Dark beer styles seem to cause a lot of chat and discussion here at the Tap Room. With the launch of our Coffee Porter this week, we asked Nigel to give some of his wise words on one of our most frequently asked questions – what is the difference between a stout and a porter?
According to beer folklore, the 1700s saw the emergence of more interesting but less expensive brews by combining darker well aged beers with milds and lights. These gained the name porter apparently from the fact that porters in London were particularly fond of this type of drink. It is also possible that it was as a result of landlords trying to avoid paying the higher duty on darker stronger beers.
A century later, stouts started appearing which were quite simply a very strong porter with more body and roast flavours. Often known as a brown stout.
So how has it changed? The craft beer industry is full of creativity so there are so many different styles to try. There are Brown, Robust and Baltic Porters but this growing on daily basis – Smoked Porter, Coffee porter, NEIPA mango Cappuccino Porter…….. Not to be outdone the range of stouts is huge too – choose from Dry, Sweet, Oatmeal, Foreign Extra, American, Milk and Russian Imperial (my personal favourite) to name but a few.
So can I say what the main difference is between the broader styles today? Well maybe that stouts are drier and toastier, and porters are more malty and full-bodied but ask another beery friend and they could say it is the other way round! Either way both styles can either be top or bottom fermented, have high or low hop rates, moderate to high in alcohol and range from medium brown to completely black in colour.
That’s all great I hear you cry BUT you still haven’t really told us what the difference is between a stout and a porter. The easy answer is ‘not much’ or ‘it depends who you ask’. What I do suggest is that you head to your nearest craft bar with a group of like-minded chums and discuss while sampling. I’m sure you’ll sort it out by the end of the night….along with world peace.