For many years, stout beer - in all its versions - has definitely been one of the most brewed by home brewers. This is the result of the simplicity of the production of this drink, as well as the characteristic, excellent flavor bouquet. "Son of the porter" - as is often called stout - was initially a stronger version of the already popular in those times, that is in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, porter. Hence its name, which literally means "thick" and "strong" in the context of beer. Today, there is a very thin line between these styles, and only seasoned beer gourmets can sense the subtle differences.
History of Stout
The first mention of the word "stout" in the context of beer comes from a letter sent in 1677. It stated "We will drink your health both in stout and best wine". However, the author meant something completely different than the recipient would have today, because in free translation it means more or less - a toast can be made with both good wine and strong beer.
The production of the first porters began in 1722. Strong (for those times) dark beer quickly won the hearts of the working class. The name itself comes from the profession of a doorman. Some time later the name "porter stout" was recorded, which in the 18th century was the common name for beer brewed in the same style but with more alcohol.
It is important to note at this point that the original English porter is a Baltic porter not originally from Poland. The first porters had about 6.5% alcohol, but due to taxes imposed by the Napoleonic Wars, this value dropped to about 4.5% and remained until the end of the 18th century. Porter stouts had about 6% alcohol or more.
The name of the stronger version of porter appeared more and more often, but both were still identified with each other - brewed using dark malts, very similar, almost identical crops. However, one of the naked eye differences between porter and porter stout was the color.
The term "stout", without its prefix, has become so entrenched among consumers that over time it has become a separate entity. However, due to the similarity of these two styles, it is difficult to judge what date can be set for his "birth". Among consumers, this term was used long before it began to appear on labels as the official type of beer.
Interestingly, at the beginning of the 19th century, porters and their stronger cousins were closer to brown than black. It was not until 1817 that a machine enabling the roasting of beans was patented, which began to appear more and more often in beers of both styles, and gave beers a black color.
From around 1820, stout appeared as a commercial product. For example, recipes from 1822 show clear differences between brown stout and porter - the former was stronger and more hopped. They also differed in the proportions of the charge.
However, it was still a rare phenomenon, because even the Guinness brewery was then known for the production of porters, and it produced three types of them. One marked with the letter X, the other with XX. The third was intended for export to the Caribbean. Later, the name of the one marked with XX was changed to Guiness Extra Stout Porter, and this was then shortened to Guinness Extra Stout.
Stout at the top
The position of the stout relative to the porter was increasing. One of the factors was that the former included ingredients that not only improved the taste, but also enhanced the health properties. The latter is quite the opposite.
The stout - much like the porter, though not so much of it - has built up a reputation for being a healthy drink over time. In Victorian times, doctors attributed it to the elderly, patients in the hospital, and even pregnant mothers. The latter were recommended to drink up to 3 liters of this beer a day! This trend continued until around the middle of the 20th century.
At the end of the 19th century, experimental additives began to be added to the stout, thanks to which the subspecies of this beer were created until today, for example oatmeal stout, milk stout, oyster stout.
Breweries more and more often created new variations of this style, which went very well with more and more strange additions. Undoubtedly, he was best received in Ireland. In addition to previously unused additives, the new variants were, among others, stronger, more or hopped. On the other hand, the power and popularity of porters decreased.
At the beginning of the 20th century, stout continued to gain popularity. Surprisingly, in various reports on porters, phrases began to appear describing this style simply as a weaker version of the stout, or even a subspecies of it.
Interestingly, during this period, the use of unmalted roasted barley grain became a common practice. It was probably influenced by the First World War, the consequence of which for breweries was limited access to roasted malts.
Over time, stouts grew in popularity and absorbed the porter into their big family. One of the biggest blows to the life of the latter was when Guinness pulled it out of production in 1974. Although you can still find the traditional English porter in stores today, the scale of its consumption, compared to the 18th century, is only a shadow of its former glory. More often than the original porter, its stronger version is found - the Baltic porter from Poland.
However, his merits in creating a beer history cannot be denied. One of the practiced habits derived from the production of porters that is still practiced in stouts is the so-called "vatting". It consists in mixing beer aged in oak barrels for many months with young beer. There are sources that mention the use of this practice by some breweries that are associated with high-quality stouts.
Differences between stout and porter today
As described earlier, the porter is often referred to as the weaker stout. Theoretically, there are some flavor differences that can indicate whether a particular beer is a porter or a stout, but it is also often said that they are artificially created to sustain a tradition.
The multitude of subspecies that derive from the stout is enormous. This style goes very well with many different additions, so breweries are not afraid to experiment with new variations, for which they often open up additional production lines.