Stouts, Porters, and Brown Ales: The Dark (and Delicious) Sides of Fall

group of dark beers, porter and stout

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are missing from the trees, and the cozy, sun-lit days of fall are ushering in the colder temps. Even if you’re a boardshorts-wearing tan line sporting summer fan, you can stop mourning the end of the sunny season and welcome back the delicious dark beers of the fall.

Opposed to the crisp, fruity beers of summer, darker brews are a little heavier, which is why they pair well with colder temps and cozy flannel clothing.

What Makes a Porter or a Stout?

As with whiskey and many wines, the main difference between stouts and porters is geography. Porters originate from London. It’s said that early English brewers experimented with mixing light, hoppy beers with aged ales. From there, the recipes were tweaked to make stronger, stouter versions of the dark brew, and the stout was born. This second version of stout was originally called “stout porter”.

When it comes to the flavor profile, Porters are typically thought to be a bit lighter than stouts. Stouts are thought to be heavier in body and focus more on the chocolate and coffee roast flavors. The confusion comes from the fact that all brewers don’t’ follow these rules.

While brewers disagree about the characteristics that distinguish a stout from a porter, they can generally agree on the ingredients that set them apart. Stouts are made from unmalted roasted barley (which gives them a stronger coffee flavor) while Porters are made with malted barley.

The best way to distinguish your favorite stouts and porters is to taste them! If you prefer a lighter, hoppier dark beer, try a porter. If you’d rather sip on a fuller, roasted flavor, go with a stout.

Okay, but What’s a Brown Ale?

Besides the color, there are a ton of differences between dark stouts or porters and brown ales. Just like their darker cousins, brown ales feature notes of chocolate and caramel that work perfectly with fall, though they typically have a much lower ABV (alcohol by volume). Most ales originate or take their brewing cues form England. Those from northern England typically carry a nuttier flavor and can be drier and more bitter than their southern English counterparts.

And Then There’s Pumpkin Beers. Because of Course There Are

The cliché runs through all types of fall products, and beer is no exception. Over the last few years, brewers have used the clove, allspice, and, of course, pumpkin flavors of fall to create new seasonal flavors. Even if you’re not a traditional PSL (pumpkin spiced latte) lover, you might be pleasantly surprised by these craft brews. 

Want to learn more about fall brews and darker roasts? Visit our website. We love helping brewers experiment and make delicious new flavors!