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What Are The Differences Between a Stout and a Porter?

Can You Tell The Difference?

Unless you’re a fairly big beer fan you probably don’t even know what a Porter is but you’ve probably heard of a Guinness Stout.  Stouts dominate the dark beer market and Guinness is one of the most recognized beer brands in the world.  The reason Stout is able to overshadow the Porter is because of its ability to encompass so many unique characteristics.  Everything that a Porter is able to do or convey, a Stout can do just as well.  Of course many home and craft brewers enjoy the Porter style because of its history and variation in flavors and style guidelines.

Porters are beers that didn’t evolve from anything else but were created and engineered in 1722 to meet consumer demands.  This style is considered to be the first “industrial” beer because of its manufactured quality.  During England’s industrial revolution this beer style blossomed but was eventually swallowed up by large brewing companies who sacrificed flavor for cheap adjuncts and quality began to decline.

The Porter is still alive and well but not considered to be “mainstream” quite yet.  Small breweries in the U.S. and U.K. still produce Porters in a limited quantity.  They struggle to compete with the larger brewers but have found a nice niche in the market.

The shortcomings of the Porter are well documented but without this style the Stout would never have evolved – to take its place and outlive it.  Stouts fall into four main styles: Classic, Foreign, Sweet and Imperial.  Each of these styles has distinctive and unique characteristics.  Stouts can vary widely in almost every category.  They can be sweet or bitter, low or high alcohol, no hop flavor or aroma to a lot.  The only consistency between them is that they all have to be at least 40 SRM (dark in color).

Stouts are not only more widely available than Porters but they are more clearly defined.  The word Stout was first used in 1677 in the quote “We will drink your health both in stout and best wine.”  Of course Stout was simply a word referring to a “strong beer”.  When patrons in bars would want a strong Porter they would ask for a “Stout Porter” and although there wasn’t a clear definition of what this meant the customer would usually receive what they wanted.  It wasn’t until 1817 that barley was able to be roasted and this would probably be the beginnings of Stouts.  Before this time Stout Porters were probably dark brown in color and not the typical pitch-black we have come to know today.  Stout was first documented in 1820 as meaning something different than a Porter.

There is no other beer style more synonymous with a brand.  Guinness and Stout go hand in hand and the Guinness Stout is considered to be the classic rendition of the style.  The Guinness Brewery went from producing 7,500 barrels in 1800 to 1,500,000 barrels in 1900.  Eventually Porter production began to wane and were overpowered by the demand for this slightly different style.

Other than the fact that Porters can be lighter and contain a bit more hop bitterness than Stouts, there is no real difference.  Stouts are able to do everything that a Porter is able to and can easily jump the thin lines that separate them.  The main reason that brewers differentiate between the two may be due to marketing purposes.  Stouts have become the dominant dark beer and in order to put themselves in a separate category they call the other dark beers they create Porters.  Despite the history that Stouts were stronger than Porters, the Porters being made in the U.S. tend to have stronger and more pronounced flavors when compared to the Stouts.  Craft beer is about differentiation and there is no better way to differentiate yourself than by simply changing a name.

So what is the real difference between the Porter and the Stout?  History.  Stout is the son who evolved and eventually dethroned his outdated father.  Stout remained in control for the following centuries and is still in control today.  Either way these styles are packed with flavor and have some of the most beautiful beers you will ever lay your eyes on.  Their mysterious black color and bold, roasted flavors separate them from the rest of the beer world.  Stouts can be Porters and Porters are craft Stouts.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in General Interest

 

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Can Beer Be Romantic?

Bring home something everyone will enjoy

Beer isn’t usually the go-to drink for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, weddings or even birthdays.  The perception that beer is too “average” is one that has dictated its role in the drinking world as a typical party beverage rather than a curl up next to the fire drink.  However, there is no reason that it has to remain an ordinary beverage and with so many different flavors, colors and experiences beer can be romantic.

As craft beer begins to change many of the perceptions that currently surround beer, we should begin looking at situations where beer was an afterthought.  Beer isn’t considered to be a grand gesture drink.  There aren’t any fancy corks or wine screws and cracking open a can or a metal cap doesn’t seem to have the same showy quality found in opening champagne or wine.  That’s starting to change though, and many fantastic beers are available in champagne bottles with corks and wire stoppers.  These larger beer bottles encourage drinking with a friend and the presentation of beer is growing up past the adolescent stage that so many have come to attribute to beer drinking.

Craft beer especially, contains many different flavors and colors perfect for a romantic evening for two.  With so many limited editions and seasonals, finding a beautiful beer shouldn’t be that difficult.  Beer (even great ones) tend to still be more inexpensive than cheap champagne and you have the ability to upgrade quality without breaking the budget.  All of the different flavors in beer also play a huge role in its romantic appeal and, whereas wine only comes in simple flavors, beer can be brewed with many different ingredients creating perfect pairings for home-cooked meals and desserts.

Many different styles of beer are romantic on their own.  Lambic, for example, is very similar to champagne in that this beer can only be called by this style if made in a particular region (Pajottenland of Belgium to be exact).  Lambic’s also undergo “spontaneous fermentation” where the beer is laid out and wild yeast and bacteria cause it to ferment.  This process causes dry and often cider-like flavors.  Stouts or Porters can also be very popular romantic styles because of their heavy chocolate flavors and aromas.  There are also many beers made with chocolate which can create a very special evening.  Whatever the beer style there is sure to be something perfect for you.  Even beers red in color can create a beautiful display next to some red roses.  It’s all about pleasing your loved one (or a large gathering) and no one knows how to do that better than you.  Take note on what your partner enjoys in a beer as maybe simpler is better.

I recently took a cocktail class which was centered around creating specific homemade drinks for special occasions (barbeques, weddings, etc.).  This got me thinking about brewing your own beer.  What’s more romantic than two people huddled around a boiling pot throwing in hops and grains?  If you’re planning a wedding or another special occasion why not brew your own beer?  It’s sure to get people talking and you can create a recipe that you can cherish and remember your special day by.

Cooking with beer is also a great option and there are also tons of beer related gifts and ways to say “I love you” with something other than the drink itself.  And if you still don’t believe me look no further than this couple who got engaged at the Samuel Adams Brewery.

Craft beer is all about changing the perception that has haunted beer for so long.  This perception goes further than the simple “these are the times to drink a beer” and into the new situations to have one.  Beer should become synonymous with a romantic evening or special occasion.  Next time you’re out shopping for a loved one add a nice lambic, chocolate porter or anything else that catches your eye to your shopping cart.  It’s worth a shot and is a sure way to make any evening memorable.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 30, 2011 in General Interest, Opinion

 

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