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Porters were invented in the pubs of 18th-century London and became the “It beer” of the era, thanks to new brewing techniques that blended different batches together and aged the beer anywhere from two months to two years to mellow the acrid, smoky notes. The dark, approachable style became a fan favourite among the porters working the docks, which is where this type of beer got its name. While porter beers were losing popularity in England by the 1950s, the rise of North American craft breweries in the '80s helped revive the style.
English porters are all about the malt, exuding roasted, chocolate and toast flavours and a touch of tart red fruit. American porters are higher in alcohol and can be hopped more aggressively for a lingering bitterness. Baltic porters from Poland, Scandinavia and Russia are similarly higher in alcohol, with deeper flavour complexity and a velvety mouthfeel.
YOU MAY TASTE
Expect flavours ranging from mild to medium and from roasted to bitter, including coffee beans, baking chocolate, vanilla, raisin, plum, caramel and toasted nuts. You may also taste light bready, biscuity and toasty malt notes.
SIP THEM WITH
Ales with roasted flavours match well with rich and hearty fare, such as roast lamb, steak and mushroom pie, caramelized root vegetables or chili. Baltic porters are ideal for serving after dinner with a chocolate or caramel dessert or a rich cheese, like a triple-cream brie.
Pour a porter at a 45-degree angle into a pint glass until it’s almost full, then straighten the glass and continue pouring aggressively to tease out a cappuccino-hued, foamy cap. Serve a Baltic porter in a snifter alongside a cheese plate.
Rich, toasty and chocolatey, porters are a classic beer style meant to be savoured. Originally from England, this ideal winter sipper has been perfected by craft brewers.
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