Stout season is year-round for many of us and we’ll take any excuse to enjoy one of our favorite styles. Since the weather is taking a turn toward a season I typically dislike, the consolation prize is the release of roasty, chocolatey goodness. Don’t even try to argue when stout season “officially starts”; I don’t care. Give me one of these twenty-one stouts to welcome winter.
Alaskan Oatmeal Stout (Juneau, Alaska)
No, this beer isn’t chewy like your morning oatmeal. It’s full of chocolate, caramel, and coffee candy flavors. The oats lend a smooth mouthfeel that helps ease the upfront sweetness as it tones down on the end of each sip.
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (Copenhagen, Denmark)
The first time you smell this beer, you might think you have somehow actually bought a black IPA. The hops dominate the aroma until it warms, bringing up more coffee and milk chocolate. Sweet roastiness saturates your tongue as the hops fruitiness contrasts and balances out the sweetness with bitterness. Roast is the star of the show here, but they didn’t forget the hops.
Deschutes Obsidian (Bend, Oregon)
The ease of obtaining Obsidian is ludicrous. It’s insanely good and in six-packs. At a lower ABV (for most stouts these days), it is both assertive and drinkable. It doesn’t apologize for beating up your tongue with its stout goodness. Enjoy the espresso-like roast that’s balanced out with a light vanilla sweetness that makes it easy to drink a pint or two.
Bell’s Expedition (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
John Mallet is the master of malt, and Expedition speaks to that. It’s so full of dark fruit and chocolate that you’re pulled into the dark, and you won’t want to get out. Aging this beer can bring out flavors of dates, prunes, and amaretto. As Bell’s says, the shelf life is unlimited.
Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout (Novato, California)
Dragoons is perfect if you’re looking for something on the lighter side but with those stout flavors you love. The light body delivers the chocolate and cocoa as the roasty bitterness lingers.
Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis Stout (Eugene, Oregon)
If you’re looking for creamy, vanilla goodness in a glass, here it is. It is very sweet and can overshadow the roast, but it blends well. Call this dessert and think about using it in your ice cream float.
Fremont Dark Star (Seattle, Washington)
I admit I have a thing for oatmeal stouts, and Dark Star fights off the cold. My main descriptor for this beer is creamy.It’s so luscious that they should probably move it into six-packs instead of four-packs. Enjoy the roasty coffee flavors as you stock up on this almost-too-easy-to-drink stout.
Epic Big Bad Baptist (Salt Lake City, Utah)
A barrel-aged stout with cocoa nibs and coffee (a different dark roast in every release)! It’s surprising this doesn’t fly off the shelves because the price for this beer is extremely reasonable compared to others of its kind. The barrel character is subtle and not overpowering, letting intense coffee/espresso flavors take over while the vanilla from the barrel aging slides through and ends with a highly deceptive finish. I will continue to advocate that Epic needs to start packaging the Baptist in four-pack cans.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout (Chicago, Illinois)
King of barrel-aged stouts? Possibly. I drink this beer any time I can. I could be dying of dehydration in a desert and I’d still open a Bourbon County. Full of bourbon, vanilla, oak, coconut, and chocolate aroma and flavors, this beer has it all. The alcohol is obviously present, but it’s not overbearing. This is a beer to sip on next to a fire . . . or dying in a desert.
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti (Denver, Colorado)
Sure, normal Yeti is great, but oak-aged and its variants (chocolate and espresso) make a great beer even better. The oak adds to the already rich body of coffee, chocolate, and rye. It’s like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.
The Bruery Black Tuesday (Placentia, California)
You could try arguing this is a difficult stout to get, but the Bruery holds an annual lottery for the public to have the chance to purchase three bottles. Besides, it’s fairly easy to trade for one or find someone willing to share this barrel-aged beast the clocks in around a 19 percent ABV. You’ll find big bourbon notes (no surprise there), vanilla, oak, chocolate, and caramel. The flavors layer like the clothes you don for outside adventures in the cold weather.
The Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout (San Marcos, California)
This unholy libation is made from a double mash (meaning only the strongest fermentable sugars are kept) and fermented in oak bourbon barrels. This brings around a great smoothness in the 11 percent ABV, revealing dark chocolate and coffee flavors with oak finishing each sip.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk (Holland, Michigan)
Four-packs of a barrel-aged stout at a reasonable price? Count me in. Vanilla flavors come through more than oak or bourbon, and that’s not a bad thing. It blends well into the base stout and makes for a great sipper.
Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin (Paso Robles, California)
Velvet Merlin is hands down one of the best oatmeal stouts. If I could say a stout is “crushable,” this would be it. The low ABV and intense espresso and chocolate flavors make this perfect for enjoying the cold or snow. If you find its barrel-aged version, don’t pass it up.
Prairie Artisan Ales BOMB! (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
BOMB! is an accurate description of this stout, in flavor and ABV (13 percent). It packs a punch when you aren’t looking and adjuncts round it out. Each layer of the coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and chili peppers blends well. I welcome the heat of the peppers to provide a balance point to the strong flavors of vanilla and coffee. Share it with a friend or solo it.
Heavy Seas Peg Leg (Baltimore, Maryland)
This year-round stout is understated. Roastiness and malt sweetness come together to plunder any palate brave enough to take on the adventure of another sip.
Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura (Dexter, Michigan)
A Belgian inspiration and Jolly Pumpkin’s house yeast create a stout that’s a completely different beast. Notes of roast and tartness fill your glass, and each sip brings a new blend of flavor.
4 Hands Chocolate Milk Stout (St. Louis, Missouri)
A smooth mouthfeel full of chocolate is exactly what you need in a stout some days. And 4 Hands delivers a chocolate milk stout that’s easy to drink. They release different variations; coming this month, they’re releasing a Tiki Chocolate Milk Stout with coconut, coffee, and chocolate, and a Horchata Chocolate Milk Stout with chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Schlafly Oatmeal Stout (St. Louis, Missouri)
This oatmeal stout is on the stronger side of fruit, not esters, fruitiness. This fruit wild card works well with the waves of roast, coffee, hops flavor, and bitterness in each sip.
Off Color Dino S’mores (Chicago, Illinois)
When the weather is too cold to start a fire and you want s’mores, go for Off Color’s Dino S’mores. How can you hate it? There’s a grain mouse dressed as a dinosaur on the label. This imperial stout is transformed with the addition of marshmallow fluff, vanilla beans, molasses, graham flour, and cocoa nibs. Don’t be surprised if you see Scotty Smalls ordering one.
Stone Russian Imperial Stout (Escondido, California)
I’ll be honest. I often overlook this beer because I’m wary of those new-money stouts. It’s a solid execution of heavy roast, coffee, toast, and bittersweet chocolate. The high alcohol cuts through the sweetness and dries out in the end leaving you longing for another sip. It’s a great beer for a great price, and I’m never disappointed when I drink it.