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Hey! Porter! You're Looking a Little Stout Today

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Hey! Porter! You’re Looking a Little Stout Today.

As the summer season wanes, giving way to the cool, dry, crisp days of Autumn, the opportunity arises for breweries to shed the doldrums of seasonal beers that have been relentlessly pale and session-like and embrace the warmth of malty, dark beers.  You can probably guess my personal preference here and it is one I have had for many years.  The warming flavor and satisfying nose and mouthfeel of a good stout or porter is a perfect fit for Fall right through Spring (and for many of us, Summer as well).  But many people have asked me over the years what the difference is between a Porter and a Stout.  After all, they are both dark, malty, full bodied ales.  The answer to this question is as much opinion as it is fact.  As I discuss these facts and opinions, I would ask you to refer to the style classifications for stouts and porters according to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Guidelines and their related vital statistics.

 

 

IBU

SRM

OG

FG

ABV

Strong European Beer

Baltic Porter

20-40

17-30

1.060-1.090

1.016-1.024

6.5-9.5

Brown British Beer

English Porter

18-35

20-30

1.040-1.052

1.008-1.014

4.0-5.4

Irish Beer

Irish Stout

25-45

25-40

1.036-1.044

1.007-1.011

4.0-4.5

Irish Extra Stout

35-50

25-40

1.052-1.062

1.010-1.014

5.5-6.5

Dark British Beer

Sweet Stout

20-40

30-40

1.044-1.060

1.012-1.024

4.0-6.0

Oatmeal Stout

25-40

22-40

1.045-1.065

1.010-1.018

4.2-5.9

Tropical Stout

30-50

30-40

1.056-1.075

1.010-1.018

5.5-8.0

Foreign Extra Stout

50-70

30-40

1.056-1.075

1.010-1.018

6.3-8.0

American Porter and Stout

American Porter

25-50

22-40

1.050-1.070

1.012-1.018

4.8-6.5

American Stout

35-75

30-40

1.050-1.075

1.010-1.022

5.0-7.0

Imperial Stout

50-90

30-40

1.075-1.115

1.018-1.030

8.0-12.0

 

So here are the facts as they relate to modern style guidelines.  Historic style guidelines may vary:

  1. Porters came first, then Stouts.  English Porters are the, “… parent of various regional interpretations over time, and a predecessor to all stouts (which were originally called “stout porters)”. (from the BJCP Style Guidelines).  This point is seldom argued and seems to be well established historically.  Porters were first developed in England, and from there, the style was modified and renamed over the years.
  2. Porters are not, necessarily, lower in ABV than stouts.  The reverse may have been true historically, but it is no longer the case, and the BJCP Guidelines bear this out to be true.
  3. Stouts are not always darker than Porters, especially as this relates to American Porters.  Generally, for British Porters and Baltic Porters, this may be somewhat true.

And here are the opinions:

  1. Porters never contain roasted barley while stouts do.  It is true that the guidelines are clear that stouts should have a notable roasted character and that this character should be limited in porters, but it does not say that roasted barley is prohibited in porters.  I am sure there are many great porters with a modicum of roasted barley.  It should however be more pronounced in stouts.  In my opinion, this is one of the biggest differences between the two styles.
  2. Porters are dryer than stouts (lower FG).  This is an opinion I do not agree with.  Porters can be every bit as full bodied as stouts with that awesome, full mouthfeel that dark beers are known for.

There is considerable information of the history of stouts and porters on the internet that I have not included in this blog, but the purpose was not to bore you with details that are not relevant to the original question, but rather to summarize the style guidelines, discuss the facts, and then throw in my opinions, for what they are worth.

Production Note:  NoCoast’s Trend Bucker Stout (American Stout) hits the shelves in October, 2017 and our Agricultured Rye Porter (Rye American Porter) hits the store shelves in December.  If you are a beer drinker that has gone over to the dark side, then NoCoast has much love coming to you this Fall and Winter.  Enjoy!





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