Dark, rich and intense, porters and stouts have been around for centuries, with the latter initially emerging as a stronger version of porter. Most stouts are made from unmalted roasted barley and tend to have a higher ABV, with more of a bitter, roasted character and coffee-forward flavours. Porters are usually brewed using malted barley, have a maltier body than stout, subtle sweetness and flavours such as chocolate, toffee and liquorice.
Today though stouts and porters are incredibly broad categories of beer that often overlap, and it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. Both are styles that are seeing an uptick in interest. Incredibly versatile – they pair wonderfully with hearty meat and vegetable dishes, caramel- and chocolate-based desserts – craft brewers are producing increasingly creative and innovative beers. Styles you might across include creamy milk and oatmeal stouts; salty oyster stouts; sweet and decadent pastry stouts; boozy imperial stouts; light and hoppy brown porters; and high-ABV baltic and imperial porters.
5 stouts to try
This luscious stout from the Bristol brewery, Left Handed Giant, is replete with creamy coffee aromas, lovely nuttiness and roasted coffee notes. Like drinking liquid praline crossed with a vanilla latte, with a velvety smooth texture.
The Kernel’s Export Stout spent a few months in a tank with some British damsons, and the result is rather lovely. Smooth, mellow and easy drinking, with delicious juicy tartness from the damsons. A cracking beer for autumn.
Pastry stouts are stouts brewed on the sweeter side with sugary ingredients for a decadent, dessert-like drink. It's an increasingly popular style, albeit one that can go overboard with the sugar. Luckily, this balanced stout does nothing of the sort, with a rich, creamy mouthfeel and delicious chocolate and vanilla notes.
Bristol’s Wiper & True make exceedingly tasty beers all complemented by beautiful label art. The Milk Shake is their take on a traditional milk stout, which they’ve crammed full of chocolate malt and vanilla pods to create a rich, sweet and velvety dark beer, perfect for finishing off a meal – try it with our malted brownies with sea salt. It really does have a feeling of milkshake about it.
A typically quirky creation from this refreshingly unorthodox brewery, this super-smooth, indulgent dessert beer is inspired by a classic millionaire’s shortbread. Like liquid caramel in a bottle, but with a savoury edge that stops it from being sickly. Pair with all manner of chocolate and caramel-based puds.