Thames Porter

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This beer recipe is featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Join the American Homebrewers Association or start your 30-day free trial to access the Zymurgy online archive and other exclusive member benefits!

A London porter benefits from the proper water: alkaline with a dose of sodium and chloride. Thames water was revered as producing better porters and that character is evidenced in the water profile. The somewhat elevated alkalinity of the London porter profile helps keep the mash pH slightly higher than in typical pale beer brewing, enhancing the flavor quality of the dark malts.

A London porter would likely be characterized as a brown porter using BJCP style guidelines. The malt bill for a brown porter is largely 2-row pale malt with modest percentages of roast and crystal malts. According to Brewing Classic Styles, the secret to a great brown porter recipe is the inclusion of brown malt. English hops are preferred to meld with the malt bill.

Thames Porter | Brown Porter


  • For 5.5 gallons (21 L)
    • MALTS
    • 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) 2-row pale malt
    • 0.75 lb (340 g) brown malt
    • 0.5 lb (227 g) chocolate malt
    • 0.5 lb (227 g) crystal 55° L
    • 2.0 oz (57 g) crystal 150° L
    • HOPS
    • 0.75 oz (21 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 9.5% a.a. (60 min)
    • 0.5 oz (14 g) East Kent Golding pellets, 4.8% a.a. (10 min)
    • YEAST
    • London Ale yeast


    • Original Gravity: 1.049
    • Final Gravity: 1.012
    • IBU: 27
    • SRM: 26
    • Efficiency: 80%


    Mash all malts in London porter water (adjust as necessary to produce a mash pH of 5.5 to 5.6) at a temperature between 150-154° F (65-68°C) for 60 minutes. A mashout step to 168° F (76° C) is helpful, but optional. Sparge the mash with low-alkalinity water that is acidified to a pH between 5.4 and 5.7. Boil the wort for 60 minutes. Use a program such as Bru’n Water to guide the mineral additions needed to produce the London porter brewing liquor.


    Many English hop varieties can be substituted. London Ale yeast is preferred for its minerally character and fruity ester profile. However, the English or U.S. ale yeasts may be substituted.

    Extract Version

    Substitute 6.0 lb (2.72 kg) of liquid pale malt extract for the pale malt in the recipe. Steep the other malts in 150° F (65° C) brewing liquor. Rinse the malts with brewing liquor and remove from kettle. Boil all liquids as indicated above.