Beer School

Stouts vs. Porters — What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between a porter and a stout? Should stouts be considered a porter? If you find yourself asking questions about stouts and porters every time you reach for one, continue reading for your answers!

Stouts vs. Porters — What’s the Difference?

There are hundreds of beer styles around the world and it is easy to get confused by them. Many beer styles have similar flavours, aromas, and colours which can cause beer drinkers to mix up what beer style they are actually sipping on. Stouts and porters have a lot of similarities and it is easy to mix the two up. In fact, even Guinness Extra Stout was originally known as “Guinness Extra Superior Porter”.

Let’s get a little more in depth…


What’s the Difference Between a Porter and a Stout?

The differences between a stout and a porter has always been a great debate topic. Many brewers believe that there are no specific characteristics that make a porter a porter, and vice versa. They believe that in the end, it’s up to the brewery whether their beer style is a porter or a stout. Others believe that the main difference between a stout and a porter is that stouts have a “roasted barley flavour” (what gives stouts their coffee characteristics), and porters do not. Infohost states that “porters may have a roast malt flavour, but no roast barley flavour”.


What is a Porter?


The History of Porter Beers

Porters were first brewed in the late 17th century and the “birth” of this beer style is still known as one of the most significant brewing matter in the past 300 years. Porter was the first beer style to gain popularity during the Industrial Revolution in England.

The name “porter” was adopted for the beer because of the beer’s wide popularity with the porters who carried goods around the cities.


The Characteristics of a Porter Beer

Porters usually pour an opaque brown colour and are even sometimes pure black. Porter flavours tend to be up to the brewer. Popular porter beers are described as “acidic”, “sweet” and “moderately bitter”. Rich notes of coffee, chocolate and smokiness are usually present in a porter beer. Most porters have little to no hop aromas.

Porters pair nicely with any smoked foods. Match your favourite barbecued dishes with a sweet porter. Chocolatey desserts go great with a dark, heavy porter.


Types of Porters

There are many different types of porters and these variety titles usually depend on where the beer was brewed. You can find an American Porter and English Porters. There are also Baltic Porters, Brown Porters, and Robust Porters. To learn more about the differences between these types of porters, click here.


What is a Stout?


The History of Stout Beers

Originally, the word stout meant “brave” or “proud”. In the late 14th century the word meant “strong”. The first known use of the word stout, when referring to a beer, was found in a document dating back to 1677. Back then, stout only meant “strong” and could be used when describing any beer. It took decades for the stout to be established as a beer style.

Guinness‘ “Guinness is good for you” marketing campaign in the 1920s helped gain popularity for stouts. Pregnant women, blood donors, nursing moms, and even people fresh out of surgery were encouraged to drink Guinness.


The Characteristics of a Stout Beer

Stouts are usually a rich, dark colour. Its unique ‘chocolatey’ or ‘coffee-like’ flavour comes from ‘smoked’ or malted barley. Stouts have a distinct thick, smooth and creamy texture that is different from your average beer.


Types of Stouts

Stouts have several varieties. Like porters, different stouts come from different countries. There are the main stouts, like American Stout, Irish / Dry Stout, English Stout, and Foreign / Export Stout. You can find common styles like Milk / Sweet Stout, Imperial Stout. Some more flavourful styles of stouts include Oatmeal Stout, Chocolate Stout, and even Oyster Stout. To learn more about the differences between these types of stouts, click here.


Now that you know the differences between stouts and porters, you’ll be able to flaunt your beer knowledge to all the beer amateurs at the bar who are still asking “What’s the difference between a stout and a porter?”. Cheers!


Thanks for learning about porters and stouts with us! Look below to learn more on beer styles:

All About IPAs
What is a Berliner Weisse Beer?
Beer Terms You Need To Know
What Makes a Beer “Sessionable”?

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