Beer styles can be confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between them. Depending on the brewery, brewers will have different answers for your questions about styles. The lines get quite blurry. Fear not! This is a quick guide to telling the difference between the many beer styles available at Colonial.
Stout vs. Porter
I get asked "What is the difference between a stout and a porter?" more times than I can count; it’s probably the hardest question to answer. Brewers today are making porters with higher alcohol content than some stouts and stouts with a lower alcohol content than a porter. Generally, the most notable difference is the malt used. Porters use malted barley, whereas stouts use unmalted roasted barley that tends to give the coffee flavor most people associate with the style.
Saison vs. Farmhouse Ale
This was one of my first questions when I started to get into craft beer and fell in love with the style. Farmhouse ale is an all-encompassing term that includes saison, biere de garde, gueuze, and sahti. Over time and through multiple wars that caused land to change hands between different leaders, Belgians stuck with the term saison which is French for "season”. The style was traditionally consumed in summer due to its crisp and tart qualities. The French stuck with biere de garde--"beer to keep"—which tends to be earthier and funkier than its Belgian cousin.
New England IPA vs. West Coast IPA
India pale ales have exploded in popularity over the past few years. New England style IPAs have become a popular new style recently. New England IPAs tend to be unfiltered, have more of a citrus juice profile, and be less bitter. West coast IPAs tend to be more hoppy and more bitter.
Hopefully this quick guide helps to bring some clarity to the question "what's the difference?" In an ever-changing craft beer world, the lines will continue to be blurred as brewers continue to get more creative and bold. As always, you can follow us on UNTAPPD at Colonial Wine & Spirits to see what we have to offer and my personal UNTAPPD (jliddy09) to see what beers I've been trying lately.