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2021 BJCP 27 - Pre-prohibition porter characteristic ingredients: "Two row or six row malt. Low percentages of dark malts including black, chocolate, and brown malt (roasted barley is not typically used). Adjuncts are acceptable, including corn, brewers licorice, molasses, and porterine. More historical versions will have up to twenty percent adjuncts. Lager or ale yeast. Historical or traditional American bittering hops, American or German finishing hops."
There may have been substyles. The BJCP guidelines describe a Pennsylvania porter style with medium gravity. Yeungling's porter is an example of the Pennsylvania style with the following characteristics: 1.048 SG, six-row malt, corn grits, caramel 50L, and black patent malt. Cluster and Cascade hops are used for 22 to 24 IBUs. There were also higher gravity commercial versions with OGs from about 1.055 to 1.075.
All-malt versions are acceptable, although adjuncts were commonly used. Recipes from that era used "porter malt", likely a brown or amber malt. Porterine was a caramel sugar syrup used for flavor and coloring.
The hops are usually typical American or British varieties from the late 1800s. These include Cluster, Kent Goldings, Fuggle, and others. Some modern examples use higher alpha hops like Chinook, Galena, or Columbus. Higher gravity porters were sometimes dry hopped at IPA-level rates like 1 lb per barrel (3.8 g/l).
The yeast possibilities include American ale, British ales, or lager yeast. For lager yeast, use double the pitching rate of ale yeast.
Beer-analytics.com pre-prohibition porter analysis
Jankowski, B. (1997; March-April). American porters: Marching to revolutionary drummers. Brewing Techniques, 34 - 43.
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