Stout, known as the porter’s big brother, was brought on to the beer scene in the late 1700’s by none other than Arthur Guinness himself. Porters appeared around the 1720’s, and after several decades, stronger beer was in pursuit. The word “stout” simply meant “strong,” so when Arthur came out with a stronger beer, it was simply known as a “stout porter.” Eventually, around 1820 or so, it was shortened to just “stout.” Before the invention of the black patent malt in 1817, stouts were never dark in color. Most porters and stouts were more of a brown or amber color since they only had brown malt additions.
There were 3 types of stouts that were popular back in the 1800’s: Dry, Foreign, and Imperial. In the beginning of the 20th century, Oatmeal and Sweet, or milk, stouts began hitting the market with the addition of lactose sugars and malted oats. Stouts began to die off shortly after World War 1 with only a few places left around the UK that continued to brew them. Somewhere between the 1950’s and 1970’s, porters were considered an old man’s drink and pretty much died out completely, whereas stouts still remained in the market, albeit mainly in the UK. Most “true” stouts today measure somewhere in between 5-7% ABV, but many breweries go above and beyond that mark. That’s why we see so many Russian Imperials, BA Stouts, etc. spiking in the 13-17% ABV ranges.
If you’re looking for a good, true stout to enjoy, look to none other than the creators. Of all the stouts we’ve had, there is always one that we continue to come back to and that is Guinness, especially on draft or out of the can. So the next time you grab yourself a pint, have it in honor of Arthur.