The stout style is a direct descendant of porter. Brewers began brewing a stronger, roastier version of the porter that was called “stout porter”. Stouts are typically dark brown to pitch black in color. Almost all stouts have roasted malts which give stouts a flavor that is both roasted and dry. Common flavors include coffee and chocolate.
English Stouts are typically sweeter than the Irish and American versions. They body is a little more smooth and rounded than the other stouts. Their alcohol content is low and just a little bit higher than the Irish Stouts.
American Stouts are usually black in color with ABVs ranging from 5-11%. These beers have a big hop and roast character to them. Their most common aromas are coffee and cocoa while the bodies have flavors of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. There is also a big malt profile with a fairly high level of bitterness.
Irish Stouts are black in color and have lighter bodies and lower carbonation levels than their English and American counterparts. These beers are very dry and made with roasted malts and grains that give off flavors of espresso and chocolate and have a big hop bite. The body is slightly acidic and they usually served on a nitro system that gives the body a light, creamy effect. The alcohol content is usually less than 5%. The three big producers of the Irish style are Murphy's, Beamish, and Guinness.
There are two sub styles of stout. The first is the Oatmeal Stout. The second is the Imperial Stout. Oatmeal stouts have a small amount of oats added to the sweet stout style and gives the beer a smoother body. The Imperial Stout style is black in color with dark chocolate, coffee, licorice, brunt fruit and hopped flavoring. My favorite two Albany area stouts are C.H. Evans' Oatmeal Stout and Brown’s Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout.