Originating from England in the 1700’s, the classic Porter brew style earned its name as a ‘Porter’ due to its popularity amid dock workers who, in the 18th century, were referred to as ‘porters’. Since then it has evolved into the beer we are familiar with today along with some variations such as the Robust Porter.
As its name suggests, the Robust Porter is a dark, full-bodied ale, jam-packed with roasted malt flavors and notes of creamy caramel. These qualities can range in intensity that lends to a wide range of possibilities during the brewing process, giving the brewmaster opportunities to experiment with the various malts available today.
As the Robust Porter made its way to America, it was revamped to have higher flavor and aroma with a clean, yet subtle, malty undertone that added richness to its overall character. This “American-style” Robust Porter separates itself from the traditional version, which has been dubbed as an “English-style”, due to its elevated hop bitterness. English-style Robust Porters, although less hoppy than its American counterpart, are still more aggressive than the typical Porter.
These beers are usually medium-dark to very dark in appearance, but not opaque, and possess a tan-colored and fairly long-lasting head. On the nose you will find an undeniable roasted quality that could be accompanied by aromas of caramel, toffee, nut and chocolate. American-styles will have a stronger hop presence than English-styles for both the aroma and flavor. Robust Porters have an exceptional taste as the malts tend to really shine through without being overbearing. The palate matches the nose for this brew style with sweeter tones of caramel that balance out the hop bitterness. Overall, the flavor may retain some strong malty qualities but it should not be too tart or harsh on the finish. The mouthfeel can be described as having average to above average carbonation and body.
The IBU’s should be between 25-50 and the ABV should have a percentage resting in the 4.8-6.5% range. Robust Porters with more crystal malts added will have sweeter qualities and higher caramel flavor where as adding other malts or oats will result in more complexity, a richer mouthfeel and a better head retention.
We have featured a Robust Porter in our Craft Beer Club from Foolproof Brewing Company who emphasizes pairing hand crafted beers with life experiences. There will be more Robust Porters to come!