Porter was invented in London some time in the early 1700s, along with its cousin, stout.
Telling porter and stout apart these days is not an easy thing. Porter used to be either smoky or slightly sour from ageing in wooden barrels, and stout used to be stronger (‘stout porter’). But both styles have changed and broadened over the centuries. A Baltic porter can be much stronger than a stout. A stout can be sweet (milk stout, for example).
For both, though, blackness and maltiness are the key, with black malt or chocolate malt providing much of the roast, coffee and chocolate flavours.
But does it have to be that way? Vibrant Forest’s Black Forest takes another turn, upping the hops to produce what they call a ‘piquant porter’.
It pours into the glass with a shimmering, short-lived effervescence and sits there, absorbing as much light as a black hole.
The aroma is smoky, with a hint of marmite. The texture, on first sip, is smooth and oily.
The hops are assertive and tangy, with a blackcurrant character. A hint of espresso bitterness lurks in the background to remind you that this is a porter after all.
Any similarity to its namesake gateau? It’s rich and thick and has a hint of dark fruit, so yes, not so far off.
Written by Richard Salsbury