Black / 30 – 40 SRM
assertive / 35 – 75 IBU
Balanced toward hoppy
If there’s one topic at the top of the tedium heap in beer blogging it’s this one: porter vs. stout. To be honest, I feel bad sitting here right now contributing to this very old and fraying fray. But this is a blog about beer after all, so here it is: our take on the very charted ground of the indistinction between two beers that are constantly shifting and, depending on who you ask, are very different and exactly the same.
As with most things beer, some of the best (and most entertaining) writing you’ll find on this topic comes from Martyn Cornell at Zythophile. He’s got a ton of great info, and links to other great info, in that post. To summarize the short history for context, porter originated over several decades in early eighteenth-century London just as unhopped ale (“twopenny,” a vestige of earlier barley beverages made with spice mixtures called gruit) was finally dying on the British Islands. Inexpensive brown malt became available around the turn of the century, and brewers gradually adopted it as the standard malt there. The darker, more highly hopped beers that came from this change in ingredients–originally blended barside from casks of different age like a kind of beer cocktail–eventually came to be named after the workers who moved them around town, and the result was a hit (think hazy IPAs over the last decade…they were huge).
At that point, stout was used universally to describe a strong version of porter. Beer recipes from the middle of the nineteenth century show that Truman Brewing made three versions of stout–single, double, and triple–named for their increasingly higher alcohol content. What’s interesting now is that Truman’s stouts used a lower percentage of dark malt than the porters they made at the same time, so the beer didn’t necessarily get more roasty when the alcohol went up.
If you ask a musician what kind of music they play, the answer usually includes a few shrugs, visible discomfort, and a rambling list of a dozen styles and influences. When you talk to brewers about porter and stout, it’s exactly the same. At Black Flannel, we tend to call beers with a bigger body and more pronounced roast flavors stouts and those that are a bit lighter porters, but we’ve had a ton of beers we love that buck that trend.
We’re not here to write the guidelines for either of these anyway (we love all of our beers equally) so here’s what we do know: anything that comes with either of these titles should brighten the nights you spend with loved ones when it’s dark by 5:00 and warm your soul when your bones feel cold during our long Vermont winters. Try both. Hell, order one of each and mix them together…we do that all the time.
Aroma – Roasty, coffee, and dark chocolate flavors dominate. Sometimes licorice or dark fruit notes are present. American hops are low to medium strength.
Appearance – Black.
Flavor – Ranges from low to medium sweetness. Follows aroma characteristics. Lingers with roasted/dark coffee and chocolate flavors. Sometimes quite dry on the finish.
Mouthfeel – Full body. Dry or medium-length finish.
Vitals – 5 – 7% ABV, 35 – 75 IBU
Serve in a dimpled pint at 42ºF
A fairly strong, highly roasted, bitter, hoppy dark stout. Has the body and dark flavors typical of stouts with a more aggressive American hop character and bitterness.
Moderate to strong aroma of roasted malts, often having a roasted coffee or dark chocolate quality. Burnt or charcoal aromas are acceptable at low levels. Medium to very low hop aroma, often with a citrusy or resiny character. Medium to no esters. Light alcohol-derived aromatics are also optional.
Generally a jet black color, although some may appear very dark brown. Large, persistent head of light tan to light brown in color. Usually opaque.
Moderate to very high roasted malt flavors, often tasting of coffee, roasted coffee beans, dark or bittersweet chocolate. May have the flavor of slightly burnt coffee grounds, but this character should not be prominent. Low to medium malt sweetness, often with rich chocolate or caramel flavors. Medium to high bitterness. Low to high hop flavor, generally citrusy or resiny. Low to no esters. Medium to dry finish, occasionally with a lightly burnt quality. Alcohol flavors can be present up to medium levels, but smooth.
Medium to full body. Can be somewhat creamy, particularly if a small amount of oats have been used to enhance mouthfeel. Can have a bit of roast-derived astringency, but this character should not be excessive. Medium-high to high carbonation. Light to moderately strong alcohol warmth, but smooth and not excessively hot.
Breweries express individuality through varying the roasted malt profile, malt sweetness and flavor, and the amount of finishing hops used. Generally has bolder roasted malt flavors and hopping than other traditional stouts (except Imperial Stouts).
A modern craft beer and homebrew style that applied an aggressive American hoping regime to a strong traditional English or Irish stout. The homebrew version was previously known as West Coast Stout, which is a common naming scheme for a more highly-hopped beer.
Common American base malts and yeast. Varied use of dark and roasted malts, as well as caramel-type malts. Adjuncts such as oatmeal may be present in low quantities. American hop varieties.
Like a hoppy, bitter, strongly roasted Extra or Export Stout. Much more roast and body than a Black IPA. Bigger, stronger versions belong in the Russian Imperial Stout style. Stronger and more assertive, particularly in the dark malt/grain additions and hop character, than American Porter.
American – Avery Out of Bounds Stout, Deschutes Obsidian Stout, North Coast Old No. 38, Rogue Shakespeare Stout, Sierra Nevada Stout.
Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.050-1.075 (12.4-18.2 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.010-1.0322 (2.6-5.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 4.5%-6.4% (5.7%-8.0%)
Bitterness (IBU) 35-60
Color SRM (EBC) 40+ (80+ EBC)
Roastier and hoppier than an English Stout. Fuller bodied and with more bready malt characteristics than Irish Dry Stout.
A single infusion mash is commonly used. Depending on level of hopping in recipe, will often contain only one 60-minute hop addition. Fermented with an American or English yeast strain.
AT THE BREWPUB:
SWANKY DATE NIGHT: Oysters
FROM BF DISTILLING CO: Vermont Grain (Vermont Common Whiskey)
ANY: Light Aged Rye Whiskey
OLD: Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”
Pour whiskey, egg, and maple syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Teku glass, then top with stout. Shave nutmeg or cinnamon on top.
Black Flannel’s Stout is crafted with flaked rye and large additions of English chocolate malt and roasted barley. We brew this beer to have a rich, full body, and hop it lightly to feature dark grain.
Milk chocolate and baking spices dominate the palate. This beer finishes on the dry side, but with a full enough body to keep you warm on a cold winter night.