London brewers had begun exporting stronger porters and stouts by the mid 18th century and by the early 19th were regularly despatching these via the Cape to India, Australia and South-East Asia, to the East Coast of North America, and via the Baltic Sea to Russia, Poland and Scandinavia.  It was only a matter of time before European variants took root in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland and the Baltic States, with others eventually arriving in West Africa, South East Asia and Australasia.

See also: Baltic Porter

Export Stout (or Foreign Export Stout)

Stronger stouts in the Irish tradition (5.6-7.2% ABV) can smell as sweet as molasses yet are dry on the palate.  Rich, almost to the point of oiliness, the flavour is strong and roasty, without tasting burnt.  Chocolate and coffee notes are fine.  They work best in a bottle or can, due to the higher carbonation.

Strong Export Stout (or Tropical Stout)

Richer than Export but lacking the weight of Imperial, this higher strength Stout (7.0-8.5% ABV) should display a dark, sweet, roasted, caramel-laced, sometimes fruity and overtly alcoholic character, with subdued hopping.  Legacy versions of this style, sometimes simplified and fermented with lager yeast, are to be found in the Caribbean, West Africa, Sri Lanka, Singapore and the South East Asian Pacific coast, being one of the stranger legacies of Europe’s old empires.

Imperial Stout

Närke Kulturbryggeri from Sweden is famous for their Imperial Stout (photo: André Brunnsberg)

Intensity is the key word in trying to summarise the character of what for some is the emperor of beers.  The best examples are not simply strong (8.0-12.0% ABV), rather they arrive with all guns blazing, melding together rich and complex, multi-layered, roasted graininess, English-pointing versions majoring on complex esters while American-pointing ones allow significant hop presence.  The history of the style is the stuff of legend, mostly.  Whether and when they ever enjoyed a significant home market is unclear.  The success of the style has in large part been the result of being seen as the ultimate challenge for a modern-day craft brewery seeking to explore its limits.

American Stout

Deep brown, highly roasted and unquestionably hoppy, American Stout (5.5-7.5% ABV) is unafraid of dark chocolate and coffee grounds backtastes.  Its full flavour can defy a lighter than expected body and its head should last to the end.  The boundary with American Porter is blurred.