Old Growler | Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.

very good
150 Reviews
Old GrowlerOld Growler

Brewed by:
Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002

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Reviews: 150 | Ratings: 197
Photo of rcfunk
4.77/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow. This was exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted a good porter or stout and almost put this one back in favor of the tried and true Taddy Porter, but godalmighty, I am glad I decided to try this one out. It does not disappoint.


I smell the chocolate malt up front but I can't ignore the delectable English Ale yeast esters bursting out of the glass. Those delicate esters alone make this beer worth it.

The taste is just plain balanced. Makes me want to chug it. Damn. I feel like a freshman all of a sudden. Anyway.

Yeah, so drink this beer and love it.


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Photo of Offa
4.65/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a really nice porter, full of flavour and depth, yet with a light, lively, and engaging feel and body.

It's very deep, dark red-brown that is almost black, with a thick, creamy tan head that lasts forever and leaves fairly good lacing.

The aroma is very malty, earthy, rather sweet with hints of toffee and fruit.

The taste is malty, very toasty, a bit earthy, a somewhat bittersweet, with a faint crisp tartness and definite, but mild, smooth chocolaty finish. There are hints of herbs and caramel, like home-made root beer. It is a little on the thin, fizzy side, which I was not expecting for a porter.

It's smooth, complex, and exceedingly well balanced.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.57/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

It is becoming a porter afternoon, it looks like. I am waffling between bottles and CANs of late, but simply as an effort to reduce some of my stock. Once the bottles are depleted, The CANQuest (TM) will re-assume its rightful focus.

From the bottle: "This SPECIAL PORTER from an original London recipe which dates back to the year 1750, is only brewed by the Nethergate Brewery in rural Suffolk."

The carbonation seemed a bit low, producing only a moment's worth of light-tan head before falling to wisps. This seems to have held up quite well in the BeerFrigerator, in evidence a deep brown color with cola highlights. Nose had a smoky anise quality, very nice. Mouthfeel was medium with tastes of dried dark fruit, smoke, charcoal, anise and dark chocolate in the mouth. I was liking this even more than the earlier Taddy Porter! Finish was semi-dry with an intense smokiness that not only stole the show, but lingered well after the swallow. The other flavors remained in evidence, but it was the charcoal/smoke flavor that dominated. Was it the (inadvertent) aging that created this? I do not know because I have not reviewed it fresh, but this was a winner!

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.55/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this on cask at the Romsey Beer Festival in Hampshire UK.

It has an ink black appearance with a big tan head that sticks around for a while (something that seems quite unusual with British Cask ales). The aroma is very toasty and full of coffee flavors. The taste is very intense. Lots of dark chocolate, deep coffee flavors, toastiness and a very strong bitterness. A very bold Porter. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth. Absolutely amazing, one of my favorite cask beers I had in England... packed with flavor.

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Photo of TXHops
4.54/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-Malts: Maris Otter pale malt, wheat flour, and crystal, black
-Hops: Challenger

Nethergate’s Old Growler Porter was one of my recent new finds on my trip to Austin. Very exciting to find a new-to-me-English beer… Old Growler pours a brownish-black color, with cola-looking highlights. The 2 fingers of foam settled into ¼ inch of very lacey head. A pungent aroma of bready, sweet, chocolaty, fruity malts races out of my Nonick pint, treating my nose to quite the sensation. It almost smells like chocolate-flavored waffles. The flavor follows the lead established by the esters—bready, sweet, fruity maltiness mingles with a lovely, earthy dryness to construct a tantalizing, slightly bitter porter. The nose is more powerful than the flavor, creating a sense of this beer being way bigger than it is. A single sniff suggests an OG of more than 1.065. This boasting by the aroma carries through somewhat into the flavor and is only belied only a little by a slight thinness in the body and a touch of sourness in the tail.

I’m happy to report that I think I learned something while drinking this beer. As I was sniffing away at the rich aromatics produced by this beer, I realized that it smelled almost identical to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, which was one of the best smelling beers I’ve ever come across. The most obvious shared trait between the two is the use of wheat in the grist, which appears to mix with the pale malts and darker malts to create an intoxicating, cookie/waffle smell. It’s addictive really…

The beer continued on to feature the sweet, doughy maltiness and a bit of yummy but vague fruitiness, which added a nice shot of complexity to an already intriguing beer. My only complaints were with the ever-so-slight thinness in the body (which can’t really be helped in a standard-gravity brew) and the suggestion of sourness at the end of a swallow. Really, this beer only suffers from a case o the aroma writing a check that the flavor can’t possibly cash without having twice the alcohol. As a result, this is a phenomenal beer and one worth searching out by lovers of Brooklyn BCS and “dark beer” fans everywhere…

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Photo of fx20736
4.51/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a large (500 ml??) bottle into a nonic, served at cellar temp.

Black as night with a souffle of thick, sandstone colored head. nice lacing.

aroma: powerful, wafts to my nostrils from 2 feet away. Darkly roasted malt, licorice, espresso, cocoa.

mouthfeel; light, ethereal.

taste: darkly roasted malt, black licorice, nice bitterness, coffee, cocoa and smoke.

notes: I've had many English Porters and this one ranks near the top. Aromatic, flavorful and very well balanced. Bitterness is slightly more pronounced in this one which is welcome to act as a counterpoint to all the other flavors zinging around my taste buds. This one is a keeper.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out into a deep, dark brown, almost black hue with nice thick foam about two fingers high. Sniff away, cuz this is very nice to inhale. Has aroma of deep roasted barley and chocolate, toffee, bread & pastry-like, sweet and even fruity. It reminded me of a chocolate covered jelly donut. Taste is pretty complex and has deep dark richness, covering alot of coffee, chocolate, tootsie rolls, heavy roasted malt, and fruit sugars. Has a great earthy, dry bitterness to it. Super smooth,thick, and rich. The balance of paled malts with roasted malts and the breadyness is super good. I just kept thinking I was drinking a liquid chocolate cookie.This is quite an amazing porter. Yum.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at State Line in Elkton MD. Poured chilled into a tulip and sipped til just above room temp from a 16.9 oz brown bottle.

A - A dark mocha brown w/ a 2 finger band of tan. The bead is pin sized and lace forms nice rings the head is rocky topped.

S - A dark fruit and mineral odor w/ cocoa, plum and tobacco aroma w/ a hint of toast and wood. There are notes of spice and raisin in the nose

M - A dry clean texture w/ subtle sweet feel. The full carbonation gives this a refreshing texture w/ subtle spice and tinges of roasted and fruit textures in the finish

T - The flavor is roasted at first which gives way to fig and prune-like rich sweetness. The chocolate and coffee is supplemented by toffee and tinges of molasses. I like the toasted and raisiny brown sugar flavors at play here. The taste is deep w/ a woody complexity and very nice dry flavor as it a slight fruit mixed w/ roaste malt flavor behind.

D - This is a great tasting porter in the English tradition. I recommend this if you are a fan of Fuller's and Samuel Smith's Taddy porter. The drinkability is so nice since it is complex, deliciously smooth and earthy. The drinkability is enhanced for me by abv and this is quite the dark gem at the strength

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoy this beer. It is has a strong chocolate/coffee impression, but has a decent bitterness in the beer. The aroma is again of coffee/chocolate. The body on this beer is spot on for a porter, and I can see why it has been awarded the titles in the UK it has achieved.

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Photo of Derek
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

American Porter?

This is a classic old English Porter that seems to have a variety of malt flavours that include a rounded caramel taste.

During the industrial revolution, brewers realized that Pale Malt provides the most alcohol, while black patent malt can provide the colour. Obviously, the taste suffered!

With the addition of crystal malt, this brew sends us back to a better time.

Commercial Description:
"To drink this beer is to go back in time. Brewed according to a 1750's Porter recipe, Old Growler is one of the most authentic and historical versions of English Porter from anywhere in the world.
Challenger hops, wheat flour, and crystal, black, and Maris Otter pale malts."

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Photo of brentk56
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a tootsie roll brown body with a beige head that quickly reduces to a film but does leave a few momentoes of lace around the side of the pint glass

Smell: Roasted malt with a touch of chocolate and prune

Taste: Nice dark roasted malt opening followed by subtle hints of chocolate, burnt coffee, dark fruit and a touch of wood

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with modest carbonation

Drinkability: A wonderful example of a subtle but complex porter

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Photo of hardy008
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours a dark black color with a two finger tan foamy head which did not disappear right away. Nice lacing in the glass.

Smell - Chocolate and malt.

Taste - Chocolate, coffee, molasses.

Mouthfeel - medium to full bodied. Rich and creamy.

Drinkability - Very good. I would recommend everyone who likes a good porter to try this.

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Photo of moulefrite
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very little, if no head-the the color is deep brown, near black and appears to be very thick and viscous in texture-some ruby hues. Aromas are fruit driven (raisin/prune) deeply roasted, and a tad woody. In the mouth the beer is quite dry, and again very fruity. Fruit and dark chocolate come to mind as well as freshly brewed coffee. Woody and even slightly oxidized notes appear as well. On the finish a kiss of sweet cream. This is a fine porter, but not the run of the mill type. Give this one a couple shots and it wil surely grow on you.

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Photo of AEK
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml brown bottle poured into a Hobgoblin branded pint pot.

A. A clear, deep red bordering on brown ale with a light brown solid, rocky head.

S. Coffee and bitter chocolate

T. Black chocolate, bitter chocolate, dark fruit and some smokiness. A lingering hoppy finish.

M. Medium and good with a little carbonation.

D. A deliciously dark ale that packs a heavywweight punch in its taste. This is certainly a beer to enjoy.

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Photo of tmitch75
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with mahogany highlights, huge creamy tan head drops a little but maintains 2-finger thickness quite well.

Roasty chocolate on the nose with a touch of vanilla.

Flavor is the same but roastier. Quite tasty. Creamy and smooth with medium body.

An excellent English Porter that I wish could be more widely available, I'm quite glad I came across it.

Tasted 7/28/08.

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Photo of diamondc
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown with a ruby tint. Short lived head, but lots of lacing. Half a fingers worth of foam lingers.

S: Strong toffee note, hazelnuts, milk chocolate, maybe a bit of raisin in there. Awesome.

T: Dark fruits really come out, slight roasted coffee note, anise, herbal-y earthy hop flavors at the end.

M: A bit on the lighter side, quaffable. Very balanced malt and hop profile.

O: Great beer, not over top, but worthy of multiple purchases.

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Photo of HochFliegen
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer had little to no head with minimum amount of carbanation. The color was a deep brown with slight red tints to it. The smell was malty almost a carmel smell with a little hint of fruity tones. The taste was carmely as well with a hint of coffee and maybe even chocolate. It was amazing I really enjoyed the taste of this beer it was very smooth and clean. The mouthfeel was oily and bold. This is one of my new favorite beers.

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Photo of flood
4.24/5  rDev +11%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not your deep dark microbrew porter.

Very smooth, good flavor (a hint of something nutty in there) - not a significant bite that a porter usually has. More like a toned down stout.

The appearance is just okay - not much head out of the bottle - bet it would be excellent on tap with a full head.

Overall an excellent beer - pleasant surprise.

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Photo of Sammy
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Seemed a cross between a barleywine and a Porter in aroma and taste. Easier drink than a thick stout. Tan brown with a modest amount of lace. And not overpowering as a barleywine. Nice, medium/bit thin mouthfeel. Malty, modest roasty. This works for the sum of its parts.

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Photo of veech
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark to med dark coffee color
S: The aroma was appropriate for med bodied porter: Coffee and light undertones of chocolate malt. Milder than expected.
T: Smooth med to light maltiness with promary coffee flavors of coffee and caramel.
M: Lighter than the average porter but enough body and substance to represent the style
D:Smooth and with 5.5%ABV, lighter and more drinkable than most English porters I've tried. Overall, good stuff and this being June, a nice choice for warmer weather porter quaffing. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of BanjoGasmic
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: very nice. rich and malty with lots of caramel, toffee, and toasty brown malt. Hints of chocolate, treacle, and roast malt adds complexity. Just a hint of paper indicates a bit of oxidation. Quite forgivable, but not necessarily to style.

Appearance: Deep Brown, but not black w/ ruby highlights when held up to light. Good clarity. Thin, transient off white head. poor retention (probably due to the age of this sample).

Flavor: Pleasant, soft caramel sweetness initially, which is quickly balanced by hop and roast-malt bitterness. Balance of malt and hop bitterness lends a nice bittersweet flavor, reminiscent of bittersweet chocolate. Finishes with a lingering caramel on the tongue, which begs to be washed away. Go ahead, have another sip. Slight paper note comes through in flavor as well.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is about perfect, slightly on the low side, but enough to lighten the mouthfeel. Overall, the mouthfeel is a bit heavy & full bodied (especially for an older example), with a slight clinginess. Not at all unpleasant though.

Overall: Super drinkable. The aroma promises a thick and rich, almost cloying porter, but the flavor delivers beautiful balance. The use of brown and intermediate caramel malts adds a lot of authenticity. I could drink this by the bucketfull. I pick up no hop aroma or flavor, nor any fruit.

Note: this example was the Export strength 5.5% Growler, not the original.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one at the Bayou SLC.

Pours a nice black color, nice carbonation nice little fizzy/creamy tan head, with some nice sticky lacing. The nose is malty with some toffee notes, nice sweetness, with some caramel. The taste is malty, sweet, very nice toffee notes and caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a very nice english porter, recommended.

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Photo of Drew966
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very dark brown with an off white head from a brown bottle featuring a label of an English Bulldog. Aroma is all chocolate. Taste is chocolate, some coffee notes, a little bit of raison. Reminds me of chocolate covered raisons. I like it. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Strong aroma is malty and smoky with a firm undertone of apple and hints of molasses (should I say treacle?) and licorice. Pours a warm opaque sable that lets in a bit of light at the bottom and has a fairly thick wheat head. Mouth-filling flavor has notes of roast malt, coffee, treacle and licorice. Smooth texture has good, firm body and a fair amount of fizz, not as heavy as a stout but certainly pleasing. Let this one growl for you!

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Photo of abcentfishing
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Smooth pour in tall mug, not to much head nice color with a malty, coffee smell a bit on the sweet side. The taste was smooth from the start and not as bitter as many porters on the first taste. Smooth and delicious, not overly strong in any way. Would be great with a meal, nice pot roast or maybe a french dip but unfortunately this is done as an after dinner brew. Something to plan for next time. Will for sure buy this one again.

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Old Growler from Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.
3.82 out of 5 based on 197 ratings.
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