Stouts come in many different varieties, such as imperial stouts, milk stouts, and coffee stouts – all of which have their own unique characteristics. But if you’ve never ventured away from the common brews–like Guinness–you’re missing out on a world filled with unique flavors you won’t find in other types of beers. Guinness is a good introduction, but it doesn’t hold an ounce of comparability to any of the varieties in the list below. Here are the 15 best stouts.
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Why not start off this list with the best–Founders KBS. It’s rich, thick, and the sexiest color of brown you could imagine.This coffee stout is the best on the market, filled with flavors of both chocolate and vanilla. Founders ages this brew in oak bourbon barrels before bottling and selling. Don’t get it confused with Founders Breakfast Stout–the non-KBS variety, that is–although you’ll like that one too.
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
Milk and beer sound absolutely awful together, sure, but Left Hand actually uses milk sugar, which makes this stout creamy. In fact, you’ll feel like you’re drinking a milkshake when drinking Milk Stout Nitro. From the tap, this is the best chocolate stout on the market. It’s made with roasted barley, flaked oats and barley, and most importantly, dark chocolate.
Adirondack Brewery Blackberry Oatmeal Cream Stout
Adirondack Brewery’s Blackberry Oatmeal Cream Stout is as delicious as it sounds. It’s made with fresh blackberry puree, which is added in during fermentation to give the beer a subtle berry flavor. Like Left Hand’s milk stout, this brew is also made with milk sugar to give it a creamy mouthfeel and thick body. At just 6.0% ABV, it goes down smooth. But unfortunately, Adirondack has yet to bottle their Blackberry Oatmeal Cream stout, so you’ll only be able to find it scattered around pubs in the village of Lake George, NY.
Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout
With a name like Kalamazoo Stout, you’d expect something strange to be in the bottle, but that’s not the case here. Bell’s Kalamazoo is brewed with licorice, caramel malts and cocoa which all blend together to create a silky smooth brew that isn’t too heavy, like many stouts tend to be. Instead, it has the perfect amount of body that’s topped off with a thin brown head.
Troegs Java Head Stout
Troegs is best known for its Nugget Nectar and Mad Elf brews–both of which are fantastic. So when the brewery debuted Java Head Stout, we had to check it out. As the name implies, this brew is loaded with coffee notes, but also has a hint of caramel and malts. If not for the slight bitterness that follows, you would swear you were at your favorite coffee house.
Davidson Brothers Oatmeal Stout
Davidson Brothers’ signature series Oatmeal Stout pours a pitch black color and feels like a traditional brew. In fact, we’d say that this is the quintessential oatmeal stout on the market. It’s rich, smooth, and the flavors are subtle. You’ll taste some chocolate, some malts, and the sweetness of the lactose. It’s highly drinkable due to just having a 4.5% ABV.
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Pretty much anything from Rogue is a good go-to choice, and their Chocolate Stout is no exception. It pours up a deep black with a foamy mocha colored top, and has great retention. It smells and tastes like chocolate, with some caramel and licorice thrown into the mix. It’ll make you want to turn on some Barry White, dim the lights, and whisper sweet nothings into your loved one’s ear.
Deschutes Brewery Obsidian Stout
Deschutes’ Obsidian Stout is deeply rich and robust, and is one of the best dry stouts on the market. It’s loaded with espresso and has a hint of chocolate and roasted malt, but there’s enough hops to make it not too sweet. Obsidian Stout is also nice and creamy, and is certain to provide you with a nice ‘stache.
Fat Head’s #1 Voodoo Monkey Chocolate Stout
Fat Head’s #1 Voodoo Monkey Chocolate Stout is a mouthful to say, but it’s a mouthful you’ll want over and over again. Brewed with Madagascar vanilla beans and Belgian chocolate (both dark and milk chocolate), it’s flavor is unforgettable. It pours a jet black and has a big chocolate aroma. It’s a luscious blend of roasted malt and vanilla, with a hint of cappuccino coming through. No monkeys were harmed in the making of this brew.
Half Acre Vanilla BAUMÉ
Half Acre became the first Chicago brewery to can their beers, but you won’t find this delectable offering in a tallboy. Vanilla BAUMÉ is a spin on Half Acre’s first brew, the BAUMÉ Rye Stout, that you’ll only find on special occasions. It smells like it’s brewed with vanilla cake, but the taste is much more subtle and enjoyable.
Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
Why not go international with your dark brew? Samuel Smith is a brewery out of the U.K. that is best known in U.S. beer circles for its Oatmeal Stout. Their brews are fermented in slate squares which give the beer a fuller bodied taste. The Oatmeal Stout is sweet and sugary, and tastes more like instant oatmeal with its sweetness rather than a drier oat taste.
Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin
Firestone’s Velvet Merkin is made with vanilla bourbon, chocolate and espresso which all blend perfectly to create a delightful and unique flavor. It’s also loaded with caramel. It’s a rotating special brew, and will be reintroduced in September 2014. But it won’t last long, so we strongly recommend buying as much of it as you can to last you through the winter.
Sierra Nevada Stout
Sierra Nevada Stout has a very earthy quality to it while maintaining a chocolaty flavor. The roasted barley and coffee notes are prominent, but where Sierra Nevada’s stout stands out is on the back-end which has a subtle spice note that you can’t quite put a finger on. But, you’ll definitely have more than one to try and peg what exactly that spice note is because of how delicious it tastes.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island can do no wrong in our book, and their Bourbon County Stout is one of my favorites. It smells of bourbon, tastes like bourbon, and even looks like bourbon. It’s not too complex, but what it does, it does well. It’s a bit on the expensive side though–usually $25 for a four pack–but it’s well worth it.
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
Stout in a can doesn’t sound too appetizing, but Oskar Blues is another brewery that continuously lives up to the hype – for us at least. Ten Fidy gets its name from its 10.5% ABV, but it’s so much smoother than you would think for having such a high alcohol content. This brew is as dark as you can get. We can’t think of a single reason for anyone needing their stout to be in a can, but who cares when the beer contained within is so delicious.