Tasting Notes: 1944 Brown Porter

No, I didn’t brew a porter and not write about it. If you recall my new fall seasonal beer was originally Bill’s Brown Ale, an American Brown Ale. That beer used balanced Willamette and Cascade hops as well as darker malts and molasses.

The finished beer didn’t have a distinctive American hop flavor and came out a bit darker than I had anticipated. When I had my first sip my first thought was that the beer tasted like a porter. The molasses I used to prime the bottles and carbonate the beer had a profound impact on the color and flavor. There was a noticeable difference from when I sampled the beer out of the fermenter on bottling day and now.

My intuition was verified when I entered the beer in a competition. The judges seemed to have liked the beer, but felt it did not conform to the American Brown Ale style. One judge said it tasted like an “older style” brown ale which I took to mean less hoppy. They both said the beer would have scored much better as a Brown Porter. In contrast to the Hot Stove Porter which is a Robust Porter, a Brown Porter has less hop flavor and roasty character. It can be broadly described as a more traditional, English-style porter.


The beer pours an opaque dark brown color. There is a thick off white head that persists beautifully. The aroma is sweet and balanced by notes of chocolate and toasted bread. The toasted aroma flows into the flavor. There was little citrus flavor from the Cascade hops; you really have to seek it out to find it. The Willamette added an earthy flavor that works nicely and reinforces the English feel. Carbonation is medium-low with a creamy mouthfeel, and a slightly dry finish.

I am happy with the beer even if it wasn’t exactly what I was going for. I do want to try another American Brown Ale. I may brew a one gallon test batch to see if I can come up with a beer with a lighter beer with a more assertive American hop flavor. I might tweak the 1944 Brown Porter for next fall. My first thoughts would be to use an English yeast and maybe an English bittering hop like Challenger. I entered the beer in another competition, but this time as a Brown Porter. I am interested to see how much higher the beer scores.

Given my initial thoughts and the judges feedback I decided if the beer walks and talks like a porter, I might as well call it a porter. In 1944 Major League rosters were decimated by World War II. Most of the players left were too old or injured for military service. This depletion enabled the hapless St. Louis Browns to win their only American League pennant before moving to Baltimore.

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