Difference Between Ale and Stout (With Table)

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. 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 in comparison to others.

There are two broad categories of beer: ‘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 the two of them.

Ale vs Stout

The main difference between ales and stouts is that ales are lighter and translucent in appearance with a sweet, fruity taste while stouts are thicker, darker, and opaque in appearance with rich flavors. Ales are sweeter and bitter in comparison with stouts.

Comparison Table Between Ale and Stout

Parameters of Comparison 



Word meaning

The word ale means noble though it is stronger than stout. The word ale comes from the old English word aelu or alu.

The word stout means strong. This word was first found in Egerton’s manuscript.


Ales are lighter and translucent in appearance and in general, have a golden color.

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 in the range of 15 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius.

Produced from

Ales are produced from malted barley.

Stouts are produced from roasted malt or unmalted barley.

Specific gravity

Ales have a lesser specific gravity in comparison to stouts and thus they are less dense than stouts.

Stouts have relatively higher specific gravity and thus appear thicker.


Ales have a robust fruity taste and are generally sweeter.

Stouts are richly flavored with dark chocolate or coffee or even fruits.


The alcohol concentration in ales is lesser in comparison to stouts.

Stouts are stronger with higher alcohol concentration than ales.


Some of the common varieties of ales are brown ale, Indian pale ale, scotch ale, Belgian ale, etc.

Some common varieties of stouts 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 a method in which yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures and settle at the top. Ales are mostly produced from malted barley.

Ales are a little bitter and also have a little bit of 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 flavor. 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. The 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 we’re earlier referred to as porter stouts as it began as a variety of porter beers. The color of stouts range 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 who was 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 in appearance.
  2. Ales are usually made from malted barley while stouts are generally 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 bitter than stouts in taste.
  4. Ales are generally consumed in robust fruity flavor while stouts are generally consumed in coffee or chocolate flavors.
  5. Ales are less dense and have a narrower range of brewing temperatures while stouts are denser than ales and they have a broader range of brewing temperatures in comparison 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. 


Ale and stout, both are beers. Ale is a broader term and it includes stout in it. Ale is a lighter fruity kind of translucent beer having lower consistency while stout is a darker and stronger kind of opaque beer having a higher density.

Ale is bitter than stout and has bittering agents that act as preservatives and makes it bitter. On the other hand, stouts have unfermented sugars which make them less bitter. Though stout may appear bitter by its appearance, it’s less bitter than ales.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=FqYoDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=difference+between+ale+and+stout&ots=jgeTwLGs8F&sig=iIzqFpb1kBi3RG33zl8GQx9stFA
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389172313002211
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212429218305388