The Five Basic Styles Of Porters

Craft brewers in the U.S. have continuously been experimenting with different types of porters and their traditional ingredients, making it difficult for beer drinkers to identify the difference between a stout and a porter. To help you get a better understanding, I covered the five basic types of craft porters. Have fun learning about porters!!

American Imperial Porter


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The American porter is known for its medium caramel and cocoa-like sweetness. This type of porter will have no noticeable taste of roasted barley or strong burnt flavors. The hop bitterness is medium-low to medium, while the hop flavor range from low to medium-high. To compliment the hop character and malt-derived sweetness, the ale-like fruity ester flavors are apparent but not overwhelming.

English-Style Brown Porter


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Similar to the imperial porter, the brown porter has no roasted barley or black malt character. The hop aroma and flavor range from unnoticeable to medium, but the hop bitterness remains around medium. Because this type of porter has less alcohol and body, it is softer and sweeter than most robust porters.The English-style has low to medium malt sweetness, with additional caramel and chocolate flavors.

Robust Porter


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The robust porter tends to be bitter with a more roasted malt flavor than a brown porter (though still not quite as much as a stout). They are known for their caramel and malty sweetness, which pairs well with the sharp bitterness of black malt. The ABV content for a robust porter ranges from medium-low to medium, with a hop bitterness that is evident. This type of porter often has a slight taste of cocoa to go along with the roasted malt flavor.

Baltic-Style Porter


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The Baltic-style includes malt flavors of a brown porter and the roast of a schwarzbier. The body is usually a cloudy dark brown color with roasted brown malts and bitter tastes. Due to their high alcohol content, the porter may have low complex alcohol flavors or lager fruitiness (berries, grapes, and plums). The Baltic-style porter is a smooth, cold fermented and cold-lagered beer brewed with lager yeast.

Smoke Porter


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The smoke porter has a hop bitterness between medium to medium-high and a hop aroma that falls between not perceived to medium. This style has a robust porter base that is given smoky depth due to the wood-smoked malt. Most traditional breweries will cite the particular type of wood used to smoke the malt because the various fruit and nut trees each create a different flavor.

Quiz Time

Today, we will test your knowledge on porter styles and their perfect food pairings!

*Some questions may have more than one answer!

  1. What type of cheese pairs well with an American imperial porter?
    • Smoked Gouda
    • Jalapeno Cheddar
    • Mozzarella
  2. What type of meat should you eat while enjoying a Baltic-style porter?
    • Ham
    • Prime Rib
    • Turkey
  3. If you made chocolate peanut butter cookies, what porter style(s) would taste good with them?
    • Robust Porter
    • Smoke Porter
    • English-style Brown Porter
  4. Since the Smoke Porter uses wood-smoked malt, what is the perfect treat to pair it with?
    • Vanilla ice cream
    • Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • S’mores

Make sure to write down and save your answers. I will share the correct answers in my next post! Hope you all had a wonderful winter break!


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