Life

Springtime For Porters: 14 Craft Beer Experts Name The Best Porters To Drink Right Now

Spring might just be the perfect time to crack open a porter — the lighter sibling of the more robust stout, which dominates March drinking (hello, St. Patrick’s Day). Without getting too into the weeds, stouts tend to have a lower (or more sessionable) ABV, while porters can be a little heavier on the alcohol. But that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and it’s dependent on which brewery you’re standing in.

The main difference is in the recipe. Very generally, a porter is made with roasted malted barley, yeast, water, and hops. A stout has all of that plus roasted unmalted barley. That ingredient adds that little bit more bitterness, coffee notes, and a deeper chocolate vibe. These details often go out the window any time a brewer decides what they want to call their dark brew, since there’s no “law” governing any of this.

Okay, school’s out, it’s time to actually drink some. That’s where the experts come in. We asked some well-known craft beer experts, brewers, and beer professionals to tell us their favorite porters to drink now (and any time of year, really).

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
Breckenridge

Luis G. Brignoni, founder of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 5.4%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter is an incredibly smooth and delicious beer that really hits the spot, especially when you’re looking for a porter that has a little more to offer. You vanilla gives it a velvety smooth mouthfeel finish.

Anchor Porter

Anchor Porter
Anchor

Jeremy Marshall, brewmaster at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California

ABV: 5.6%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Anchor Porter is my pick. What flavors make it great? It’s roasty, rich, and velvety and tastes like a walk in Portrero Hill — probably because that’s where the fine folks on Mariposa Street are brewing another batch of Anchor Porter.

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter
Samuel Smith

Michael Palmer, lead innovation pilot brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, California

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $11 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter is one of my first porters and still one of my favorites. It’s extremely unique in the sense that the brewing liquor comes from an 18th-century well and the beer is fermented in stone squares, also known as Yorkshire squares. It’s very approachable with a five percent ABV. It’s malty, roasty, and earthy with a little fruitiness. There’s a full mouthfeel with extreme drinkability.

Boulevard Bully! Porter

Boulevard Bully! Porter
Boulevard

Broc Eichhorst, brewer at Sun King Brewing in Indianapolis

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $9 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I haven’t seen this one around lately, but I drank it regularly when I lived in the St. Louis area where it was available, fresh, and inexpensive. It’s a robust yet medium-bodied American-style porter with a noticeable herbal hop bite. It’s roasty, bitter, and a little hoppy without any harshness.

Mayflower Porter

Mayflower Porter
Mayflower

Mike Kelly, senior brewer at Harpoon Brewery in Boston

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

One of my favorite porters has always been Mayflower Porter, brewed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It has a rich chocolatey malt profile without being too sweet. A local bar regularly had their porter on cask, and I would find myself there quite often for a pint or two.

Maui Coconut Hiwa

Maui Coconut Hiwa
Maui

Rob Day, senior director of marketing at Springdale Beer Co. in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $11 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

I have to go with Maui Coconut Hiwa. This captures a sense of place for me that feels comfortably Hawaiian. It’s rich up front but finishes dry and the touch of coconut is seamless. Sweet, roasted barley, and coconut, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Fifty Fifty Donner Party

Fifty Fifty Donner Party
Fifty Fifty

Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone® and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin

ABV: 7.2%

Average Price: $15 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

I try to select beers that I know our guests will enjoy, but there are still a few beers I stock at the bar because I love them. The Donner Party porter by Fifty Fifty Brewing Company is one of those beers. It’s all of the oatcakes, molasses, and espresso chocolate flavors you want out of a dark beer, but on the more drinkable side of the spectrum.

Jack’s Abby Framinghammer

Jack’s Abby Framinghammer
Jack’s Abby

Ryan Pachmayer, head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub and Restaurant in Arvada, Colorado

ABV: 10%

Average Price: $12 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

Domestically, I’ll buy Jack’s Abby’s Framminghammer Baltic porter whenever I get a chance. The smooth chocolate, big malt flavors, silky mouthfeel, and roast all play so well off of each other with a firm hop bitterness holding everything together.

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
Great Lakes

Brian Jaszewski, director of product management at Sprecher Brewing Co. in Glendale, Wisconsin

ABV: 5.8%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Edmund Fitzgerald from Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, Ohio is my pick. The malty flavor and body are so important to this style and Edmund Fitz captures it so well. Coffee aromas and a light chocolate note are showcased in this classic porter.

Deschutes Black Butte

Deschutes Black Butte
Deschutes

Jeremy Ragonese, president of Uinta Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

There’s only one answer to this question and that’s Deschutes Black Butte. I’ve had many terrific porters, but many lean too much on the hoppy side of the style — almost black IPAs by some standards. Black Butte is such a classic that it set the standard within American craft and it remains a go-to because of its balance and flavor. It’s one porter, of very few from out-of-state producers, that we even see in Utah, and I’m thankful we do.

Asheville Ninja Porter

Asheville Ninja Porter
Asheville

John Swanson, brewing supervisor at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina

ABV: 5.6%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Dark ales and lagers are my favorite styles of beer. Locally, Asheville Brewing Company’s Ninja Porter is fantastic all year long. It’s smooth, rich, indulgent, and features flavors of chocolate, freshly-brewed coffee, and just a hint of hop bitterness at the finish.

Alaskan Smoked Porter

Alaskan Smoked Porter
Alaskan

Brian Bergman, brewing director at Sycamore Brewing in Charlotte, North Carolina

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $9.50 for a 22-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

I’m a big fan of smoked porters, so I’m going to go with one of the OGs, Alaskan Smoked Porter. This beer has just the right amount of smoked malt character, which pairs well with the roasted coffee, dark and milk chocolate, and bready malt flavors in the beer. Not cloyingly sweet with enough hops to balance everything, this is a go-to if I can find it in the store.

Maine Beer King Titus

Maine Beer King Titus
Maine Beer

Adam Beauchamp, COO and co-founder at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. in Athens, Georgia

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $12 for a 22-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

Maine Beer’s King Titus is a great robust porter. It is a classic interpretation with bitter chocolate and licorice notes. Bold, dark, and delicious, it’s a great beer to enjoy as you head into spring.

Northbound Smokehouse Porter

Northbound Smokehouse Porter
Northbound

Jon Eager, research and development brewer at Indeed Brewing Company in Minneapolis

ABV: 6.2%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

I’m a longtime fan of Northbound’s Smokehouse Porter. I brewed a lot of smoked beers early in my career and it’s just so well balanced that I can’t resist it when I visit, even in the summer heat. Smoke, roasted malty flavor, chocolate, coffee, it has it all.

×