Original Flag Porter | Darwin Brewery Ltd.

very good
183 Reviews
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Original Flag PorterOriginal Flag Porter

Brewed by:
Darwin Brewery Ltd.
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by woemad on 12-04-2003

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Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 272
Photo of BEERchitect
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First time drinking this beer. I'm thoroughly impressed. Good aromas of chocolate, coffee, barley malts, and roasted malts. A hint of fermentation sourness adds to the complexity. Looks nearly black with a slight tan foamstand that stayed til the end. Tastes full and round with the chocolate, coffee, toffee, caramel, and a hint of cream. Never aggressive not dominant in any flavor. Melded together nicely. Quite rich and smooth on the toung. Easy drinking. Quite silky and bold. I highly recommend.

 501 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.5 oz bottle into a pint glass. By the way, whats the deal with 11.5 oz? I am assuming it is some kind of metric conversion?

Poured an almost opaque dark amber with a very small head that stays throughout. Nice lacing as well. Pleasant looking chocolate head piques my interests.

Terrific smell of malts. Great caramel and chocolate aroma with a tiny bit of coffe malt aroma as well. Sweet smelling. Great aroma.

Taste is equally impressive. Tastes of caramel and chocolate with smoke as well. Sweet taste is refreshing and not at all overpowering.

Smooth and clean mouthfeel makes for a great beer.

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Photo of ski271
4.39/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear, dark brown with a slight red tint and a very small, off-white, creamy, mostly diminishing head.

Smell: VERY rich chocolate malts supported by light floral hops. Coffee, oak, dark bread, light cherry.

Taste: Toasted malt with oak, then switch to milk chocolate. The finish accented by a light floral bitterness which fades to a long-lasting malt sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, silky/creamy texture, low carbonation.

Drinkability: This one is all about the chocolate malt, yet it’s still well-balanced. A really nice surprise from a beer I had never seen or heard of before.

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Photo of Backer2004
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

One nice porter, hands down. I can't recall why this is a beer in the news, but regardless, this was a crowd favorite at the discussion tent at the World Beer Festival. Many asked for seconds and I had to agree with them. Darker than others in this style, nice malty chocolate with a hint of hoppiness. I would love to try this one again soon but unsure where to find it.

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Photo of brentk56
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a brutally dark brown body with a flimsy little head and no lacing

Smell: Nice, but faint nose of coffee and mocha

Taste: Initial chocolate milk flavors which fade into a bitter coffee; finishes dry

Mouthfeel: A bit lighter than I would like; low carbonation

Drinkability: All in all, despite its flaws, a very drinkable porter

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brownish-black with ruby red edges. No lace left from the thin head.
Smell is rich, malt, molasses, smoke and peat. Oh, this promises to be good!
Taste is malt, smoke, vanilla, molasses and peat. Nicely balanced and complex.
Medium bodied, smooth, almost creamy after the carbonation drops away. A lingering smoky maltiness and molasses. Yummy! "Thank you, kind publican, may I have another?"

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Photo of TPSReports
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this in a bar in Chattanooga. Pours rich and dark -- nearly black with minimal head into a pint glass.

The aroma is of coffee and cocoa. A sligh bit of malt is there also.

The taste is rich -- plenty of toffee, coffee and cocoa. Mouthfeel is nice and slighly creamy with minimal carbonation.

This makes a nice dessert beer. I would find it tough toi drink several of this rich brews.

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Photo of jjboesen
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has always been a favorite English Porter; of course, you need to find it. My bottle has a weak, quick dissolving head, but holds a smell a bit rendolent of molasses. A very dark color and rich bodied beer, this beer (supposedly) is brewed with yeast brought up from a shipwreck. Urban legend or not, this is a great quaff that must be drank at room temperature.

 367 characters

Photo of GClarkage
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

4/17/05- Purchased at a wine and spirits store in Sonoma, CA

Presentation- 11.2oz bottle with no date. Poured into my Corsendonk tulip.

Appearance- Deep and dark, small white tight head and light lacing.

Smell- Pretty heavy on the semi-sweet chocolate and the roasted malts.

Taste- Mmmmm, the chocolate really comes through in this one, even when it's colder. Malts are in good harmony with the dark chocolate taste.

Mouthfeel- Light carbonation, nice semi-thick mouthfeel.

Drinkability- I'f I can find it again, I'll probably snag a few more. I think it was about $2.75 per, but worth it.

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Photo of fretlessman71
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pertinent Preliminary Comments: Nothing like tasting 180 old yeast strains. I can only imagine the look on the face of the diver who discovered this stuff…!

APPEARANCE: Almost jet black – I have to really strain to see any light through it. What does come through is a nice soft brown. Unremarkable tan head, fading quickly. No lace.

AROMA: Black malt and coffee, picking up a little red wine and some alcohol. Hops also present but not overpowering.

FLAVOR: Light sourness accompanies the malt. Coffee grounds and bitter chocolate coming through. Light hop flavor. One of the drier porters I’ve tried. Very smooth.

MOUTHFEEL: Just fine; nothing remarkable.

DRINKABILITY: Very good. For a porter with so little to comment on regarding the flavor, it goes down very nicely. At 5% ABV one could have a few of these, but one also might get a little bored after the first one…

OVERALL COMMENTS: A solid beer, nothing to write home about. The history behind the beer is more interesting than the beer itself in my opinion.

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Photo of mschofield
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a caramel brown, topped with a two finger creamy dark khaki head, leaves a sheet of lacing.
Caramel and cocoa aroma, earthy.
Caramel and cocoa taste, earthy, plenty of chocolate, some dark fruit, creamy note.
Medium bodied, and smooth, rather nice - it's brewed to an 1800s recipe with a yeast recovered from an 1825 shipwreck.

 336 characters

Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich and creamy black and chocolate malt scent. It is sweet with a bit of a dry finish. The taste is good as well. It has a black and earthy flavor with a sweet, creamy chocolate malt finish. It's thin, but a very flavorful beer that drinks well. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine porter. I love the chocolate characteristics. It has a great aroma and taste; a good drinker.

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Photo of horndecker
3.84/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This porter pours out a plummy mahogany color, cloudy and dark, without much of a head. The carbonation, what there is of it, goes underground quickly, leaving a slick, even oily look to the surface.

The aromas are unexpected and wonderful ; the best thing about this brew. Raspberries, cocoa, honey and toffee, along with roasted malts.

A slight bitter burnt aroma also appears in the taste, which features subtly tart fruit, bittersweet chocolate and espresso. Light body, too light, almost watery, which, along with the slight stealthy carbonation, reminds one of stale seltzer.

Finishes dry and dusty.


ps - after posting this I only just now read the previous review, by Yoko. We had almost exactly the same experience of this beer (and wrote about it the same way). Pleasantly surprised that so many of my perceptions of this or any other brew have a common ground with others'.

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Photo of yoko
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The nose is intoxicating - inviting you back for more. Still can't place the aromas -- soft/sweet/mellow with a thick character, roasted cocoa/malt/grain; chocolate nor coffee predominate -- I keep revisiting for the tell all. In the meantime, it's a nose easy to smile about.

The Flag with its historic yeast and recipe pours a dark mahogony allowing light to pass yielding red tones. Absolutely no head here with a few watery bubbles of varing sizes collected and diminishing to none. The body is thin, light and without length, almost as if piggy-backed with a S. Pellegrino. It remained clear with a crisp note. The taste carries the smooth nose married with the mineral water essence. The finish is with a bit of instant coffee. Perhaps this would be a most refreshing brew on a summer's day...

This came highly recommended. I can appreciate why it was enjoyed by another, however, this is not my preferred porter style.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a light mahogany color with a big creamy tan head.
Nice mellow roasted aromas. Malt, creamy chocolate, dark coffee and a bit of red fruit.
Good tangy, sweet and bitter flavors. Roasted malt, milk chocolate,
coffee, dark cherries and a subdued grassy hop bitterness.
Light to medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and good carbonation.
Good tasty Porter. Smooth and drinkable.

 390 characters

Photo of blitz134
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Minimal, and I mean minimal, head formation on the pour. Basically white by judging the little that did form and quickly disappear. Nearly opaque with some light transmission around the edges showings its dark brown color.

Smell is mostly of chocolate, much like a Tootsie Roll. I can’t help but to keep smelling it as it is so inviting. The taste continues much like the smell with little differences. The chocolate continues as the forefront of the flavor and finishes with a hint of coffee. There was really no hint of the burnt or heavily toasted flavors found in many porters, a nice change.

Mouthfeel is a little thin, I’d prefer a bit thicker feel on the tongue. There is something in the taste, maybe a lack of hops which bring the sweetness in balance which hurts drinkability a bit, but good overall. Worth a try for sure and I’ll probably pick up a couple more.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Darkest mahogany with a faint glimmer of garnet, only noted when backlit with bright sunlight. A tight-bubbled, two finger, beige crown is created on the pour and leaves less lace than expected. A slurred collar is the extent of the glass coverage.

The aroma is impressively aromatic and is redolent of strong Arabian coffee and chocolate fudge. I don't usually like this much coffee in my porter noses, but this one has enough else going for it (dark fruit and subtle hops) that I love its depth as well as its power.

The flavor is pretty special as well. Original Flag is a good old-fashioned, classic porter. I love the fact that the yeast strain was rescued from an 1825 shipwreck in the English Channel; it gives the beer authenticity. It's a tad lighter of body than I prefer and the taste isn't exactly bold (as is the fashion currently, at least in this country), but it's a complex and delicious ride.

Nothing dominates on the palate. Coffee blurs into chocolate blurs into sweet raisins blurs into overripe apples blurs into light treacle blurs into roasted barley (not sequentially of course) and it's all tied up into an incredibly drinkable package. Again, I wish that the body was bigger in order to provide a little more flavor linger.

Although I normally prefer (often big) American porters to (often not so big) English ones, I wouldn't change a single thing about Old Flag. It's a classic version and is great beer no matter what flag you drink under.

 1,473 characters

Photo of ken3c
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark in color but clear when held up to an intense light. The head dies down to a thin brown wispy layer.

Chocolate and vanilla mixed with a hint of alcohol. The aroma is rich and intoxicating.

Dry chocolate and malt tastes. There is a little sour flavor that adds interest. A crisp finish is a little disapointing but there is a smooth carmel aftertaste. There is very little noticable bitterness.

Slightly foamy and bubbly. It seems to bubbly enough to slightly affect the taste. Medium body but seems a little lighter because of the carbonation.

This is pretty good stuff. I'd like a little more flavor and bitterness from hops and/or roasted grain.

 669 characters

Photo of Ego
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz, 5%, imported from england
bottle jazz:
"brewed with 1825 yeast salvaged from a sunken vessel in the english channel using an original 19th century recipe"

nearly pitch black, no real head , but the lace sticks to the sides of the glass, strong caramel/coffee malt nose, not very much mouth feel, very low carbonation, very deep expresso notes on the aftertaste. not heavy in the stomach

this is one that easily works at room temperature.. 12oz seems like a lot of something so dark but it is relatively light drinking. this is a good example of a porter meant for a hand pump....

the malt sweetness stays in your mouth for a good 5 minutes after a sip.. it is like drinking a good coffee.

later on in the glass the sweetness (malt) seems to outweigh the coffee tones...

a very solid porter, nothing outrageous but very solid.

 849 characters

Photo of BeerBuilder
3.54/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown almost black in color with a minimal light brown head that reduces to just a ring. The aroma is chocolatey, and roasty, with coffee notes. The flavor is of roasted malts and coffee notes. It is medium in body and an easy drinker. Not a bad Porter overall.

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Photo of oberon
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights thru out almost no head to speak of here,great aroma of cocoa,smoke,and dark roasted coffee very rich and appetizing.Taste does not live up to the aroma though somewhat watery but there some smokey flavors and some bitter chocolate.Like I said the beer seemed a little to watery thinbut there are some good characteristics for a quality brew going on.

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Photo of nomad
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This porter pours a dark brown with splendid transparency and a bishop's collar of a head never wavering. Lacing is soft, thin, and evanescent.

If I could ever say a beer smelled like coffee beans, this might be it, even more impressive given its lack of coffee in its ingredients list. Medium roasted beans combine a nice balance of caramel and roasty malts, giving off spare fruity scents with a dark soda-like character (a smell I've found in highly traditional English-styled porters). Opens to a curious nutty sense and an altogether mild and quiet friendliness.

As for flavor, this beer is smooth and completely from the other side of the pond. In my estimation, its roastiness is constrained and subtly smoothed into the notes of nuts, toasty malts, and quiet fruitiness that seems to me estery as if from a classic English yeast. Absolutely no appreciable hops but plenty of smokiness takes its place and gives this beer's taste its unique character. To describe the smoke in detail, its moderate with a woody sense and fairly coloured by the dark brown sugar accents of the majority of the grain bill. I could be drastically wrong, but the smoothness (have I used that word enough times yet) is apparent. Mouthfeel is indeed silky and with low carbonation, and while its far from a great casked porter its thin-bodied softness is impressive.

Could I please try this fresh from a just-tapped cask? I can only imagine though this beer survives travel fairly well.

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Photo of cbl2
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Dark dark brown with hints of amber little to no head .


Chocolate, licorice and smoke


Smoky with sweet malty character bursting on the tongue; little to no hops which leaves you free to enjoy the malts which linger. Good, not great.

 285 characters

Photo of marburg
4.72/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I echo Putnam's confusion in terms of the label and the brewer. But let's get on to what really matters...

Complete olefactory delight. I was having a discussion with Putnam about coffee the other day, and the aroma of this reminds me of those superb coffee beans my mom would grind up for fancy parties she hosted. Not chocolate, per se, but rather chocolate passed through the lens of a handful of gourmet coffee beans.

Silky, rather than syrupy, on the tongue. Light yet flavorful, this traditional porter is clear in its influence on its contemporaries. Roasted, smoky flavors. Singed chocolate and grilled fruit concentrated and rehydrated. Remarkably delicate and well balanced. Just easy, good, flavorful drinking.

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Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm confused by the "other" flag porter attributed to the Elgood brewery. That uploaded picture looks just like my sample from the Darwin brewery. Is this a case of alternative contract brewing?

This beer is all about "bouquet." Don't even attempt to taste it until first SMELLING it for 30 seconds. And for God's sake don't serve it too cold.
Absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous, velvety, feminine perfumes of baked blue fruits and Caribbean chocolate. On the palate it is rain water clear with chunky, meaty suggestions of marrow, roasted seeds, blackberry paste, bitter chocolate, smoky branches and creosote. Much lighter than modern Porter convention would have it, there is something profoundly drinkable about this brew. Very complex, succulent and interesting. The best Porter ever.

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Original Flag Porter from Darwin Brewery Ltd.
3.85 out of 5 based on 272 ratings.
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