beer reviews

Porter Taste-Off: Grand Final

We’ve just spent a happy couple of hours tasting six of the best porters we’ve tried in the last two months, and we have an overall winner.

You can read about how this small project began here, and sets of tasting notes for the six batches we tried in ‘heats’ are collected here. Suffice to say, this has been an ad-hoc, completely subjective process, the results of which are really only very meaningful to us.

The finalists were (in alphabetical order):

  • Anchor
  • Beavertown Smog Rocket
  • BrewDog Brixton
  • Fuller’s
  • Guinness West Indies (disclosure: freebie)
  • Samuel Smith’s Taddy

NB. Sierra Nevada should have been there too but we realised we’d only ordered one bottle instead of two and, rather than delay this any longer, dropped it from the final, on the grounds that it was a marginal contender anyway.

Though we didn’t have the means or inclination to run a rigorous blind-tasting, we did, at this stage, make some effort to anonymise the beers we were tasting.

  1. Bailey numbered the bottom of six identical beakers, and the six beers, and poured each accordingly.
  2. He took them into a different room where Boak mixed them up.
  3. We tasted them and took turns to order them by preference, mixing the cups up between turns, and with Boak (who didn’t know how the numbers corresponded to each beer) writing down the rankings.
  4. We used those notes to identify beers that we’d both put in our top three, of which there were two.
  5. We tasted those two again and agreed a winner between us, which was…

Anchor Porter.

It tasted very similar to the runner-up, Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter, only juicier, deeper and more lusciously sweet. It’s perhaps a touch stronger than we really wanted, and its not remotely British, but we can’t pretend we’re not looking forward to drinking our way through a ton of it during the winter.

Order confirmation from Beer Merchants.

All of the other beers were delicious and we’d have been happy with a case of any of them, but we can’t provide a meaningful ranking, so we won’t even try.

7 replies on “Porter Taste-Off: Grand Final”

By inference, saying that the Anchor tasted very similar to the Taddy, can we say Taddy is the best British porter in the test, despite the lack of a ranking?

TP was the runner-up, i.e., in second place (maybe we should have made that clearer?) so, yes, definitely our favourite of the British porters we tasted.

I really enjoyed your little taste off and hope you do more in the future. Winter ales? Not something you will drink many of perhaps. I was hoping you’d find the AP your favorite. Although I cannot purchase some of the final contenders in North America, we enjoy hearing about them. My wife and I have been loving AP since the 90s, and we’ve enjoyed Tadcaster for many years as well.
Thanks again!

I had the anchor last night (first time in a year or two) it’s good but I’d still take elland s 1872 or kirkstall ‘s black band in preference. (I know you mentioned elland but couldn’t track bottles down, kirkstall dont bottle the porter so cant take part) though if looking to buy 2 dozen id prob go for the harvistoun/Tesco finest purely on price. (I’m tight but also buying quantity price diff starts to add up)

I think you may be ahead of the curve wrt this one – I was in the supermarket the other day & bought four different beers with ‘porter’ on the label, leaving a fifth behind. (You’ve tasted two of them.) Signs and wonders…

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