Strikingly bold and undeniably beautiful, the American Stout beer style blends generous amounts of dark malts with American hops to offer an adventurous experience that is unmatched by other styles of beer. Are you afraid of the dark? When it comes to American Stout, don’t be. Allow your senses to run wild with this deceivingly sophisticated take on a European staple. Like many other beer styles that have become prized by American brewers and beer lovers alike, American Stout is a distinct variant of a European Stout beer counterpart. True to style, American stouts showcase generous quantities of the American hops fans have come to expect, and much like other Stout beer types, American stout can be enjoyed year-round but is commonly considered a beer for the fall or winter months.
Inspired by the storied English Porter, the American Porter tends to make its own rules. With plenty of innovation and originality brewers in the US have taken this style to a new level, whether it's highly hopping the brew or adding coffee or chocolate to complement the highly roasted and burnt flavor associated with this type of beer. Some are even barrel aged in bourbon or whiskey barrels. The color could be medium brown to inky black and the range of hop bitterness is also quite wide, but most are balanced. And quite a few easy drinking session Porters can be found as well.
Porters of the late 1700's were quite strong compared to today's standards, easily surpassing 7 percent alcohol by volume. Some English brewers made a stronger, more robust version, to be shipped across the North Sea that they dubbed a Baltic Porter. In general, the style's dark brown color covered up cloudiness and the smoky, roasted brown malts and bitter tastes masked brewing imperfections. Historically, the addition of stale ale also lent a pleasant acidic flavor to the style, which made it quite popular. These issues were quite important given that most breweries at the time were getting away from pub brewing and opening up production facilities that could ship beer across the world.
The addition of oatmeal adds a smooth, rich body to the Oatmeal Stout. This beer style is dark brown to black in color. Roasted malt character is caramel-like and chocolate-like, and should be smooth and not bitter. Coffee-like roasted barley and malt aromas are prominent. This low- to medium-alcohol style is packed with darker malt flavors and a rich and oily body from oatmeal.
Sweet / Milk Stout
Sweet Stout, also referred to as Cream Stout or Milk Stout, is black in color. Malt sweetness, chocolate, and caramel should dominate the flavor profile and contribute to the aroma. It also should have a low to medium-low roasted malt/barley-derived bitterness. Milk sugar (lactose) lends the style more body. This beer does use lactose sugar, so people with an intolerance should probably avoid this style.
Stouts are typically dark brown to pitch black in color. A common profile among Stouts, but not in all cases, is the use of roasted barley (unmalted barley that is kilned to the point of being charred) which lends a dry character to the beer as well as a huge roasted flavor that can range from burnt to coffee to chocolate. Traditional English Stout recipes rely on bitterness from the roasted grain to provide a dry finish and consequently tend to show very little hop character.
Porter is said to have been popular with transportation workers of Central London, hence the name. Most traditional British brewing documentation from the 1700's states that Porter was a blend of three different styles: an old ale (stale or soured), a new ale (brown or pale ale) and a weak one (mild ale), with various combinations of blending and staleness. The end result was also commonly known as "Entire Butt" or "Three Threads" and had a pleasing taste of neither new nor old. It was the first truly engineered beer, catering to the public's taste, playing a critical role in quenching the thirst of the UK's Industrial Revolution and contributing to the rise of today's mega-breweries. Porter saw a comeback in the US during the homebrewing and micro-brewery revolution of the late 1970's and early 80's and modern-day Porters are typically brewed using a pale malt base with the addition of black malt, crystal, chocolate, or smoked brown malt. While uncommon, roasted malt is occasionally added too. Some brewers will also age their beers after inoculation with live bacteria to create an authentic taste of the past. Hop bitterness is moderate on the whole and the color ranges from brown to black. Overall, English Porters remain very complex and interesting beers.
Dry Stout is black beer with a dry-roasted character thanks to the use of roasted barley. The emphasis on coffee-like roasted barley and a moderate degree of roasted malt aromas define much of the character. Hop bitterness is medium to medium high. This beer is often dispensed via nitrogen gas taps that lend a smooth, creamy body to the palate.
Foreign / Export Stout
A special style of Stout that is brewed bigger than normal for a long journey, the more traditional Foreign / Export Stouts will be found in the tropical regions of the world. Higher in alcohol with a very pronounced roasted character. Expect moderate to high roasted grain and malt flavor with a coffee, chocolate, or lightly burnt grain character, although without a sharp bite. Moderately dry with low to medium esters and medium to high bitterness. Moderate to no hop flavor, can be earthy, herbal, or floral.
Other porter styles
The Robust Porter features more bitter and roasted malt flavor than a brown porter, but not quite as much as a stout. Robust porters have a roast malt flavor, often reminiscent of cocoa, but no roast barley flavor. Their caramel and malty sweetness is in harmony with the sharp bitterness of black malt. Hop bitterness is evident. With US craft brewers doing so much experimentation in beer styles and ingredients, the lines between certain stouts and porters are often blurred. Yet many deliberate examples of these styles do exist. Diacetyl is acceptable at very low levels.
Typically the base for the Smoke Porter beer style is a Robust Porter that is given smoky depth thanks to wood-smoked malt. Traditionally, brewers will cite the specific wood used to smoke the malt, and different woods will lend different flavors to the finished product. Smoke flavors dissipate over time.