When Should You Cook With Porters Vs. Stouts?

Although it's perfect for sipping, beer can also be used in cooking. There are recipes that include beer, from cheddar beer bread to beer-infused batter for fried foods, to adding a depth of flavor to gooey cheese dip. When it comes to dark beers, stouts and porters can be used in a variety of ways, from adding body to beef stew, to stepping up the intensity of chocolate in desserts. When you're in the kitchen, it helps to know how ingredients can best maximize flavors, and cooking with beer is no exception. To understand which dish will benefit from a porter or when you should use a stout, one must know the main differences between the two.

According to Home Brew Academy, both are dark beers brewed with barley, but porters are often made with chocolate malt and stouts can have a bittersweet, coffee-like flavor profile. Despite this, people often view the two beers as being interchangeable. VinePair details how brewing practices over the past decade have blurred the lines between the flavor of the beers. So does that mean you can easily swap a porter for a stout when cooking? The answer really depends on what flavors you want to bring out.

Cooking with porters

Beer and Brewing expounds on the flavor differences between the two beers and details that porters tend to be lighter in body than stouts and are made with kilned malted barley, which also adds to the brew's chocolate notes. While both beers can have their place in desserts, since porters tend to have a chocolatey flavor profile, they can increase the decadence in certain sweet dishes. Food Network advises using lighter-bodied porters in recipes that can enhance the beer's malty, cocoa notes, such as in brownies or chocolate cake.

While the flavor is perfect in desserts, the deep cocoa of a porter also pairs well with meat. This is clear enough from this rump steak marinated in beer, or recipes that pair beef with porter reduction (via CraftBeer.com). Porters also work well in sauces, and if you've ever enjoyed the flavor combination of chocolate and strawberry, you may want to try a strawberry porter barbeque sauce, which The Devil Wears Parsley notes, is great slathered on grilled chicken.

Incorporating stouts

Some of the best ways to cook with stouts are similar to cooking with porters, but the stout's bolder punch and full-body can impart a toasty, malted flavor to everything from the main course to dessert. According to BBC Good Food, a glaze of stout and honey is downright decadent over pork loin, or worked into beef stock for a rich onion soup or beef stew.

Although it doesn't always have the chocolate notes of a porter the bold flavor of a stout can also be incorporated into sweets. The New York Times suggests that an ice-cold stout topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream will cool you off on a hot day. If you're looking for a unique, chocolatey twist on the classic bar staple, beer and pretzels, these stout cupcakes with chocolate-covered pretzels from My Baking Addiction will scratch that itch. So the next time you're thinking about cooking with a porter or stout, try incorporating it into dinner or dessert and add a flavorful punch to your favorite recipes.