What is Porter Beer? And is it Different from Stout?

Do you know your porters from your stouts?

They’re both dark beers renowned by their strong and hearty tastes. Both evoke things like coffee, chocolate, and toasted flavours, and both are generally around 5-7% strength. But can anyone tell the difference by taste alone?

To help you understand the difference between porter and stout, let’s take a quick dive into history.

What is Porter Beer?

Porter is a dark style beer, well-hopped and made from brown malt.

Porter was the first beer to be aged at the brewery, making it fit to be drunk immediately. This made it the first beer that could be brewed on a large scale. And some of the original London porter brewers are still with us today. They’re just not brewing anymore…

The Black Eagle Brewery in Spitalfields started life as the Old Truman Brewery, a popular 18th century producer of porter. Look out for their distinctive chimney next time you’re walking down Brick Lane.

Where Porter Comes From: The name “porter” was used to describe beer in the early 18th century, it is thought because this dark beer was popular with street and river porters.

So for as long as it’s existed, porter has been a hearty beer of the people. We’ll drink to that!

What Does Porter Taste Like?

Porters tend to be fruitier and sweeter than stouts. Expect warming caramel flavours balanced with dark malty bitterness; rich, dark & complex.

For various reasons, porter brewing declined after the Second World War. But recent years have seen a resurgence in this salt-of-the-earth style.

Porter is a quintessentially London beer, so you can expect to find some dark, fruity delights in your Hoppist box.

So What is Stout?

Stout might be best understood as “strong porter”.

Strong porters used to be marketed as things like “extra porter”, “double porter” and, yes, “stout porter”. The latter would eventually be shortened to just “stout.”

The most famous porter in the world, Guinness, used to be described as Extra Superior Porter. It was only referred to as a stout in 1840.

What Does Stout Taste Like?

So what makes a stout a stout, as opposed to a porter?

Well, a stout will generally be a lot less sweet than porter, and that rich fruitiness will be replaced by a robust hoppiness. Expect a distinct dry-roasted bitter finish, and overriding roasted barley and malt flavours that might make you think of coffee.

But there are many different varieties of stout available, each distinguished not just by its taste, but also by its brewing process. Milk stout’s sweet and creamy, oatmeal stout hearty and bitter. You know what to expect from chocolate stout, and oyster stout isn’t suitable for vegetarians…

What they have in common is that they’re all dark, they’re all strong, and they’re all defined by their rich, complex flavours.

…just like porter. Argh!

So What’s the Real Difference Between Porter & Stout?

How can you tell the difference between porter and stout, at a sip?

While there’s not a technical definition to distinguish the two, porters typically taste a bit sweeter and lighter with a slightly lower ABV than stout.

They have historically been brewed for labourers, so they’re the perfect pints to raise after a long day and a job well done.

Whether they’re called stouts, porters, or something else entirely, expect to find many tasty and triumphant dark beers in your monthly craft beer box from Hoppist!

London’s Porters

We recently shipped the Oboe Porter by Villages Brewery. This 5.3% single-hopped porter uses seven malts to create a heady taste of roasted coffee, liquorice, and chocolate that’s “smooth as eggs.”

If you’re looking for some tasty London Porters, we’ve also recently sent our lucky members:

  • *Customers Loved* Ace of Spades by Wild Card Brewery
  • *Customers Loved * Full Moon by Canopy Beer Co
  • *Customers Loved * London Smoke Imperial Porter by Five Points Brewery
  • Coconut Porter by CRATE
  • Kitchen Porter by Brewheadz
  • Porter by Southwark Brewing
  • Lambeth Walk by By The Horns
  • Well Oiled by Ignition
  • Lapsang Porter by London Beer Lab
  • Chili Porter by Cronx
  • Vanilla Coffee Porter by Bianca Road

London’s Stouts

We’re just as passionate about London’s Stouts as we are about Porters. If you’re looking for some of the best stouts the Capital has to offer, we’ve recently sent out:

  • *Customers Loved* Pentonville Oyster Stout by Hammerton Brewery
  • *Customers Loved* Black Forest Gateau by Howling Hops
  • *Customers Loved* How We Roll Belgian Chocolate Stout by Pressure Drop Brewery
  • Windrush Stout by Brixton Brewery
  • Oatmeal Stout by Fourpure
  • Kew Green & Black Chocolate Milk Stout by Kew Brewery
  • Shadow Wolf by Long Arm Brewing Co.
  • Underworld by Big Smoke Brew Co.
  • Quadrant by East London Brewing Co.

Try the best London has to offer with your monthly craft beer box from Hoppist!

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