This article was originally published in February 2015
What’s in a name? For stouts and porters, it’s a matter of opinion. They’re dark, malty beers with rich flavor and shared roots: two centuries ago, porter was a type of brown ale, and stout was the strongest type of porter. Today, breweries use the names almost interchangeably, with a few styles that stand out.
With a medium body and chocolate, coffee or toasted grain flavors, this broad style isn’t as dark-roasted as stout, but is still rich. There’s a style difference you’ll find on many labels: American or English. American styles have hoppy overtones that balance the malt with a brightly bitter edge. English styles are more subtly hopped, and tend toward an almost toffee-like flavor.
1. Reuben’s Brews Robust Porter
A balanced American porter brewed in Seattle, Wash., this beer combines deep coffee flavors, grassy hops and a medium body for a porter with minimal sweetness.
2. Left Hand Black Jack Porter
An award-winning beer, this classically rich English-style porter features subtle floral hops with deep espresso and dark chocolate malt flavors.
3. Anchor Porter
A modern American porter that’s been brewed since 1972, its blend of roasted malts and plenty of hops makes for a dark beer that is smooth, rich and lighter than you’d expect.
About the Stouts
Sometimes labeled milk or cream stout because of the addition of lactose, which give them lingering residual sugar and a creamy sweetness that offsets the dark coffee and bittersweet chocolate flavors.
4. Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout
Velvety smooth and slightly sweet, this is the beer version of a latte, with subtle coffee and chocolate flavor and a distinctly creamy body, thanks to the added nitrogen.
Medium-bodied, with dark, slightly bitter flavor, these frequently have licorice or molasses aromas. This style is the midpoint between sweet stouts and intensely rich Russian imperials.
5. Pike Brewing XXXXX Stout
Crafted in Seattle, Wash., this local classic is beloved for its balanced flavor. Medium-bodied with a hint of espresso and a bitter hop edge, the faint licorice scent gives it a touch of sweetness.
Bold and complex, these aren’t for the faint of heart. There’s abundant dark malt, unsweetened chocolate, strong coffee, deeply roasted grains and dark, dried fruit that work together for a strong experience.
6. North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
Brewed in California with seriously complex flavor, this beer has thick, bittersweet chocolate aromas that stand alongside smoky, almost charred undertones and full-bodied richness.