Beer Profile: The Battle of the Robust Porters

Two classics of the style, compared by Millie and Ken Carman…

Sierra Nevada vs. Anchor Porter

Image courtesy of beergeek.biz

Image courtesy of beergeek.biz

Image courtesy of anchorbrewing.com

Image courtesy of anchorbrewing.com


From Sierra Nevada’s site…

alcohol content 5.6% by volume yeast Top-fermenting Ale Yeast
beginning gravity 14.5 Plato bittering hops Goldings
ending gravity 3.8 Plato finishing hops Willamette
bitterness units 40 malts Two-row Pale, Munich, Chocolate & Caramel

Anchor’s site was less specific, but here are some of the specifics from a clone recipe.

Note: all this information was accessed after the reviewers compared the two Porters.

Millie found the aroma for Sierra to be toasty/toffee or bready. Low hops with a slight burnt sense. We both felt the Anchor and the Sierra needed more “nose.” The Anchor, to Millie, had a bit less bread to the nose with some chocolate and coffee. I thought the Anchor actually had more of a nose hop-wise. Considering the rest of the review I suspect that the Anchor has more finishing hops for the aroma, less for the taste.

Of course the lower gravity-sense to the Nevada may account for this. The hops would naturally pop out more to the taste rather than aroma. We both felt the Nevada was probably a lower gravity product. The Anchor on the other hand seemed a far more complex beverage, grain-wise. Millie felt the Anchor had layers of complexity in comparison, and I would agree. I thought the Anchor clung to the roof of the mouth in a pleasant; not astringent, way. Millie thought it might be slightly astringent. I suspect this is probably more a difference in how much “astringency” one likes, or prefers, in a Robust Porter before one considers it actually astringent.

Neither had much carbonation in the mouthfeel. I felt the hops in the Anchor product seemed more citrusy to the nose, and what little could be sensed in the taste. As it warmed the hops seemed a little more present, but still slight. The Anchor product does seem to emphasize grain over hops, and the Sierra hops over body… and to a lesser extent: grain. The darker grains were there, just with less intensity.

Color to both: nice dark ruby highlights, yet clear. Unlike a few Porters, a light will shine through either… somewhat. Both had a nice; foam-laced, pillow head.

Personally we both preferred the Anchor.

Note: I seem to remember reading that Anchor changed it’s recipe a while ago to compete with Sierra Nevada. I seem to remember it being even more complex and dense grain-wise than this. If so, what a shame. If my memory is right, Anchor may have had it right to begin with.