A Stout or Porter, What’s The Difference?

Originally published in the March 2022 Issue of the Old Town Crier Magazine

I asked one simple question: What’s the difference between a stout and a porter?  The answer opened the craft beer equivalent of Pandora’s Box.

You’d think that the answer would be straightforward. Here’s how you make porters and here’s how you make stouts. And it seems that at one time, it was. These two beers have a close relationship. One even begot the other. But as many relationships do, theirs became complicated.  Over time, the definitions of both became intertwined. So much so that today, they are almost the same. Well, kind of. It depends on who you ask.

I posed the question to Tim Quintyn, the Tasting Room General Manager at Port City Brewing Company. I trust Tim’s opinion on matters of brewing and beer. I sat across from him at one of their high-top cocktail tables. He had just poured me a taste of their Colossal One, a newly released Imperial Stout. To state that it was amazing would be an understatement. It is brewed with Belgian Hops. The flavor is smooth and sweet upfront with hints of chocolate and a light bitter finish. The ABV is 9.5, so it’s a true stout. More on that point later.

As I finish adoring the stout, I look Tim in the eye and fire off my question.

“What is the difference between a stout and a porter?”

Tim looked me in the eye and chuckled, “How much time you got?”

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