The Stout vs. The Porter

...A Story of Dark Beer Obsession on Valentine’s Day

It comes around enough every year…Valentine’s Day. A yearly assignment to love someone you should be loving every day already. Now before you start thinking this is going to lead you into some super cheesy tale about cupids and roses…let me stop you right there. There won’t be too much Valentine’s Day schmooze, don’t worry!

We’re here to talk about beer! The good stuff and if you were my Valentine, you’d get a beer instead of roses. A damn good beer at that.

If chocolate is the candy of love then that must make chocolate beer be the official drink.

I mean, have you ever had a rich, dark, bold chocolate stout or porter? It’s a flavor made in beer heaven is what it is. That is, if you know what to look for, because let me tell you - not all chocolate beers are created equal and that is the truth! Have you ever had a beer so syrupy and thick you couldn’t swallow it? I have. It’s not good.

Being that I’m no stranger to the myriad of brews that rotate in and out of the shop, I definitely have my go-to’s. However, I’m always, always ready to take on something new! So join me as I celebrate some awesome self-love and spoiling my Valentine: me!

It didn’t take me long to spot a dark bottle with gold lettering that says Liquid Double Fudge. My attention was 100% taken. I immediately had a vision of melted chocolate fudge pouring from the bottle into my mouth but…that would be just wrong, right?

Evil Twin Brewing puts out some in-your-face beers that can sometimes be a little too much for my palate. With this one though, I was super pleased with the multiple layers of roasted coffee and chocolate swirling around with each sip. I swear I even noticed a hint of licorice in there. Usually that’s not my thing, but it really worked!

This one definitely errs a bit on the sweet side, almost like a good wine, but…not quite. The term “fudgey” is highly applicable here. It was certainly full-bodied, which is not surprising, however it came with a high 12% ABV... which was surprising

Not more than 3 beers over Foothills Brewing's Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout called to me. Nay, screamed! (5 points if you know the reference)

In keeping with the awesome name, this stout was quite hefty and impressed me with it’s boozy quality, although it was more than 2% lower on the ABV scale than the Liquid Fudge.

While the flavor wasn’t as chocolatey as I had hopedm, it still provided a good chocolate punch, along with roasted cocoa and coffee. It had a fantastic and smooth mouthfeel, nonetheless. I enjoyed the American style with the fruit and floral aromas which were slight and subtle. They infused just the right amount of flavor alongside the bitter backbone.

Two for two!

I didn’t know how many beers I thought I was gonna need that night, but I was in the zone. All chocolate love today. I browsed quite a few dark brews and almost couldn’t make up my mind.

The last beer I decided on was another imperial but this time from Southern Tier Brewing. Choklat Stout. Now this was a treat.

Immediately I could sense plenty of dark chocolate permeating both the nose and the mouth. Espresso flavors, lots of chocolate, everything you want in a solid dark brew. I was in love. This one could fall into the category of “dessert beer”, but all I can say to that is don’t tease me with a good time! The light carbonation and creamy finish really put this one at the top of my list.

By the time I found my Valentine’s Day loves I realize I had gotten all stouts. Didn’t make a single porter into the basket, eh. The stouts have it. Which leads me to ask…what’s makes a porter a porter and a stout a stout in the first place? What’s the difference? My curiosity became a bit wild and I decided I had to find out….only the finding out part wasn’t that easy!

Especially in the last decade or so where craft beer has exploded onto the scene, brewers seem to use the terms porter and stout almost interchangeably. Maybe one beer’s name just sounds better with one distinction attached than the other?

From what I’ve learned, there is an ongoing debate about just what exactly separates a stout from a porter. Some will say it’s as simple as the grain - stouts are brewed using roasted barley and patent malt while porters were brewed with chocolate malt.

But it’s not even close to being that simple!

To find out a little more, we would need to date this story back to 18th century London where porters originated. Porters back then paled in comparison to what we have now. They were brown, medium-bodied, and had quite a bit of hops.

As this style of beer gained traction around England, brewers began experimenting with different ingredients and combinations (God bless those boozy scientist). As porters became darker and stronger, they soon got the name stout porter. Over time the porter and the stout became 2 separate styles, and to this day the lines of distinction are quite blurry.

A porter can be a porter.

A porter can be a stout.

Can a stout be a porter?

As it seems, today isn’t going to be the day all of our questions get answered. All I can say at the end of this is that hey, we’ve gotten a lot smarter and we know that both styles of beer are absolutely delicious…chocolate-infused or not! You can simply enjoy both! In fact, you can do whatever you want, as long as you do it all in the name of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day Brew Fans!