London Hotels Articles

August 10, 2010

Beer reviews: Fullers London Porter

The Griffin Brewery, the oldest brewery in London, is located in Chiswick, on the banks of the River Thames. Beer has been brewed continuously on this site since the mid 17th century.

In 1845, John Bird Fuller was joined by Henry Smith and Smith’s son-in-law, John Turner, to form FULLER, SMITH and TURNER, the name the brewery still carries to this day.

Five generations later, family members of the three founding families are still involved in the day to day running of what is now a much larger brewery.

Over the last 30 years, Fuller’s has gone from being a small, craft brewery to a modern production facility yet still produces excellent traditional ales in a traditional atmosphere.

Fuller’s beers have a unique record. Ever since CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) first held their Champion Beer of Britain competition, Fuller’s have won the Beer of the Year award five times. Their beers have been best in class nine times and ESB has been voted Best Strong Ale an unprecedented seven times making it a bit of a legend. In fact, Fuller’s has won more awards than any other British brewer.

The origins of porter dates back to around 200 years ago when it was a popular custom in London to mix 2 or 3 different beers, mostly an old and stale brown ale with a fresher one, then maybe adding a pale ale.

Black in colour, porters have a prominent roast malt flavour and are also fairly hoppy. They have all the sharpness and bitter qualities of dark malt but without any of the burnt character.

London’s soft water was perfect for this style and it soon became very popular, especially amongst the porters working in Billingsgate and Smithfield markets – hence the name.

The style had all but died out until fairly recently but is now enjoying a revival.

Fuller’s London Porter is smooth, rich, and strong and is brewed from a blend of brown, crystal and chocolate malts balanced by traditional Fuggles hops.

FLP pours to a dark, almost black colour with hints of burgundy topped by a thin, light-tan head which leaves a nice, sticky lace trail down the glass. On the nose, there is a nice roasted maltiness which turns sweeter, with hints of fruit, and mellows as the beer warms. There’s a strong chocolate, nutty aroma with hints of coffee and a faint smokiness with just a little flourish of hops in the background.

Medium bodied, it’s quite crisp up front but turns smooth after the initial sip. Lots of dark, bitter chocolate and dark roasted coffee with a fair suggestion of plums and dates. There’s also a slight butterscotch and toffee note with a very light feeling of licorice. Hops add to the bitterness from the roasted malts but on the whole it stays well balanced. It finishes somewhat clean, warm and very satisfying.

At 5.4% ABV, Fuller’s London Porter is perhaps not the best, but still an excellent example of the style. Porter is not to everyone’s taste and if you are a big fan of Bud Lite etc., I wouldn’t think you’d appreciate the richness of this beer. It’s not really a great ale to compliment food but if you’re so inclined, it would probably be best with a dessert or with chocolate.

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