Porter is said to have been an improved brown ale created by London brewers in 1720 to compete with paler ales that were of increasing popularity amongst the gentry. It was a comparatively well-hopped ale conditioned for some time in wooden butts (casks) to make it more mellow. The new ale became popular with the “portering classes” (working class), hence the name porter. More inside…
Different strengths of porter came to be brewed. The strongest porters were called “stout” porters, eventually becoming known as simply stouts. Upstaged by the popularity of pale ale in the 1800s, then lager in the 1900s, porter almost vanished. The style experienced a comeback with the craft brewing revival of the mid-1980s.
Driftwood Blackstone Porter is a London-style porter (as opposed to Baltic-style porters) made with the addition of black and chocolate malts. These make it virtually black, although ruby highlights are visible when it’s held up to the light. In appearance, some may mistake this for a stout. However, it doesn’t have as much body as its more robust offspring and is quite drinkable.
Interestingly, Driftwood also use a partial sour mash in an attempt to recreate the flavour profile of pre-Industrial Revolution porters. This offsets the dominant bittersweet chocolate taste with some acidity. In contrast to sweet porters, this one is roasty and dry. Consequently, it pairs well with foods having darker flavours — barbecue, chocolate, mushrooms, oysters, and smoked foods. Smoked cheeses, such as Gouda, are a particularly excellent match.
A cask-conditioned version of Blackstone Porter won the Golden Spile (brewers) Award at the Dix X-mas X-treme Caskival last December.
Brewer: Driftwood Brewing
Availability: in 650ml bottles at Brewery Creek, Firefly, Libations, and Viti in Vancouver; select stores in southern Vancouver Island