Ale vs Stout: Difference and Comparison

For those of you who are unaware of these two terms, ale and stout are two common varieties of beer. Beers are alcoholic beverages made by fermenting cereals.


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Both the varieties of beer ‘ales’ and ‘stouts’ come in so many variations. Though alcoholic beverages should not be consumed regularly, beers, when taken in moderation, can be good for your health compared to others.

There are two broad beer categories: ‘ales’ and ‘lagers’. Ales are fermented with top-fermenting yeasts at warmer temperatures, while lagers are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeasts at lower temperatures.

Though stouts come under the ales category of beer, there are notable differences between them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ale is a beer fermented at warmer temperatures with a fruity, hoppy flavor.
  2. Stout is a beer brewed with roasted malt, giving it a dark color and a rich, chocolatey flavor.
  3. Ales are generally lighter and more carbonated than stouts, which are heavier and creamier.

Ale vs Stout

The difference between ales and stouts is that ales are lighter and translucent with a sweet, fruity taste, while stouts are thicker, darker, and opaque with rich flavours.

Ales are sweeter and bitter in comparison with stouts.

Ale vs Stout

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison AlesStouts
Word meaningThe word ale means noble though it is stronger than stout. The word ale comes from the old English word all or alu.The word stout means strong. This word was first found in Egerton’s manuscript.
Appearance Ales are lighter and translucent in appearance and generally have a golden colour.Stouts are thicker, darker, and opaque in appearance.
Brewing temperature Ales are brewed at temperatures in the range of 20 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius.Stouts are generally brewed at temperatures ranging from 15 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius.
Produced fromAles are produced from malted barley.Stouts are produced from roasted malt or unmalted barley.
Specific gravityAles have a lesser specific gravity than stouts; thus, they are less dense than stouts.Stouts have relatively higher specific gravity and thus appear thicker.
FlavourAles have a robust fruity taste and are generally sweeter.Stouts are richly flavoured with dark chocolate or coffee, or even fruits.
StrengthThe alcohol concentration in ales is lesser in comparison to stouts.Stouts are stronger with higher alcohol concentration than ales.
VarietiesSome common algae varieties are brown ale, Indian pale ale, scotch ale, Belgian ale, etc.Some common varieties of stout are dry stout, imperial stout, oatmeal stout, milk stout, oyster stout, coffee stout, chocolate stout, etc.

What is Ale?

Ale is the kind of beer that is produced by a method called top fermentation. Top fermentation is when yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures and settle at the top. Ales are mostly produced from malted barley.

Ales are a little bitter and have a little herbal taste. The herbal taste is because of the hops present in it. The yeast in ales is generally fermented at a warmer temperature depending on the type of strain of the yeast.

Earlier fruits were the bittering agents used in ales, but now the bittering agents used are hops.

Ales have a characteristic sweet taste and are generally fruity in flavour. Being lighter and translucent, they look quite tempting in a beer glass. There are a lot of variants of ales like the Indian pale ale, scotch ale, Belgian ale, etc.


What is Stout?

Stouts are darker, opaque, thicker, stronger, and heavier beers. Chocolate, coffee, and caramel stouts are the most popular ones. The word stout meaning strong, dates back to 1677. Earlier, the word stout meant proud or brave.

The most popular brand of stouts is Guinness, which is based in Ireland. Sweeter and less bitter stouts are largely made in Ireland and England.

With its creamy, full-bodied, and bolder texture, it looks delicious. It’s often described as a thick mouthfeel.

The common varieties of stouts are dry stouts, milk stouts, coffee stouts, imperial stouts, chocolate stouts, etc. Stouts were earlier referred to as porter stouts as they began as various porter beers.

The colour of stouts ranges from pale brown to blackish.

Here’s an interesting fact about Guinness, the most popular stout brand. The Guinness Book of Records, created in 1954, is related to this brand.

It was the idea of Sir Hugo Beaver, the then-managing director of the Guinness Breweries.


Main Differences Between Ale and Stout

  1. Ales are lighter and translucent, while stouts are darker and opaque.
  2. Ales are made from malted barley, while stouts are made from roasted malts.
  3. The alcohol content in Stouts is more than that in ales, thus making it stronger than ales, although ales are more bitter than Stouts in taste.
  4. Ales are generally consumed in robust fruity flavours, while stouts are consumed in coffee or chocolate flavours.
  5. Ales are less dense and have a narrower range of brewing temperatures, while stouts are denser than ales and have a broader range of brewing temperatures compared to ales.
  6. The yeasts used in ales have a higher tolerance than those used in stouts.
  7. Most people prefer ales over stouts. Thus, ales are more common. 
Difference Between Ale and Stout
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