George Stimpson

His life and works

Home > Information Roundup > Why is a kind of ale called porter?
Why is a kind of ale called porter?

Porter in this connection is short for Porter's ale or porter ale. The term has been used in the sense of a kind of "small ale" at least since 1725. Porter's ale was originally a mixture of ale and stout and was so called because it was a favorite drink of porters. Porter is derived from Latin portare, "carry," "convey" or "transport," and at one time carriers and laborers of all sorts were called porters. Modern pprter is basically the same as beer, ale and stout. It is a dark-brown, heavy, English malt liquor, rich in saccharine matter and containing about 4 per cent of alcohol. George Washington was fond of this kind of ale or beer and often drank porter at his meals. A place where porter and ale were sold at retail was called a porterhouse or alehouse. Porterhouse in this sense was used in America as early as 1800. Food was often served in porterhouses and the term in time became synonymous with chophouse or restaurant. The porterhouse steak is supposed to have received its name from its having been a favorite at a porterhouse or at the porterhouses of New York. There are many stories relating the exact circumstances under which the porterhouse steak got its name, but none of them can be confirmed. A porterhouse steak is a thick, juicy, choice beefsteak cut from between the sirloin and the tenderloin. Some authorities believe that porterhouse steak was suggested by some early hotel named the Porter House after the analogy of Parker House roll, which takes its name from the Parker House, a hotel in Boston established by Harvey D. Parker, who first served hot, soft rolls made from flat circular pieces of dough folded over.