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porter ale

i have a recipe calling for a "porter ale" -- im having trouble trying to figure out what to use! the author uses "Vermont porter that's not too strong or bitter (and not to use stout), smooth and robust, and to look for an ale with "some body and a smoky taste".
any ideas of something i can find in my local supermarket?

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  1. Any of these will work:

    Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
    Anchor Porter
    Stone Smoked Porter
    Fuller's London Porter

    You should be able to find at least one of those pretty easily.

    1. The beers that Josh listed are all damn fine beers and should all fit the bill. I just thought I'd offer up some practical advice and suggest that if your local supermarket doesn't carry any of those and you don't feel like going out of your way- chances are that you will be able to find Samuel Adams Black Lager, which should make an acceptable substitute although it is not a Porter.

      1. beware of sam smith's taddy porter. i would say that it is one of the MOST ROBUST, strongest tasting beers around. dont get me wrong, i love the stuff, but if someone wants something thats not too hardcore i would be wary of recommending this one. but i guess if you're cooking with it some of that taste may be diluted anyway, eh...

        13 Replies
          1. re: ben61820

            I bought a 4-pack of Taddy porter this summer, had one bottle, and thought "man, I can't drink this stuff". About a week later, I decided to try another bottle, just as an experiment, you understand. Long story, short, I have another 4 pack in the fridge. It grows on you!

            1. re: ben61820

              Well, for one thing, the recipe calls for robust. For another, Sam Smith's is pretty much a textbook example of porter. Porter is a robust-tasting beer because it's made with dark-roasted malt.

              Sam Adams Black Lager is a passable schwarzbier, but I don't think it's a good substitute for porter. It's kind of wimpy in the roasted flavor dept, IMHO.

              1. re: Josh

                I'd like to see the recipe, actually. We don't know if we're talking about a stew or a cake, and that could have some bearing on what is used. For now I'll stand by the SA suggestion as a 'second best' just because the suggestion of using something robust was tempered with the warning not to use a stout. My interpretation is that the roasted malt bitterness is what is to be avoided.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    If I was making that recipe, I'd use Samuel Smith's or Fuller's no question. With all those other strong flavors and that kind of cooking time especially.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Or Anchor (back to where we started, eh?)- Good fruity qualities on all three and a buttery (diacetyl) undertone that would go quite nicely. The sauce is being reduced so bitterness is definitely an issue, although I don't think that makes a stout totally out of the question. An oatmeal stout would go quite nicely as well- it really depends on what is available.

                      FWIW- I would definitely avoid Sierra Nevada and Otter Creek's Porters for this recipe. To drink- that's another story...

                    2. re: Chris VR

                      Wow, that's interesting. I wonder, aside from beercan chicken, if there's other beer-y recipes out there.

                        1. re: erikka

                          Oh there definitely is. Welsh rarebit comes to mind (though I've never had it). In Toronto we have a beer-focussed restaurant with many of their recipes featuring different beers. There's also guiness cake - chocolate and ginger types I believe.
                          I don't have luck trying to improvise with beer though, always reduces down to essence of bitter.

                          1. re: julesrules

                            Guiness cake sounds amazing. I've had guinness ice cream. Actually--Ben & Jerry's just put out a black & tan flavored ice cream. It's in the freezer but I haven't cracked it open yet.

                          2. re: erikka

                            Sounds like we're getting back to Home Cooking territory. We suggest you post there to ask for beer-y recipes. We're sure the hounds on that board will have suggestions!

                  2. Old ale, new ale and mild ale left to mature in vats. Now, over here (UK) a dark ale/bitter that is not a stout (darkened barley) as I understand it. Don't know what to suggest as I could go to my supermarket and buy porter, some of which is very good. As I understand it, it was named for the guys who used to work in the markets as porters. Not much help, but trivia nevertheless!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ali patts

                      So now I have my Fuller's, two large bottles which is more than I need for the recipe. Looking forward to drinking it, but what is the ideal temperature for a porter?

                      I am guessing not fridge-cold since it's English beer.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        Ideal? Precisely 52.75F, nothing more nothing less.

                        Just joking, obviously. Anything between 50 and 55 should be just dandy, but don't sweat the details. You just don't want to serve it overchilled. If you are pulling it from your fridge to warm up a bit on the counter don't open it until you are ready to pour- the bouquet will open up a lot better that way (rather than pouring it and letting it warm up in the glass.)

                    2. i used the anchor porter in the recipe and it came out wonderfully!
                      thanks for your help!