This is it! You’ve made it all the way to today’s post, which is the final in my series of recommended beer styles. If you’ve missed the previous posts, you’ve clearly been living under a rock! Click the link below to see the first four.
This post is part of a mini-series – See all posts in this series
And the winner is…
#1: Porters, Stouts & Imperial Stouts
I find that a lot of beginner beer drinkers are put off by these dark beers because it doesn’t look like the Coors or Bud Light they’re used to seeing and drinking. There’s a lot of misinformation spread about dark beers that make people think they won’t like it: they’re too thick, too high in alcohol, and too high in calories. Maybe some are, but these characteristics certainly do not apply to all. Open your mind and don’t let yourself miss out on a good thing!
Let’s dive right in to each of these related styles. The first time someone asked me what the difference was between a porter and a stout, I was stumped. I have since researched the answer, only to find there are several theories. Feel free to come to your own conclusion, but the answer I choose to go with is that a stout is simply a stronger version of a porter. In a sense, that means all stouts are porters, but not all porters are stouts.
A porter is a style of dark beer which was first developed in London in the 1700s. They are brown in color, but usually will have some degree of clarity in comparison to the other varieties below. They often reveal notes of chocolate, caramel, and nuttiness, and are usually fairly low in ABV (around 4 to 5.5%).
Stouts are, as we now know, a stronger version of a porter. Usually ranging from 5.5 to 8% ABV, these beers have flavors of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. They’re usually very smooth and rich, and can often have a creamy mouthfeel, especially when served on draft over nitrogen (or “nitro”) instead of the standard CO2 line. Stouts are usually very dark brown to black in color and opaque.
Finally, there’s the imperial stout (my personal favorite of the bunch). For any beer style, if you see the word “imperial,” know that you’re getting a (relatively) strong beer. Similarly to the traditional version, imperial stouts are almost completely black in color, but clock in with an even higher ABV that’s typically between 8 to 12%, but can reach much, much higher. You can bet that imperial stouts also share the same coffee and chocolate flavors as stouts, but are richer, robust and intense.
When cellared correctly, a quality imperial stout can hold up for years to come, which is why I like to stay stocked up! Next time you find one that’s especially tasty, try buying two bottles—one for now, and one for later. The flavors and aromas of imperial stouts can change, and like a fine wine, become even better over time. Stouts marked as “barrel aged” evolve exceptionally well. With proper cellaring (and quite a bit of patience), the noticeable presence of alcohol can fade into the background, giving way to smooth, subtle flavors of the barrel it once lived in.
Now, with your newfound expertise on all things dark beer, impress your friends and order one with confidence!
May I suggest…
- Karl Strauss – Peanut Butter Cup Porter
- Founders – Porter
- Bottle Logic – Cobaltic Porter
- Deschutes – Black Butte Porter
- AleSmith – Speedway Stout
- Barley Forge – The Patsy
- Firestone Walker – Parabola
- Founders – Breakfast Stout
- Bottle Logic – Ground State
- Highwater – Campfire Stout
- Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout
- The Bruery – Black Tuesday or its variants (Grey Monday, Mocha Wednesday, Chocolate Rain)
- North Coast – Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
- Deschutes – The Abyss
- Great Divide – Yeti
- Founders – Imperial Stout
Cheers and thanks for reading! I hope you’ve all enjoyed this series on my recommended beer styles.
Comment below and let me know which porters and stouts you like, and what else you’d like to learn about in future posts!
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