English Porter vs American Porter – What’s the Difference?

A porter is very similar to a stout. They both use top-fermenting ale yeast. Yet, porters are made from malted barley. Stouts are made from unmalted, roasted barley. As a result, the porter doesn’t have a full-body complexity as stouts do.  

A big difference with porter is the hop bitterness. This is in stark contrast to stouts, which have no hop flavor. The hop bitterness in the porter balances with the malt to give you a dry and acidic taste. Seeing the contrasts between porters and stouts, what are the differences between English and American Porters?

English Porter

The English Porter is originally from London and discovered about 300 years ago. According to BJCP, English Porters “became a highly-popular, widely-exported style in the 1800s before declining around WWI and disappearing in the 1950s. It was reintroduced in the mid-1970s with the start of the craft beer era.” London porters are made using a brown malt. The flavor profile consists of chocolate and caramel since the roast is not strong. This roast affects the color as well as the taste profile. The hops are then added to give this porter great character. The final result is soft, sweet, and hoppy. The ABV of British porters is about 4-5.5%.

American Porter

The American Porter uses more strength in their recipe than the British do. According to BJCP, American Porters “contain several malts, prominently dark malts, which often include black malt.” This malt gives this porter a strong taste, as well as a darker color. BJCP also describes the taste of this porter as either “chocolate or coffee-like.” American Porters are made with malted barley, with bittering hops. These characteristics give the porter a medium-bodied and dryer mouthfeel. ABV for American Porter is around 4.8-6.5%.

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