It’s finally December and ‘tis the season for roasty, malty, creamy, dark, delicious porters and stouts. But what’s the difference between a porter and stout?
The history of the porter goes back about three hundred years, where it was brewed as a full-bodied beer made using moderately kilned brown malt. Stronger versions of porters were referred to as “stout porter” or a “stout” for short.
Initially, the word stout was used to describe any strong beer regardless of style, but as the popularity of the stout porter outstripped that of a regular porter, the word stout became synonymous with strong black beer.
Some brewers today maintain that malt defines the difference between a porter and stout where a porter uses mostly malted barley and a stout primarily uses roasted unmalted barley, giving it a drier, roasted coffee flavour. On the other hand, it was not until 1880 that the United Kingdom permitted the use of roasted barley and stouts were being made long before it was a legal ingredient.
In the end, beer aficionados have concluded that there’s no fundamental difference between a porter and stout, as they once began as a single style. As the beer world evolves, the decision to name a porter or stout comes down to the brewer’s prerogative or personal preference.