Craig Heap continues the English porter reviews with global favourite Taddy Porter, brewed not in London but Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.
Sam Smith’s brewery, North Yorkshire
Porter may be a style going back to the 1700s, but with the decline of porter during the 20th century there were few British porters before Taddy Porter came along in 1979. This practically makes it the granddaddy of British porters and in the time since it has become as well known on one side of the pond as the other.
There’s a tendency for British porters to come in larger, almost pint sized bottles, compared with the smaller American measures and the same is true of Taddy Porter. It pours night black in the bottle with a creamy tan head, and low carbonation.
The aroma is subtle and pleasant, with roasted malt and liquorice being the major players, backed up by a sweet muscovado sugar scent, chocolate and a slight hint of raisin.
When supped, and this really is a supper, it delivers a medium body and mouthfeel, which is lighter than expected for what appears to be such a dark and heavy drink, but not that light. It goes down slow and steady. Each mouthful is packed with a soft, dry, roasted bitterness that lingers through to the finish. The liquorice aroma is evident in the taste, and the brown sugar makes itself known in the dying taste, along with a smoky edge.
Overall, the taste is as subtle as the smell, and while it’s nothing to write home about, it’s easy to see why it’s a popular porter. It’s a genuinely likeable drink, and one that is very much at home in a pint mug. This is the sort of brew Orwell would have drunk in The Moon Under Water while reading his newspaper to the sound of an old man snoring gently beside the fireplace and darts on cork coming from the back room.
Sam Smith’s recommend drinking Taddy Porter while eating shellfish or chocolate desserts. Regrettably, I had neither to hand to verify this claim, but I appreciate the sentiment. There’s enough flavour in Taddy Porter to complement food but not so much it would overpower the dish. Also, I feel there’s something historically poignant to suggesting Taddy Porter and shellfish – it harks back to the drink’s origins, of when the London porters would drink their lunch time pint with a bowlful of cockles.