My assumption is, and correct me if I am wrong, but your answer to the question above is “no”. Don’t worry, most people can’t honestly tell you the difference between the two, and in this day and age of the over-saturated craft beer world, the line has become progressively indistinguishable. Believe it or not, historically, there was a difference, but to be frank, the difference is pretty minuscule, but don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Let’s break this down so that we can all sound just a little bit smarter than your average 5th grader!
Porters have a long history, first showing up in London around 1722. The story goes that a bartender blended three different beers together. The resulting beer became so popular that the folks working the ports, known as porters, that it became their pint of choice, and resulted in it receiving the name we know and love. Brewers took this, and reverse engineered it so they could make it without the process of blending. What they discovered is that Porters needed a longer aging period resulting in pubs not having the space to produce these beers leaving only freestanding breweries the luxury of producing Porters.
In 1817 the invention of the malt roaster made black or roasted malts available for the first-time making porters easier to produce.
As popularity spread, different variations of the beloved Porter started being produced and at the beginning of the 19th century a variant known as “brown-stout” emerged, which simply meant “strong porter”. In 1803 you can find a court case where a “porter, of superior quality, called Brown Stout” was stolen. At its conception, a Stout beer was simply a stronger Porter. Plain and simple.
In today’s modern world, that original definition is no longer held as both Stouts and Porters can have a moderate to high alcohol content. Some believe that Stouts are dryer with a lighter body and Porters are sweeter with a thicker body, but there are many versions of either style that say otherwise. According to the Brewers Association, the distinctions between the two are shown through their distinct variation; Brown Porter, Robust Porter, Baltic Porter, and Dry Stout, Sweet Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Foreign Extra Stout, American Stout, and Russian Imperial Stout.
Ultimately, it’s all murky. Which, I guess is fitting based on the SRMs of the styles, unclear. Either way, enjoy them as you like, but don’t chastise those who think there is a distinct difference between Stouts and Porters. Calmly educate them with your newfound superior knowledge on the matter!
And Now, the Brews
|Central Waters | Mudpuppy | Porter|
|Not your traditional porter as Central Waters‘ Mudpuppy has been liberally hopped to stand out a tinge in the crowded Porter market. Classic aromas of chocolate, toffee, lightly roasted malt, and baked bread that make for an extremely enjoyable whiff. The taste of the toasted bread and malts lead the way followed by a strong chocolate and dashes of coffee. Once you’ve made your way through the toffee, chocolate, and roasted qualities, a surprising herbal bitterness helps seal the envelope to what seems to be a personal love note from Central Waters delivered specifically to me and only me. With a lusciously smooth finish and a well-balanced body, this is bound to be your new go-to porter!|
|6 pk Bottles | 5.8% ABV | 35 IBUs|
|Founders | Robust Porter | Porter|
|With liquid as black as ink, Founders‘ Robust Porter is a beautiful display of masterful craftsmanship and childlike revelry. The nostrils are greeted with a subdued bouquet of herbal hops followed by thick roasted malts, chocolate, and toffee. The roasted malts and floral bittering hops create a harmony of which all flavors mingle effortlessly together without one single characteristic overpowering the other. Burnt grain, sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, and a coffee/toffee combination that all coexist in a delicate balance within such a bold porter. The bitterness from the roasted malts and hops keep what could have been a cloying sweetness from becoming too much to handle. A wonderfully complex beer that cloches itself a simple outer shell.|
|6 pk Bottles | 6.5% ABV | 45 IBUs|
|Against the Grain | 35K | Milk Stout|
|Not gonna lie, I think Against the Grain has some of the best can art in the business. Tip-Toeing on the line of obscene and wanderlust, they draw your eye and have you questioning whether or not you should buy the beer solely based on the can alone. With the addition of lactose combined with generous additions of Nugget and Crystal hops, the nose gives off a citrusy scent which is quickly overpowered by aromas of roasted malts, dark chocolate, and fig. This intriguing nose is complimented with a thick creamy body that has sharp roasted attributes that are balanced by the mild hop additions. French press coffee, milk chocolate, scorched coffee, and a nice bitterness all round out to a succulent finish. I think the aftertaste is one of the best parts to this beer with lingering walnut and brownie flavors.|
|4 pk 16 oz Cans | 7% ABV | 25.5 IBUs|
|Mikkeller | Beer Geek Brunch | Imperial Stout|
|Aw, brunch. One of the best things to come out of this Millenial generation. Breakfast for lunch anywhere from 10 am to 2 pm. What could be better? An ode to those who think they know too much about beer and those who love breakfast food at all times of the day, Mikkeller‘s Beer Geek Brunch is a heavy hitting Imperial Stout that will easily replace that brunch Mimosa or Bloody Mary. A thick body filled with intense coffee aromas followed by toffee, roasted nuts, caramel, and inviting earthiness. The flavor, much like the nose, has astounding coffee, coffee, and more coffee characteristic. Combined with those “slight” coffee notes, chocolate, burnt toast, roasted nuts, and an undertone of warm boozy goodness. This is so thick that this could replace your entire brunch meal. Who needs eggs benedict when you can simply crack open a tall boy and drink your calories out of a proper glass?|
|4 pk 16 oz Cans | 10.9% ABV | 25 IBUs|