Which Came First: The Stout or the Porter?

Posted by linelogic

For those of you who enjoy the darker side of beer, you’ve probably come across the age-old, philosophical question: which came first, the stout or the porter?
Thanks to the beerconnoissuer.com (and a little research), we have our answer. According to A General Dictionary of Commerce, Trade and Manufactures, published in 1810: “Porter may be divided into two classes, namely brown-stout and porter properly so called … Brown-stout is only a fuller-bodied kind of porter than that which serves for ordinary drinking. A great deal of this is exported to America and the West Indies.” The stout style then grew in popularity as it “attempt[ed] to capitalize on the success of London porters.” In other words, the stout derived from the porter-style as a fuller-bodied drink with a heavier alcoholic content, otherwise known as a stout-porter or strong porter.
So, what’s the difference between the two beers? Today, brewers and breweries have slowly redefined the descriptive terms “stout” and “porter” to characterize their own brew’s body and malts, as they are no longer defined by the strength of their alcohol content. A majority of newer stouts contain darker roasted malts or barley, whereas porters do not. The BJCP states stouts “originally reflected a fuller, creamier, more “stout” body and strength,” making these brews typically less dry than porters.

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