As the clock turn back and days to black, we turn to the darkness of Stouts & Porters. While there are many varieties of so-called ‘dark beer’, the two categories of stout and porter are probably the most well known.
The porter surfaced in London sometime in the 1700s. It was named for the strong, portly workers who drank it. It was a lot later in 19th century when porter-mania hit London, but many breweries struggled to turn a profit as they poured load after load of the expensive malt into their kettles in an attempt to satisfy demand. It all changed in 1817, when an innovator named Daniel Wheeler invented black patent malt. It was roasted similarly to coffee, meaning just a tiny amount would turn a beer black. Breweries could create a beer’s backbone using cheaper pale malts, then adjust the colour with black malt. This opened the door to dark beers in many different styles: crisp black lagers, dark saisons and even black IPAs.
Later attempts to capitalize on the success of London porters saw creation of Dry Stout, but originally reflected a fuller, creamier, more “stout” body and strength. When a brewery offered a stout and a porter, the stout was always the stronger beer.
Nowadays there’s very little distinction between a Porter and a Stout, but they do have their differences. Porter is a dark, almost black, fruity-dry, top fermenting style. An ale, porter is brewed with a combination of roasted malt to impart flavour, colour and aroma.
Stout is also a black, roast brew made by top fermentation. Typically not as sweet to the taste, features a rich, creamy head and is flavoured and coloured by barley. Stouts often use a portion of unmalted roasted barley to develop a dark, slightly astringent, coffee-like character.
People often talk of porter and stout as two distinct beers, in reality there are many variations and substantial overlap across the styles. In the end, the brewer is responsible for what style to call their beer. We strongly recommend that you just take a sip and see for yourself!