Some time in the early eighteenth century a dark brown beer (probably not yet called porter) was first brewed in London. The exact origin is unclear, but what is certain is that this complex, roasty beer became hugely popular throughout England. This delicious style’s popularity spread to the colonies, including Ireland, Australia, and America. It is said to have been George Washington’s favorite style of beer.
One of the many theories about the origin of porter is that it was first brewed as an alternative to the hoppy light beers brought to the city by visiting gentry. (So you see why the malt-driven madmen at the Civil Life love this style so much!) The porters were pretty well hopped, but the primary defining flavors were (and are) roasted malt ones.
Bittersweet cocoa characteristics dominate our porter, with a subtle earthier note of licorice coming through. Northdown hops balance those lashings of roasted malt and provide a pleasant woodsy spice note.
That’s the beer. The name came a little later. The story goes that this style of beer became an immediate favorite among porters, those who earned their livelihood carrying heavy things. During more civil times, hard-working laborers would take periodic breaks to down a restorative pint of porter. These days, most employers take a dim view of this time-honored practice, preferring that their weak-looking employees sip at glasses of tepid tea with limp lemon slices floating about in that decidedly unrestorative substance.
At the Civil Life we still champion restorative pints, and we still brew a traditional porter like those first brewed in London. Some say the style was first brewed in the Shoreditch neighborhood. While many dispute this tale, you can still find an excellent porter there. In late September of 2013, while conducting important research for the Civil Life in London, I repaired to the Crown and Shuttle Pub on Shoreditch High Street where I immediately ordered a pint of Redemption Fellowship Porter. London craft brewery Redemption is just a year older than the Civil Life, and like us they make great versions of classic styles.
Soon, I was back home, and though I missed London, I was happy to be back at the Civil Life, where I could drink the world’s finest porter. It is astonishingly good on cask. Come down and have a pint. Don’t be surprised if it fills you with the strength of ten stevedores. ~ Dr. Patrick Hurley of Tower Grove South
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.