This winter, several local breweries are creating variations on the dark beer style known as porter. Thought to have originated in England in the 18th century, the style was appealing to working-class men such as transportation workers in London, also known as porters. There are many different accounts of porter's invention and popularity, but it generally is accepted that the style originated in London as a strong, dark ale. Stronger versions brewed to ship across the North Sea became known as Baltic porters.
Abita Brewing Company's Bourbon Street Baltic Porter fits the profile with its 9.25 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Another defining characteristic is that Baltic porters often are fermented and cold aged like lagers. Abita did that with this beer before transferring it to bourbon barrels to age for another two months. The next version of this beer will be released in limited quantities in January 2015.
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. just released its third beer, a Baltic porter called Korova Milk Porter. It comes in at 6.4 percent ABV and is cold fermented. Co-owner Cari Caramonta calls it a Baltic oatmeal milk porter. The oatmeal gives the porter a soft and creamy mouthfeel, and added lactose provides subtle sweetness that heightens the beer's complexity.
Covington Brewhouse recently released its new Electric Porter, which is brewed with coffee from neighborhood roaster Campbell's Coffee & Tea. The result is a style similar to fellow Northshore brewery Chafunkta Brewing Company's flagship Old 504 coffee vanilla porter. Brewmaster/co-owner Brian Broussard says Electric Porter the first porter/stout style the brewery has released.
In December, NOLA Brewing will release its new winter seasonal, Prytania Imperial Porter, which is 7.5 percent ABV. The brewery originally planned to release it last year, but the federal government shutdown in 2013 delayed approval.