CO)

- Deschutes Black Butte XX - Deschutes Brewery (OR) Now in it's 24th iteration.

- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter - Flying Dog Ales (MD)

- Full Sail Top Sail Imperial Porter - Full Sail Brewing Co (OR)

- Grand Teton Wake Up Call Imperial Coffee Porter - Grant Teton Brewing (ID)

- Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter - Ska Brewing Co (CO)

Spiced / Herb / Vegetable Porters

- Breckenridge Vanilla Porter - Breckenridge Brewery (CO)

- Dry Dock Vanilla Porter - Dry Dock Brewing Company (CO)

- Empyrean Dark Side Vanilla Porter - Empyrean Brewing (NE)

- Stone Smoked Porter Vanilla Bean - Stone Brewing Company (CA)

Specialty Porters

- Shake Chocolate Porter - Boulder Beer Company (CO)

- Maui Coconut Porter - Maui Brewing Company (HI)

How many of these have you tried? Had any decent porters you wish to tell us about? Leave a comment below with one of your favorites. More porters will be added as they are reviewed.

Related articles:
- List of Top 12 Imperial Stouts you must try.
- 15 Holiday Gift Ideas for Homebrewers.
- A sinfully delicious list of Colorado Winter seasonals.

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