Porter vs. Stout

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by LeRose, Jan 9, 2013.

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  1. LeRose

    LeRose Savant (965) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Porter is a style I am struggling to understand. Reading the style guidelines porter seems to be almost identical to, or a variant of, a stout? I like stouts in general, but have yet to find a porter I like at all. I have tried more than I have reviewed because I don't think it is fair to rate a beer I don't understand. With so much overlap in the style description, I am surprised by this phenomenon.

    Trying to figure out what the real differences are between the two (if any) Not looking for recommendation to convince me I like them. Will admit I may not have tried a "good" porter yet, and there's plenty of styles I enjoy so not trying to make myself into a porter-phile. I am just trying to figure out why I seem to significantly prefer one over the other. Even looking at HB recipes, they seem awfully similar (American ones, anyway).
  2. CircusBoy

    CircusBoy Initiate (0) Mar 10, 2008 Ohio

    A topic that's come up plenty of times; now days there really isn't much a difference. As far as good porters, two of my favorites are Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald and Founders Porter. If you don't like those then I would give up.
    Zach136, theCoder, inchrisin and 6 others like this.
  3. TomClem

    TomClem Initiate (8) Mar 7, 2012 Nebraska
    Beer Trader

    Are you talking BJCP style guidelines?

    Generally I find porters a lot more thin in mouthfeel and to have less roasted malt flavor than stouts.
    blckout20 and jglowe77 like this.
  4. JM03

    JM03 Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2010 Ohio

    They are very much alike in many aspects. I think many/most porters are usually a bit thinner though.

    Give Victory at Sea a try. A world class porter imo.
  5. thecraftculture

    thecraftculture Initiate (0) Nov 28, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Water is to porters as milk is to stouts.
    inchrisin likes this.
  6. MetalMountainMastiff

    MetalMountainMastiff Initiate (0) Oct 1, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Porters are lighter generally, in mouthfeel, Less flavorful, abv. I Like imperial stouts the most. But after drinking them constantly a nice porter is amazingly light and refreshing!
    jglowe77 likes this.
  7. PsilohsaiBiN

    PsilohsaiBiN Defender (608) Aug 10, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Had this last night for the first time, the vanilla one. A-fuckin-mazing! One of the best beers I've ever had. 10% and drinks like 5.
    JM03 likes this.
  8. LeRose

    LeRose Savant (965) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    No. Just the short guidelines here, and I popped onto my HB forum and looked at some recipes. Agree on the thinner - maybe that changes the flavor profile for me where I can find something I don't enjoy?
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,789) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Ranbot and LeRose like this.
  10. emsjf

    emsjf Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2012 Virginia

    The stout we know is short for stout porter, if that gives you a little more insight on their shared heritage.
    LopeJuice likes this.
  11. marquis

    marquis Crusader (715) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    This came up quite recently. There is no reason for there to be a difference , the original style was Porter and if a stronger one was brewed it was a Stout Porter, later shortened to stout. Records make it clear that the only difference was strength. More recently the names have been used at random.But Mackeson Stout at a whopping 3% ABV and Guinness Stout at massive 4.something % , both very long established beers, should counter most arguments that Porters are thinner with less mouthfeel.
    There have been many cases (including Guinness) where EXACTLY the same brew has been labelled as a Porter at one time and a Stout at another.Martyn Cornell has analysed a lot of Stouts and Porters, taken at random, and found no distinguishing features between them. Differences are assumed and made up but that's true of so much that's written about beer styles.
  12. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    What was the first porter you had? Was it god-awful? I ask this because it seems as if, and no offense here, it's all in your head. It's hard for me to imagine someone liking stouts and not porters for any real taste reason, as they are so similar. It's as if someone said "I love high alcohol DIPA's but hate West-Coast style Barleywines." You know what I mean? Anyway, I can only imagine it is a perceived dislike of porters based on perhaps, a lousy first experience. I could be way off base here, maybe it is a taste thing. They are definitely different and are certainly not identical.
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  13. MADPolo

    MADPolo Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2012 Alabama

    I tend to see them as lighter fair, but obviously the lines do blur.

    Some favorites of mine are Taddy Porter, Fuller's London Porter and Anchor Porter.

    The only "Porters" I have yet to wrap my taste buds around are Baltic Porters.
    Belgianbrad likes this.
  14. LeRose

    LeRose Savant (965) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    That could be that case. Rogue Mocha Porter was my second one (mostly OK), and the other was Boston Beer Black and Brew.

    Thanks to those who chimed in - got plenty to go on!

    Carry on...
  15. LeRose

    LeRose Savant (965) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

  16. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    The only reason people are saying, "Porters are thinner" is because most BA's are drinking Stouts in the 8%-15% abv range, while most Porters drunk are between 5%-7% abv.

    Do a blind taste test with 4 porters and 4 stouts in the same abv range. You will find the only difference is what the brewer decided to name that particular beer, porter or stout.
    George1005, Plonk, albertq17 and 2 others like this.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,789) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Did you by any chance catch this quote from marquis: “It depends on the definition of define if you will allow that!”

    All that I could think of was Bill Clinton’s response when being questioned by an attorney during the Monica Lewinski debacle:

    "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." –Bill Clinton, during his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair

    CBlack85 and LeRose like this.
  18. Ranbot

    Ranbot Devotee (433) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

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  19. Ranbot

    Ranbot Devotee (433) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Providence likes this.
  20. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (617) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Has this topic come up before? I hadn't noticed.
  21. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,789) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  23. jamescain

    jamescain Meyvn (1,001) Jul 14, 2009 Texas
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I always recommend Smuttynose too if you can find it
  24. Grohnke

    Grohnke Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2009 Illinois

    i want to propose a ban on this topic. Or better yet, a sticky that reads: "Do a search before you post"
    albertq17 and PABSTMASTER like this.
  25. jglowe77

    jglowe77 Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    A true craftbeer drinker; a porter is light and refreshing. Cheers to you, friend of beer! (I'm serious)
  26. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Porter vs Stout?
    Only one way to find out:
    dwalkup, Roguer and Hoppsbabo like this.
  27. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (374) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Some claim that the primary difference between a porter and a stout is in the number of letters, while other stress the number of syllables.

    We may never know which is true.
    Roguer likes this.
  28. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (617) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,789) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    In that case I am happy that I could remind you that you participated in that thread discussion.

    Roguer likes this.
  30. LeRose

    LeRose Savant (965) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Yes - public humiliation accepted, and no worries it isn't damaging my calm any...

    Bad forum etiquette on my part - and yes, that is absolutely sincere.
  31. Grohnke

    Grohnke Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2009 Illinois

    ha, no sweat. I suppose i could have been less snarky in my response, poor (but quite common) forum etiquette on my part.

  32. LeRose

    LeRose Savant (965) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    It's cool...my fingers run faster than my brain all the time, man. Not to justify unearthing the mummy, but I tend to go old school when it comes to learning - I just ask. Have to remember the tools are at the finger tips and check things first.
  33. Adamdc

    Adamdc Aspirant (269) Nov 18, 2007 Massachusetts

    Shouldn't that be: 'Water is to milk as porter is to stout.' ?
    PABSTMASTER likes this.
  34. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Crusader (730) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I resolved this by doing a side by side of Sierra Nevada Stout and Porter. They are not the same beer but they are the same style. Ino there is more difference between Sierra Nevada's two IPA, Torpedo and Celebration than there is between the Stuot and Porter.
  35. thecraftculture

    thecraftculture Initiate (0) Nov 28, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    I would say that stouts are thick, consistency wise, like milk is. Water is thinner like porters compared to stouts.
  36. endovelico

    endovelico Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2008 Portugal

    Historically, yes Stout is a more robust variant of the Porter.

    Nowadays however, Porters are usually more geared towards a Chocolate profile while Stouts go for a Coffee dominated profile. Of course, Americans being the quintessential experimentalists they are, their Porters and Stouts will usually have plenty of both coffee and chocolate so the line gets blurry.

    If you drink British Porters and Stouts you'll see more clearly the difference i pointed out. Oh, the grain bills of both Stouts and Porters will (usually) also validate this. Stouts usually go heavier on Roasted Barley (lends coffee flavours) while Porters usually go for the Chocolate malt.
  37. marquis

    marquis Crusader (715) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    I don't know where you tried your British ones but I've drunk them whenever I find them and I can assure you that there are absolutely no distinguishing features between them.At all.And I've tried rather a lot. Neither would I expect to find any differences.
  38. endovelico

    endovelico Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2008 Portugal

    Not my experience, if I'm honest. Maybe i can pick up on it more easily since I've brewed beers with varying degrees of Chocolate and Coffee, probably.
  39. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poo-Bah (4,457) Dec 4, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Porters came first, stouts are a derivative of the porter, stouts usually have more roasted barley (porters can too but it's atypical), overall stouts tend to be stronger but because of our beloved American Craft Brewers that line can be blurred and sometimes the only difference can be what they're called on the label by the brewer.
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