Those who frequent Irish pubs might argue there is no wrong time to drink a Guinness. Still, few beer styles are as perfectly suited to the depths of winter as stouts, the style Guinness made famous, and their cousins, porters.
These two dark, malty styles are often grouped together and, in some circumstances, brewers use their names interchangeably. The nuanced differences between stouts and porters traditionally come down to alcohol content. Historically, stouts were stronger, more alcoholic iterations of porters.
To toast the season, and honor the complicated conventions of beer names, we compiled our favorite stouts and porters.
Dogfish Head Oak-Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout
Some vanilla-accented beers can be cloying, but Dogfish Head’s stellar World Wide Stout has layered flavors and a lovely finish. One of our top beers of 2017, this is a somewhat rare bottle that is worth seeking out for its dark, rich taste.
Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter
Creamy and not too sweet, this is an OG craft beer from a classic Oregon brewery, and excellent introduction to American porters. Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter is rich without being overpowering, and its flavors are less on-the-nose chocolatey than other porters.
Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout
This draught-only affair is rich and creamy without the stale, flat feeling that can accompany nitro pours. Clean and easy-drinking, it has notes of barley, Nugget hops, and, of course, oatmeal.
Reformation Brewery Declaration
From Georgia’s Reformation comes one of our favorite imperial stouts. Inky like black coffee, with the nose and finish to match, Declaration has faint chocolate notes and is dangerously smooth for such an alcoholic beer (9.7% ABV).
Alaskan Smoked Porter
In 1989, this alder wood-smoked beer debuted as America’s first smoked porter, in the style of German rauchbier. Warm, chocolatey notes complement its woodsy char. Released every November in limited quantities, this is a rare but delicious catch.
Hill Farmstead Everett
This American porter from cult Vermont brewer Hill Farmstead features chocolate, coffee, and roasted barley notes, and is made with English and German roasted malts and Columbus hops. With its smooth texture and touch of sweetness, this is a perfect fireside sipping beer.