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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: beveragebob on April 28, 2011, 05:56:25 PM

Title: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: beveragebob on April 28, 2011, 05:56:25 PM
http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/so-what-is-the-difference-between-porter-and-stout/#comments
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: denny on April 28, 2011, 06:01:37 PM
To me, the dividing line is a significant amount of roast barley in a stout and a significant amount of chocolate malt in a porter.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: dmtaylor on April 28, 2011, 06:12:50 PM
I've wondered the same thing myself countless times.  By and large, there truly is no difference anymore between porters and stouts.  The only tentative differences these days *might* be color -- your stout would be a blacker version of your porter.  And, stouts *might* have more roasted barley -- but porters can have it as well.  So..... to me it does seem silly to try to come up with arbitrary arguments that would differentiate two broad styles that have in reality evolved to become in essence nearly one and the same, with a few obvious exceptions (I've never heard of a sweet porter, never heard of a brown stout, etc.), but that's just semantics as well.  I feel it is high time to combine porters and stouts into one main category.  I don't think many people will agree with me, but I'm not interested in popular opinions, because what fun is there in just agreeing with what everyone else says.

Let me put it to you another way -- if we were to do a blind side-by-side test of one brewer's stout vs. a second brewer's porter, what are the odds that you could correctly distinguish the one called "stout" from the one called "porter"?  I think the odds are equally 50/50 of getting it right vs. wrong.  So even a monkey could flip a coin and do just as well.  My point exactly.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: jaybeerman on April 28, 2011, 06:16:52 PM
To me, the dividing line is a significant amount of roast barley in a stout and a significant amount of chocolate malt in a porter.

Yep.  Personally I'd say black malt instead of chocolate malt (I know that I'm the last homebrewer alive that still uses black malt in my porter).  I'd like to say less hoppy as well but historically that may not be correct.

I've wondered the same thing myself countless times.  By and large, there truly is no difference anymore between porters and stouts.  The only tentative differences these days *might* be color -- your stout would be a blacker version of your porter.  And, stouts *might* have more roasted barley -- but porters can have it as well.  So..... to me it does seem silly to try to come up with arbitrary arguments that would differentiate two broad styles that have in reality evolved to become in essence nearly one and the same, with a few obvious exceptions (I've never heard of a sweet porter, never heard of a brown stout, etc.), but that's just semantics as well.  I feel it is high time to combine porters and stouts into one main category.  I don't think many people will agree with me, but I'm not interested in popular opinions, because what fun is there in just agreeing with what everyone else says.

Let me put it to you another way -- if we were to do a blind side-by-side test of one brewer's stout vs. a second brewer's porter, what are the odds that you could correctly distinguish the one called "stout" from the one called "porter"?  I think the odds are equally 50/50 of getting it right vs. wrong.  So even a monkey could flip a coin and do just as well.  My point exactly.

Tragedy

<edit> It's good to see that you don't care for popular opinion.  Unfortunately it's popular consciousness that has led to the melding of these two styles.  If you had one of my porters followed by one of my stouts you could tell the difference.  Let's not destroy the styles just because people aren't educated enough to taste the differences and/or educated enough to brew the differences.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: denny on April 28, 2011, 06:18:39 PM
(I know that I'm the last homebrewer alive that still uses black malt in my porter).

No, there are 2 of us!  My porters just seemed kinda insipid, so I started experimenting with just a bit of black malt in them.  Turned out to be just what they needed!
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: jaybeerman on April 28, 2011, 06:30:14 PM
No, there are 2 of us!  My porters just seemed kinda insipid, so I started experimenting with just a bit of black malt in them.  Turned out to be just what they needed!

denny you just made my day!
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: bonjour on April 28, 2011, 06:36:34 PM
To me, the dividing line is a significant amount of roast barley in a stout and a significant amount of chocolate malt in a porter.
My thought as well.

The best answer I've heard,  It's whatever the brewer decided to cal it. 

Go historical and call it a Stout-Porter.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: dmtaylor on April 28, 2011, 07:00:48 PM
Yet even the roasted barley vs. chocolate malt argument is a BJCP fabrication.  The 21st century style guideline is so far off of the old 19th century origins of the styles that it ain't even funny.  What about brown malt?  What about a stout supposing to be stronger than porter?  Ugh.  On the inside, I shall not give in to the BJCP and popular beliefs to define whatever ya'll want, it's so arbitrary and historically inaccurate.  Sure, I'll judge to the BJCP 2008 guidelines and beyond, but meanwhile my soul is silently screaming at the silliness of it all.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 28, 2011, 07:07:54 PM
Just curious but have the BJCP guidelines always had it like that?  I first heard the RB = stout and BP (or chocolate, can't remember) = Porter in the mid 90's from Daniel's DGB and I guess I just thought it spread like wildfire from there.

I did at least learn what 'sucking the monkey' meant. :D
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: denny on April 28, 2011, 07:10:31 PM
Yet even the roasted barley vs. chocolate malt argument is a BJCP fabrication.  The 21st century style guideline is so far off of the old 19th century origins of the styles that it ain't even funny.  What about brown malt?  What about a stout supposing to be stronger than porter?  Ugh.  On the inside, I shall not give in to the BJCP and popular beliefs to define whatever ya'll want, it's so arbitrary and historically inaccurate.  Sure, I'll judge to the BJCP 2008 guidelines and beyond, but meanwhile my soul is silently screaming at the silliness of it all.

Dave, I'm drinking beer in the 21st century, not the 19th.  I'm using a 21st century definition.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: beersk on April 28, 2011, 07:20:02 PM
(I know that I'm the last homebrewer alive that still uses black malt in my porter).

No, there are 2 of us!  My porters just seemed kinda insipid, so I started experimenting with just a bit of black malt in them.  Turned out to be just what they needed!
Same here, I was going to concur with jaybeerman about the black malt instead of chocolate malt thing, also.  I like the bite of black malt in my porters, I think that's what defines porters instead of chocolate malt, but that's just me.
But as far as I'm concerned, the beer is whatever the brewer says it is.  If they say it's a porter, but to you it tastes like a stout, it's still a porter; and vice versa.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: morticaixavier on April 28, 2011, 07:21:20 PM
... So even a monkey could flip a coin and do just as well.  My point exactly.


I don't think a monkey could flip a coin without yeasr of exhaustive training and a thumb. Now an ape maybe
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: tumarkin on April 28, 2011, 07:29:42 PM
... So even a monkey could flip a coin and do just as well.  My point exactly.


I don't think a monkey could flip a coin without yeasr of exhaustive training and a thumb. Now an ape maybe

+1  many folks under-rate the importance of thumbs. I know my dog is really pissed at me that I've got thumbs & she doesn't. She'd really like to be able to open the food bin herself, or unlatch the door.... but no luck, no thumb.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: Kit B on April 28, 2011, 07:29:50 PM
Dave, I'm drinking beer in the 21st century, not the 19th.  I'm using a 21st century definition.

I mean no disrespect, when I say/ask this...
To me...This whole question is similar to the Cascadian Dark Ale issue.
Why make a new classification, for a slight twist?
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: johnf on April 28, 2011, 08:22:27 PM
Yet even the roasted barley vs. chocolate malt argument is a BJCP fabrication.  The 21st century style guideline is so far off of the old 19th century origins of the styles that it ain't even funny.  What about brown malt?  What about a stout supposing to be stronger than porter?  Ugh.  On the inside, I shall not give in to the BJCP and popular beliefs to define whatever ya'll want, it's so arbitrary and historically inaccurate.  Sure, I'll judge to the BJCP 2008 guidelines and beyond, but meanwhile my soul is silently screaming at the silliness of it all.

Dave, I'm drinking beer in the 21st century, not the 19th.  I'm using a 21st century definition.

But your 21st century definition fails to describe 21st century reality in the UK or the US. Did anyone read the blog post before responding to it? Has anyone called Sierra Nevada to tell them they do not understand what a modern porter and stout are? How did they take the news?
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: jaybeerman on April 28, 2011, 10:26:21 PM
But your 21st century definition fails to describe 21st century reality in the UK or the US. Did anyone read the blog post before responding to it? Has anyone called Sierra Nevada to tell them they do not understand what a modern porter and stout are? How did they take the news?

I read the blog.

I was going to concur with jaybeerman about the black malt instead of chocolate malt thing, also.  I like the bite of black malt in my porters, I think that's what defines porters instead of chocolate malt, but that's just me.  But as far as I'm concerned, the beer is whatever the brewer says it is.  If they say it's a porter, but to you it tastes like a stout, it's still a porter; and vice versa.

Three of us!

dmtaylor, there isn't a modern day equivalent to the original brown malt.  Do you use the modern brown malt in your porter and/or stout?
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: dmtaylor on April 28, 2011, 11:33:54 PM
I have made my own brown malt before -- it is not difficult.  Daniels and Mosher provide guidance in their books.  Not sure how historically accurate it actually tastes, but it's not for a lack of effort.  To me it tastes sort of like burnt toast.  Think somewhere between dark Munich and chocolate malt.  Yummy and complex in reasonably small amounts.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: jaybeerman on April 29, 2011, 03:05:26 AM
I have made my own brown malt before -- it is not difficult.  Daniels and Mosher provide guidance in their books.  Not sure how historically accurate it actually tastes, but it's not for a lack of effort.  To me it tastes sort of like burnt toast.  Think somewhere between dark Munich and chocolate malt.  Yummy and complex in reasonably small amounts.

I'm all for that era (the brown malt era) of porter too.  I actually brew two porter recipes - a porter with black malt and then a brown malt porter.  Last year my black malt porter took silver at the NHC in the robust category.  This year I entered my brown malt porter and it was the lowest scoring beer I've ever entered into the competition.  The judges noted the breadiness as a flaw  ::)  and one of them thought that the breadiness was due to yeast problems.  IMO the brown malt porter is better than the medal winning porter from last year (and more historically accurate), but that's not what people think a porter should be anymore.

I'm not sure that I really have a point, but I will admit that the porter definition is somewhat screwed up.  I could see the american categories of stout and porter being combined, as pointed out the modern commercial offerings are completely overlapping.  Denny, beersk and I can continue to make our porters with black malt, our stouts with roasted barley and I will continue to keep my hops for stout.

This is a discussion that we should all have over a few pints of Entire Butt Porter (made with black, brown, chocolate, pale chocolate and roasted barley). 
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: speed on April 29, 2011, 03:42:01 AM

about the brown malt, i;ve made the fullers london porter a few times and love it- it has 1 1/2 lbs brown malt. i see no yum icon  ???
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: The Professor on April 29, 2011, 03:54:42 AM
I pretty much agree with Dave.  
It's all pretty arbitrary, and really, it is totally open to individual interpretation. The line between Porter and Stout these days is quite blurry anyway,  and historically the line probably almost non-existant.   And anyway, there is no one alive who can comment on the historical difference between the two (if there even really was a difference).  The blog page referenced at the start of this thread is brilliant and spot on;   with the well researched writings of Martyn Cornell and Ron Pattinson, it's becoming clear how much heresay we've all swallowed with our beer all these years.  And it's refreshing to finally see some genuine beer history scholarship.

There is no final authoritative word on what the makeup is for any style  (although the beer police I occasionally run into at my local hang may disagree...the same guys that lectured me on how Fuller's ESB was not really an ESB.  Uh, yeah...right, guys).
 
And Guinness Stout is a good example of how things evolve and mutate...evidently roasted barley wasn't even part of the grist until well into the 20th century.

Best thing is to just make good beer according to what your own interpretation of a 'style' is.  That's what brewers have always done;  they certainly never let artificial guidelines get in their way.  
.  
In the end (maybe within some very broad parameters), a beer is pretty much whatever the brewer says it is.
I've had plenty of Porters made with roasted barley, and plenty of Stouts made without it.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: jamminbrew on April 29, 2011, 04:05:23 AM
One of the things I love about making my own beer, is I can make any beer I want, any way I want it!
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: weazletoe on April 29, 2011, 05:11:48 AM
  I guess I just always thought a stout was a porter all grown up. Heavier, more alcohol. You know, "stoutier". (I think I just made a new word.) Then again, there are breakfast stouts, which I guess would be a porters little sister. huh......... :-\
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: enso on April 29, 2011, 03:25:08 PM
I find it really amazing that this is so complicated!  It is my opinion that porter is THE most written about and researched "style" ever!  It seems almost ever brewing book I have read has something about porter in it.  Off the top of my head I think all of the following Classic beer style series books have at least some mention of the influence of porter.  Barley wine, Mild ale, Pale ale and Scotch ale and of course Porter.  The last one is the only one I have not actually read!  Some of them have rather extensive passages about the popularity and rise and fall of said "style".  There loads of historical info on the style in Radical Brewing as well.  How can something so well documented be so contentious?

Could be because it came about when "styles" were really beginning to be documented?  Or rather when breweries/brewers were really beginning to market there beer and they threw names around willy nilly?

I agree with the folks who mentioned the use of black malt (patent) as a distinuisher of at least modern day porter vs. a stout which uses roast barley.

 
Quote
And Guinness Stout is a good example of how things evolve and mutate...evidently roasted barley wasn't even part of the grist until well into the 20th century.

Don't forget that Guiness was originally known for their porter which they discontinued sometime in the early 20th century iirc.  What I recall is that they started brewing a "Stout porter" which was a variation on their porter.  Stronger?  I dunno.  Blacker?  I dunno.  Stouter?  uh, sure...  Whatever that means.  Marketing term to mean more special therefore cammanding a premium price???   :-X

If you look at early 20th century beer ads and marketing they used not only the terms stout and porter, but also beer and ale interchangeably.  No wonder it gets so confused.

Perhaps I missed it but I do not seem to recall anyone in this thread or the article linked mentioning the much documented theory that porter itself was not actually something brewed as is but rather a blend of beers.  Also a likely early marketing ploy.  A way to use up beer that had gone by with beer that was not quite ready to drink.   ;D
If you accept that then really no one is making "authentic" porter anymore.  It would not make much sense on a commercial level.

It is also my understanding that when the beer that came to be known as porter which was now being brewed "whole" rather than blended used a variety of substances to darken it; including some rather dubious ones, until a reliable method for making roast malt (black "patent") was developed.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: johnf on April 29, 2011, 03:38:54 PM
Sierra Nevada Stout has no roasted barley and Sierra Nevada Porter had no black malt.

I guess a little alarm goes off in my head when the definition of a modern or American style is wildly inconsistent with what Sierra Nevada does. It would be like saying American Pale ale is defined as not having cascade hops.

I'm not sure I believe the BJCP guidelines support this porter = black malt and stout = roasted barley idea. The only porter style that the BJCP describes as requiring black malt character is Robust Porter, then several of the commercial examples listed are beers made without black malt (Sierra Nevada and Meantime off the top of my head). The only stout subcategory that mentions specifically roasted barley is dry stout. That's fine since that category is narrow and the commercial beers it describes do all or mostly use roasted barley these days.

At the end of the day it shouldn't matter to anyone that isn't operating a beer competition. All a consumer needs to know is that if a brewery has a porter and a stout, the stout is probably more strongly flavored.

For beer competitions we can get a feel for "this beer is what we call Robust Porter and this is what we call American Stout" or whatever but, as always, the impression of the beer is king and what ingredients or processes were used to achieve that character are not of primary importance to taxonomy.

Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: beersk on April 29, 2011, 06:01:35 PM

In the end (maybe within some very broad parameters), a beer is pretty much whatever the brewer says it is.


Pretty much what I think.  Weaze gots it.  Stouts are just "stouter" porters.  They used to be called Stout porters, right?  Then they just dropped the porter part and called them stouts...
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: Malticulous on April 29, 2011, 11:27:56 PM
Porter is different from ale and lagers are yet still differnt--if you live over 100 years ago. It probably depends on who you asked too.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: corkybstewart on April 30, 2011, 12:49:07 AM
To me, the dividing line is a significant amount of roast barley in a stout and a significant amount of chocolate malt in a porter.
Hummm, I use a bunch of of chocolate in my stout and a little black malt in my porter.  For me the difference is that I add coffee or vanilla to my porters and oatmeal to my stouts.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: tubercle on April 30, 2011, 01:06:30 AM
Tubercle always thought that a "porter" was a stout that was served at a porter house.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: Hokerer on April 30, 2011, 01:38:19 AM
Tubercle always thought that a "porter" was a stout that was served at a porter house.

or maybe with a nice juicy porterhouse
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: Will's Swill on April 30, 2011, 01:40:36 AM
The steak got its name the same way the beer did, didn't it?
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: narcout on April 30, 2011, 03:34:18 AM
Has anyone called Sierra Nevada to tell them they do not understand what a modern porter and stout are? How did they take the news?

I heard they were pissed.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: tubercle on April 30, 2011, 01:29:03 PM
The steak got its name the same way the beer did, didn't it?

  That was always my understanding.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: tumarkin on April 30, 2011, 02:16:19 PM
The steak got its name the same way the beer did, didn't it?

  That was always my understanding.

maybe going back to the origin of calling steak houses "porter house", but from wikipedia ....

"The origin of the name 'porterhouse' is the subject of much conjecture but very little knowledge; it has been claimed that the name derives from a Massachusetts stockman and proprietor of the now defunct Porter House hotel in Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zachariah B. Porter,[1] or from a New York City porter-house proprietor, Martin Morrison.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary suspends judgment, observing that the cut is "freq. supposed to derive its name from a well-known porterhouse in New York in the early 19th cent., although there is app. no contemporary evidence to support this". Yet another theory is that the name arose from the Porter House Hotel, situated in the city of Flowery Branch, Georgia, just northeast of Atlanta, on what was, in the late 19th century, a new railroad that connected New York City with New Orleans."

also turned up this fun little fact.... when Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) toured Europe in 1878, he didn't think much of the cuisine. He requested that a "pan-fried porterhouse steak with mushrooms be ready for him upon his arrival back home."

Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: thatguy314 on May 03, 2011, 03:40:54 PM
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it's as complicated as you guys are making it out to be.

First of all, porter and stout are relative.  I don't think all porters and all stouts have a lot of overlap.  I think we're talking about what the BJCP calls a robust porter, and its relationship with what the BJCP calls a dry stout or an American stout.

Just to get it out of the way, brown porters (e.g., Fuller's london porter, Sam Smith Taddy Porter) are different beasts all together.  They're more like roasty english brown ales, than they are like stouts.  We're talking about beers like Anchor Porter, Edmond Fitzgerald porter, Deschutes Black Butte, Bell's Porter, and Founders porter.  I say these beers because I think they are very illustrative of the style.  Again with stout, we're talking about dry stout (Guinness, Murphy's, Beamish, Victory Donnybrook) and American Stout (Sierra, Deschutes Obsidian, Shakespeare, etc.,).  I don't think we'd thnk that porter is close to a milk stout, and imperial stouts are kind of their own beast altogether.

Now that I think I've defined the area of confusion, I think that we can really talk about what the basic difference is between the two.  In the modern world, not based on any historical definition, I think there's really a single factor that defines the difference between porter and stout.  It's not the use of a single ingredient, but rather it's the balance of the ingredients used.  Stout is a roast dominated beer with a supporting malt character The upfront and principal note in a stout is the roast.  Typically you'll see robust barley, but it's not necessary.  Shakespeare stout is primarily chocolate malt.  The roast malt is always in high %, and it's the dominant flavor of the beer.  On the other hand, porter is a malty beer with a significant roast character.  In porter the roast is one player among many flavors, and while prominant should always be well balanced by a strong malty note, usually from crystal or mellanoidin rich malts.  I see a lot of homebrew porters that are just all roast.  That is a bad porter.

Take sierra, deschuttes, and many other good breweries and you'll see that balance defines the difference between their stout and their porter.  I think that's what has lead to the black malt / roast barley differences between stout and porter.  Black patent, when used in the same amounts as roast barley, has a much milder taste.  As a result its easier to get a supportive role with it than with roast barley.  However, roast barley needn't be excluded from a good porter.  Edmond Fitzgerald, which is arguably the best robust porter in the country, uses roast barley (see December 2009 issue, no longer online).

I haven't played with brown malt a lot, though my friend Ken, who is probably the best porter brewer I know, is in love with the stuff.  From what I understand, is that the reason it helps to brew such a nice porter is precisely because it captures the qualities which I spoke of.  It has a mild roasted character and a toasty biscuity character.  When used it adds roast blended with a complex mellanoidin-rich maltiness that makes a porter.  If you used it in a stout, it  might distract too much from the upfront roast that dominates the style.

So where does this put us?  I've been to plenty of breweries where they have a porter that's really more like a stout, and occasionally, a stout that's much more like a porter.  Just because these examples exist, doesn't mean they're good examples.  If a small brewery served you beer they called an IPA that wasn't bitter and barely had any hops (yes I'm speaking about your Fire Island Beer Company) most of us wouldn't accept that its an IPA.  Doesn't mean its a bad beer, it's just not an IPA.  Same goes for these beers.

These is my understanding of these styles.  It's not as simple as a lot of disctinctions I've heard, and there probably is a narrow style space where there is some signficant overlap between a very roasty porter and a very malty stout.  However, I've yet to have a good example of stout or porter that has changed the way I think about it.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 06, 2011, 12:00:52 AM
I have made my own brown malt before -- it is not difficult.  Daniels and Mosher provide guidance in their books.  Not sure how historically accurate it actually tastes, but it's not for a lack of effort.  To me it tastes sort of like burnt toast.  Think somewhere between dark Munich and chocolate malt.  Yummy and complex in reasonably small amounts.

Ah, but 18th century brown malt was "blown malt" - I imagine it was something like brown malt but popped like popcorn. It was apparently quite tricky to make; a lot of malt kilns burned down as a result.

My opinion is that the porter vs. stout debate is specious. Yes, stout originally started out as a strong porter, but both stout and porter have evolved so much over the last 300 years that the exact definition of porter/stout depends on which brewery you're talking about and which year. Martyn Cornell (writer of Zythophile blog) describes four variants in his book "Amber, Gold and Black." Personally, I think he's wrong; there are more likely 6 or more historical variants in England alone. If you want raw data (e.g., grist bills, hopping rates, pitching temperatures) for 19th and early 20th century English porter/stout, so you can make up your own mind, check out Ron Pattison's "Shut Up About Barclay Perkins" blog.

In any case, modern porter (with the exception of Baltic porter) is a revival of an extinct style. In England and Ireland, porter died out in the 1940s or 50s. In the U.S., it mostly died before Prohibition, with the exception of oddities like Yeungling Porter. It was then revived by American homebrewers and craft brewers like Anchor and Boulder, in the late 1970s, then revived in the U.K. by English brewers like Fullers and Samuel Smith in the early 1980s. IIRC, Taddy Porter was specifically created for the U.S. market after Samuel Smith joined forces with Merchant du Vin (its U.S. importer). So, the BJCP guidelines and whatnot are perfectly correct in breaking it out into its own category, since modern brewers deliberately made the distinction between porter and stout. "Robust Porter", for all that it is a modern invention, is a valid description of U.S. revivals of porter, while "Brown Porter" represents U.K. revivals.

If you're brewing for your own pleasure, porter/stout is whatever you want it to be. If your brewing from a historical recipe, it's what the recipe writer claimed it was. If you're brewing for competition, it's what the style guidelines say it is.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: Will's Swill on May 06, 2011, 03:23:19 AM
Well said.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: BUZZSAW52 on September 11, 2016, 01:57:42 PM
To me, the dividing line is a significant amount of roast barley in a stout and a significant amount of chocolate malt in a porter.

Yep.  Personally I'd say black malt instead of chocolate malt (I know that I'm the last homebrewer alive that still uses black malt in my porter).  I'd like to say less hoppy as well but historically that may not be correct.

I use Black Malt in my porter. I was trying to duplicate Founders Porter. They use it.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: denny on September 11, 2016, 04:03:17 PM
To me, the dividing line is a significant amount of roast barley in a stout and a significant amount of chocolate malt in a porter.

Yep.  Personally I'd say black malt instead of chocolate malt (I know that I'm the last homebrewer alive that still uses black malt in my porter).  I'd like to say less hoppy as well but historically that may not be correct.

I use Black Malt in my porter. I was trying to duplicate Founders Porter. They use it.

I use 1-2 oz. of black patent in my porter to give it just a bit of a bite.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: HoosierBrew on September 11, 2016, 04:11:56 PM
I use roasted barley and chocolate malt in stouts, and chocolate malt with some black patent in robust porters.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: BUZZSAW52 on September 11, 2016, 04:16:14 PM
I use 1lb of chocolate, 6oz of black, and 1.5 of roasted barley in my Porter. Last brew I accidentally doubled my roasted barley. That was very evident in the taste. haha
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: pete b on September 12, 2016, 12:12:00 PM
I find that most commercial porters these days I would consider stouts. Pitch black and toasty as hell.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: BUZZSAW52 on September 12, 2016, 12:34:00 PM
I find that most commercial porters these days I would consider stouts. Pitch black and toasty as hell.

True. It seems as though they are afraid to do a natural porter. It has to have peanut butter, coconut, or raspberry in it.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: dmtaylor on September 12, 2016, 01:18:12 PM
True. It seems as though they are afraid to do a natural porter. It has to have peanut butter, coconut, or raspberry in it.

Excellent observation.  I even find myself falling prey to this.  I used to split my porter batches between flavored and unflavored, but the past couple batches I added jalapenos to the whole thing.  It's good, it's really good, but the regular porter is just as good on its own merits.  Not sure why we all feel the need to use porter as a base for other flavorings and not just enjoy the style on its own.  Camelot is a silly place.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: zwiller on September 12, 2016, 04:37:49 PM
I tend to subscribe to the chocolate: porter and roasted barley: stout but agree that there is considerable crossover.  I also tend to think a porter should be more bitter and include more hop flavor and aroma than of a stout.  In addition, I think porter is a little more bright/lower pH than of stout. 
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: BUZZSAW52 on September 12, 2016, 05:51:41 PM
True. It seems as though they are afraid to do a natural porter. It has to have peanut butter, coconut, or raspberry in it.

Excellent observation.  I even find myself falling prey to this.  I used to split my porter batches between flavored and unflavored, but the past couple batches I added jalapenos to the whole thing.  It's good, it's really good, but the regular porter is just as good on its own merits.  Not sure why we all feel the need to use porter as a base for other flavorings and not just enjoy the style on its own.  Camelot is a silly place.

Thanks! I'm guilty too. I have a pecan porter recipe but I keep pushing it aside because I am Oktoberfest crazy right now. haha
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: dmtaylor on September 12, 2016, 06:18:35 PM
Thanks! I'm guilty too. I have a pecan porter recipe but I keep pushing it aside because I am Oktoberfest crazy right now. haha

Guess what I just brewed... not just one but TWO Oktoberfests!  :)
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: Steve Ruch on September 12, 2016, 09:28:43 PM
Thanks! I'm guilty too. I have a pecan porter recipe but I keep pushing it aside because I am Oktoberfest crazy right now. haha

Guess what I just brewed... not just one but TWO Oktoberfests!  :)

Braggart,  ;)
No Oktoberfest for me this year, but I do have a vienna on the schedule.
Title: Re: Great Beer Blog - So what IS the difference between porter and stout?
Post by: BUZZSAW52 on September 12, 2016, 11:25:13 PM
Nice! For Oktoberfest I have 5 gallons in the keg lagering for another 2 weeks, I just bottled 5 gallons that won't be ready for 7-8 weeks, and I just put 5 gallons in the freezer today to start the lagering process. :)


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