Tag Archives: porter

Porter vs Stout (what’s the difference?)

16 Dec

I am asked semi-frequently to give the difference between these two beer styles.  I believe that as people get more open to venturing into craft beer that they first stumble upon ales and then gradually work their way into darker brews.  Before this point when someone is just curious about darker beers they seem to have trouble distinguishing the different styles.

The large problem that leads to this confusion in style is that the style of both porters and stout are evolving and changing.

Porter originated from the mixture of a dark beer with a medium bodied one that was typically enjoyed by Englishmen with the professions of being Porters.  Mixing beers to get a desired taste was common practice around British pubs at the time and one combination grew in popularity.  This popularity grew at an alarming rate and at the right time in history.  England was just experiencing it’s Industrial Revolution and the world was quickly introduced the first mass-market beer: the porter.

The malts used in both porter and stout overlap considerably.  Each brewer, however, making porter has their own malt-bill that was different from other brewer’s.  Pale malt was typically used as the base, and from there only a few options remained: crystal malt, black-patent malt, chocolate malt.  Each brewer had a unique combination as well as a unique amount of each malt to be used.  This led to many different recipes that all made porter.  What made the distinction between porter and stout was the use of roasted barley.

Stout used the same malts as porter, for the most part.  The use of roasted barley, however, was generally restricted for stouts.  This was all well and fine until around the end of the 20th century.

A craft beer revolution began in the United States, as we all know.  Homebrewer’s were being inspired from European exports and started going “big-time” with their brews.  At this time recipes were being played with and new beers were coming to be: beers that didn’t fit traditional European style-guides.  This is part of what is beautiful about American craft brewing: it is an ever-changing and evolving world creating new and creative beers.  With this came a new change to the porter: the introduction of roasted barley.

End products of porter and stout created using roasted barley are still two very different things, however.  A new distinction was put in place, so that any porter made using roasted barley was to be called a “robust porter.”

Since the malt-bills are so similar in these two styles, their flavors often are similar.  I think that the only real distinction we are left with is that porters tend to be a little hoppier than stouts, and that is all I can really say as far as the difference.  The flavors will mostly be the same, porters will still tend to be a little lighter, more brown in color, and with hoppier profiles.

I don’t know if this really helps anyone out at all, just drink some porters and stouts and let me know the difference, you will be able to tell.


Beer Bread Showdown

22 Nov

In a joint effort with Foodonia we have put together a beer bread test group, if you will.  We baked four loaves of bread all using the same recipe just adding a different beer to see how the results varied.

Beers Used:

the lineup

Budweiser was used because most recipes online call for Coors, or Bud light and a close friend requesting using straight-up Bud.  I chose #9 for it’s bit of Belgian yeast funk and spices.  The porter was used because I wanted to use a  beer with good, pronounced darker malts.  Lastly, Ommegang’s Hennepin was chosen for it’s white pepper notes and farmhouse qualities.

For a review of the bread baking process and recipe used make sure to check out Foodonia’s post.

The results were not exactly how I guessed things would have turned out.  The porter I had predicted to have tasted the best, however, almost none of the flavors stuck to the bread.  For the most part, it only imparted it’s color to the bread.  The Budweiser was deemed the worst of the breads.  The #9 and the Hennepin both came out giving off good flavors.  I preferred the Hennepin, though others backed the #9, and for good reason.

They boast a remarkably clean oven

The breads came out looking stupid.  I don’t really know how else to say it but they didn’t really get too much of a crust.  This is purely an aesthetic problem because the breads all tasted fine.  They were best after sitting for some time and for whatever reason when the bread is toasted the beer flavors become more pronounced. *shrugs*

If we were to do this again (and we may very well refine the recipe and the beers and give it another go) then I would consider using the following beers:

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Samuel Adam’s Winter Lager, Southern Tier’s Pumking, and Brown’s Harvest IPA.