Stout beers aren’t for the faint of heart. The dark, thick beers polarize drinkers. Many find the taste bitter and unpleasant. However, those who love stouts are passionate about the brew.
Stouts charm drinkers with their strong, distinct tastes. This type of beer come in a wide variety of styles, the most popular of which are the oatmeal stout and the imperial stout.
The dark brews often taste like coffee and dark chocolate. However, there’s as much variety in stouts as there is in drinkers of the beer.
Some have high alcohol content, and some are milder. Those open to a dark, intense beer experience can find a stout to suit their tastes.
Best Stout Beers
I’ve collected some of the finest stouts on the market and broken down their taste profiles and ingredients to guide you on your stout journey.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout created the standard for beers aged in bourbon barrels and continues to maintain it.
The drink originated the style created in 1992 when Goose Island’s brewmaster, Gregory Hall, met Booker Noe of Jim Beam. Noe passed some used bourbon barrels onto Hall and made history.
Bourbon County Stout is the umbrella term encompassing an entire line of beers. Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stouts include:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Coffee
- Goose Island Bourbon County Biscotti Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Sir Isaac’s Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Proprietor’s Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Two-Year Barleywine Reserve
- Goose Island Bourbon County 30th Anniversary Reserve Stout
Bourbon County Stouts weighs in at an impressive 14.4 percent alcohol by volume, so a little goes a long way.
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
Oatmeal stouts are alcoholic breakfasts in bottles. The beers are thick, rich, and filling. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is no exception.
Samuel Smith values authenticity; they brew their beer with water from the same well they’ve used since 1758. Their oatmeal stout follows a simple, classic beer recipe:
- Malted Barley
- Cane Sugar
- Roasted Malt
- Carbon Dioxide
The vegetarian and vegan-friendly beer carries chocolate, plum, and caramel flavors.
It has the deep brown, almost black color indicative of a good stout while maintaining a relatively low abv-only 5 percent.
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is a smooth beer that goes down quickly and easily.
The British stout is lighter than many American varieties, with a lightly bitter finish.
Deschutes Obsidian Stout
To truly earn the “Obsidian” title, a beer must be black as night. Luckily, Deschutes Obsidian Stout is up to the challenge.
Deschutes Brewery began brewing beer in Bend, Oregon, in 1988. The brand’s incredible quality makes them popular across the United States.
Deschutes makes four stouts, and Obsidian is the best of these. Obsidian Stout uses six kinds of malt:
- 2 Row
- Roasted Barley
- Chocolate Malt
Additionally, the beers use two kinds of hops: Delta and Northern Brewer. These ingredients contribute to the beer’s rich, layered taste.
The 6.4 percent alcohol by volume beer will delight fans of espresso and dark chocolate.
Guinness Pub Draught Stout
Guinness‘s name alone immediately evokes images of a rich, dark beer with a thick head of creamy foam.
Arthur Guinness began brewing his iconic beer in Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. He signed a 9,000-year lease for his brewery’s building, and that confidence turned out to be founded.
Guinness is the platonic ideal of stout beers.
The thick brew is a sipping beer. Guinness is very filling, a hearty stout with surprisingly few calories. Attentive drinkers appreciate the brew’s notes of chocolate and coffee.
Guinness uses a simple recipe for their flagship brew:
- Malted Barley
- Roasted Barley
Guinness is enormously popular. The company brews its stout in 50 countries and sells it in 120.
Though it’s a hearty beer, Guinness only carries a 4.2 percent ABV.
Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
Those who prefer their holiday cheer in liquid form instead of cookie will delight in Hardywood Gingerbread Stout’s warm, seasonal flavors.
Hardywood brews their Imperial Milk Stout in Richmond, Virginia. The brewery uses honey and ginger from local farms to flavor their carefully spiced beers.
The strong stout captures all of your favorite warm, winter flavors, including:
- Milk Chocolate
The beer goes down easily, but drink judiciously. At 9.2 percent alcohol by volume, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout will have you feeling very merry, very quickly.
The beer is sweet but not saccharine. Enjoy it as an after-dinner treat at your next holiday party.
North Coast Old Rasputin
Rasputin was notoriously difficult to kill. Any beer named after the durable Russian has enormous shoes to fill.
North Coast Old Rasputin exceeds the great expectations set by its name. The beer has claimed 15 different gold medals since 1996.
North Coast brewery makes Old Rasputin in California. The brew inspires devoted followings wherever it’s sampled. It earned an impressive 100 point overall score on Ratebeer, as well as 94 points in the 2018 World Beer Championships.
Old Rasputin is a heavy beer, as dark as the Russian story that gave it its name. The beer tastes of espresso and dark chocolate, leaving a pleasant flavor on the tongue.
Enjoy responsibly; Old Rasputin weighs in at 9 percent alcohol by volume.
AleSmith Speedway Stout
AleSmith Speedway Stout straddles the complicated stout line between bitter and drinkable.
The brew adheres to the rules out stouts; it’s dark, rich, and heavy. However, it uses its ingredients to draw out delicious flavors like:
- Stone Fruit
AleSmith uses locally produced coffee in Speedway Stout, and the beer tastes very mocha-forward.
Speedway Stout won AleSmith several accolades and awards, including:
- 2008 Great American Beer Festival: Silver
- 2012 San Diego International Beer Competition: Gold
- 2014 San Diego International Beer Competition: Gold
Speedway Stout pairs well with meals, particularly cheese-dominant repasts. It packs a punch, weighing in at a robust 12 percent alcohol by volume.
Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout
California’s own Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout provides the perfect winter sip for those who like their beers hearty.
The Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout is a full, rich brew. In addition to oatmeal, the beer tastes strongly of:
- Dark Chocolate
The beer is sweet, with a dry finish. It’s earned a very respectable score of 89 at Beer Advocate.
The after-dinner treat has 5.5 percent alcohol by volume.
Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! Imperial Stout
Any beer with an exclamation mark in its name must be excellent.
Oklahoma City’s favorite brewery, Prairie Artisan Ales, began making Bomb! in 2013, introducing the world to their flagship brew.
Prairie Artisan Ales uses Spaceship Earth Coffee’s espresso beans to make a rich, flavorful beer that tastes of:
- Cacao nibs
- Vanilla Beans
- Ancho Chili Peppers
The beer’s reach is global. Prairie Artisan distributes to:
- South Korea
- Sydney, Australia
- Brussels, Belgium
- 45 American states
The bite of the chili provides Bomb! with a unique, spicy burn to temper the sweet.
Prairie Artisan’s brew honors the classic components of a stout while adding quirky, original elements.
The beer has 13 percent alcohol by volume.
Stone Brewing Co. Xocoveza Imperial Stout
Stone Brewing Co.’s Xocoveza Imperial Stout is an annual treasure.
The seasonal classic veers from the Normal Rockwell conception of holiday cheer into a rich, warm Mexican flavor.
Chris Banker and Cerveceria Insurgente collaborated to craft the first Xocoveza Imperial Stout in 2014.
The beer defies stout expectations, pleasantly surprising drinkers with flavors of:
- Pasilla Peppers
Located in San Diego, Stone Brewing has exceeded its humble 1996 beginnings to become the ninth largest American craft brewery.
Xocoveza is one of their most beloved brews, brought back yearly owing to fan demand.
The mocha stout tastes a great deal like Mexican hot chocolate. The perfect beer for an after-dinner treat or simply for sipping on a cold evening, Xocoveza contains 8.1 percent alcohol by volume.
Best Stout Beers
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
- Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
- Deschutes Obsidian Stout
- Guinness Pub Draught Stout
- Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
- North Coast Old Rasputin
- AleSmith Speedway Stout
- Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout
- Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! Imperial Stout
- Stone Brewing Co. Xocoveza Imperial Stout
While stouts aren’t for everyone, the wide variety of styles and flavors offer a brew to please many tastes. The beer is rich and thick.
So, those who enjoy the drink can savor a classic drought or experiment with a more creative recipe. However, there are some nice variants on the list too for those after something with a nice twist.
Each of the breweries on this list craft delicious, memorable stouts sure to delight fans of the beer.
If you’re not a fan of dark, heavy beers, check out the best fruity beers instead!
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