Friday, November 21, 2008

Fuller's London Porter Review

Brewery: Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC | Beer: London Porter
Style: English Porter | ABV: 5.4%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Fuller's London PorterThe Porter style has quite a unique origin. In the London of the 1700's, stale (or soured) Ale was mixed with a mild Ale and either a Brown or Pale Ale. This witches' brew of old and new became quite popular with the city's porters, hence the name. Porters were dark, malty, bitter and, thanks to the stale ale, mildly acidic. These qualities helped to mask some of the cloudiness and other imperfections associated with the blending process. As time went on and the public's tastes shifted, Porter became something of an endangered species. However, with the craft-brewing renaissance of the last 30 years, Porter has made quite a comeback.

Well-regarded in beer geek circles, Fuller's London Porter is one of the best known examples of the style today. Fuller's pitch the beer as "captur[ing] the flavors of the original entire brews perfectly, although you won't find a cloudy pint these days!" Fuller's still brews at the storied Griffin Brewery, the oldest brewery in London. Beer has been brewed at the Chiswick brewery for over 350 years. I doubt that the six pack I picked up here in South Texas made the journey from London, but a man can dream can't he?

Appearance: Dark espresso colored with subdued brown highlights, this bear absorbs most light well. The caramel head pours rather thin and settles quickly, but leaves brilliant lacing all the way down.

Aroma: Rich and full-bodied toasted malt you could smell from three pints away. Sweet, with notes of burnt sugar, dark chocolate, coffee, and the smokiness you get from very dark malts. Just what you expect from this style. Despite the mild alcohol content, you get nice alcohol notes in the nose.

Taste: It's much the same in the taste, but with a brilliant mild and nutty bitterness added into the mix. Much richer than the aroma, this is a beer that commands your attention. Like the nose, there are occasional boozy notes that manifest themselves despite the the ABV weighing in at under six percent. The aftertaste lasts well into your next sip and really showcases the coffee and smokiness. This aftertaste alone is better than many of the beers I've reviewed here.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and medium-bodied with decent carbonation. It leaves a velvety coating on your tongue that drives the aforementioned aftertaste.

Drinkability: Porters are certainly more appropriate for sipping than chugging, but with the medium body and middling alcohol content, this is surprisingly quaffable.

Verdict: An above average Porter, this is something I'd surely recommend for someone looking for a good, easily available example of the style. Rich, but well-balanced, this beer is a complex treat and worthy of its reputation.

Grade: A-


Unknown said...

This is one of the best beers I have ever had!

Anonymous said...

I toured the Griffin Brewery yesterday and learnt that any Fuller's beer you see anywhere in the world comes from that Brewery in Chiswick. They were going hammer and tongs knocking out the casks, kegs and bottles.

Unknown said...

That's awesome!