Is a stout an L or a porter?

Answered by Rodney Landry

and porter are two distinct styles, but they are closely related. Stout actually originated as a stronger and “stouter” version of porter. This evolution occurred during the early days of when porters were becoming increasingly popular in England. Brewers wanted to create a beer that was even heartier and more robust than the traditional porter, and thus, stout was born.

The term “stout” was initially used to describe a stronger version of porter. The name itself implies a sense of strength and resilience. This new style of beer was specifically crafted to withstand the long sea journeys that were common during that time. The stronger and more robust nature of stout made it better suited for export, as it could survive the voyage without spoiling or losing its flavor.

Stout quickly gained popularity as an export beer due to its ability to endure the rigors of travel. It became a staple among British sailors, who appreciated its bold flavors and higher content. Stout's reputation as a reliable and long-lasting beer made it a favorite choice for those embarking on long sea voyages.

While stout and porter share a common ancestry, they have diverged over time into distinct beer styles. Stouts are typically characterized by their dark color, full-bodied texture, and rich, roasted flavors. They often have a higher alcohol content compared to porters. In contrast, porters tend to be lighter in body and have a more balanced flavor profile, with notes of , chocolate, and .

It is worth noting that there are several different sub-styles within the stout category, such as milk stouts, oatmeal stouts, and Russian imperial stouts. Each of these sub-styles has its own unique characteristics and flavors, further adding to the diversity within the stout family.

As a sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to taste and appreciate many different stouts and porters. I have observed firsthand how stouts often exhibit a bolder and more intense flavor profile compared to porters. The higher alcohol content of stouts can also contribute to a warming sensation and a more pronounced mouthfeel.

While stout and porter are related beer styles, stout is not simply an “L” or a stronger version of porter. It has evolved into its own distinct category with a unique set of characteristics and flavors. However, it is important to recognize the historical connection between the two styles and appreciate the role that porter played in the development of stout.