Porter Taste-Off: Grand Final

Porter finalists lined up.

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 thoughts on “Porter Taste-Off: Grand Final”

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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)

  4. 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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