Hello and welcome back to today’s blog. We are going to compare similar beers and try to find the differences in them. I will do this a couple more times as there are beers that some think are pretty much the same. Some can’t tell the difference between a lager or a kolsch or a pale ale and a India pale ale. Right now, we are going to talk about a porter vs a stout. We will dive into what they are as beers (hop profile, usual malts/grains) and then see what we can find as differences. I know a lot of people that love both, and I know some that like one and not the other (I honestly fall in the latter).
Let’s start with the stout (mainly because I love them more). A stout is a dark beer (duh) that has hops with a lower alpha acid level (fuggle is a usual choice) and has malt and grains that can have a chocolate or coffee flavor to them. Most leave as is but you can also add more to the chocolate or coffee flavor or add other flavors including, maple syrup, oatmeal, bananas, milkshake, blueberry pancakes, and so many more. The most commonly known stout is Guinness (it is known) but a lot of microbreweries have made new ones that have made my imagination implode.
Now with porters, you may guess that it is also a darker beer as well. Hops are also the same with a lesser percentage of alpha acids and with dark malts and grains. Flavors are also added to it like honey, vanilla, bourbon, Neapolitan (yes it was chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) and chocolate (sounds familiar, I know). Porters were made back in the 18th century and were very popular with (get this) porters on Thames River as it was a stronger beer. Porters have had their ups and downs with popularity, but have become popular in microbreweries as well.
So what’s the difference? Well it first comes down to which came first and in this case the porter was first and the stout came from porters. A stout is just a stronger porter and was originally called “extra porter” or “stout porter” and was then just shortened to be called stouts. Even Guinness was first called “extra superior porter”. Porters are usually 6% while stouts can get into the 7% or 8% ABV. So why do some like one and not the other. I had to ask myself this and my answer was simple but not right…I always had a soft spot for Guinness and the creamy light stout is so good (no, they did not sponsor) and porters, when I first started drinking, were not on that level. Now this was prior to my own microbrewery renaissance, so maybe I should give them more of a chance, and I might after trying that Neapolitan porter (it was so weird but really good). And both become better when they are nitronized giving the flavors more of a boost.
Which do you prefer? Do you even like stouts or porters? After hearing of all the flavors out there, are you willing to give them a try? I know people have preferences, but all beer is good when you give them a chance. Leave a comment below on how you feel about these two styles and we will discuss more next time. Cheers!