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Porters actually predated stouts, as a stout is a derivative of the porter (the heaviest of the porters) and they all fall in the category of dark beers. The darkness and flavors come from roasting the malts until “it resembles burnt toast.” The name supposedly derives from its popularity with the porters in England.
A List of Porters
So, another kind of dark beer awaits our taste buds, often times strong in flavor. I know this, because the first one I ever tried was Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter. Since I was younger and hadn’t developed my beer taste buds into the fine tuned machines they are today, I remember grimacing because it was much stronger than a Michelob. Let me emphasize – that’s a great thing.
To find other porters, I went to my favorite resource, the Great American Beer Festival winners and looked around for other porters. For example, you know the silver medalist in brown porters will always be on tap at the Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery in Nashville, TN because the baby back ribs are cooked with St. Charles Porter.
The Pullman Brown is also always on tap at Flossmoor Station in Flossmoor, IL, on the south side of Chicago. If you take the METRA University Park line, it takes you to the front door of this brewpub and now you know why it’s called Flossmoor Station.
For readers in the Keystone State and the First State, Iron Hill Brewery has locations in eight locations, soon to be nine. The Newark restaurant (and the rest of the branches) counts the gold medalist in “Robust Porter,” Pig Iron Porter, among the house beers.
Blimp Hangar Porter is on tap at the Tustin Brewing Company in Tustin, CA if you are on the opposite side of the country from Delaware and Pennsylvania. If the NFL season happens this year, they open their doors at 9 am, so you can start drinking porters for breakfast early.
For those in the mountain region who like a tropical note to their beer, there’s Pagosa Brewing Company’s Pack-It-In Coconut Porter, a silver medal winner for specialty beer. Unfortunately, this is a seasonal brew, so if you are in the Durango area, you might call ahead to see if it is on tap if you crave a coconut beer.
For the rest of us that want a good porter, but aren’t in those select areas, there is the gold medal winning Alaskan Smoked Porter that’s available in about every western state but Utah. Unfortunately, it is a limited edition beer and only available around November 1st. On the positive side though, you can age the beer in the bottle just like a good wine.
Also available in more locations is the Moonlight Porter of Rock Bottom Breweries. Since every restaurant in the chain runs itself separately, you may not luck into a Moonlight Porter, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to drink. Then, next time you hit another brewpub, see if they have a porter on tap and give it a whirl.