faced, more than once, with the prospect of the embarrassing admission that despite liking dark, malty beers, “I do Not Really Know the Difference Between A Stout and A Porter,” i have just as often been relieved to be met with the responses “Oh, I Don’t Know Either!” or, “Ah, There Really Isn’t Much Difference.”
well, sorry as i am to put the long happy hours of ensuing commiseration to an end (the holidays are OVER, after all), but now is the time.
† Porter – a dark, full-bodied ale with a strong roasty taste, but fairly smooth and mellow over all. runs more to chocolatey sweetness. usually some reddish-brown highlights in the murk. despite its judged-by-its-cover reputation, not actually very heavy or very strong (alcoholically), usually, and more refreshing that one might expect.
(finer details: originally a blend, a common practice of British alehouses in the 1700s – a signature mix to bring in business. story goes Ralph Harwood had a 3-beer blend called the Entire, which was singularly popular amongst the British porters. apparently sufficiently popular that when the style and taste caught on and people started brewing in that directions from the outset, the name stuck. more sensationally, in 1814 one brewery’s 860, 000 gallon vat of porter ruptured, flooding the streets of its surrounding London neighbourhood, demolishing other buildings, killing 8, who died of injury, drowning, or somewhat morbidly, drunkenness.)
† Stout – a type of porter, or directly descended, that is more likely to boast a more pronounced roastiness (see how i avoided that rhyme? i did that for you, the reader), and a dry bitter taste, with espresso and very dark chocolate tones. black and brisk. feel it. also pretty low in the alcohol territory. 4-5%.
(finer details: i don’t like to believe it, because i find the guinness you get here pretty unremarkable, but this is all theirs. invented it and all. kudos.)
† Imperial or Russian Stout, however, tends to be darker still and meaner, and you’re more likely to taste an edge of burnt fruit, tar, licorice and hops on top of that chocolate and espresso. also the shit is usually 9.5-10%, so don’t get it twisted.
(finer details: so-named in honour of Catherine the Great, who upon tasting stout on a trip to England, demanded a ship or so of it be sent her way. things being as they were then, however, when the beer arrived in wherever it had soured already. in a probably well-advised attempt to accommodate the good queen, Barclay’s of London stepped in by winging a burlier, bitterer stout with enough of an alcohol content to survive the sea change. the long ageing before export allowed the yeasts to eat up all the sugars, leaving little for the souring bacteria to get their figurative teeth into. watataow.
so there you have it. oatmeal stout is made with oatmeal. duh.
oh! and new category! SPIRIT POSSESSION. wait for me to cross-reference accordingly, hey?
lord, give me the strength to be good.
(fyi: most of the above by way of The Brewmaster’s Table, by Garrett Oliver)
*anecdote time. had an awesome/terrifying grade 11 physics teacher whom we all loved because he had a weather control machine and slept upside for 3 hours every night and really Expected Better Of Us and anyway used to say things like “There were these students doing blah blah blah blah blah, and of course, they were possessed by spirits (silence) . . . drunken spirits!”
dude could also levitate.