Decadent stouts are the perfect drink for cold winter nights curling up by the fire, and the dark chocolate appearance makes this robust drink all that more alluring. But what exactly are stouts? And where do they come from? And how do they differ from porters?

Well, we can thank the British for both. Porters came first, introduced in London in the early 1700s. The drink was popular among the working class labourers, or ‘porters’ as they were also known, who would go to the bars and ask for this dark-colored ale, consisted of blending a mix of well-hopped beer and brown malt. Stouts are a particularly strong, or stout, variety of Porter. Previously referred to as Stout Porters, the name has since been shortened to just Stout.

Porter was originally made with brown malt that was roasted over a fire, giving the drink a rich, smokey taste and brown colour with a ruby tint.

Today, both porters and stouts are dark, full-bodied, and roasted, but stouts typically remain the darker, more alcoholic version of the modern porter.

There are a number of different types of stouts and porters; here is a selection of some of the more popular varieties:

Brown Porters

The mildest of all porters is the humble brown porter. Made by roasting malt, the stout has a mild chocolate flavour with hints of caramel, nuts or toffee. These porters may even sometimes have notes of liquorice or coffee. Although a little bitterness is expected from this drink, it should never taste burnt.

Robust Porters

Unlike brown porters, the robust version can have a slightly burnt flavour due to the longer roasting process. The malt flavour is also stronger with the same hints of chocolate, caramel or nuts. The bitterness is also stronger in robust porters.

Irish Dry Stout

For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word stout is the black beverage we know as Guinness. Dry stouts are brewed from roasted barley instead of malt and have a sharp, creamy texture.

Oatmeal Stout

As the name suggests, oatmeal stouts use raw or malted oats in addition to malt and barley. They have a biscuit-like, nutty flavour depending on the amount of oats added to the mixture. Oatmeal stouts are full-bodied and creamy in texture often with flavours of milk chocolate or coffee.

Sweet Stouts 

Sweet stouts are named after the lactose (milk sugar) used to sweeten the mixture. As yeast is not able to ferment this type of sugar, the result is a much sweeter tasting stout. Like the other stouts, the malt is dark with hints of chocolate and coffee characteristics.

Imperial Stout

The imperial stout is named after the Russian imperial family who supposedly loved this English export. The strongest of all stouts, the Imperial is packed with intense flavours and aromas of coffee, plums, prunes dark chocolate, burnt grains and raisins. Imperial stouts are far more full-bodied compared to their stout siblings giving them a rich, velvety texture that could even make them a meal on their own – but not on an empty stomach! 

Australian Stouts and Porters

Mornington Peninsula Imperial Stout, Feral Brewery Smoked Porter, Nail Brewing Oatmeal Stout, Holgate Brewhouse Temptress Porter, Monteith Velvet Stout.