Originating in the United Kingdom, porter is a beer made with deeply-roasted malts which gives it a dark color. It was a blend of three styles: an old or stale ale, a new ale, and a weak ale. It was aged in barrels and was sometimes referred to as an “Entire Butt” which means entire barrel.

Sir Arthur Guinness’ first mass produced beer was a porter that came in two strengths and marked with X or XX. This was renamed to Guinness Extra Stout Porter. From the porter came a darker, creamer ale know as stout.

The porter has seen a revival in the last 20 years with microbreweries like Sierra Nevada which makes a traditional porter.


Here is a nice diagram of all beer types arranged in a sort of family tree. Michael Jackson also has a decent beer styles section on his Beer Hunter site.

Beer 101 is an ongoing series intended to help the average beer drinker learn more about the mystical beverage we call beer. If there is a topic you would like covered in Beer 101, leave a comment, or visit the contact page.


  1. Just found your website. It’s great. Good start. I’m looking forwards to your continuous updates

    I’d have a couple minor comments about your beer tree however. Mild isn’t it’s own style of beer. There are british pale ales (mild, bitter, esb). also there are american and british brown ales, the latter of which can be grouped into mild, southern, northern. Also I don’t see the red/amber german lagers of Munich style (oktoberfest, etc.,)

    Check out http://www.bjcp.org for the official competition handbook on styles. Also Brewing classic styles by Jamil Zanichef(sp?) is a fairly comprehensive book. Both of those are geared towards homebrewers.

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