Having been asked what the difference between Porter and Stout style is again last weekend by a Oregon Chocolate Festival tasting workshop guest, I came across this document My Fine Husband shared with me. It’s courtesy of the Brewers Association Style Guide; MFH = Larry Chase, professional brewer. Hope this helps.

How Stout & Porter Differ

Disagreement abounds on the differences between stout and porter. Different answers arise depending on who you ask. The line between the two can be quite blurred and obscure. Often it’s what the brewer says it is. Two general differences tend to include:

  • Stout uses more roasted barley and black malt
  • Stout generally leans to black color while porters are dark brown to almost black

Brewers Association Style Guide

Robust Porter

Whatever it is, it'd delicious! Photo courtesy Kate Parks

Whatever it is, it’s delicious!
Photo courtesy Kate Parks

Often more bitter and roasted malt flavor than a brown porter, but not quite a stout. Robust porters have a roast malt flavor, often reminiscent of cocoa, but no roast barley flavor. Their caramel and malty sweetness is in harmony with the sharp bitterness of black malt. Hop bitterness is evident.

Brown Porter

Brown porters have no roasted barley or strong burnt/black malt character. Low to medium malt sweetness, caramel and chocolate is acceptable. Hop bitterness is medium.

Irish-Style Dry Stout

Dry stouts are black. These beers achieve a dry-roasted character through the use of roasted barley. The emphasis of coffee-like roasted barley and a moderate degree of roasted malt aromas define much of the character. Hop bitterness is medium to medium high.

English-Style Sweet/Milk Stout

Sweet stout, also referred to as cream stout, is black in color. Malt sweetness, chocolate, and caramel flavor should dominate the flavor profile and contribute to the aroma. They also should have a low to medium-low roasted malt/barley derived bitterness. milk sugar (lactose) lends the style more body.

English-Style Oatmeal Stout

The addition of oatmeal adds a smooth rich body to these craft beers. Oatmeal stouts are dark brown to black in color. A roasted malt character which is caramel-like and chocolate-like should be smooth and not bitter. Coffee-like roasted barley and malt aromas are prominent.

Imperial Stout

American-style imperial stouts are the strongest in alcohol and body of the stouts and black in color. These beers typically have an extremely rich malty flavor and aroma with full, sweet malt character. Bitterness can come from roasted malts or hops additions.

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