overhead shot of stout beer

Schwarzbier and Stout are fantastic beers that have bossed the beer-producing market for quite some time. Although Schwarzbier is a popular kind of alcoholic drink in Germany, Stout is preferred all over the world for its long history, rich taste, and varying flavor. In this article, we will highlight the key differences between Schwarzbier and Stout, including the flavor, mouthfeel, brewing process, and appearance of these beers.

What’s The Difference Between Schwarzbier and Stout?

Schwarzbier and Stout are both dark beers, but they have distinct differences in origin, flavor profile, and brewing techniques. Schwarzbier, which translates to “black beer” in German, is a lager characterized by its smooth, mild roastiness with subtle hints of chocolate and coffee, and it originates from Germany.

On the other hand, Stout, with roots in the British Isles, is an ale that presents a richer, more robust roasted malt flavor, often with pronounced notes of coffee, chocolate, and sometimes even caramel or dark fruits. While both are dark in color, their flavors, fermentation processes, and regional influences set them apart.

The Origin Of Schwarzbier and Stout

Schwarzbier and Stout are made by prestigious companies with years of history. Before the arrival of Schwarzbier, the first ever occurrence of black beer in history took place in the Middle Ages in 1390. The beer was then called Braunschweiger Mumme and became the major drink for people in pubs and at celebratory events. 

Other earlier documentation shows that black beer was first seen in the Köstritzer brewery in Thuringia during the Roman Empire. German farmers were actively growing grains like barley, wheat, and rye for beer production, but the grown crops were of little use as beer was considered a low-life drink, and wines were for royalties and people with high status in society. 

Since the states of Saxony and Thuringia were located at the far end of Germany’s Northern and Eastern borders, they were able to process and make as many beers like Schwarzbier as possible, as the Roman officials had little influence and control in their land.

This freedom was short-lived as the government created the 1516 Reinheitsgebot law that stated that beer in the Bavaria region of Germany could only contain four ingredients: water, hops, malt, and yeast. The farmers decided to develop their provincial purity laws called Vorläufiges Biergesetz to counter it, as the states of Saxony and Thuringia were not within the Bavaria region.

The word ‘stout’ was first used in a document found in the Egerton Manuscript in 1677 to describe a strong kind of beer. Although the word stout has been used, the name porter gained more acceptance among people and therefore became the popular name for that drink. The term “stout porter” was later used to describe the stronger varieties of porters. 

Porter, a popular kind of beer, is said to have originated in London, England in the early 1720s. Due to its low cost and distinctive flavor, it became a fan favorite among many beer lovers when it first appeared in London, England. It was also resistant to high temperatures and could be maintained for a very long time.

The Porter Breweries became a leading brewery in London and the world in general within a few years as they exported most of their products to Ireland. Porter began making beers with varying qualities, strength, color, and bitterness, and beers with the highest quality was called ‘The Stout Porters’ or ‘Stout’.

As stout gained popularity all over the world, the market was monopolized by Sir James’s Gate Brewery (owned by Arthur Guinness), making Guinness a popular stout brand and one of the most consumed beers in the world.

Flavor Of Schwarzbier and Stout

The flavor is one of the most important criteria to consider when determining which beer is better. It takes a beer expert to recognize different kinds of beers without labeling them. However, differentiating different beer types becomes easier with taste. 

Beers made with the pilsner malt are different from beers made with the Munich malt, which gives a softer and slightly sweet taste. Although many brewers use dehusked or debittered roasted malts to reduce the amount of bitterness in the beer, traditional Schwarzbier has a taste that balances the roastiness with the maltiness.

The majority of the base grains used in beers are Pilsner and Munich malt. Hence, Schwarzbier’s significant dark color is a result of these roasted malts used during brewing. 

Stout beer stands out for its rich, complex flavor, its roasted dark malt undertones, and its dark or nearly black appearance. It has expanded to cover a wide range of distinct flavors and subcategories, and a popular example is the milk stout or cream stout which contains lactose, a sugar derived from milk. 

The heavenly taste of Stout is the combination of dark malts, additional flavors of caramel, chocolate, coffee, and dried fruits to the base grains. These ingredients give that needed balance between the roast malt sweetness and the hop bitterness. High-grade stouts usually have a silky texture and can either be light and refreshing or fulfilling and mouthful.

Mouthfeel Of Schwarzbier and Stout

The IBU, or International Bittering Unit, is a metric used in measuring the bitterness of beers. Schwarzbier has an IBU rating of 22 – 28. The rating is fairly different for stout, as each stout brand has a distinct IBU value. Sweet Stout has the lowest IBU rating of 20-35, while the Russian Imperial Stout brand has the highest IBU value of 52-86.

Comparing both units shows that the Schwarzbier is a sweeter beer than stout as the taste falls between the smooth, malty grains and the bitterness of the hop. Stout falls more on the hop bitterness and has little to no additional flavors like coffee or chocolate except for Milk stout, Dry or Irish stout, Oatmeal stout, Oyster stout, and other tasty stouts.

Brewing Process and Ingredients

Brewing beer is tricky as the wrong temperature, carbonation duration, or fermentation period can mess up the wort. It requires different ingredients, brewing processes, and carbonation processes for Schwarzbier and Stout.

The necessary ingredients for Schwarzbier beer brewing include Pilsner or Munich malt, chocolate flavor (preferably pale or bittersweet chocolate), coloring(optional), hop (like Hallertau), yeast, and water. The ingredients are mashed properly and boiled; it is then aerated to allow the healthy growth of yeast (which signals the beginning of fermentation.) Meanwhile, the hop is added to the mixture at scheduled times during boiling to ensure the wort turns out well. 

After proper fermentation, which takes a week or more at a temperature of 45 to 50°C, the beer is ready to be transferred to a brite tank that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. The beer is re-carbonated if necessary and then transferred to kegs before it is finally transferred for drinking.

Since stout is an ale, its brewing process is quite different; it undergoes a top-fermentation process at a temperature between 64 to 67°F. The ingredients used for brewing stout can be different depending on the brewer and brand. Ingredients for stout include light malt extract, pale 2-row malt, flaked oats, wheat malt, roasted barley, Northern Brewer hops, Irish ale yeast, dextrose, water, and flavoring.

Like Schwarzbier, the ingredients are mashed and boiled, while the hop is added at intervals during boiling. The wort is cooled and fermented for three days to two weeks at 20 to 25°C before it is transferred for carbonation. The dextrose is added to settle any excess carbonation to perfect the oatmeal stout. 

The brewing process of Schwarzbier and Stout is almost the same, although there are a few differences in the ingredients used.

Alcohol Volume Of Schwarzbier and Stout

ABV volumes, known as Alcohol By Volume, is a metric used to measure the amount of alcohol in any alcoholic beverage and the average pilsner ABV percentage ranges from 4.5-5%. 

Schwarzbier also has the same ABV as the standard Pilsner beer. However, you may be shocked to realize that the ABV percentages of some Stout surpass this average.

Stout has an average ABV of 5-8%, meaning you are more likely to get drunk after a few cans. If you are looking to take your time while drinking, Schwarzbier is the best as you are less likely to get knocked out easily, but if you want to get drunk a little faster, a bottle of Stout will suffice. 

Appearance Of Schwarzbier and Stout

The appearance of a beer is not enough to differentiate beer because there are different beers in the world having similar appearances. Judging by the color, you will almost mistake schwarzbier with stout since they are both dark beers. Schwarzbier is a dark lager beer and among the first dark beers to be called a larger (and not Stout). Since it’s lager, it has a crispy base malt and a bit of roast to make you feel like you are still drinking a dark beer. Stouts are known to be very heavy, which is unlike Schwarzbier, which is light, malty, roasty, and has a dry appearance.

Stouts are well-balanced and bitter with a deep, rich color, fragrance, and flavor from unmalted dark-roasted barley. They are harsh to taste since unmalted barley doesn’t provide much fermentable or residual sugar. Stouts fermented with nitrogen have very creamy and smooth bubbles, unlike carbonated stouts.

Popular Examples Of Each Beer Style

Common types of Schwarzbier beer include – Köstritzer, Eibauer, Krombacher Dark, Kaiserdom Dark, Mönchshof Schwarzbier, and Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. 

Common types of stout include – Milk stout, Dry or Irish stout, Oatmeal stout, Oyster stout, and Pastry Stout are some of the common examples of stouts in the consumer market.

Schwarzbier and stout have wide varieties of beers you can choose from, each giving a unique taste. It won’t be regarded as cheating if you choose to try out different beer brands before sticking with one beer.