While there are many varieties of so-called ‘dark beer’ such as schwarzbier, Scotch ale, dark American lager etc., the broad categories of stout and porter are probably the most well known. Historically speaking, the first of the two styles was porter, born about 300 years ago from the English brown ales of the time. Stouts came after, as stronger, fuller-bodied versions of porters, aka “stout porters.” When a pub offered both a stout and a porter, stout was always the stronger beer.
Porters and stouts share dark malts, which give them their classic black, or near-black, color. Before the advent of modern-day kilning, most beers were on the darker side because grains were frequently roasted over open flames. Darker malts can evoke coffee and chocolate flavors, and both porters and stouts are often dosed with actual cocoa and java for an extra flavor kick.