The craft beer revolution opened up new beer options. Although the creativity displayed by this movement is amazing, it can be difficult to tell which beer is which, especially if they have similar characteristics. While most people are familiar with porters and stouts being dark, rich, and flavourful, few people understand the differences.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about porters and stouts, whether you’re opening a brewery or curious. Please continue reading to learn about the differences between porters and Stouts, their various types, and how they became what they are today.
There is a difference between Porter and Stout.
Porters are different because they use unmalted, unroasted barley instead of malted, unroasted barley. Porters tend to have lower alcohol content and IBU scores, while stouts are generally higher in alcohol. Stouts and porters can be dry-hopped, but stouts have fewer hops than the porters. Porter beer is the inspiration for stout beer. It has a similar taste and colour to porter beer. Porters are known for their richer coffee flavours and more intense aromas.
Malted vs Unmalted barley
Malting refers to germinating, steeping, drying, and then converting these grains into Malt. Malted barley has more fermentable starches than unmalted barley during the brewing process. You can think of brewing with malted or unmalted barley, like making instant oatmeal vs whole oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is already partially cooked and ready to go, while whole oats take longer to cook.
Here are the facts about malted and unmalted barley.
- Melted Barley – Molted barley is ready-to-brew, made by heating barley in hot water to make enzymes. These enzymes convert starches and proteins into fermentable sweeteners, which yeast then turns to alcohol. Beers made with malted barley tend to be sweet and opaque. Their pigments can range from dark brown to black.
- Unmalted barley – unmalted barley doesn’t convert to Malt or doesn’t contain any malt. Unmalted barley has fewer enzymes than malted barley. Therefore, unmalted beers are less likely to have starch conversion. Beers made from unmalted barley are more grainy, have better head retention, and can appear hazy.
Stout vs Porter Cheat Sheet
Brewers use three fundamental factors to distinguish stouts from porters: the style of barley used, alcohol level, and IBU ratings. Our cheat sheet will quickly show you the differences between these essential autumn beers.
Porter and Stout Barley Usage
Traditional porters use malted or unmalted barley, while stouts are usually made from roasted barley. Most beer lovers distinguish stouts and porters by the coffee essence produced from the roasted barley.
- Traditional porters make use of malted barley.
- Most stouts are made with roasted unmalted wheat.
What is a Stout Beer?
Stout beer is distinguished by its dark brown to black colour, roasted taste notes of coffee and dark cocoa. Stout beers are characterized by their distinctive colour and character because they don’t use malted roasted barley. Hop aromas are kept low by brewers’ dry-hopping stouts. Many also use liquid extract bittering hops. It’s difficult to see the clarity of stout beers because they are so dark. Most stout beers are opaque but can still produce a chill haze when low temperatures are reached.
- Stout Ingredients: water, roasted unmalted barley, minimal hops, top-fermenting ale yeast, WLP004 Irish Ale yeast preferred
- Stout Appearance – strong coffee
- Stout Mouthfeel thick and silky, but creamy
- Stout Flavor- No obvious hops, subtle chocolate, molasses or liquorice essence
Different types of Stout Beer
Brewers were drawn to the rich, roasty, and powerful flavour of stout beer, so they created a variety of beers. Below are the different types of stout beer.
- American Stout- American hops, high amounts of dark malts, and a distinctive flavour give this American stout its unique flavour and colour.
- Dry Irish Stout – With a heavy emphasis on roasted barley but light on roasted Malt, dry Irish Stouts are medium to high in hop bitterness, have light acidity, and end with a dry, roasted coffee flavour.
- Coffee Stout- Espresso stout is a stout that has been infused with coffee. Coffee stouts are typically made by brewers using one of the following four methods: ageing coffee beans, cold boiling stout in the coffee ground, adding coffee during fermentation or including cold-brew coffee in their final product.
- Imperial Stout is one of the strongest and darkest beer varieties. It’s black-hued with high alcohol content, usually around 9%.
- Milk Stout – Made with lactose (milk sugar), which doesn’t ferment when exposed to beer yeast, the milk stouts have a subtle sweetness. This contrasts with the beer’s natural bitterness.
- Oatmeal Stout An oatmeal stout is sweetened with oats, chocolate malts, crystal malts and caramel malts. Oatmeal stouts have a nuanced oat flavour that replaces the forward-facing coffee essences in other stouts.
- Barrel-Aged Stout – Barrel-Aged Stout is a strong stout aged in whiskey barrels. Whiskey barrels impart oaky notes to the stout and enhance its headiness.
- Oyster Stout is a Sweet dark beer made with real oysters and oyster shells during brewing. Oyster stouts are mildly sour.
- Pastry Stout- Pastry Stout varieties take advantage of the natural sweetness of stouts and add baking spices, vanilla, chocolate, and other ingredients. Craft brewers sometimes take pastry stouts literally and make their beers with pastries and sweets. If the stout tastes like dessert, it is a pastry stout.
What is a Porter Beer?
Porter beer is well-known for its distinctive brown to-black colour. It is made with dark malts, malted barley and other ingredients that leave the taste of chocolate. Except for the Baltic variety, all porters are made with top-fermenting ale yeast. They are also dry-hopped. Porter beers go well with barbecue and other rich, smoky flavours. To create a tasting menu, consult our beer pairings guide.
Different types of Porter Beer
Porter beer has been divided into different categories to meet exporters’ needs and caters to different flavour preferences. Below are the top-selling porter beers.
- English Porter – English porters tend to be less roasty, boozy and hoppy than most porter varieties. They have a medium sweetness and brown hues and can often be found with notes of caramel or chocolate.
- Brown Porter – Brown porters have notes of caramel, bittersweet chocolate, and toffee due to their rich malts and minimal hops. Brown porters are lighter-coloured porter styles and usually appear medium brown.
- Robust Porter: Robust porter is bitter and sweetened with roasted malts. It’s a cross between a brown porter or a stout. This is achieved by adding large amounts of roasted malts to the beer and leaving out roasted barley. Robust porters are distinguished by their high alcohol content, hoppy bitterness and caramel sweetness.
- Baltic Porter – Lager yeast, or cold-fermented ale yeast, gives Baltic porters high alcohol levels. English brewers created this style. They fortified their porters using higher alcohol levels to prevent spoilage when exported to the Baltics. This beer style is sometimes called ‘Imperial Porter’, as the English exported it to Catherine II of Russia. Baltic porter beer is loved for its rich nuts, cocoa and coffee flavours.
- American Porter – American porters are stronger than Baltic porters due to their higher ABV levels (often 10% or more). American porters are highly roasted, heavily hopped, and bitter.
- Flavored Porter- Flavored port builds on the traditional porter style but adds flavourings. Porter beer is rich, complex, and malty. It can be used with a wide range of flavours, from sweet to bitter.
- Barrel-Aged Porter – Strong porter, aged for a year in whiskey barrels. This is the appropriately named barrel-aged porter. The porter is enhanced by whiskey barrels.
Porter Beer’s History
Porters were first popularized in England during the industrial revolution. They were invented in London 18th century. Because they were strong and easy to heat, porters quickly became the preferred beverage for blue-collar workers. The beer’s name was derived from its popularity among the “porters” who transported goods throughout London. Porter beers began as a blend of light, hoppy brews and aged ales. They were so popular that brewers reverse-engineered the beverage to create the porter beer style.
A stout port was originally a porter with a high ABV. The term “stout beer” was first used in the 17th century to refer to any thick, strong beer with a range of 7% to 8% ABV. Brewers began using roasted barley to make their stout porters in the early 20th-century, making them distinct from the porter family. The suffix porter was eventually dropped.