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What's the difference between a Stout & a Porter?

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jpseaton

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I've tried a lot of commercial styles of beer that say they are either a stout or a porter, but it seems that the two classifications are often interchangeable. What are the proper characteristics of each?
 
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jpseaton

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Wow...it looks like both names can be used to describe the same style of beer since there are so many variations of each style. I guess I'll brew both up and see which I like best.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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In short, "Stout" was originally a type of "Porter". Technically it could still be considered within a subset of Porters, but it is just easier to think of it in its own class. But as such, there is still plenty of overlap.

Much like a "Heavy" is in the subset of scotch ales, etc.

nick
 

cubbies

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There is a lot of overlap between the two styles. It would be very possible to brew a beer with SRM, IBU and gravity that could be called either one. Someone already mentioned that porter was the original stout and that is true. When "stouts" first started showing up they were porters (in fact most were not even black like today) with a higher gravity. Because of the higher gravity, they would have a higher alcohol content and they were labeled "stout porters". Eventually, people would just order a "stout" and it became it's own beer.

As far as brewing is concerned. Anything with over a 1/2 lb of black malt in a a five gallon batch is a stout. Less, and it could be either.
 

ohiobrewtus

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It's all about body to me. I like a stout to be very full bodied and a porter to have a nice medium mouthfeel. Both have very similar traits when it comes to roasted/chocolate character, bitterness and color so it's really up to you as a brewer.
 

Donasay

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I will drink an extra stout porter any day of the week, the addition of roasted unmalted barley always seems to make it extra stout in my mind.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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But would you consider a "Red" to be a "Porter".

I've noticed that many Reds and Porters use the same recipe, and often use small amounts of Roasted Barley to gain there color. Another example of overlap I suppose.

nick
 

ohiobrewtus

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HP_Lovecraft said:
But would you consider a "Red" to be a "Porter".

I've noticed that many Reds and Porters use the same recipe, and often use small amounts of Roasted Barley to gain there color. Another example of overlap I suppose.

nick
I wouldn't consider any beer that's red in color to be a porter. A Baltic porter can be copper (a dark red/light brown color) at the light end of the BJCP range.
 

CBBaron

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Usually but not always a stout will have a fair percentage of roasted unmalted barley. A Porter will usually have little to no roasted barley but instead get its color from Black Malt and/or Chocolate Malt.

Ofcourse there are often exceptions and some that will be border line but it is a good rule of thumb.

Craig
 

Kai

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I've always thought of a stout as being characterised by the roasted raw barley flavour, and a porter to be more chocolate-malty. There are borderline beers, though.

EDIT: woops, that's basically word-for-word CBBaron's reply. Great minds.
 

CBBaron

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HP_Lovecraft said:
But would you consider a "Red" to be a "Porter".

I've noticed that many Reds and Porters use the same recipe, and often use small amounts of Roasted Barley to gain there color. Another example of overlap I suppose.

nick
They may share the same ingredients but look at the quantities. A red will have a couple onces of Black Malt while the Porter will have a 1/2# or more. Thats really what defines the difference.

Craig
 
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jpseaton

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I seem to be agreeing with OHIOBREWTUS. I've always thought of stouts as being creamy, with chocolate or coffee undertones. Like a Guinness and have always used black patent as a steeping grain to get as high a SRM as possible.

But I thought a porter was drier, had less mouthfeel with more of a roasted\burnt
taste.
 

brewt00l

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Interesting lil tidbit:

http://stonch.blogspot.com/2007/05/debunking-beer-myths-1-stout-is-irish.html

"In his book Stout, Michael Lewis tells that "the earliest use of the word 'stout' clearly referring to a beer beverage appears in a letter of 1677", and writes of a 1734 text in which "stout butt beer is mentioned as a feature of London breweries of those times". Arthur Guinness didn't start brewing in Dublin until 1759, and his brewery didn't start using the word 'stout' until 1840, long after his death. Furthermore, Lewis contends that porter originated from stout, and not the other way round.

If further evidence were need that stout was not an Irish offshoot from London porter, beer writer and historian Ron Pattinson (author of the online European Beer Guide) tells me that "all the London brewers whose logs I´ve looked at were brewing beers called 'Stout' well before 1800 ... I'm 100% certain stout originated in London".

Ron has also found evidence, in The London and Country Brewer (1736), that stout predated porter, and not the other way around. This backs up Lewis' theory, and is contrary to the assertion on CAMRA's website that "the strongest versions of Porter were known as Stout Porter, reduced over the years to simply Stout"."
 

HP_Lovecraft

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I suspect Lewis is playing semantics a bit.

Long before it was used in beer, the word "Stout" meant "strong in body, powerfully built", as an adjective. Stout Person, Stout Building, etc.

So it is likely that it was originally used as an adjective for beer as well, to simply mean "Strong Beer", generically. Same as "Robust", or "Heavy" is used today. Probobly originally used to describe an "Old Ale" style beer. As porters developed into a style, some were strong, and thus the adjective "Stout" was added.

So while the term "Stout" might predate the term "Porter" for describing beers, I suspect that the "stout" we think of was likely used after Porter.

nick
 
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