Stout beer is usually related to creamy strong, dark beer. And a lot of times people will think of Guinness when stout becomes the conversation. And whilst many types of stout beer are creamy, dark and strong, a lot of varieties of stout are quite different to one another. For example; did you know Guinness isn’t very high in alcohol content? That’s right, and it’s actually the same as Bud Light beer at 4.20%. Amazing!
The number one thing that makes a stout beer from other stout beers is the roasted flavour that comes from roasted barley traditionally made by highly kilning barley grain that has not been malted.
Let’s take a look at the history of the stout style to better understand and contribute to a stout conversation the next time it comes up.
Stout Beer – A little history
The word “stout” has been around for a long time and was used to refer to strong beers as far back as the late 1600s and early 1700s. And they were stronger varieties of porters which became known as “stout porters.” Porters first got it’s origins in London and became popular amongst you guessed it, porters! And because the flavour was so strong it tended to last longer and didn’t go bad as quickly as other beers. Plus it had a great tasted in warmer weather and was cheaper than other beers, The word “stout” was used to describe strong versions of all different types of beers back in the day and wasn’t actually a beer style of it’s own. For example, some people would refer to a Stout pale ale, but it eventually developed in to it’s own style people are more familiar with today.
When porters made went to Ireland the St. James’s Gate Brewery (Guinness) first started brewing it’s “porter” in the late 1700s. And it was was not at all like the Guiness is know for in regards to being smooth, creamy and thick. Instead, it was a complex, big bodied and really strong beer with an alcohol content level at 7.5%. The brewery decided to use the name “stout porter” as a way to describe their stronger porter which after time became known as stout.
English brewers in the 1700s from the Baltic started brewing a stout called they name the Russian imperial Stout. It became a popular beer and very strong in alcohol content between 8 and 11%. The Russian Imperial Stout was also aged for years and became very popular in the Russian Imperial Court.
Porters were very popular so breweries made them at different strengths which continued to promote the word stout. However there is still some confusion over different stouts and porters and often it simply depends on the beer’s strength.
Below is a list of some common stout styles.
Dry Irish Stout
This particular style of stout is often the one that people think of when referring to stout. Dry Irish Stout beers include tha famous Guinness beer, Murphy’s and Beamish beers in the UK. But a lot of people make the mistake of thinking these beers have a high alcohol content because of their dark colour when usually they are 3.5-5.5% ABV which makes them easy to drink. In most cases, a Dry Irish Stout is a medium bodied beer with a deep black colour associated with stout.
Russian Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout was brewed in the 1700s for the court of Catherine II of Russia.And it sounds amazing doesn’t it? And to ensure this type of beer lasted it was loaded up with hops. It is a really strong beer typically ranging from 8 to 11% ABV and has a bitter taste with fruity notes.
As the name suggest Oatmeal stouts are brewed with oatmeal, surprise, surprise. And the oatmeal gives them a fuller body, smoothness and an extra note of sweetness than other stouts. Alcohol levels usually range between 4 and 7%.
Sweet (or Milk) Stout
It doesn’t sound very enticing, because the name suggest its flavour, which is true, because the sweet stout usually contains more residual dextrin and unfermented sugars than other stouts contain. And as a direct result this style of stout provides drinkers with a sweet profile along with the roasted flavour associated with stout. Milk stouts are another variation of sweet stout and usually have lactose and milk sugars in the brew.
Depending on your taste there’s usually a style of stout for you. And so we recommend going beyond the famous Guinness and trying some of the other varieties of stouts brewed across the world. And yes, Australian craft breweries are doing a stellar job brewing stout including this months Beer of the month club selection.
Watts River Brewing – Dry Roast Stout (Pictured above).
Looking for a gift?
Give someone a membership to the
Beer Of The Month Club
where members receive a different pack
of craft beer every month for 3, 6 or 12 months!