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A Porter Is A Porter -- Not Exactly!

A brief history of porter and Gusler’s take on Pullman Porter.
Features May 10, 2002      
Written by Gusler

Tucson, ARIZONA -

A Brief History Of The Style

Porters have been brewed in one style since the 1700’s, and were a particular favorite of the transportation workers in central London, hence then name. Historically, it was mixture of three different beers -- an "Old Ale" beer that had soured or was stale, a "New Ale" -- most likely a Brown or Pale Ale, and lastly a "Mild Ale", a weaker low gravity beer. This beer had various names: "Entire", "Entire Butt" or "Three Threads". It had an easy, pleasing taste and was thought to give more energy and stamina to the porters carrying their heavy loads.

The proper Porters of this era were higher in alcohol, many reaching 7% ABV (alcohol by volume) while some sub-styles, namely the Baltic Porters, exceeded this by several degrees and were quite robust. Brewers may have begun to use the dark brown color to cover up cloudiness and other brewing imperfections. It was about this time that brewers began diverging from "pub brewing" and began opening larger brewing factories that exported worldwide.

Sir Arthur Guinness before creating his world famous stout, brewed two types of Porter -- X or XX. Demand for stronger beer that would travel better eventually led to the development of the XXX, which was exported to the Caribbean and was named "Guinness Extra Stout Porter". Yes Virginia, Porter is the father of Stout. Also as a point of interest, the father of the good old U.S.A., George Washington, had and did brew his own version of a Porter, and the recipe is stored at the New York Public Library.

The Pullman Porter - Brewed by: Oak Creek Brewery - Sedona, Arizona

I was lucky enough to sample this beer (several times, but please don’t tell the Beer Police -- I could get banned from judging future shows), at the 9th Annual Arizona Beer Fest, where I met the brew master and the owner of Oak Creek Brewing Company.

Porters and Stouts have been two of my favorite beer styles since I quaffed my first Guinness in or at St. James Gate, some 20 plus years ago. My love for these beers has since waxed and waned in relation to the quantity and quality of the examples of the styles produced. Fortunately for us dark beer lovers, many breweries have maintained the style in some form or another even in the face of the "light beer revolution".

Pullman Porter is a deep, dark brown to black beer that pours a nice beige head, with generous lace coating the sides of the glass. The aroma of caramel, coffee, roasted grains is quite evident. The start is sweet malt, the top full, creamy and rich while the finish comes nicely hopped, slightly acidic, with moderate carbonation. The aftertaste is pleasantly dry. Pullman Porter is a very pleasing beer that contains all top-notch ingredients and exhibits the fine characteristics of the "master brewers art". Available on draught and with very limited distribution, means you need to visit the beautiful "Red Rock" country in Northwest Arizona to experience the magic.

Good Beer, Goes With Good Food
This beer will perfectly complement the light char and chew of medium rare steak. You might try my preference -- a "Porterhouse". If that doesn’t suit you, how about two porters with a nice rack of Oak Creek’s succulent pork ribs? A meal at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill is a must on your next visit to Sedona. I know it will be a convenient escape from the 115°F heat that’s soon to strike Phoenix.

Enjoy the beer, enjoy the food, and most certainly enjoy the scenery.


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