The Best Bold Porters To Drink This Fall, Blind Tasted And Ranked

Porters don’t get enough respect. These dark, sweeter, slightly roasty cousins of the more popular stout are a perfect choice for cool fall days and colder evenings. Like stouts, porters have been around for a long time, with their genesis sometime in the 1700s. Which is to say: it’s high time the porter got its due.

Based on appearances alone, stouts and porters are quite similar. The main difference is in the flavor — specifically in the barley used to brew them. While stouts are frequently made with roasted, unmalted barley, porters are made with malted barley that’s (usually) not roasted. This is why stouts tend to have a drier, roasted flavor, while porters tend to be sweet, maltier, and sometimes creamy in flavor.

Hopefully we’ve established that fall 2022 is a great time to get to know the classic porter. In order to help get you started, I decided the best thing to do was to blindly taste and rank some of the best porters available on the market. I chose eight great beers, some from big-name breweries and some from smaller breweries, and nosed, tasted, and ranked them.

Today’s Lineup:

  • Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Green Man Porter
  • Wynwood Pop’s Porter
  • Deschutes Black Butte
  • Founders Porter
  • Reuben’s Robust Porter
  • Maui Brewing Coconut Hiwa Porter
  • Anchor Porter

Part 1: The Taste

Taste 1

Taste 1 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

A muted nose of roasted malts, slight smoke, and toffee greeted me before my first sip. The palate was a little more exciting with notes of lightly roasted malts, bitter chocolate, mild coffee, and some slightly bitter hops. Overall though, this is a fairly unexciting porter.

Taste 2

Taste 2 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

The nose is a symphony of vanilla beans, dark chocolate, caramel, and light wintry spices. The palate is loaded with milk and dark chocolate flavors as well as licorice, dried fruits, roasted malts, lightly piney hops, and a kiss of gentle smoke. This is a sublimely well-balanced porter.

Taste 3

Taste 3 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

The nose is surprisingly dull with some roasted malt flavor and bitter chocolate, but not much else. While smooth and creamy, the flavor is a bit lacking as well. There are more malts and chocolate, but really nothing else discernible. Overall, this is a pretty boring beer.

Taste 4

Taste 4 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

The aroma is fairly mild, but there are notes of freshly brewed coffee, dark chocolate, and toffee. The palate follows suit with more caramel malts, espresso beans, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and just a hint of smoke. It’s sweet, creamy, indulgent, and highly complex.

Taste 5

Taste 5 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of coffee, dried fruits, and some chocolate are noticeable on the nose. Drinking it revealed a little more, with roasted malts, bitter chocolate, more fruit, and even some coffee. The finish is roasty and sweet. A decent take on the style, but not overly exciting.

Taste 6

Taste 6 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Complex aromas of cocoa nibs, fresh brewed coffee, sticky toffee, roasted malts, and slight vanilla are highlighted on the nose. The taste follows accordingly with more toasted caramel, roasted malts, coffee beans, and decadent, dark chocolate. The finish is dry, sweet, and memorable.

Taste 7

Taste 7 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

The nose is centered on the aromas of coffee, chocolate, and maybe some toffee. That’s all, but still fairly inviting. The palate is all coffee, chocolate, and some slightly bitter hops at the finish. The flavors aren’t bold enough and the ending is a little more bitter than I’d prefer.

Taste 8

Taste 8 porter
Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Notes of barley, bitter chocolate, coffee, and some floral hops are prevalent on the nose. The welcoming nose is only made better by the bold palate of toasted caramel, dark chocolate, espresso, toffee, and bready malts. The finish is a nice mix of bitterness and sweetness.

Part 2: The Rankings

8) Maui Brewing Coconut Hiwa Porter (Taste 3)

Maui Brewing Coconut Hiwa Porter
Maui Brewing

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

When I think of Maui, I don’t think much about dark, robust beers. But since I’m not in charge of the beer brewed there, the folks at Maui Brewing make a fairly popular Coconut Hiwa Porter. Almost pitch black in color, this is a sweet, rich beer with toasted coconut and mocha.

Bottom Line:

For something that listed toasted coconut as one of its main ingredients, I didn’t taste any. Maybe I need to sample it again. Or perhaps just drink something else instead.

7) Founders Porter (Taste 1)

Founders Porter
Founders

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Founders is well-known for its prowess in crafting delicious, delectable dark beers. This is the case with its line of Breakfast Stouts as well as its sweet, warming Porter. This 6.5% ABV year-round offering is known for its creamy, sweet, chocolate flavor.

Bottom Line:

Honestly, I expected a little more from Founders. I’ve always been a big fan of their Kentucky Breakfast Stout. But this beer, while not remotely bad, was just fairly muted and didn’t excite my palate.

6) Anchor Porter (Taste 7)

Anchor Porter
Anchor

ABV: 5.6%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Anchor has been crafting this porter since 1972. In that time, they’ve gotten pretty good at it. Brewed with roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, as well as top-fermenting yeast, it’s known for its smooth chocolate and coffee flavor.

Bottom Line:

Anchor Brewing does a lot of things well. I’m not going to say their porter isn’t one of them. It’s just a little too bitter for my liking.

5) Green Man Porter (Taste 5)

Green Man Porter
Green Man

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $12.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

If awards are a way to sway you to try a new beer, you might want to look into Green Man Porter. This 6% ABV, British-style porter won gold at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival. It’s known for its complex, smooth, robust flavor of chocolate and malts.

Bottom Line:

For an award-winning porter, I would have expected Green Man Porter to fall a little higher on the list. For me, it was lacking in complexity.

4) Wynwood Pop’s Porter (Taste 4)

Wynwood Pop's Porter
Wynwood

ABV: 6.2%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This award-winning porter is named for Wynwood co-founder Luis “Pops” Brignoni Sr. It was created because “Pops” wanted a beer to drink while grilling. The result is a bold, robust, rich porter with notes of caramel malts and bitter chocolate.

Bottom Line:

Pops was right about this beer. Pop’s Porter is loaded with roasty, sweet, rich flavors, but it’s also surprisingly smooth and drinkable. Great for a cool fall evening.

3) Reuben’s Robust Porter (Taste 8)

Reuben's Robust Porter
Reuben

ABV: 5.9%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This 5.9% “Robust” porter is brewed with eight malts including Caramel, ESB, Carapils, Pale Chocolate, Black, Munich, and Marris Otter as well as Cascade hops. This results in a well-balanced, chocolate, coffee, and caramel-filled porter.

Bottom Line:

This is a complex, well-balanced beer that deserves a place in your fridge this fall. It’s a great balanced of sweetness and bitterness.

2) Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald (Taste 6)

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
Great Lakes

ABV: 5.8%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

If you aren’t a fan of Gordon Lightfoot or you’re not up to date on your Great Lakes shipwrecks, you might not have ever heard of the Edmund Fitzgerald. That’s okay: you can still enjoy this roasted barley and chocolate-centric porter.

Bottom Line:

This chocolate, coffee, caramel-filled porter is balanced and dry. The perfect beer to sip while you crank up Gordon Lightfoot’s classic “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

1) Deschutes Black Butte (Taste 2)

Deschutes Black Butte
Deschutes

ABV: 5.5%

Average Price: $11.99 for s six-pack

The Beer:

There are few American porters more well-known and acclaimed than Deschutes Black Butte Porter. It’s brewed with two-row, Chocolate, Crystal, and Carapils malts, as well as wheat and Cascade and Tettnang, hops.

Bottom Line:

There’s a reason Deschutes Black Butte is so widely beloved. It’s complex, bold, well-balanced, slightly hoppy, and finishes pleasantly dry.

Part 3: Final Thoughts

After looking over the beers that fared best in this tasting and ranking, one term stands out to me: balance. The porters that I enjoyed most weren’t overly sweet, overly bitter, or overly dry. They all had a little bit from each column. Balanced, sweet, smooth, and dry. These are the makings of a great porter.

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