English Porter Recipes – Ingredients, Water Profile, & Brewing Notes

The English Porter is a classic style with great history and complexity. As it has changed over the centuries it has maintained its place among the great beer styles. Whether you want to brew a traditional porter or experiment, how do you get started?

Brew a smooth English Porter with alkaline water that favors chlorides over sulfates. Form the basis of your grain bill with pale malts such as Maris Otter. Add complexity with chocolate, brown, and black malts. Use hops that bring English flavors and yeast with medium attenuation and low ester production.

Keep reading to learn more about the best ingredients and methods when brewing an English Porter.

What is an English Porter?

The quintessential English Porter is lighter than a stout but has more to it than the average brown ale. While it is characterized by soft malt flavors the style can be adapted to be bolder – though not so bold as to be compared to a stout.

An English Porter is a dark beer rich in toasty malt flavors. This style is not known for burnt or harsh roasted flavors. In addition to the restrained malt flavors, there may be notes of chocolate, medium hop bitterness, and caramel flavors.

Key characteristics of an English Brown Porter - infographic with ABV, aroma, mouthfeel, IBU, color, and flavor
Key characteristics of an English Brown Porter

Defining characteristics of an English Porter include:

  • Color – Light to dark brown, 20-30 SRM
  • Common flavor – Toasty malt, caramel, toffee, hop bitterness
  • Aroma – Bread, chocolate, earthy/floral hops
  • Mouthfeel – Medium body, moderate carbonation, light creaminess
  • IBUs (Bitterness) – 18-35
  • ABV – 4-5.4%

Some examples of this style will contain hints of fruity esters, diacetyl, or hop flavors (usually earthy or floral). Most if not all English Porters will be quite drinkable due to their dry to slightly sweet finish, creamy mouthfeel, and average to low ABV.

History of the English Porter

As the name implies, the English Porter originated in England towards the beginning of the 1700s. Some say Porter was invented by Ralph Harwood in response to a drink made by mixing three different beers. This is disputed by others as there are no mentions of Harwood as the inventor until 1802.

The truth of the origin of Porter is obscured by time. What is known is that Porter grew in popularity quickly. In fact, the name Porter came from its popularity among the porters of the day.

As Porter spread from England it began to evolve. Variants of the brew which were especially strong were called “stout porters” until they were simply called stout. This was the case in Ireland in particular. 

Eventually, Porters and Stouts diverged into two separate styles.

Popular commercial English Porters

For the beer enthusiasts and the beer curious here’s a quick list of English Porters you should try.

  • Samuel Smith Old Brewery Taddy Porter – This famous porter graces the palate with slightly smoky flavors, toffee, and chocolate. At 5% ABV, this beer has depth without being overwhelming.
  • Fuller’s London Porter – The London Porter is full of rich flavors such as dark oak, roasted molasses, and berries. It is well-balanced between sweet and bitter.
  • Nethergate Brewery Old Growler – Full of rich toasted malts, this porter has a medium body. It is overall a classic English Porter.
  • Batemans Brewery Salem Porter – This American-brewed English Porter boasts notes of licorice, fruit, and nuts. The beer also brings coffee flavors along with chocolate. 

Popular English Porter recipe kits (all-grain or extract)

Brown Porter - All Grain or Extract Beer Brewing Kit (5 Gallons)

If you like maltiness emphasized with a hint of chocolate roastiness and subtle caramel nuttiness this is the beer for you. Medium-low to medium hop bitterness. Light brown to dark brown in color, often with ruby highlights.

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How to brew an English Porter

Once you’ve explored some great examples of English Porter, you may be thinking of how to brew your own. In order to brew the best beer, you need to know the style forward and backward. To that end, I will break down everything you need to know.

English Porters should start with hard water that favors chlorides over sulfates, and light English malts. Brown, chocolate, and/or black malts will give your beer its signature color and flavor. English hops will provide a bit of bitterness and flavor without overwhelming your porter. Finally, you’ll need yeast with medium attenuation, medium-to-high flocculation, and medium-to-low ester production.

Let’s start by reviewing some great recipe choices and ingredients. Then, we can look at the process, including brew day, fermentation, and bottling. Overall the process should take a week or two. 

Recipe and ingredients

While you can’t have beer without fermentation, you can’t get anywhere without quality ingredients. There are of course no wrong ingredients, but some will go together much better than others.

English Brown Porter recipes use several standard ingredients: water, base grains, specialty grains or other additions, hops, and yeast.

As always, start with your water. Since beer is nearly 90% water, good water makes good beer. Then consider your grain bill, hops, and finally yeast. Each one can have a significant impact on your final product. 

Water profile

English Porters should be brewed with water that has a similar profile to that found in London.

Brew an English Porter with hard water to prevent the mash pH from dropping too low. Favor chlorides over sulfates to enhance the malt flavors. You shouldn’t need to go any higher than 2:1 chloride to sulfate.

The dark malts used in this style will greatly reduce the pH of the mash. If you don’t have any alkalinity in your water, it will get too low and make your beer far too tart. Use a brewing water calculator to determine what to add and in what quantity for your recipe.

Base grains

For an English Porter, use light English malts to provide the bulk of the sugars and a flavor base. These base grains can take up to 70% of your grain bill. A great choice is Maris Otter Pale.

Alternatively, you can use your favorite light malt as the main flavors will come from the dark grains that make up the rest of the grain bill. A US pale 2-row will also work just fine.

All you need from these grains are the basic malt flavors that the specialty grains will build upon. Experiment as you will.

Specialty grains or other additions

Each malt type will bring different flavors so consider what sort of porter you want to make. The English Porter style has some leeway when it comes to characteristics but you can make it your own.

The star of an English Porter is a brown, chocolate, or black malt. Your choice dictates how much of each you should use. Avoid using so much as to make the malt flavors harsh or burnt.

Brown malts will be most typical for the style. If you want to keep mostly true to the style you can use brown malts for most of the specialty grains with a touch of chocolate or black malt. 

If you want to add flavor without going too roasty, you can also add a small amount of crystal malts.


The hops in an English Porter are usually an English variety. There is little call for extreme hop flavors. As such hops in this style are used for a touch of bitterness and a hint of flavor.

Chances are you will only want one hop in your brew. That said, you can use two varieties if you desire.


Bittering hops added early in the boil will go through a process called isomerization.

This is what gives a beer its bitterness. For an English Porter, you want between 18 and 35 IBUs. This does not call for high alpha-acid hops.

Here are some good choices for bittering hops.

NamePurposeAlpha Acid %
Northern BrewerBittering + Aroma9.5%
East Kent GoldingAroma5-6%
Table showing the best bittering hops for brewing an English Porter.
Aroma and flavor

Aroma and flavor hops added towards the end of the boil don’t add much bitterness.

Instead, they add oils that provide flavor and aroma. English Porters don’t need much hop flavor or aroma. Choose hops that pair well with toasted malt flavors.

Here are a few good choices to get you started.

NameFlavor/AromaAlpha Acid %
FuggleWoody, vegetal, floral3.5-6%
East Kent GoldingWoody, spicy, vegetal, citrus5-6%
HallertauHerbal, woody, floral3.5-3.5%
WillametteWoody, spicy, grassy4-6%
Table showing the best hops for adding flavor and aroma when brewing an English Porter.


An English Porter calls for yeast with medium attenuation, medium to high flocculation, and medium to low ester production. Esters are not crucial to the style so clean fermenting yeasts is also an option.


Below are some good dry yeast options for an English Porter.

NameAttenuationFlocculationTemperature Range
Safale US-0578-82%Medium64.4-78.8°F
Safale S-0474-82%High64.4-78.8°F
Danstar Nottingham77%~High50-72°F
Table showing the best dry yeast strains for brewing an English Porter.

Below are some good liquid yeast options for an English Porter.

NameAttenuationFlocculationTemperature Range
Wyeast 102873-77%Low to Medium60-72°F
WLP00263-70%Very high65-68°F
Table showing the best liquid yeast strains for brewing an English Porter.

Brewing process

After acquiring all of your ingredients you can move on to brew day. What you do on brew day can have just as much impact on your results as your choices of ingredients. On brew day, one of the most important aspects is sanitization. Be thorough when sanitizing. 

All grain, partial, and extract brewing each have important considerations for you to make. When doing all-grain or partial brewing you need to consider mashing and sparging. From there the other considerations are similar. The boil step and on is the same for all three.

Let’s break down each step with the English Porter in mind. 


Since this style isn’t particularly sweet you’ll want to mash on the lower side.

For an English Porter, mash for the standard hour between 150°F and 152°F. A single-step infusion will be more than sufficient for this style.

Should you so choose you can give your porter a slightly sweet finish by mashing slightly higher at roughly 152°F.


No matter the brewing style, a standard hour-long boil is all you need for an English Porter. Most recipes will call for hop additions at the beginning of the boil with only a few towards the end. 

Any hop flavor additions should be at the last 20 minutes or later. Any earlier and most of the flavor oils will boil off. A hop addition at around 20 minutes left should be able to add a little bit of bitterness and flavor.

Whirlpool or flameout

Alternatively, you can add hops during flameout before transferring to the fermenting vessel. This is not strictly necessary for an English Porter but can be a great way to add just flavor and aroma. 

Using a whirlpool during flameout can be a great way to collect any trub so that it does not end up in the fermenting vessel.


Porters don’t require a secondary fermentation, although you do have some choices when it comes to deciding exactly how you want to ferment your brew.

When fermenting an English Porter you have two main options:

  • Keep the temperature low and consistent for the entire process.
  • Start low and gradually raise the temperature.

The first option will keep your English Porter relatively clean of any fermentation by-products such as esters. This is great if you want the malt to do the talking. If the malt flavors are the only ones you care about this is the process for you.

The second option is great for those who want a little extra complexity in their brew. As the temperature raises you will get slightly more ester production. These ester flavors shouldn’t be overpowering.

Are you wondering if you can speed up fermentation by adding more yeast?


Try to keep your English Porter fermenting around 62°F to 64°F. If you are gradually increasing the temperature, let it raise by a degree per day. Alternatively, you can let the temps raise in the last few days.

Depending on your yeast’s preferred temp range these ranges may be different.

Bottling or kegging

The debate between bottling and kegging will go on for as long as brewers have a choice. It is truly up to personal preference and setup.

Kegging your English Porter can be a great option for bulk aging while bottling is great for tasting as you age individual bottles.

Neither option is worse than the other. Choose the option you are most comfortable with.

English Porter recipes

If you aren’t one to create your own recipes, here are a few that you can follow for great results. These recipes are from various brewers as credited below.

  • Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone
  • Nigel Incubator-Jones
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone (Partial Mash)

This recipe comes from user HG Brewing on Brewer’s Friend


  • US Pale Ale – 2 lbs
  • US Crystal 60° L – 12 oz
  • US Chocolate – 8 oz
  • US Roasted Barley – 8 oz
  • Dark DME – 5 lbs
  • Northern Brewer hops –  1.75 oz
  • Fuggles hops – 1 oz
  • Cascade hops – 2 oz
  • Irish Moss – 1 tsp
  • Wyeast 1968


  1. Heat 2.5 gallons to 150°F.
  2. Add grain bill and mash for 1 hour.
  3. Mashout.
  4. Heat 1 gallon to 180°F and sparge.
  5. Add the DME.
  6. Boil for 90 minutes. Add the Northern Brewer at the beginning.
  7. At an hour left add the Fuggles.
  8. At 30 minutes left add 1 oz of Cascade.
  9. At 10 minutes left add the Irish Moss.
  10. Flameout and add the last ounce of Cascade. Transfer to the fermentor.
  11. Cool and pitch yeast.
  12. Maintain 62°F during primary fermentation.
  13. After 2 weeks in primary transfer to secondary.
  14. Age around 50-55°F for 2 weeks to a month.
  15. Rack to keg or bottles. Enjoy!

Nigel Incubator-Jones (All Grain)

This recipe comes from user monkeyhaiku on Brewer’s Friend.


  • Maris Otter Pale – 7 lbs
  • UK Brown Malt – 2.5 lbs
  • US Chocolate Malt – 0.5 lb
  • East Kent Goldings Hops – 1 oz
  • Archer Hops – 1 oz
  • Wyeast 1028


  1. Heat 3.75 gallons to 150°F.
  2. Add grain bill and mash for 1 hour.
  3. Mashout.
  4. Collect 7.5 gallons of wort.
  5. Boil for 60 minutes. Add the East Kent Goldings at the beginning.
  6. At 20 minutes left add the Archer.
  7. Flameout and transfer to the fermentor.
  8. Cool and pitch yeast.
  9. Maintain 64°F during fermentation.
  10. Rack to keg or bottles. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (Extract)

This recipe comes from user Brewer #52407 on Brewer’s Friend.


  • Light LME – 6 lbs
  • Belgian Special B – 0.25 lb
  • Belgian Biscuit – 0.25 lb
  • US Special Roast – 0.25 lb
  • UK Chocolate Malt – 0.25
  • UK Pale Chocolate Malt – 0.5 lb
  • US Midnight Wheat Malt – 0.1 lb
  • Fuggles Hops – 1 oz
  • Kent Goldings – 1 oz
  • Safale US-05


  1. Heat 3 gallons of water for your boil.
  2. Add the steeping grains when the water is around 140°F.
  3. Remove the grains when the water is around 170°F.
  4. When a boil is reached, add the malt extract.
  5. Boil for 60 minutes. Add the Fuggles right away.
  6. At 40 minutes left add the Kent Goldings.
  7. Flameout and transfer to the fermentor.
  8. Cool and pitch yeast.
  9. Maintain 64°F during fermentation.
  10. Rack to keg and force carbonate or bottle condition.

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