American Porter beers reflect American craft brewery interpretations of age-old English Porters. Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing in California – two of the original U.S. craft breweries – each made their own groundbreaking porter that helped introduce the style to contemporary American palates. Many domestic craft brewers have since followed with myriad delicious examples of “robust” and “brown” porters, while others have taken new approaches, including the use of smoked malts and brewing porters of “imperial” strength.
Smoke Porter is an American Porter sub-style that integrates smoked malt aroma, flavor and character to complement the roasty, chocolaty and caramel porter character. Hop bitterness and aroma and flavor vary across examples according to the brewer’s intent.
American Imperial Porter is emerging as a stand-alone beer style inspired by the strength of Baltic Porter, yet can deliver more roast character and amped-up hop aroma, flavor and bitterness, with ABV reaching 10 percent or more.
Other American Porter examples may incorporate coffee, vanilla, chocolate or other similarly complementary ingredients. Still more special versions are aged in used casks, such as bourbon barrels (a throwback to wooden-vat aging at English breweries), from which the beer takes on bourbon aroma and flavor for additional complexity.