One of the most exciting aspects of beer is that there’s such a wide variety out there. From lagers to ales to pilsners, there’s a beer for almost everyone’s tastes.
What’s more, tons of brands put out every style of beer and add their own spins on its production and taste. This creates countless distinct brews of beer, all with special personalities and flavors.
Two of the most common types of beer are porters and stouts. While they are similar styles of beer, there are many differences in how they are made, the way they taste, and what makes them stand out. If you want to be a true expert on beer, you’re going to have to learn what differentiates these two styles.
Here are the differences between porter and stout beers and why those differences matter to discerning beer lovers.
What is Beer?
To understand the difference between porter and stout, you need to understand what makes a beer a beer in the first place.
All beers are made from four ingredients: grain, hops, yeast, and water. However, these ingredients are prepared in slightly different ways to create specific kinds of beer. Different grains or yeasts will produce unique results, as will preparing the hops differently or using water with various minerals in it.
Even the most last minute change can have a radical impact on taste in the end product. Of course, breweries put every effort into ensuring that the production process is exactly the same every time, but even the small details can significantly affect beer.
What Is a Porter?
Porters are one of the most popular kinds of beer in the modern scene, but it actually originated in England during the 1700s.
Porters are recognizable by their dark color and hearty, balanced flavor characteristics.
Generally speaking, they have low to medium IBUs and feel overall smooth and easy. While porters certainly aren’t the lightest beer on the market, they tend to be easy to drink and don’t have a lot of bitterness compared to beers that are higher on the IBU scale.
Porters are made with top-fermenting ale yeast, which gives them their characteristic taste and feel. They also primarily use malted barley, a large part of their definitive and smooth taste.
What Is Stout?
Stouts are fundamentally similar to porters. However, stouts have their own history—the name stout comes from how they taste like a stronger, more “stout” porter.
Stouts share the dark characteristics of porters, as well as the balanced and hearty flavor. They work well as “wintery” drinks due to their warm and dense flavoring. Stouts have a fuller body than porters and are stronger in their flavoring.
The main identifying point behind stouts is that they are made with unmalted roasted barley, which gives these drinks the coffee-esque flavor that they are known for.
How Are Porter and Stout Similar?
Porters and stouts share the same grain, barley, similar coloring, and smooth, hearty flavor profiles. Since they have similar origins, many beer lovers have a hard time telling the styles apart.
How Are Porters and Stouts Different?
When it comes down to it, there aren’t many practical differences between the two drinks—at least, no more differences than you’d find between two beers of the same type.
However, when produced in the traditional way, a few key differences set apart these two kinds of beers. While the differences are subtle, they can make a big difference in the end product.
Different Styles of Barley
The grain used in a beer is part of what sets it apart from other styles. Both porters and stouts traditionally use barley and a pale malt base that’s enhanced with dark malts, like black, chocolate, and crystal malts.
However, stouts use roasted barley, while porters traditionally do not. Roasted barley imparts a rich reddish-brown color to a beer and produces a light-colored head. In terms of flavor, the roasting process imparts a nuttiness that you won’t find otherwise.
Typically, stouts have a much heartier flavor than porters. Porters will be missing the deep nuttiness and dark coffee flavors that you find in a stout. Stouts are often also described as creamy and chocolatey, while porters often taste more like toffee and caramel.
Both beers are well-balanced and rich, and depending on the specific beer, the differences can be subtle or dramatic.
Some of Our Favorite Porters and Stouts
Here are a few of our favorite porters and stouts so that you can try them and develop your own preferences:
- Moody Tongue Brewing Company’s Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter
- Montclair Brewery’s Noble Like It Is Porter
- Ross Brewing Co.’s Brux Royale Belgian Chocolate Stout
- Crown and Hops Brewing Co.’s Urban Anomaly Stout
- Sixpoint Brewery’s Black is Beautiful
How TapRm Can Get Your Favorite Beer to You
One of the best parts about being in the modern world of beer is the variety of beers on the market. There are countless porters and stouts made by local breweries and small businesses around the country. The only problem is that many of these breweries cannot get their unique and exciting beers to the people who want them since they don’t live nearby.
That’s why TapRm is here: to provide a platform for you to get all the beer you’ve been wanting, no matter where it’s brewed. Using our specialized site, you can truly start to expand your palate and try the latest and greatest offerings.
The best beers of your life are right around the corner at TapRm. Take a look, and redefine how you think of beer!