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Stout beers have a black colour an ABV between 4% and 6% and a high bitterness.

Stout characteristics

Stout is a black beer with a pronounced roasted flavour, often similar to coffee. Flavour ranges from malty sweetness to quite bitter. Colour is dark brown to black, with a long last thick creamy head. Aroma has touches of coffee, and often chocolate and dried fruits.

What is the difference between Porter and Stout?

  • – At the beginning of 19th century porter was the term used in Manchester while stout was the term used in London for the same thing.
  • – A stout has roasted malts, while a porter not. (Shaun Salyards, from The Fort Collins Brewery)
  • Porters are lighter in body and alcohol than stouts. (Carston Haney, from Ross Island Brewing)
  • Stout is defined as a very dark, roasty, bitter, creamy ale, while porter is described as a substantial, malty dark ale with a complex and flavourful character. [BJCP style guidelines].


Historically, from the 1720s and until the early 20th century, stout—or more specifically brown stout—was another denomination for strong porter.

In the first 1800s the use of the terms porter and stout had a geographical bias, being porter mostly used in the Manchester region and stout mostly in the London region, but the term stout is also found in Manchester newspapers, always referring to a strong kind of porter.

Already the second half of the 19th century, the only observable difference between porter and stout was the amount of water—less water was used for stouts, so their ABV was higher.

By the end of the 19th century, stout recipes started to diverge more from porter, as less roasted malt was used in favour o brown malt, and stouts started to be sweeter. After tax rises and restrictions in the WWI, their strength started to decrease, being the stout strength dropped to the same level porter had before the war, while porter decreased even further. This lead to public opinion to believe that porter was a softer version of stout.

From a modern perspective, nowadays porters are considered to have more sweet-chocolate character in contrast with a more bitter-fruity touch of the stouts.

Related Styles

Baltic Porter

Baltic Porter mixes the malt flavors of English Porters with the restrained roast of German style smoked beer, and adds a higher ABV. It usually has complex aroma and flavour profiles with caramel, chocolate and/or fruits, with no sourness at all. Taste has a roasted touch and a clean lager character, but is much less roasted than an Imperial Stout.

Foreign Extra Stout

Foreign Extra Stout is a Extra Stout with higher ABV. Color is very deep brown to black, with high roasted aromas and hints of coffee and chocolate also with some fruitiness. Taste is roasted with coffee or chocolate and roasted character, with medium to high bitterness. It is a more alcoholic version of an Irish Extra Stout, but not as alcoholic or intense as an Imperial Stout.

Imperial Porter

Imperial Porter or American Porter is a more aggresive version of pre-prohibition Porters or English Porters. It has a dark brown appearance and strong dark malt aromas, with some burnt character and malt additions—chocolate, coffee, etc.— and some hop, even dry hopped. Flavor is malty, with some roasted character, and medium to high bitterness and finish is from dry to sweet. It is more bitter and alcoholic than English Porters, and less strong than American Stouts.

Imperial Stout

Imperial Stout is a dark beer, ranging from dark brown to pitch black, and a well-formed head. Aroma and flavour tend to be rich and complex, with presence of roasty malts or dried fruits and touches of coffee, caramel or chocolate. Hop flavour can be from medium to high. Imperial stout is a good choice for barrel-aging, making the aromas and flavours more balanced and smooth.


Porter is a moderate-strength brown beer with a restrained roasty character and some bitterness. May have roasted flavour—but not burnt—, and often has a chocolate, caramel and malty character. Color is brown to dark brown, and aroma is moderately low bready, biscuity malty.

Sweet Stout

Sweet stout is an style originally developed in England, first known as milk or cream stouts—althought that name was later forbidden in the UK. It is a beer characterized by the use of lactose in order to make it sweeter and smoother than the typical stout or Imperial Stout. Sweetness is ballanced by the roastiness of malts and bitterness of hops. Another variation of sweet stout uses oatmeal as sweetener, resulting in a fuller beer.

Back And Forth interview

Bodegraven (Netherlands), 28/02/2017

John Brus (De Molen), “We are all about making beer, not about naked ladies or dragons or whatever on the label. This is beer!”

De Molen

Back And Forth

Read the whole interview with John Brus

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