Stout or Porter?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by RandyCongdon, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. RandyCongdon

    RandyCongdon Initiate (181) Nov 23, 2016 Nevada
    Beer Trader

    These 2 styles are similar, and often confused with each other. I was always taught that stouts were unique in that they were brewed with roasted, unmalted barley. Porters, on the other hand, differ in that they do feature barley malt. Lately, I have been reading that beer experts no longer agree universally on this point.

    2 Questions- (Please feel free to answer only one, if you like.)

    1. Are the lines between the 2 styles becoming so blurred that the distinction above is not enough ?

    2. This one is a bit easier- Which do you prefer, Stouts or Porters ?
    spelingchampeon likes this.
  2. MNAle

    MNAle Crusader (751) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    For American craft brewers, the difference between a porter and a stout is the label.

    Unless they are barrel aging, in which case they are always stouts.

    Sometimes I prefer the porter label, sometimes I prefer the stout label.
  3. raczkowski

    raczkowski Disciple (322) May 16, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Not every dark BA beer is a stout. Plenty of BA porters out there.
    neenerzig, HeyLady, jhartley and 10 others like this.
  4. zid

    zid Crusader (779) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    No. The lines are not becoming blurred. The distinction above isn't accurate. Stout was simply the name given to porters above standard strength. That particular line got blurry a long time ago as brewers reduced both gravities and the number of beers they produced.
    All modern stouts are porters.
  5. machalel

    machalel Aspirant (280) Jan 19, 2012 Australia

    I'd argue that the line *is* becoming blurred, due to the fact that there never used to be a line between them, and now there is...

    For the OP: Stout originally was a term that merely meant that the brew was stronger than usual. Any distinction between Stout and Porter as two separate styles of beer is a modern development.
    jhartley, Roguer, cavedave and 2 others like this.
  6. BWood

    BWood Zealot (593) Jan 4, 2015 California
    Beer Trader

    I like stouts better. Seems like most porters are a little thinner. I prefer a thick beer with a higher abv.
    BeerSexLove, tmalt, NCCIndy and 4 others like this.
  7. dennis3951

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

    That's not true in NJ. Cricket Hill and others call the BBA brews Porters.
  8. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    That old rule :
    Roast unmalted barley = stout
    Black patent malt = robust porter
    Chocolate malt = brown porter

    was really just a homebrewer's guideline. It may have even come from Charlie Papazian for all I know. But the brewers never got the memo :wink:.
  9. marquis

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

    The original Porters/Stouts contained neither,they were simply brewed using brown malt.Guinness refused to use roasted barley until at least 1930.
    Ron Pattinson ( @patto1ro ) has examined thousands of brewing records and found that almost always a brewerys porter and stouts used identical recipes but the stout used less water.
    Witherby, tmalt, Roguer and 10 others like this.
  10. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Yeah, and from what I've read, the more 'modern' recipes came about because the brewers finally realized that they weren't getting as good a yield with the brown malt compared with pale malt plus some roast barley.
  11. dennis3951

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

    It's been a long time (at least 2 months) since this subject has come up. So far it's going just about the same way it always does. I hope someone has a new point of view this time!
  12. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Devotee (481) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    1. It depends.
    2. It depends.
  13. SteveSexton203

    SteveSexton203 Aspirant (204) Feb 19, 2014 Connecticut

    The difference cant be Roasted Barley VS Malted Barley. Since stouts have been brewed roasted barley was an illegal ingredient. It wasn't till after 1880 and the Free Mash Tun Act that they were allowed to use Roasted Barley.Stouts were being brewed for just about a Century Prior to this Act.
    Originally Stout or "brown Stout" was given to the name of the strongest porter in the brew pub.

    When the "small brewer revolution" started in Britain and the United States in the 1970s, there was more than 250 years of different styles and strengths of stout and porter to choose from, and different brewers picked different sorts to recreate. The result is that, in some cases, some brewers now brew "porters" that are stronger than their stouts. The need to categorize beers for brewing competitions in the U.S. has meant a plethora of micro-managed style descriptions, few of which, however, have any historic validity.

    The answer to the question: "What's the difference between a stout and a porter" is that originally a stout was simply a strong version of porter: today the difference is whatever you want it to be.

    Some Help form the Beer connoisseur with this one
  14. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (2,951) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Could you clarify this a bit? It's not clear what you mean by "small brewer revolution" in Britain that began in the 70s.

    It's long been my understanding that brewing in Britain was both begun and maintained for years by small brewers and local pubs, and that even during the 70s when the growth of the tide of large scale commercial lager brewing began to threaten cask ale and many of those small brewers, there were still many small brewers active. IIRC, the whole reason CAMRA was created was to help preserve cask ale, and, if only as a side effect, the breweries that made cask ale and the pubs that carried it, against the inroads being made by large, international lager brewers.
    NeroFiddled likes this.
  15. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Devotee (476) Dec 12, 2014 California

    Can we just agree that nowadays there is NO difference between Stout and Porter?.
    Amguerra305, Squire123, bbtkd and 3 others like this.
  16. Realsambo

    Realsambo Initiate (153) Apr 15, 2016 Texas
    Beer Trader

    This is the internet, we will never agree.
  17. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    We could spend all day discussing history and BJCP definitions and our own personal opinions, but, in the end, brewers call beers whatever they want to call them. Right or wrong, that's what defines modern beer.
  18. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Meyvn (1,375) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Porters are usually lighter and less rich. It depends though because some porters are higher alcohol and more robust and dark tasting, like a stout. Stouts usually tend to be richer and darker for me.
    Greywulfken, PulsatedSynth and VABA like this.
  19. tlema1

    tlema1 Meyvn (1,249) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I'd like to see more Milk Porters
    GetMeAnIPA likes this.
  20. Crim122

    Crim122 Aspirant (255) Aug 4, 2014 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Give me a stout over a porter, any day. Specifically RIPS. I want it thick like blood.
    tmalt likes this.
  21. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Love most of the different permutations of both styles. Only thing that I don't like is when brewers use a lot of black (patent) malt. Can't stand that characteristic.
  22. cryptichead

    cryptichead Crusader (715) Jul 3, 2014 Illinois

    In the present: it seems to me (purely subjectively) that the mouthfeel and heaviness differentiate between a stout and a porter of similar ABV.

    Stouts seem heavier and creamier, while porters lighter and thinner.
  23. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Unless you're drinking them on nitro, I'd say, on average, their mouthfeel should be very similar.
  24. SteveSexton203

    SteveSexton203 Aspirant (204) Feb 19, 2014 Connecticut

    Yes, it was but with the growing of the big companies and the expansion of even small breweries here in the us and Britain. Camra was created because of the revolution of small craft breweries. during the 70's Britain had an explosion of small breweries I think the number was like 1000 breweries. Sort of like the USA is going through right now.

    In the 70's Britain companies started to merge and there began a raise in imported beer as well. The beer starting ot not be uniform from pub to pub So Carma yes had a big impact. But clearly it didn't help that much since we are still having this very discussion now today.
  25. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (4,002) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Except for when a brewery has both (think Sierra Nevada Porter vs. Stout). But I agree that brewery to brewery, the characteristics vary.
  26. SteveSexton203

    SteveSexton203 Aspirant (204) Feb 19, 2014 Connecticut

    in Sn case there stout is a higher abv than there Porter. They also follow the roasted barley for stout and chocolate malt/ malted barley for porter.
  27. marquis

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

    There were never two styles, just two names for the same one.In fact many beers have been sold as a Porter at one time and a Stout at another.Guinness Foreign Extra Stout was West India Porter.
  28. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Historically that may be the case, especially in the Old World, but there has been plenty of delineation here in the New. There has subsequently been a lot of misnaming to follow. The subject is certainly, and has certainly been, a point of contention for quite some time.
  29. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    SN Stout features black patent malt, not roast barley. Between that and the hops, it led to many an argument over whether it was really a porter or not.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,782) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

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  31. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Initiate (176) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    When I close my eyes and picture drinking a porter vs a stout it's a Mayflower vs a FBS, decidedly not in the same ballpark, so at least subconsciously I see a difference. Love 'em both by the way.
    Gemini6 and EvenMoreJesus like this.
  32. ecpho

    ecpho Initiate (159) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    SN Porter and Stout - 2 extremely rare whales. Might have to start trading for them.
    Hayden34 and JackHorzempa like this.
  33. zid

    zid Crusader (779) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    So the difference is that a stout has oats, chocolate, and coffee? Got it. :wink:
    I'm joking, but the funny thing is that there's a tiny bit of truth to that these days. :(

    #33 zid, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
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  34. marquis

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

    But you can't put the genie back into the bottle.
    I agree that there is much nonsense written about beer , usually copied from source to source without any attempt to check the facts.And many brewers despite being admirably skilled in beer making have little knowledge or understanding of its background.
    "Styles" as such are a new idea , perhaps introduced by Michael Jackson . Stout and Porter were simply names attached to the beers by the brewers and their customers.I have read articles from a highly regarded writer who treated Pale Ale and Bitter as different things whereas PA was the term used in the brewery and Bitter was what it was sold as in the pub.
  35. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    :(, indeed.

    Why can't people just make beer that tastes like . . . well . . . beer.
    LuskusDelph likes this.
  36. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,869) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    And, believe it or not, vice versa for the Porter! I remember our home-brew club "seniors" often discussing this in the late '80s (though, I can't recall their reasoning).
    LuskusDelph, zid and TongoRad like this.
  37. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,869) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Just saw them both in Wisconsin...
  38. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania


    Great examples. Much the same with the Belgian tradition as well.
  39. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Initiate (176) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    Ha. Exactly. These days is seems that Porters are truer classic examples of the style... and stouts are adjunct city.
    LuskusDelph and EvenMoreJesus like this.
  40. zid

    zid Crusader (779) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    So, are you suggesting that when brewers called their beers: porter, bitter, Burton ale, etc in the first half of the 1900s that it didn't have any meaning... or that it had significantly less meaning than it does now? My question sounds very silly but I'm serious.
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