John Barleycorn

Pre-Prohibition Colonial Porter

  • ABV: 5.7%
  • IBU: 25
  • SRM: 24


Known as Pennsylvania porter, a clean, refreshing dark pale ale showcasing molasses and sweet malt taste — less hops and caramel malt. Robust flavor profile due to use of Maris Otter malt as primary fermentable. Made to be a fall and winter time session beer with rounded flavor
and low hop presence. Some compare this to a dark Kolsch or Yuengling Porter.


Recipe Goals: To create a session porter that is not weighed down by caramel and coffee notes but has a crisper and cleaner feel. To attempt to bridge the gap between dark pale ales and stouts with a beverage that has a low hop, low bitterness presence without tasting too sweet or round and providing a sharp but pleasant finish. This is a beer that is both seasonal and year-round and can be complemented by a variety of flavors.

Background: A clean, refreshing porter. More robust, bitter, and flavorful than modern American porters. Created during pre-prohibition times without refined ingredients. This style was a result of Americans beginning to adopt British style beer making processes to their own available ingredients.

Tasting Notes: Low sweet maltiness. Medium hop aroma from rustic to floral to herbal/spicy. Brown in color. Substantial, long lasting white head. Bright clarity. Medium-high maltiness, grainy flavor. Slight hop bitterness stands up to the malt and lingers through the dry finish. Crisper, drier, than other porters. Medium body with a moderately rich, creamy mouthfeel. Smooth and well-attenuated. Medium carbonation levels.

History: A version of Pilsner brewed in the USA by immigrant German brewers who brought the process and yeast with them, but who had to adapt their recipes to work with native hops and malt. This style died out after Prohibition but was resurrected by homebrewers in the 1990s. Few commercial versions are made, so the style remains mostly a homebrew phenomenon.

Ingredients: Maris Otter malt, with Pale 2-Row UK, Chocolate, Special B and Molasses. Hop cross of Magnum, Williamette and UK Fuggles. English Ale yeast (S-04 Safale).

Food Pair: A creamy chowder with oysters and scallops is great with a colonial porter. Or dark beefy venison stews, steak pies, boiled bacon and cabbage, American-style barbecue especially BBQd ribs or smoked brisket. Stilton and similar mellow blue cheeses – porter works in the same way as port: a strong dark contrast. Brilliant. Dark chocolate cakes and desserts – If you don’t have a very sweet tooth and enjoy black coffee with your chocolate you’ll enjoy a porter too. Especially with brownies. Vanilla ice cream – Colonial porter and ice cream make a great float.

Vital Statistics: BJCP Historical Style (27) With Kentucky Common, Gose, London Brown For Style ABV: 4.5 – 56.0% IBUs: 20 – 30 SRM: 18 – 30 Red Lion Alesmiths version. ABV: 5.7% IBU: 25 SRM: 24
ABV is Alcohol By Volume. Listed as a percentage volume. Average commercial beer ABV = 4.2%

IBU is International Bitterness Units. Measures bittering chemicals ranges from 0-120, but most beers are from 15-80. SRM is Standard Reference Method. Measure of color. Scale of 0-40. From yellow, to amber/gold, to brown, to black.

Commercial Examples: Yuengling Porter, Anchor California Lager, Coors Batch 19, Little Harpeth Chicken Scratch

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