IMG 5269 Edited Oktoberfest: Dark Beers & Chocolate Porter Bread

As fall moves towards winter and the days get darker, so might your beer of choice. Enter stouts and porters. What is the difference between stouts and porters? Well, there really isn’t one. But there used to be a difference. Or something sort of like that. Let’s take a look back to be sure.

Porters originated in the United Kingdom during the 1700s. They were made with a blending technique known as Three Threads. An old, stale ale forced to mingle with a brown ale and a pale ale resulted in a porter. A strong version of the porter was deemed the stout. Most stouts were destined for export to America or other far-flung destinations.

According to lore, the porter received its name because it was a popular drink among the porters working in Central London during the Industrial Revolution. That is well and grand, but what was it called before it became popular with them? Did it have a name at all, or did a porter just belly up to the bar and ask for a dark beer? I would really like to know.

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Today stouts and porters are no longer the product of three different ales, but rather they are brewed using different varieties of malt to lend them flavor and sweetness. Flavor profiles can range from burnt coffee to chocolate, the latter of which makes for excellent use in baking. A milk stout is a variety that is a bit sweeter due to sugars like lactose that are added during the brewing process. Though dark beers may appear brown or black, some like the popular Guinness claim to be dark ruby red.

That pretty much sums up all of my dark beer knowledge. Recognizing it wasn’t much and looking to avoid a remedial course, I asked my accomplice if she remembered anything significant. What came to her mind was dark beers where once popular drinks among athletes and nursing mothers. Why? Because they were calorie dense. But how many calories did they really pack in?

I once heard someone say drinking a Guinness was like drinking a Snickers bar. But at approximately 125 calories, you could really drink two Guinnesses before it amounted to a candy bar. There is a highly informative and entertaining  Beeramid over at HellaWella that lists out the calories found in many popular beers.

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Picture this scenario. It’s Saturday night, and you are enjoying a lovely six-pack of dark beer with a few equally lovely friends. Come Sunday morning, there is one lone beer standing. Leaving it alone to suffer in the cold depths of the refrigerator seems almost cruel.

Put it out of its misery and use it to bake a lovely chocolate porter bread. Within 90 minutes, 80 of which are spent baking and cooling, you will have a lovely bread to enjoy for brunch. And if you drank five beers the night before, you’re going to need bread anyway. It’s a win-win.

An alternate scenario calls for baking the bread before your evening get together. It makes for the perfect snack. Leftovers keep well in the freezer.

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Looking for something else to do with porters or stouts? Ice cream floats are never a bad idea, and I have few other recipes linked on my Kiss Me, I’m Irish Pinterest board. Want more information? Click on over to CHOW and read, “What’s the Difference Between Stout and Porter?”

And while you are there, please watch an Obsessives video or two. I love them, and I hope you will too. My favorites are the soda pop man and the pickles lady. Interestingly, they do not yet have a beer video up there. So CHOW, call me maybe, I’ve got some people in mind.


4.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Porter Bread
  • 2¾ cups flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (12 ounce bottle) porter or stout
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Create a well within their center and pour in the wet ingredients.
  3. Stir until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.*
* I find this to be the most important step in quick-bread recipes. Try to remove the loaf before it is cool enough, and it falls apart. Leave it in the pan until it is completely cool, and then it does not want to come out at all. I used Founder's Porter in this recipe.

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