Discovering White Stout Beer: A Comprehensive Guide

A white stout provides for what some would consider to be a surprising twist in the beer world. This beer style challenges preconceived notions, defying the stereotypical image of what a stout should look like. Dark, rich, and dense – these traits typically define a stout. But imagine a brew that encapsulates all the deep flavors and creamy texture of a classic stout, yet surprises with its light, golden color. That’s the fascinating beer known as white stout.

Born out of the imaginative craft beer movement, the white stout provides for an interesting drinking experience that both confounds and intrigues. It nudges us to reconsider our definitions and invites us into a realm where stout no longer means dark. At first glance, a white stout might seem paradoxical, even challenging. Yet, as we unravel its origins, distinctive features, and the artistry involved in its brewing, we discover how this unconventional beer has deservedly earned its niche within the broad spectrum of craft beers.

Join us as we unravel the intriguing world of white stout, savoring its unique aroma and taste, and delving into the intricate process behind its creation. Whether you’re a beer aficionado, a brewing hobbyist, or just a curious explorer in the beer universe, this in-depth guide to white stout offers a riveting exploration into this captivating brew.

Understanding White Stout

The Origins of White Stout

The white stout is a revolutionary concept in brewing, a craft that values tradition and innovation. It’s a brew style that was born out of a passion for creativity, pushing the boundaries of what is conventionally expected from a stout. The origins of the white stout can be traced back to craft breweries that sought to disrupt the norm and provide beer enthusiasts with a drink that could defy their expectations.

In terms of historical context, the term “stout” was originally used to denote stronger, bolder versions of porters. As brewing techniques evolved, stout came to denote dark, robust beers full of character. The introduction of the white stout, however, presents a lighter hue but with the same intensity of flavor, redefining the perception of what constitutes a stout.

Defining Features

A white stout’s defining features make it such an anomaly in the beer world. At first glance, a white stout appears almost identical to a pale ale or lager due to its lighter color. However, one sip will reveal that it’s anything but. The white stout exhibits a potent, full-bodied flavor profile similar to its darker counterparts.

The texture of a white stout is creamy and smooth, a characteristic derived from the use of ingredients like oats or wheat, which contribute to a fuller mouthfeel. The color ranges from clear golden to pale amber and has a medium to strong alcohol content, typically around 6-9%. It’s these features that form the distinct identity of the white stout, blending the unexpected with the familiar, much to the delight of adventurous beer lovers.

Taste and Aroma

In terms of taste, white stout offers a symphony of flavors, from rich chocolate and robust coffee to sweet vanilla and caramel. This range of flavors is balanced with a bitterness imparted by the hops, resulting in a sweet and bitter taste profile. One of the white stout’s most endearing qualities is its ability to convey these flavors without the presence of the dark, heavily roasted grains typically found in traditional stouts.

When it comes to aroma, a white stout will fill your senses with strong notes of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. This is typically balanced with the sweet scent of malt and a hint of hop aroma. The aroma of a white stout, just like its taste, is surprisingly complex, contributing to the beer’s overall enjoyment.

Key Ingredients in a White Stout Beer

Malts and Grains

The malt bill in a white stout is thoughtfully curated to maintain the light color while still providing the backbone for the beer’s robust flavor. Brewers generally steer clear of darker, heavily roasted malts and instead opt for lighter options. These can include base malts like pale malt or pilsner malt and specialty malts such as biscuit malt or Munich malt for added depth. Oats or wheat may also be added to the grain bill to enhance the beer’s mouthfeel and lend a creamy texture.

Hops and Yeast

The hop selection for a white stout is guided by the aim to balance the beer’s sweet and robust flavors. Hops that offer a moderate to high bitterness are typically used, providing a counterpoint to the beer’s rich sweetness. English hop varieties, like Fuggles or East Kent Goldings, are common choices, as they can deliver an earthy, slightly floral bitterness that complements the beer’s taste profile.

Yeast plays an essential role in fermentation, converting sugars from the malt into alcohol and carbon dioxide. For white stout, yeast strains that promote a clean fermentation with subtle fruity or sweet characteristics are generally preferred.

Flavoring Agents

The signature flavors of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla in a white stout are achieved through the use of flavoring agents. These can be added at various stages during brewing, infusing the beer with the desired flavors. Brewers may use cacao nibs or vanilla beans for chocolate and vanilla notes, while coffee flavor can be introduced through cold brewing or adding brewed coffee.

Brewing Process

Mashing and Boiling

The brewing process of a white stout commences with mashing, where the chosen malts and grains are mixed with hot water, resulting in a process known as saccharification. This process allows the enzymes in the malt to convert the grain’s starches into fermentable sugars.

Following the mashing process, the liquid, known as wort, is separated from the grain husks and transferred to the boil kettle. Here, it’s boiled, and hops are added at specific intervals to infuse the desired bitterness and hop flavor into the brew.


Once the boil is completed, the wort is cooled and transferred to a fermentation vessel. At this stage, yeast is added, marking the beginning of fermentation. The yeast metabolizes the sugars in the wort, producing alcohol, carbon dioxide, and various flavor compounds. Depending on the yeast strain and fermentation temperature, this process can take a few days to a few weeks.

Flavor Infusion and Conditioning

After fermentation is complete, the beer is usually conditioned or aged. This period allows the flavors and aromas of the beer to meld together, resulting in a more harmonious taste profile. During this conditioning phase, flavoring agents such as coffee, cacao nibs, or vanilla beans may be added to the beer. This step is critical in a white stout to introduce those rich flavors traditionally associated with a dark stout.

White Stout Beer Variations

Notable Examples

In the past few years, numerous breweries have created their unique interpretations of white stouts, with some even garnering a significant following. Some notable examples include Old Town Brewing’s “Iggy Pop – White Stout,” a brew that boasts flavors of cocoa, coffee, and a hint of blueberries, and Saugatuck Brewing Company’s “White Russian Imperial Stout,” which is an ode to the classic cocktail.

Social and Industry Perspective

The rise of white stout has generated much discussion within the beer community. Some purists argue that the term “stout” should be reserved for darker beers. However, many beer enthusiasts and brewers appreciate the innovation and skill involved in creating a light-colored beer with the rich flavors of a stout. This stylistic evolution reflects the dynamic nature of the craft beer industry and its continuous push towards creativity and experimentation.

Paired with Food

Given its robust flavor profile, white stout pairs exceptionally well with a variety of foods. The coffee and chocolate notes can complement rich, savory dishes such as roasted pork, barbecued meats, or even spicy foods like Mexican or Thai cuisine. 

On the other hand, the malt’s sweetness and the beer’s creaminess work well with desserts such as chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, or berry tart. Cheese lovers would be delighted to know that the complex profile of a white stout harmonizes perfectly with a wide array of cheeses, including blue cheese, sharp cheddar, or gouda.

For a simple pairing, a white stout alongside a well-prepared steak can make for a meal to remember. The bitterness from the hops balances the fattiness of the steak, while the stout’s chocolatey undertones work with the caramelized crust of the meat. With such a versatile flavor profile, a white stout can transform a meal into an exceptional dining experience.

Popular Brands of White Stout

Several breweries have garnered attention for their exceptional white stouts. A standout example is the “Moby Thicc” from Alvarado Street Brewery, a white stout with enticing notes of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. Stone Brewing, renowned for its innovative brews, offers the “Xocoveza,” a unique white stout infused with cocoa, coffee, peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Siren Craft Brew from the UK impresses with its “Suspended in White,” a brew that showcases flavors of chocolate, coconut, and coffee, all delivered in a surprisingly light-colored beer. These are just a handful of the exciting white stouts available in today’s market, with many more breweries exploring this innovative style.

White Stout Beer Recipe

This recipe is designed to brew 5 gallons (approximately 19 liters) of white stout beer.


– 8 lbs Pale Malt (2-Row)
– 1 lb Flaked Oats
– 1 lb Munich Malt
– 0.5 lb Carapils (Dextrin) Malt
– 1 lb Lactose (Milk Sugar)
– 1 oz East Kent Goldings (EKG) Hops (Boil 60 minutes)
– 1 oz Fuggle Hops (Boil 10 minutes)
– 1 Package British Ale Yeast (e.g., Wyeast 1098)
– 4 oz Roasted Cacao Nibs
– 2 Vanilla Beans
– 8 oz Ground Coffee (Cold brewed in 32 oz of water)

Equipment Needed:

– Brewing kettle (8-gallon capacity recommended)
– Fermenter with an airlock (6-gallon capacity recommended)
– Grain Mill
– Mesh grain bag or Mash Tun
– Stirring spoon
– Thermometer
– Hydrometer
– Siphon or Racking Cane
– Bottles or Kegging System

Brewing Instructions:

Preparation: Clean and sanitize all the brewing equipment. Mill the grains.

Mashing: Heat 5 gallons of water to 152°F (66.7°C). Place the milled grains in the mesh grain bag or the mash tun and add them to the heated water. Maintain the temperature and let the grains steep for 60 minutes to allow for the conversion of starches into fermentable sugars.

Sparging: Lift the grain bag or drain the mash tun to separate the sweet liquid (now called wort) from the grains. Rinse the grains with 2 gallons of water at 170°F (76.7°C) to extract any remaining sugars. Collect the wort in the brewing kettle.

Boiling: Bring the wort to a boil. Once boiling, add the East Kent Goldings hops and boil for 60 minutes. Add the Fuggle hops and Lactose to the boil 10 minutes before the end of the boil.

Cooling the Wort: After the boil, cool the wort quickly to 70°F (21.1°C). You can use an immersion chiller, or place the brew kettle in an ice bath in your sink.

Fermentation: Transfer the cooled wort to your sanitized fermenter. Pitch the yeast by sprinkling it into the wort. Seal the fermenter with the airlock.

Primary Fermentation: Let the beer ferment in a dark, cool place (around 68°F or 20°C is ideal) for two weeks.

Flavoring: Cold brew the coffee by steeping the ground coffee in 32 oz of cold water for 24 hours. After 24 hours, strain the cold brew, discarding the grounds. Add the cold-brewed coffee, cacao nibs, and the inside scrapings of the vanilla beans to the fermenter. Let it sit for another week to infuse the flavors.

Secondary Fermentation: After the flavoring ingredients have been adequately infused, use a siphon or racking cane to transfer the beer to a secondary fermenter, leaving the flavoring ingredients behind.

Bottling: If you’re bottling your beer, prime it first by adding a sugar solution (2/3 cup of sugar dissolved in 2 cups of boiling water). This priming sugar will carbonate your beer in the bottle. Siphon the beer into your bottles, leaving some space at the top, and cap them. You can siphon the beer straight into your keg if you’re kegging.

Conditioning: Allow the beer to condition in the bottle or keg for at least two weeks.

Enjoy: After conditioning, your white stout is ready to enjoy! Remember, the flavors will continue to develop and mature over time, so you may want to save a few bottles to see how the beer evolves.

White Stout FAQ

What makes a white stout different from traditional stouts?

A white stout deviates from traditional stouts primarily in its color. While traditional stouts are dark, often black or deep brown, a white stout has a much lighter, golden to amber color. Yet, despite the difference in appearance, white stouts encapsulate the rich flavors and full-bodied mouthfeel associated with a classic stout.

How does the brewing process for white stouts compare to other stouts?

The brewing process for white stouts is largely similar to other stouts, except for the choice of malts and the addition of flavoring agents. Dark, heavily roasted malts, which give traditional stouts their color and a substantial portion of their flavor, are replaced with lighter malts in a white stout. The characteristic stout flavors of coffee, chocolate, and caramel are instead achieved through the use of flavoring agents.

What types of ingredients are commonly used in white stouts?

The primary ingredients in a white stout are water, malt, hops, yeast, and various flavoring agents. Light-colored malts such as pale malt or pilsner malt are typically used, along with specialty malts for additional flavor complexity. The beer’s signature flavors of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla are often derived from the addition of cold-brewed coffee, cacao nibs, or vanilla beans during the brewing process.

How does the flavor profile of a white stout differ from other stouts?

While a white stout maintains many flavor characteristics of traditional stouts—such as notes of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla—it often has a slightly less roasted or charred flavor due to the absence of dark, heavily roasted malts. However, the flavor profile can vary considerably depending on the specific recipe and brewing techniques employed by the brewer.

Can you provide examples of popular white stout beers?

Several breweries have created exceptional white stouts, including Stone Brewing’s “Xocoveza,” Alvarado Street Brewery’s “Moby Thicc,” and Siren Craft Brew’s “Suspended in White.” Each offers a unique take on the white stout, but all share the same rich flavor profile and light-colored appearance that defines the style.

What is the history behind the creation of white stouts?

White stout is a relatively recent innovation in the brewing industry, born out of the craft beer movement’s penchant for creativity and experimentation. It represents a departure from tradition, challenging the conventional stout’s dark color while maintaining its robust flavor and aroma. As craft breweries continue to push boundaries, the white stout serves as a testament to the innovative spirit driving the industry.

In conclusion, the world of white stout is a fascinating journey into the innovation and creativity inherent in the craft beer industry. With its enticing blend of familiar flavors and unexpected aesthetics, this brew invites us to rethink our perceptions of what a stout can be. As you take that first sip of a white stout, you are enjoying a refreshing brew and partaking in the ongoing evolution of beer itself. Here’s to the white stout—long may it continue to intrigue and delight beer enthusiasts worldwide.

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