27A. Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Porter

Overall Impression

An American adaptation of English Porter using American ingredients, including adjuncts.


Medium to dark brown, though some examples can be nearly black in color, with ruby or mahogany highlights. Relatively clear. Light to medium tan head which will persist in the glass.


Base grainy malt aroma with low levels of dark malt (slight burnt or chocolate notes). Low hop aroma. Low to moderate low levels of DMS acceptable. May show low levels of caramel and biscuit aroma. No to very low esters. Light adjunct (licorice, molasses) aroma acceptable. Diacetyl low to none. Clean lager profile acceptable.


Grainy base malt flavor, with low levels of chocolate or burnt black malt notes, along with low levels of caramel, biscuit, licorice, and toast notes. Corn/DMS flavor acceptable at low to moderate levels. American hop bitterness low to moderate and American hop flavor low to none. Balance is typically even between malt and hops, with a moderate dry finish.


Medium light to medium body, moderate carbonation, low to moderate creaminess. May have a slight astringency from the dark malts.


Also sometimes known as Pennsylvania Porter or East Coast Porter.


Commercially brewed in Philadelphia during the revolutionary period, the beer gained wide acceptance in the newly formed mid-Atlantic states, and was endorsed by President George Washington.

Characteristic Ingredients

Two and six row malt (or a combination of both) are used, along with low percentages of dark malts including black, chocolate, and brown malt (roasted barley is not typically used). Adjuncts are acceptable, including corn, brewers licorice, molasses, and porterine. More historical versions will have up to twenty percent adjuncts. Lager or ale yeast. Emphasis on historical or traditional American bittering hops (Cluster, Willamette, Cascade), though finishing and flavor hops may vary.

Style Comparison

Smoother and less hoppy-bitter than a (modern) American Porter, less caramelly than an English Porter with more of an adjunct/lager character.

Vital Statistics


20 - 30


18 - 30


1.046 - 1.060


1.010 - 1.016


4.5% - 6%

Commercial Examples

Stegmaier Porter, Yuengling Porter.