With St.Patrick’s day festivities just around the corner, I cannot think of a more appropriate time to write a stout style guide. No other beer style is personified by a single beer, or rather a single brewery as much as stout.
Stout popularity was achieved nearly single handedly by one man, Arthur Guinness. The name Guinness, as relevant to the beer world, first emerged in 1759 when Arthur Guinness leased a defunct brewery in Dublin. Although Guinness attempted several ales in their early days, they soon decided to focus on one single type of ale most popular at the time and thus, began brewing porter. After decades of successful brewing, Guinness ales gained popularity in England and West Indies and expanded their product line to feature distinct types of porters that would be referred to as “stouts.” Even though the term “stout” was first recorded in the 1630s in reference to strong dark ales, the name was not truly popularized until the invention of Daniel Wheeler’s over malt and barley roasting process, thus allowing more precision when creating the beer’s roasted flavour.
Stouts are a close relative of porters. In fact the relationship is so close that at times it is difficult to tell where porter territory ends and stout begins. One of the more distinct differences between the two styles is that stouts, especially classic stouts commonly referred to as Irish Dry Stouts, are very dry and exhibit a distinct espresso-like bite achieved by roasting barley rather than using roasted malt. Stouts are always very dark, often pitch black with a roasted aroma of coffee beans, roasted barley and chocolate. On the other hand, classic stouts are, surprisingly enough, very light and frequently are the lightest beer you can order on tap.