What Is Stout?

 As fellow beer enthusiasts, let’s talk about one of the most popular beer styles out there – stout. If you’re like us, you’ve probably enjoyed a pint or two of this rich, dark brew before.

But what makes stout so special? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about stout, from its origins and characteristics to how it’s made and what foods pair well with it.

What Is Stout

So, grab a glass of your favorite stout, and let’s dive into the fascinating world of this beloved beer style together!

Origins Of Stout

Stout has a rich history that dates back to 18th-century England. Originally, stout was a stronger version of Porter, a popular beer style at the time.

The first stouts were brewed with roasted barley, which gave them their distinct dark color and complex flavors and, as the popularity of stout grew, it became its own distinct beer style, separate from porter.

In Ireland, stout became an integral part of the culture, with Guinness becoming the most famous example, while today, stout is brewed all over the world, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

Characteristics Of Stout

Now that we have briefly talked about how stout beer originated and what it looks like, let’s have a closer look at its characteristics:


Stout is known for its distinctively dark color, ranging from deep brown to almost black. The dark color comes from the use of roasted barley in the brewing process.


Moreover, this beer is known for its complex flavors that often include notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Roasted malt provides a slight bitterness that balances the sweetness of the beer.

Some stouts also have hints of dried fruit or even smoke.


Last but not least, stout has a thick, creamy texture that comes from the use of nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide during the carbonation process. This gives the beer a smooth, velvety mouthfeel that’s often described as “chewy.”

How Is Stout Made?

Of course, to understand what stout is, we need to talk about how it is made, what it is made of, and how it differs from other beers!

Stout Ingredients

Stout is made with a combination of water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. Roasted barley is a key ingredient that gives stout its distinct color and flavor profile.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for stout is similar to that of other beers.

Malted barley is mashed with hot water to extract the sugars, which are then boiled with hops to create the wort.

Yeast is added to the cooled wort, which ferments the sugars and creates alcohol. During the brewing process, roasted barley is added to give the beer its dark color and complex flavors.

What Is Stout (1)

Differences In Brewing Stout VS Other Beers

So, how does stout beer differ from other types of beer? Here are some of the major differences:


Stout is typically carbonated with nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide. Nitrogen gives the beer a smoother, creamier texture than carbon dioxide, which can make beer taste sharper and more carbonated.

Roasted Malt

Stout’s dark color and complex flavors come from the use of roasted barley in the brewing process which gives it a distinct flavor profile that’s different from other types of beer.

Other beer styles, like lagers or pale ales, typically use lighter, less-roasted malts that don’t contribute as much flavor.


Moreover, certain stouts, like a milk stout, contain lactose, a sugar that’s not fermented by yeast, which gives milk stout a slightly sweet flavor and a fuller body.

This is a unique characteristic that sets milk stout apart from other types of stouts and beers.

Alcohol Content

Finally, stouts can vary in alcohol content, but they tend to be stronger than other types of beer. This is because stouts are typically brewed with more malt, which contains more fermentable sugars.

The higher alcohol content can give stouts a warming, boozy feeling that’s different from other types of beer.

Pairing Stout With Food

  • The rich, complex flavors of stout make it a versatile beer for pairing with food. Foods that complement the flavors of stout include:
  • Chocolate desserts: The roasted flavors in stout pair perfectly with chocolate, making it an ideal choice for pairing with chocolate cake, brownies, or truffles.
  • Grilled or roasted meats: Stout’s bitterness and roasted flavors pair well with grilled or roasted meats, such as steak, lamb, or pork.
  • Rich, creamy dishes: The velvety texture of stout makes it an excellent pairing for creamy dishes, such as mac and cheese or potato soup.

However, stout’s bitterness and roasted flavors also make it a great beer for contrasting flavors in food. Foods that contrast with the flavors of stout include:

  • Spicy dishes: The bitterness of stout can help to cool down spicy dishes, making it an excellent choice for pairing with spicy chicken wings or chili.
  • Salty snacks: The rich, complex flavors of stout pair well with salty snacks, such as pretzels or potato chips.
  • Smoked or cured meats: The smoky flavors of smoked or cured meats contrast with the bitterness of stout, making it a great pairing for charcuterie boards or bacon-wrapped appetizers.

Examples Of Food Pairings

If you are looking for some recipe inspiration, don’t worry about having to search for hours to find the best ones as we have some perfect examples here:

The Bottom Line

Stout is a complex and flavorful beer style that’s beloved by many. From the dry and bitter Irish stout to the sweet and creamy milk stout, there’s a wide variety of stouts to explore and enjoy.

So go ahead, grab a pint of stout, and raise a glass to one of the most beloved beer styles in the world!

Rees Vaughn
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