255 of the Best Stouts, Blind-Tasted and Ranked
How We Taste & Test Beers
Composed entirely of Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges who have all studied, trained, and been tested on their ability to discern characteristics in beer, our panel is independent and doesn’t include any CB&B editors or staff. The panel tastes all beer blindly—they do not know what brands and beers they are tasting until the tasting is complete.
Our goal is to inform you about the strengths and weaknesses of these beers as well as their relative differences (not everyone has the same taste in beer, so accurate descriptors are more valuable than straight numerical values). The quotes you see in the reviews are compiled from the review panel’s score sheets to give you a well-rounded picture of the beer.
As our reviewers judge, they score based on the standard BJCP components: Aroma (max 12 points), Appearance (max 3 points), Flavor (max 20 points), Mouthfeel (max 5 points), and Overall Impression (max 10 points). We’ve listed these individual component scores, and the bottom-line number is derived from adding then doubling these component scores to produce a rating on a 100-point scale. Note that we round the component scores to the nearest whole number, so the math won’t necessarily add up.
Our judges use the following scale in valuing scores:
95–100 » Extraordinary World-class beers of superlative character and flawless execution
90–94 » Exceptional Distinguished beers with special character, style, and flavor
85–89 » Very good Well-crafted beers with noteworthy flavor and style
80–84 » Good Solid, quality, enjoyable beers
75–79 » Above Average Drinkable and satisfactory beers with minor flaws or style deviations
50–74 » Not recommended
We’d like for you to keep one thing in mind as you read our reviews: Your perception of a beer is more important than that of our review panel or editorial staff. Reading reviews—on the Web, in a magazine, or in a book—is no substitute for trying the beer yourself.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Cherry Thrale's (75)
The cherries are dark, tart, and rich, but still have that slightly overripe muddiness to them. The base beer feels like it has the right body and roast level but is hard to find under the cherries. Some bubblegum and fruity esters, with mild phenols and chlorophenols. Thin-bodied, chalky mouthfeel.
Boulevard Brewing Company Dark Truth Stout (79)
Sweet dark malt character. Lots of esters: plums, raisin, prunes. Chocolate character is there, and the roast sits behind the fruit sweetness. Some bitterness helps to cut the sweetness toward the finish with some warming character. Much less sour than I expected from the nose. Malty sweetness with dried fruit esters hit first, followed by caramel coffee and alcoholic warmth.
Mikkeller Black (80)
Sweet mocha malt character with a smoked pork–like note. Moderate roast with a touch of astringency. Slight lactose consistency. Alcohol is over the top and extends into the aftertaste. Big roasty flavors, bitter and a bit burnt. Hops flavor is resinous, sticky, and catty—not exactly complimentary to the strong malt notes.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company Winter Stout (81)
This comes across like a Belgian dubbel. High cherry note up front with a medium sweetness that slowly fades into a low bitterness with slight acidity. A light roast in the middle of the sip. The bitterness toward the end of the sip transitions into the aftertaste. Thin-to-medium body that is cut by the carbonation. Same esters as on the nose with some dark roast chocolate and toasted bread notes. Finishes with an interesting combination of the sweetness from the esters and a low-medium carbonic acid dryness. This beer has a flavor of vanilla cola.
Guinness Guinness Draught (82)
Light bodied with some slight creaminess and sweetness giving way to fairly aggressive bittering hops. Roasty, sharp astringent character. Some estery fruit characteristics. Creaminess carries through in the finish. Finishes dry with slightly oxidized notes.”
HaandBryggeriet Odin’s Tipple (82)
Rich roast and chocolate up front that is moderately dry. Moderate astringency throughout the sip that emphasizes the alcohol at the end and into the aftertaste. Smooth and strong, roast is medium. Alcohol warmth gets your attention without being harsh. Hop flavors medium strong, resinous, spicy. Some tart notes in the aftertaste. Thin bodied.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Frost Monster (82)
Roasty with hints of dry chocolate, sweet chocolate, and cherry. Vanilla. Some oak and bourbon notes are present. Nice warmth in the end. Some dark toffee and even black licorice notes. Some prominent fruitiness and tannin character emerges as it warms. The barrel character isn’t overly pronounced.
Southern Tier Brewing Company 2Xpresso (82)
Strong coffee flavor and the citrus overtones are somewhat sharp. Moderate hops flavors tend toward spicy. Hoppier than expected up front. Aftertaste has some mocha character.
Boulder Beer The Dude’s D’Spare (82)
Relatively smooth blend of strong roast and vanilla. Chocolate resides underneath, along with some tannic character to tie things together. Nice malt richness. Some oak character. Dark toffee flavors and some iron minerality as it warms.
Breckenridge Brewery Oatmeal Stout (83)
Intense hops flavors carry over from the aroma: pine, spice, pepper, catty. There’s a perceivable oat smoothness and depth that works well with the atypical hops flavors. Some bitter, burnt coffee notes. Hops bitterness is quite extreme for an oatmeal stout. There is some roast there, though, and the coffee smoothness is perhaps due to the oatmeal.
Upslope Brewing Company Oatmeal Stout (83)
Medium sweet with slightly tart finish. Sharp chocolate up front with a rich roastiness that takes over quickly after. Characteristic silkiness of oatmeal stout. Medium smoke note that extends into the aftertaste. A sharp bitterness from the roast character reminds me of an iced coffee. Some nutty notes, some dry chocolate sweetness and bitterness. Thin bodied. Earthy hops come through near the end as well as dark roasted malt. Finish is quite dry.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Siberian Night (83)
Moderately sweet cherry chocolate with a touch of roast and some vanilla underneath. A nice chocolaty flavor, but it has a hard time rising over the roast. Some barrel character, but overall the roast dominates.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Barrel-Aged Scarface (83)
Nice blend of flavors. Some bold roasty notes, nice dark and sweet chocolate notes, and some sweet dark cherry notes. The oak character adds nice complexity to the beer, hitting in the middle and carrying through the finish. The warmth also adds to the taste and cuts some of the sweetness. Some tannins couple with the roast and alcohol to add to the dry finish.
Coronado Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Stupid Stout (83)
The flavor starts with a dry chocolate sweetness and carries through with some bitterness that leaves a slight astringent finish. Lots of roast character in the flavor. Rich sweet milk chocolate and almond throughout with vanilla supporting. The butterscotch continues into the flavor, but with an increase in complexity, from intense chocolate and roast. The warmth hits in the finish. And the beer finishes with some chewiness left on the tongue.
Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Noir (83)
A blend of dark cherry and rich sweet dark malt. Some nice chocolate and toffee notes. The rum sugar sweetness adds to this beer. Vanilla and coconut also add to the sweet character. The warmth is present through the finish. Rich brown sugar and vanilla overwhelm the base beer. Some roast and chocolate under the barrel character.
Brasserie Dupont Monk's Stout Dupont (83)
An interesting combination of plum, cherry, heavy roast, and effervescent herbal qualities that give an almost menthol, numbing note. The roast turns into a burned incense, with smoke at the back end. Very interesting yeasty character in the middle of the palate, with some slight barnyard and farmhouse characters.
Evil Twin Brewing Yin (84)
Light chocolate and coffee with slight roast notes toward the end of the sip. As it warms, more flavors start to come out with light fruity esters. Alcohol is present but is slightly more than warming. The rich malt, warming alcohol, and fine toffee notes all make this a wonderful drink. There is a bit of black malt and roast in the finish, but more as an afterthought. Hops bitterness and flavor are strong, and there is some tartness in the finish.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Stout (85)
Medium roast and light malt sweetness with light-moderate earthy hops bitterness. Finish is a touch grainy and slightly astringent. Some dark malt but more like a brown ale than a stout. Bitterness in the finish is clearly from hops, not roast, and though appropriate, is a little out of balance with a low perceived sweetness. A bit musky.
Tallgrass Brewing Company Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat (85)
Toasty and nutty malt with lots of vanilla and chocolate in the background. Moderately bitter throughout, with a moderate-to-strong sweetness in the finish. Medium body is a bit thin for the vanilla notes. A medium sweetness helps support the vanilla. There is a smoothness in this beer. Initial dry roast flavors are quickly replaced by the intense sweetness of the vanilla bean, which lingers to the end. Finishes medium-dry in terms of body, but the lingering vanilla makes it seem very sweet.
Avery Brewing Company The Czar (85)
Moderate chocolate, moderate toast, moderate base malt, moderate earthy hops bitterness, full body, good carbonation. Aftertaste: dark chocolate, light hops, touch of sweetness, light toasty, moderate starchy malt, touch of ethanol. Some sour notes. Sweetness comes off as candy—Hershey’s syrup in sweetened coffee.
Rogue Ales & Spirits Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout (85)
Roasty malt, toast, and creamy oatmeal. Slight sweetness up front transitions into assertive bitterness that lingers. Lots of American hops flavor, and hops bitterness carries through to help cut the sweetness and add complexity. Rich blend of milk and dark chocolate with some bready toasted notes. Ester profile is quite subdued with some dark cherry peeking through. There is a sweetness that carries through with chocolate and coffee. Very bitter for this style with hops bitterness of pine.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Imperial Stout (85)
Malt flavors are excellent—dark chocolate, dark roasted coffee, slightly caramelized sweet finish. Moderate smoke. Hint of piney hops bitterness. Light body. Sweetened black coffee with a boozy shot added. Dark fruit reminiscent of abbey styles. I’m not sure what they’re attempting with this one.
Left Hand Brewing Company Wake Up Dead Nitro (85)
Sweet chocolate and dark fruit. Rich and thick caramel-oat combo. Some earthiness and some spice character. Silky mouthfeel with low-medium carbonation. Chewy and medium body. Balance is definitely toward the malt, but not cloying at all. Finishes a little roasty chocolate with some earthy spice notes and slightly bitter and slightly sweet making you want another sip. A slight warmth in the finish as well. Still and sweet, but with a good balancing bitterness that keeps it from being cloying. The malt profile is fairly simplistic, not offering many details besides caramel sweetness and roast finish. Alcoholic warmth is smooth.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Narwhal (85)
Roast character is blended and balanced with dark fruit esters. Caramel, chocolate, and slight hints of toffee come in later. Very low hops character. Nice sweet dark malt character. Dark fruit sweetness, cherry, raisin, and prune.Finishes slightly sweet and creamy with no lingering bitterness but a slight warmth.
The Pike Brewing Company XXXXX Stout (85)
Rich dark burnt malt flavor dominates the palate, with dark coffee and espresso that lend bitterness throughout the taste. Molasses adds sweetness in the middle. Notes of black licorice, raisin, plum, prune, raisin, dates, sherry, and dark cherry are present throughout. Some hardwood characters in the flavor—maple and hickory.
Odell Brewing Company Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout (86)
Sweet malt and chocolate prevail, with just a bit of roasted malt coming through as coffee. Balanced with a slightly sweet finish. Intense sweetness has some fruitiness that comes off a little bubble-gummy. Cherry and fig, dark fruit malt sweetness. Slight warming helps in the finish, and the fruitiness adds complexity.
Brouwerij De Molen Cease & Desist (86)
Sweet and malty. Toffee, chocolate, and caramel. Still get Sugar Babies candy, but more malt complexity. Moderate sweetness with fruity cherry and plum notes. Roast malt is restrained, but present. Tastes more like an old ale than a stout. Slight alcohol warming, just enough to let you know it’s there. Light hops toward the end of the sip.
Copper Kettle Brewing Company Mexican Chocolate Stout (86)
Chile flavor starts out high with moderate cherry notes and starts to burn slightly as it sits in my mouth toward the aftertaste. The hotness continues to grow well after the taste—a bit like hot cherry juice. A bit of caramel sweetness is there to balance, but the body is still svelte. The spices from the nose are here, too, but the chile heat presses them down into mere accents to the warmth.
MadTree Brewing Barrel-Aged Axis Mundi (86)
High vanilla and moderate spiciness that extends into the aftertaste with medium roast notes. Light earthy hops and some light chocolate with a mildly roasted coffee in the background that becomes more prominent as I sample more. A nice alcohol warming at the end of the sip.
Kannah Creek Brewing Company Demise of Ivan (86)
The ester fruitiness dominates this beer and a subtle smoky phenolic character works okay with the roasted malt. Relatively tart malt profile, maybe even cranberry tart. The earthiness and wood tannins support the tartness once your palate acclimates. A slight vanilla sweetness shows up mid-palate and lingers. Some roast and chocolate in the back. Nice sweetness with a good finish and slight warmth.
Rogue Ales & Spirits Chocolate Stout (86)
With the aroma, I expected a higher sweetness from the flavor. The first hit is a rich-dark-chocolate-bar bitterness. As it sits on the tongue, the sweetness of the chocolate comes out but fades into an assertive bitterness with citrus and pine American hops. Finished dry with bitterness that lingers.
Stone Brewing Company Stone Coffee Milk Stout (87)
Strong notes of roasted malt and coffee with a touch of caramel malt sweetness. Coffee comes through a bit too bitter and lingering in the finish, but not unpleasant. Tastes of a sweet iced coffee. Light lactose sweetness with light roast and low-moderate hops bitterness—surprisingly high for the style. Finish is spicy, crisp, and lightly bitter.
Alaskan Brewing Oatmeal Stout (87)
Dark roasted notes with a great nutty flavor of almonds comes through on the first sip, along with chocolate and mint. Raisin, licorice, molasses, dark fruits, earthy hops, and toast are also present. The beer is creamy throughout, but the carbonation is a little high and offsets some creaminess. Slight roast astringency on the finish.
Lervig Aktiebryggeri Konrad’s Stout (87)
Rich creamy consistency with molasses or dark burnt honey and medium chocolate notes. Medium sweetness transitions into roast at the end of the sip. Sweet caramel malt backbone and licorice flavor in mid-palate. Hops flavor is medium strong, spicy, and herbal. Roast notes expected in a stout are subtle. Aftertaste is mostly cocoa or bittersweet chocolate.
Amager Bryghus Hr. Frederiksen (87)
Sweet chocolate and roast up front with a medium alcohol note. Roast toward the end of the sip with a slight cocoa nip popping out at the very end. Some tartness in the finish. Medium sweetness that lingers throughout. Flavor has the cocoa and coconut, but the proportions are different now. The alcohol that seemed friendly on the nose is a bit boozy now that it’s in my mouth.
Two Brothers Brewing Company Northwind Imperial Stout (87)
Moderate plum and cherry, mouthfilling carbonation, light hops, chocolate, light roast aftertaste. Toasted malt, light caramel, moderate bitterness, long linger of chocolate and caramel. Medium body, a bit light for the complexity of flavors. Sweet chocolate flavors linger into the aftertaste. Hops flavors add interest. Nice roast bitterness in the finish. Wow, the balance among sweet, roasted, and bitter is incredible. Literally nothing jumps out and scrambles to scream ‘ME! first.’ It’s lighter than what you think you’re getting into with the smell, but a lot of the same flavors carry through and some nuttiness joins the party that was thoughtfully decorated in flower petals.
Elysian Brewing Company Omen Belgian-Style Raspberry Stout (87)
Big raspberries supported by dark chocolate malt. Medium to light sweetness and bitterness throughout with a firm acidity from the fruit. Finishes medium dry. Not a lot of roast in the initial impression, but the aftertaste is coffee and black malt. Still, the stout flavor is quite understated.
The Pike Brewing Company 2015 Pike Entire Wood-Aged Stout (87)
Strong dark roast throughout blends with dark coffee and dark chocolate. Vanilla underneath rounds out things at the end with a touch of sweetness. The mushroom notes from the nose are more pronounced here. The oak blends well with the malt and adds to the complexity. The cherry character adds a nice brightness and sweetness. The beer finishes with a slight bitterness, almost that of a dark chocolate bar.
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. Eclipse Vanilla (87)
High vanilla up front, similar to a cream soda, but a quick transition with high molasses that creates a drying effect mixed with a moderate alcohol spike. High caramel and toffee notes as well with a bit of chocolate. Oak adds a sharp tannin edge.
Coronado Brewing Company Stupid Stout (87)
On the sweeter side for an imperial stout. Lots of milk chocolate, latte-esque coffee notes. Fairly light body for the style, but since the flavors are a bit more subdued, it isn’t overwhelmed. Hops add a grassy note. Tobacco and smoke are here, too.
Stone Brewing Company Bitter Chocolate Oakmeal (87)
Moderate chocolate, with a touch of cinnamon and vanilla plus moderate piney hops bitterness. Light oak tannins give some bite, with lingering acidity and a moderate alcohol burn. Some chile spiciness with a vegetal type of flavor as well.
Stone Brewing Xocoveza Winter Spice (87)
The roast and chocolate malt hit first, with a nice mocha hug, then the mulled cider spices sidle in. Pepper, cocoa, bitter chocolate, with cinnamon and ginger. The heat is very mild, but pleasantly noticeable, and the alcohol is evident and lingers into the aftertaste with a soft, extended burn—perhaps a bit of a clash with the chile heat.
Stone Brewing Mint Coffee Milk Stout (87)
So much mint in this. It starts up front with some light sweetness and carries through to the finish, leaving a lingering aftertaste. The bitterness is strong, with some burnt notes, then transitions into a roast character, and finally, light coffee with some nice astringency on the finish.
Southern Tier Brewing Company Creme Brulee (87)
Lots of strawberry and cherry with a bit of honeydew, but the vanilla takes center stage, pushing any reasonable limit. It’s like Neapolitan ice cream. Chocolate and roast surface in the aftertaste. The body is sweet and creamy but isn’t cloying, and it finishes dry with a bit of astringency.
Founders Brewing Company Lizard of Koz (87)
Creamy chocolate notes blend with the vanilla from the barrel. Very sweet, fruity, and estery, and the berry flavor lingers long into the aftertaste. It’s like sweet chocolate-covered tart cherries. Faint roast malt is buried under the berry cream soda.
Bell’s Brewery Kalamazoo Stout (88)
“Kalamazoo Stout offers a blend of dark chocolate and coffee flavors with just a hint of brewer’s licorice. One of our oldest recipes, it balances a significant hops presence against a roast-malt body.”
Left Hand Brewing Company Wake Up Dead (88)
Chocolate with some nice roasted malt character and caramel notes balanced with a bit of lemony sweetness. Carbonic bite but full bodied. Well-blended dark roast and caramel with slight vanilla and biscuit. No hops character in flavor, but bitterness balances malt sweetness nicely. Finishes medium sweet and not bitter.”
Ska Brewing Company Steel Toe Milk Stout (88)
Caramel malt sweetness with just a touch of roasted malts to balance. Subtle raisin dark fruit esters. Finish is mostly sweet with no real hops bitterness to speak of. Malty sweetness with less perceived round sweetness from lactose. Some coffee, chocolate, and roast notes, but not enough bitterness to balance the sweetness.
Smuttynose Brewing Company Rocky Road (88)
Bitter roast malt and coffee followed by soothing sweet chocolate. Full bodied and filling. Bitter coffee flavors linger in the aftertaste (not a bad thing). Lots of oaky tannins in the finish. Finishes quite dry for how sweet this starts. Slightly sweet (caramel swirl), some chocolate but it’s cut with some tart grainy acidity.
Elysian Brewing Company Dragonstooth (88)
Nice caramel malt sweetness. Hops bitterness balances sweetness. Fruity esters with raisins up front and chocolate toward the end of the sip extending into the aftertaste. Medium alcohol warming that becomes more apparent as the taste continues.
Drake's Brewing Company Drakonic Imperial Stout (88)
Roast character is very nice with some cocoa, chocolate, and coffee. Some burnt-coffee type notes add to this roasted quality. Sweetness of some dark fruits along with malt sweetness add sweetness to this beer. Some earthiness and bitterness finish in the end with warmth. Sweetness hits your tongue but the swallow amplifies the roast and hops bitterness. Hops last into the finish. Warming alcohol.
Reuben's Brews Barrel Aged Stout (88)
A mix of chocolate sweetness and sweet dark fruit (plum/prune) carries through. Moderate vanilla, caramel, leather, and smoke. Strong bourbon carries through the finish, along with some molasses sweetness and medium alcohol. Thick, chewy body, and a sweetness that lingers. A bit of umami/soy sauce in the aftertaste, with bitter hops and alcohol warmth.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Sidamo Coffee Stout (89)
Dark roast coffee and dark chocolate backed by a slight toasted malt. Some nice roast. Dry finish. Moderate alcoholic warmth. Thick and sweet, but the sweetness slowly fades with a bit of acrid bitterness in the finish.
Southern Tier Brewing Company MOKAH (89)
Huge chocolate flavors, mostly reminiscent of a sweet chocolate bar or a chocolate factory. Coffee and roasted malts are subtle and help to balance, but finish is sweet and chocolaty with some slightly minty flavors. Tastes exactly like a mocha frappuccino. Very faint hops bitterness and some alcohol warmth that provides a nice accent.
Evil Twin Brewing Imperial Biscotti Break (89)
The nutty character dominates up front, similar to a cherry pit with some raisiny tannic flavor. This gives way to light vanilla and almond, but quickly fades to a medium-high roast character of caramel and bread crust. In the middle, coffee notes support. The sweetness was pronounced and enhanced the dark-fruit esters.
Stone Brewing Company Imperial Russian Stout (90)
“This massive and aromatic beer abounds with notes of anise, black currants, coffee, and roastiness, and its heavy palate is nothing to be trifled with!”
North Coast Brewing Company Old Rasputin (90)
“Produced in the tradition of eighteenth century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It’s a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.”
Founders Brewing Company Imperial Stout (90)
Chocolate sweetness carries from the start to finish. The roast builds and adds great complexity. The body is full and sits on your tongue. Some mild fruity esters of cherry and raisin with coffee roast in the finish. Clean, lingering bitterness. Slight chocolate and caramel notes.
The Saint Louis Brewery Schlafly Oatmeal Stout (90)
A bit estery, but not far out of style. A bit of heat as it warms, and more roast develops. What an interesting blend! Roast malt, moderate coffee, and then a strong hit of fruit. Then it’s followed by a wash of hops flavor and bitterness. The fruitiness is the wild card—it’s more real fruit than esters.
Terrapin Beer Company Cinnamon Roll’d Wake-n-Bake (90)
Big dark roast coffee blends with roasted malt. Moderate sweetness quickly fades into a bracing bitterness that lingers. Cinnamon gives a dryness that lingers and adds depth and complexity. A sip puts you in that neighbor’s place, sipping your own Mexican hot chocolate, maybe with a shot of espresso. The spice is nicely balanced. The roasty finish tingles with just a little heat that alludes to the slight alcoholic warmth that creeps in.
Rogue Ales & Spirits Double Chocolate Stout (90)
The chocolate bar flavor hits first but then reveals that it’s bittersweet chocolate in disguise. The big, oily roast malt and assertive bitterness belie the sweetness of the aroma. There is a fair amount of sweetness, but it’s almost subliminal. Nice coffee notes. Hint of burnt sugar/toasted marshmallow. Sweetness fades into a moderate bitterness with a bit of acidity. A dry roasty astringency lingers in the finish keeping it from being cloying.
Port Brewing Company Santa’s Little Helper (90)
Classic imperial stout flavors—moderate hops bitterness, dark roast coffee (but not overly bitter), bittersweet chocolate. Licorice, slight smoke, plum. Burnt figs and Turkish coffee. Strong roast paired with strong alcohol. Plenty of hops bitterness to extend the coffee flavor, and lots of coconut and cocoa extend the malt profile.
Moylan's Brewing Company Dragoons Dry Irish Stout (91)
Nice roast profile with some acidic bitterness. Coffee, chocolate, and cocoa. A little light bodied compared to the nose and missing a touch of mouthfeel, though otherwise balanced. Dry finish is a little surprising after the big chocolate nose, and roasty bitterness lingers. A little tart in the finish, which is refreshing.
Heavy Seas Beer Peg Leg (91)
Bitter chocolate and dry cocoa carry through from the start through the finish. Sweet dark fruit, raisins, and prunes add to the sweetness. Roasted malt character increases in the finish, with nice coffee qualities. Some alcohol warmth in the finish.
Jester King Craft Brewery Funk Metal (91)
Semisweet and dark chocolate notes quickly overtaken by a tart acidity. Nice sweet malt character with some good roasty toast notes from the malt. Lactic lemon-like acidic flavor adds sweet and sour notes and complexity. Some funky earthy wood quality adds to the scope of the beer. Dry throughout due to bugs chewing through anything that makes a stout thick and rich.
Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout (91)
Bittersweet bakers-chocolate flavors yield to a dark fruit character mostly reminiscent of raisins. A bit of roasty bitterness lingers in the finish, but not overbearing. Medium dark chocolate notes with pleasant roast contrast. Fairly dry for a chocolate stout, but enough lingering flavor to encourage further sipping. Light-medium body.
MadTree Brewing Are You Ready For Some Darkness (91)
Moderate roast, medium body, medium coffee, strong chocolate, touch of cherry, light plum, and a touch of maple syrup. A medium nutty note and more honey. Fairly dry flavor with slight dried fruit notes. Moderate alcohol and roast going into the aftertaste. Light oak notes toward then end as it warms.
Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery Bourbon Barrel Oil of Aphrodite (91)
Coffee roast character is soft and sweet and buoyed by a fair amount of caramel and chocolate and some nice nutty elements. Moderate vanilla and light leather. Coffee with a touch of rum and a shot of vanilla cream soda.
Green Flash Brewing Company Dia De Los Serranos (91)
Cumin and other Mexican spices up front remind me of enchiladas. Chocolate malt first, but then it steps aside for a strong perfumed chile flavor with a delicate flash of heat. After a moment to savor the pepper, the chocolate comes back with a touch of roast. The finish revives the slight burn, this time with an alcohol edge, but overall it’s a mild heat.
Southern Tier Brewing Company Choklat (91)
Aroma tricks you into expecting sweetness, but the flavor delivers more balance. Sure, it’s still just as chocolaty, but hops and roast malt do their best to upstage it. The roast flavor pulls the chocolate toward mocha. There’s an earthy/citrus hops flavor and then a powerful bitterness from a tag-team combination of roast and hops. Both sweetness and bitterness linger into the finish.
Rhinegeist Brewery Barrel-Aged Ink (91)
The barrel character definitely dominates with some nice vanilla, bourbon, slight coconut, oak-barrel character. Chocolate roast provides nice malt sweetness to add to the complexity. The sweetness helps in cutting the beer in the finish. A little bit of fruitiness (cherry) enhances the overall experience. A prominent alcohol warmth not only tickles the nose, but warms the throat.
Rhinegeist Brewery Ink (91)
Flavor has some of the complexity the nose lacked. Mocha with toffee and bready malt, some coconut. The flavor is very self contained—nice shot of mocha, swirls of malt. The nice caramel-sweetness roast needs a bump. This is more in the imperial porter or imperial brown ale range.
Ninkasi Brewing Company Oatis (91)
Rich chocolate blends well with the dark roast profile. Moderate sweetness that fades into a moderately strong bitterness with a hint of acidity. Dark fruit cherry esters. Acidity lingers. Strong roasted acidity is just slightly overdone. Finishes slightly dry with a lingering bitterness. Thick chewy body with a light tart note. Aftertaste is licorice that sits on the tongue with roast.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout (91)
Sweet chocolate and almost a milk creaminess. Some mild coffee flavor and dark malt sweetness and some dark cherry and almond notes. Creamy and not overwhelmingly roasty, almost with a soft espresso note. Oak character is subtle and hard to pick out, but lends a touch of vanilla to the flavor. The roastiness lasts on the tongue. Finish is mostly balanced, with a slight sweetness lingering in the end. Tannic character is very subdued. Hops bitterness is supportive.
Nantahala Brewing Company Chocolate-Covered Cherry Stout (91)
The notes of chocolate and cherries dominate and carry through the beer—the cherries are bright and sweet, and the chocolate is light and milky. Fruit esters (cherry, raisin, and plum) dominate the mid-palate and give a round and sweet flavor throughout. Roast is thin and light in the back, with little to no hops presence outside of the finish.
Urban Chestnut Cocoa CowTao (91)
Creamy milk chocolate hits up front and carries through the finish, followed by vanilla. Roast character sits in the back, along with some slight toasty notes and low bitterness that balance the sweetness. Delicate cherry-like fruit notes are also present. Creamy mouthfeel.
Melvin Brewing Ruckus (91)
Heavy roast, with medium dark chocolate and a rich malt flavor. It’s sweet throughout, but just enough to balance the bitterness. Apricot, melon, and fruitiness accent the roast. A bit of alcohol warmth creeps in, but it isn’t harsh and grows into the finish. Finishes rich and sweet, but somehow dry.
Alaskan Brewing Co. Perserverence (91)
An interesting balance between sweet chocolate and dark roast flavors—the strong roasted barley and chocolate malt are quickly covered up by smoky campfire phenolics. There’s a bit of metallic up front, which dissipates as the beer warms. Very low earthy hops.
Hi-Wire Brewing Strongman Coffee Stout (91)
The beer starts and finishes a little thin—fresh coffee leads, with some burned roastiness and creamy sweetness (as if they added a couple cubes of sugar). Subtle molasses and cocoa notes follow, along with some tobacco for balance. It’s big on flavor and easy to drink, delivering on all the things you hope from a stout.
Southern Tier Brewing Company Choklat Oranj (91)
A rich, chewy blend of chocolate and orange, like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange you see around the holidays. The flavor starts with the chocolate malt and cocoa before the orange jumps in, which lets it come across as more candy-like than solvent. A hint of cherry peeks through. I’d love more stout character—malt body, sweetness, yeasty fruit, and hops character. A dry, bitter finish from the orange peel.
Verboten Little Nonsense (91)
Assertive bourbon, supported by the malt sweetness. Vanilla, oak, and oak tannins, with some chocolate and caramel in the background. It’s smooth and rich, with mouth-filling carbonation and a bit of alcohol presence. Dark fruity flavors of cherry, raisin, and plum as it warms. Finishes with a chocolate sweetness and a mild alcohol burn that lingers.
Marin Brewing Co. San Quentin's Breakout Stout (91)
Wonderful malt complexity, with roasty burnt coffee flavor up front and dark sugar toast sweetness at the end. The creaminess really carries this beer well, and it coats the mouth. Notes of dry chocolate, with a touch of plum and molasses. Again, the dark cherry comes through in the mid- palate and finish.
EPIC Brewing Company Big Bad Baptista (91)
The cinnamon is a dominant player on the palate. Vanilla and milk chocolate support, with a touch of cayenne and alcoholic heat in the finish. More chile heat than expected. The barrel lends some booziness, but not much sweet coconut or vanilla from the wood. Light coffee notes, with cocoa, roast malt, caramel, and sweetness to balance.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Velvet Merlin (92)
Moderately sweet up front that fades into a moderate bitterness. Beautiful mouthfeel and medium-to-full body from the oats with a creaminess that coats the tongue and lingers into the finish. Medium sweetness with roasted and earthy complexities and some cherry notes. This beer has a nice smoothness that flows through the taste.
SweetWater Brewing Company Happy Ending (92)
The complex tropical fruit and pineapple hops character builds. Spicy and resinous hops provide bitterness to help cut the sweetness without becoming too sharp. Chocolate malt sweetness is more prominent than roasty flavors. Finishes dry with no alcoholic warming to speak of. Hops flavor wrestles with the dark malt and wins.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout (92)
Fruitiness carries through, with a raisin, prune, dark cherry character. Some chocolate and roast, but with fruitiness, almost comes off like a cherry cordial. A bit of a tartness as well. Hops are earthy and subdued. Finish is lightly sweet with some lingering coffee flavor. The chocolate profile carries well in this beer.
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (92)
My tongue has been lacquered with sweet roastiness. Some interesting fruitiness to contrast with the roast and some nice sweetness to balance the intense bitterness, but roast is the star of the show with a little dark chocolate character. The creaminess in the end dances against the hops character.
Avery Brewing Company Out of Bounds (92)
Sweet toasty and chocolate malt fades into assertive bitterness and acidity from the dark malt. Well-blended roast and hops! The piney and minty hops notes along with the bitterness work very well with the chocolate and dark roast from the malt bill. The body is medium-dry throughout, which helps the hops shine instead of overwhelming them with sweetness. Some citrus notes. The finish is slightly dry.
Smuttynose Brewing Company Smuttynose Imperial Stout (92)
Lovely complex malt sweetness—like chocolate-covered Fig Newtons, or maple syrup, with a touch of earthy hops to help balance. Like a shot of strong expresso, no cream. Complex and deep, but a bit intense so sessionable is not part of this section. Big cherry, light plum, big chocolate, moderate coffee, light hops bitterness, touch of alcohol, moderate caramel. Aftertaste: big chocolate, touch of coffee, light bitterness. Starts out like a thinner-bodied barleywine, but the hops and roast bitterness crack that illusion. The promise from the nose is here, but it doesn't quite mesh as well in the flavor because the lingering hops and slight astringency add some harshness. Hops flavor is as big as the roast. Sherry, malt, dried fruit and esters are still nice, though.
Stone Brewing Co. Xocoveza For The Holidays (92)
Flavor is very much mole: the chile flavor is there, with a hint of chipotle spicy smoke, along with an earthy cocoa, but the spices are very much in play, with strong cinnamon and mild cumin. A touch of alcohol warming, just enough to know it is there. Subtle heat.
Terrapin Beer Company Tiramisu-Hoo (92)
Wow! Flavor is everything that the nose suggested, with just a slight balance shift. Imagine a rich, pecan-laden coffee cake coated in maple syrup and chocolate frosting, washed down with a very sweet coffee. The coffee finish grounds it.
Left Hand Brewing Company Bittersweet Imperial Milk Stout (92)
Sweet chocolate malt supported by coffee and roast. Sweetness slowly fades with a very slight bitterness and acidity in the finish. Toasty, almost graham cracker, malt. Good sweetness that’s well balanced by the roast bitterness. Medium roast coffee with a chocolate chaser.
Crux Fermentation Project Tough Love (92)
Rich malt profile: caramel and toffee grounded with roast malt and a spicy alcohol warmth. Fairly earthy. Milk chocolate with strong coffee and roast, moderate sweetness and dark caramel. Some hops backing for the roast bitterness. Medium smoke note up front and enough burn on the back of the throat to suggest chiles. The sweetness supports, and cuts through, the heat.
Terrapin Beer Company Wake-n-Bake (92)
Coffee-forward, followed by roast malt and alcohol. Medium hops bitterness complements roast notes. Starts quite sweet and transitions to a moderately intense acrid bitterness that’s emphasized by the medium high carbonation. The alcohol brings out a nice nuttiness and accentuates the cocoa highlights. Pleasant caramel, too.
Jester King Brewery Black Metal (92)
Rich and smooth with lots of chocolate and roast barley and a bit of welcome coffee roast. Hops bitterness is assertive but not overwhelming. Alcohol is readily apparent.
Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (92)
Strong roast, moderate coffee, moderate toasty, some chocolate, background, fair bit of malty, prominent tropical fruity hops flavor, moderately sweet, full bodied, juicy fruit, light plum aftertaste. Long linger is dark chocolate, dates, and plums.
Bear Republic Brewing Company Big Bear Black Stout (92)
Bittersweet chocolate, like very dark or baker’s chocolate. Good mocha flavor—roast and chocolate malt. Good bitterness with sweet undertones. Aftertaste is fairly mild, like it’s toning itself down. Moderate earthy hops, big mouth filling carbonation. Alcohol is up front and warming, but not harsh.
Grimm Artisanal Ales Double Negative (92)
Chewy sweet. Cocoa chocolate flavor has a slight dusty character. Hops bitterness is down the middle, does not linger into aftertaste. Aftertaste of chocolate and caramel malt. Big caramel, moderate roast, moderate plum and date, light roast astringency, light umami.
Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout (92)
So smooth and creamy, like adult chocolate milk. Vanilla and chocolate hit up front, giving way to the sweetness. It’s very sweet, with big chocolate, fruit, vanilla, coconut, and cherries, with some roast and a very small floral hops presence that give a clean balance to the finish. Dangerously smooth.
Deep Ellum Local Legend (92)
Rich dark chocolate up front, with some roasty notes that help carry this beer and keep it from being too sweet. Vanilla milk flavor on the back of the palate provides a good counter to the roast, along with molasses, dates, and raisins. Dark chocolate and cream really shine through as this beer warms. The mouthfeel is fuller and thicker than others in the same ABV range. It finishes full and sweet and a bit chewy.
Societe The Butcher (92)
Massively roasty, with cocoa-powder richness that supports. The roast intensity is kept in check with the sweet body, but the charred/burned character dominates. Molasses and black licorice emerge as it warms. Notes of stone-fruit esters round things out.
Burnt City Brewing Freight Handler (92)
The creamy milk-like sweetness hits up front, with some roasty character that helps to cut that. On top of that is a burnt roast taste, with some dark chocolate, black licorice, and cherries. Some earthy moss-like flavors in the middle, with notes of cigar and tobacco. A medium body with a creamy mouthfeel, with some toast and bitter chocolate to help balance the sweetness in the finish.
Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout (92)
The nitrogen lends some vanilla milk sweetness throughout the taste, giving this beer a creamy mouthfeel and a medium body. The lightly roasted coffee is present, but the sweet chocolate dominates and carries through the finish. Really nice cherry esters give this beer an entertaining complexity.
Aspen Brewing Co. Barrel Aged 10th Mountain (92)
The rich vanilla and oak are well-balanced with the beer and barrel character. There’s some whiskey, chocolate, coconut, and roast, with light ash smoke and molasses in the background. Medium sweetness and bitterness complement an amaretto-like note at the back end, along with some subdued heat from the alcohol. It finishes dry.
Alaskan Brewing Company Alaskan Stout (93)
Very nice malt character: nutty, caramel, and coffee candy. Sweet up front but the finish tones that down. Chocolate cake with a dark chocolate/cacao nib frosting. Smooth mouthfeel from the oats. A mild bit of ester fruitiness, but it works well with everything else.
Dieu Du Ciel! Péché Mortel (93)
Dark roasted coffee flavors up front, almost bordering on burnt, yet not astringent. An intense dark chocolate, cacao nib front, with a balance of moderate coffee flavor. Some fruitiness, raisin, dates, dark cherry. Finishes roasty and slightly bitter. Finish is very estery, almost Belgian, with moderate alcohol heat.
The Lost Abbey Track 10 (93)
Strong coffee and chocolate, but also some nice malt complexity (caramel, toffee, dark fruit, and roast). Light nutty notes, medium body, touch of licorice, and moderate sweetness. Medium-high alcohol heat dries out the sweetness. Coffee blends well with the alcohol and fruity oak-barrel notes.
Perennial Artisan Ales Abraxas (93)
Moderate spice up front with cinnamon and chile flavor. Big chocolate notes, similar to a mole. Light chile spice toward the end of the sip but not overpowering—the flavor seems to be greater than the chile spice. Sweet full chocolate flavors followed by medium sharp chile heat and some cocoa that lingers to mix with the late arriving chile flavor, lasting into the finish.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Bourbon Barrel GBS (93)
This is somewhere between a Mexican mole stout and a Christmas beer. It is very much like a cinnamon roll. Moderate sweetness with high spices that grow in intensity toward the end. Alcohol stays in the background as a warming. Light coffee note toward the end. If you like cinnamon-clove-ginger, you’ll be quite happy. Mexican hot chocolate.
Half Acre Beer Company Big Hugs (93)
Sweet mocha stout with subdued hops bitterness. The medium coffee flavor substitutes for hops bitterness. Moderate to strong sweetness that slowly fades. Chocolate and rich malt with a bit of toast and a hint of roast. Somewhat warming from alcohol.
Schlafly Beer/The Saint Louis Brewery Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (93)
This has a great intense chocolate front with a prominent booziness carrying through. Some nice roast character keeps things from getting off track. Rich bourbon sweetness with the obvious roast and chocolate notes from the malt. Relatively chewy throughout, but it finishes dry and bourbony. Vanilla combines with the chocolate roast to provide a milk chocolate character.
Oskar Blues Brewery Barrel-Aged Ten FIDY (93)
Rich chocolate-syrup flavors up front, perfect for ice cream. Sweet caramel and a touch of vanilla and coconut with coffee notes going into the aftertaste. Medium alcohol on the back end (but not harsh) mixed with a slight burntness. Touch of umami. Cherry esters are rich and sweet. Some tartness gives the finish a little tang. Barrel notes are subtle—vanilla, and slight tannin on the finish helps to dry it out.
Avery Brewing Company Vanilla Bean Stout (93)
Moderate sweetness, roast, plum, cherry, coconut, earthy. Touch of caramel and vanilla, big dark chocolate and mouthfeel. Big sweet fruity notes up front, almost sangria-like. Light chocolate and coffee notes in the background mixed with a moderate alcohol warming. A nicely balanced beer that reveals more as you sip.
The Bruery So Happens It’s Tuesday (93)
Moderate dark chocolate, coffee, and vanilla, big fruit—cherry, apricot, plum, mango, and peach. High sweetness up front with high oak notes. Caramel coffee with a shot of chocolate syrup and a jigger of whiskey. Smooth blend of chocolate and coconut support the cherry sweetness and help to dry it out.
Fort George Brewery Cavatica (93)
Dark fruits really punch through this one like a Russian gang fight where one side is Fig Newtons and the other is a bunch of prunes. The flavors carry through pretty far and the semi-bitter finish is like 80 percent dark chocolate. Melted brown sugar, chocolate-covered coffee beans also got their name on the guest list.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company Darkest Hour (93)
Moderate chocolate, moderate coffee, light roast, light bitterness, dark cherry, fig, plum, dates, touch of umami. Long linger is dark chocolate, big cherry. Hops bitterness is crisp and adds structure. There's an interesting bit of toasty malt that reminds me of French bread crust fresh from the oven, but the roast almost masks it.
Tallgrass Brewing Company Buffalo Sweat (93)
Roasty chocolate up front with a slight brightness to it. A smooth creaminess hits in the front and carries through. The creaminess blends with some chocolate roast character to provide the taste of a light milk chocolate bar. Medium vanilla and roasted coffee as it starts to warm. The oats come through to support. The finish is quite dry.
The Libertine Brewing Company Our Intention is War (93)
A healthy amount of tartness up front, with brown sugar and a vinous character that gives way to the roast character and bitterness. Malt complexity is there but secondary to the tartness. Creamy body and sweetness, which provide an incredible amount of depth and balance.
Wicked Weed Dark Arts (93)
Intense boozy sweetness, with strong molasses, brown sugar, and slight burned sugar notes. Fruity raisin and plum esters hide behind the cane sugar. The yeast character is almost Belgian—it’s difficult to nail down, but it’s nice—and the Brett characters aren’t evident in the taste … just the slightest hint of funk. Hints of toasted bread and bread crust with vanilla.
Coopers Brewery Best Extra Stout (93)
Burned roast notes come through up front, with some roasty malt to support. The body is a little thin yet a little creamy. Notes of molasses and black licorice add just-right sweetness. Fruity notes of apple, grape, golden raisin, plum, prune, tropical fruit, and pineapple are balanced by an earthy hops presence.
Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee 2016 (93)
Rich chocolate and coffee throughout, with the aforementioned dark-fruit esters. The well-blended oak character brings vanillin and just enough tannin to provide a little extra balance. Burnt toast, mild roast, and chocolate malt make for great malt backing. A rich flavor bomb.
Upland Brewing Teddy Bear Kisses (93)
Bitter chocolate covers the mouth with some extreme roast character, which gives it a slight wood and tobacco presence. The roast really dominates with a chewy flavor, as if biting into an espresso bean−laced dark chocolate bar. The mouthfeel is fantastic, and coats the cheeks. Finishes with hoppy bitterness, cigar, and tobacco notes.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2016 (93)
Moderate chocolate up front, with light cinnamon spices and big vanilla. Some rich chocolate sweetness in there, caramel, with vanilla, oak, leather, and bourbon—the sweetness provides a scaffold. Fruity notes of dark cherry, plum, prune, and raisin that support the bourbon. This beer has a nice chewy body with a moderate alcohol burn and light acidity.
Terrapin Moo-HooChiato Milk Stout (93)
Lots of chocolate and roast—tiramisu, espresso, roast malt, dark chocolate, chocolate syrup, and just a hint of coffee. Some vanilla, maple, and dark stone fruits as well. It’s fairly easy drinking for 8 percent. The carbonation dances on the tongue and may be slightly overdone, but the bitterness and sweetness balance with the touch of alcohol. It’s a drier finish than expected.
Boulevard Brewing Company Imperial Stout (94)
Fruity, almost Belgian yeast profile. Plenty of oak, vanilla, and tannins. Chocolate and notes of vanilla and bourbon from the oak give way to subtle notes of raisin and caramel. Roasted flavors are restrained, yet help to balance. Alcohol is subdued but evident. Hops flavor is low, grassy, and appropriate. Warmth in the finish adds to the experience of this beer and has pleasant smoothness.
Ninkasi Brewing Company Vanilla Oatis (94)
The strong vanilla meshes with the roast nicely, creating a beer reminiscent of a root beer float. Finish is sweet, perhaps with a hint of lactose. Body is chewy and smooth. Oatmeal character is very obvious and pleasant. Very creamy.
Pelican Pub & Brewery Tsunami Stout (94)
Awesome malt complexity with chocolate, coffee, bread crust, toast. Moderately sweet up front that fades into an assertive bitterness with a hint of acidity. Somewhat dry finish with a light chocolate and roastiness that lingers. A fun blend of chocolate and banana with some underlying cherry notes. Medium-heavy body and medium-high carbonation. Big roast notes with a moderate smoke note that extends into the aftertaste. A slight herbal spice note at the end of the sip. The roast and carb dry out the beer.
Stillwater Artisanal Ales Surround (94)
Light smoke notes complement full-bodied roastiness. Alcohol is smooth and warming. Good roast malt up front, with a bit of smoke. Mild chocolate. First sense is sweet, but some lingering hops bitterness, the roast edge, and alcohol dry out the finish. Fairly fruity. Aftertaste has a low hops note and smoke that continues after the sip.
Mikkeller George! (94)
Oily coffee roast hits first, satisfying that stout character. Moderate sweetness ushers in a simple chocolate flavor. Warming alcohol joins with the long-tail roast fade for a lingering finish. Caramel and toffee come out. Suporting hops bitterness. Hops flavor is resinous, woody.
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Leon Russian Imperial Stout (94)
Big sweetness is immediately apparent with moderate coconut, light vanilla, smooth roast, a touch of earthy oak, strong caramel, light plum, touch of cherry, touch of umami. Expected chocolate notes. Medium alcohol note with appropriate carbonation. Roasty at the end of the sip. Very well blended with a touch of heat on the finish. Great wood character.
Goose Island Brewery Bourbon County Brand Stout Regal Rye 2015 (94)
High fruitiness up front with a high cherry note. Strong acidity, moderate chocolate, fig, and vanilla, big sweetness, port notes. A bit of coffee and chocolate at the end of the sip. A well-attenuated and huge beer. Strong bourbon character with some coffee-like notes. Spicy.
Fort George Brewery Bourbon Barrel Cavatica (94)
Dark stone-fruit esters from the nose are also on the tongue and add to the sweetness. Roast blends well with the esters with just a touch of heat on the finish. A red-wine character is paired well with a dark chocolate sweetness and brighter, sweet fruitiness. Some oak character adds complexity with some vanilla sweetness as well. Finishes sweet with some alcohol warmth.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Siberian Night (94)
This has a good flow from roasty coffee with a touch of complementary earthy hops bitterness, chocolate notes that shift it to mocha with some help from a nice caramel sweetness, fading into a pleasant aftertaste with light reminders of your alcohol intake. Smooth and pleasant, with a superb balance for a roast-forward stout.
Otter Creek Brewing Co. Couch Surfer (94)
Moderate sweetness slowly fades into a firm but balanced bitterness. Dark chocolate and toasted malt are forefront with creamy oats supporting. Moderately dry finish with lingering acidity from the roasted malt. Medium body, light chewiness. Silky smooth and chewy throughout.
Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout (94)
The coffee character continues into the taste with milky lactose sweetness that is nicely balanced with caramel sweetness and roasted character, reminiscent of dark chocolate and espresso. Light tannic astringency in the finish, which helps cut some of the sweet. Aftertaste is chocolaty and smooth. Light earthy hops with just enough bitterness to keep the sweetness in check.
The Libertine Brewing Co. Stocking Stuffer (94)
Pronounced tart cherry sweet and sourness that’s balanced with stone-fruit flavors—apricot, plum, and pluot. A touch of malt complexity with a healthy amount of funk add to the experience. The barrel is restrained, adding just enough spiciness to add depth. Nice warming chocolate roast character in the back, with a woody character that’s earthy and lingering.
Smog City The Nothing (94)
This is a chocolate bomb. Lots of chocolate roast that’s very sweet and chocolate milk−like, and it transforms into an intense burned sugar, deep roast character plus a hint of currant. Silky smooth carbonation that tastes like it could be nitro, and chewy. The roasted bitterness lingers, but falls off just before becoming unpleasant.
Hailstorm Stop, Collaborate & Listen (94)
Rather sweet, verging on cloying, and enhanced by warming holiday spices. Big cherry esters. Sweet cocoa, vanilla, roast coffee, and light heat from the cinnamon. Mild alcohol warmth and spiciness, complemented by the roastiness. It’s like a melted chocolate candy bar, with the gentle sweetness of rice pudding.
La Cumbre Malpais Stout (94)
The malt sweetness hits up front, with notes of roast, toast, chocolate, and coffee. Fruity notes of cherry, raisin, and plum are also present, as well as low apple and cherry wood. Vinous and licorice flavors cut through the roast. Medium-full body and clean fermentation, with a finish that is well-rounded and chewy.
Left Coast Brewing Voodoo Stout (95)
Very roasty, chocolaty, and malty, a lot like chocolate covered espresso beans. Hints of toffee, caramel, and vanilla with some nice fruity esters. Citrus and pepper character carry hops bitterness and keep it from being too sweet. Full-bodied with a nice dryish finish and slight warmth.
The Bruery Tart of Darkness (95)
Lots of tartness and acidity, both lactic and acetic, with just a bit of Brett-like funk and notes of white bread. Not much caramel or chocolate malt flavor or character. Stout roast character is washed away by the obvious mixed bug sour. Tannic wood character is beautifully balanced with the cherry fruit flavors.
The Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout (95)
Very clean yeast profile. Hops character is subdued; bitterness is a bit over-accentuated by the tannic wood. Rich and malty with dark coffee and dark chocolate notes accentuated by hints of wood oak character and dark fruit. Finishes with a complex warming character.
Great Divide Brewing Company Oatmeal Yeti (95)
Treacle, coffee, and cocoa. Dark chocolate as well. Very intense! Warming but not hot, this keeps revealing nice details: caramel, cherry, and plum with hints of sherry as well. So smooth. The complex malt character is earthy, roasty, and nutty.
Fremont Brewing Bourbon Barrel Dark Star (95)
Rich dark chocolate with dark cherry and subtle plum esters and a nice wallop of coconut to enhance the experience. The other barrel characters are there as well to provide a round richness. Finishes medium dry with a touch of roast. A decent amount of heat prevents you from forgetting the type of beer your drinking.
Two Roads Brewing Co. Unorthodox (95)
Quite aggressively hopped for an imperial stout—piney, earthy, hint of grass. Makes you wonder whether you’re drinking a black DIPA. Lots of coffee and sweet caramelized malt. More malt sweetness than suggested by the aroma.
Fremont Brewing Dark Star (95)
The flavor follows up on everything the aroma suggested—rich, sweet, chocolate coffee but adds in a hoppy bitterness that supports the roasty edge. While the bitterness lingers into finish with a light acidity, it’s still fairly smooth. Just enough alcohol to feel appropriate for the style.
Terrapin Beer Company Moo-Hoo (95)
This beer has a really nice smoothness through the flavor. There is a pleasant chocolate sweetness from the roast that tastes of chocolate but is not overpowering. A little vanilla comes through and some slight coffee. The sweetness carries through, but it is never too sweet. Roast in the finish helps to dry it out.
Breakside Brewery Salted Caramel Stout (95)
Sweetness up front with chocolate, toasty malt, grilled peaches, and a light smoky note leave an almost BBQ sauce impression. Sweetness fades into moderate bitterness, and a light but sharp acidity in the finish brings balance. Complex caramel and vanilla and possibly some cinnamon and nutmeg. Smooth and creamy with a nice saltiness.
Tallgrass Brewing Co. One-Eyed Jacques (95)
Bright yeasty prune esters and a white pepper phenolic dominate but still showcase the roast. Banana and clove, with star anise, black licorice, and a touch of floral spice. Lime and lemon citrus notes. The coffee and dark caramel character comes through as it warms.
Schlafly Vanilla Milk Stout (95)
A nice milk sweetness up front is ushered in by light, not-too-sweet chocolate notes that work well with the vanilla. Smooth roast character is evident in the back and provides a great balance to the sweetness. Dark cherry and black walnut notes hang in the background. The body is medium and creamy, and it finishes sweet and round, yet dry enough to invite another sip.
Highland Brewing Company Black Watch Double Chocolate Milk Stout (95)
The initial flavor comes across as a very fine dark chocolate, with some level of nuttiness from pecans. Some creamy sweetness cuts through the dark chocolate and roast, lending some complexity. It’s very rich with the cocoa and deep-roasted coffee notes, and the creaminess lifts the flavor. There are also some notes of plums and cherries. The toasted malts carry through the finish, providing medium-full body and lasting sweetness.
Rogue Ales Rolling Thunder (95)
A delicious mix of vanilla, dark chocolate, black licorice, molasses, coconut, and dark fruity esters of cherry and plum. A strong malt backbone coupled with a healthy roast and smoke note keep the beer from getting too cloying.
River North Brewery Whiskey Barrel Aged Nightmare Fuel (95)
Very bitter, big coffee, roast, and chocolate. The coffee is so intense, it’s a bit acrid. Notes of light oak, vanillin, with cherry and plum esters. It’s very earthy, grassy, piney, and very dark, leaving a coating on the roof of your mouth. Relatively dry overall, considering the heavy body and high alcohol. Very sweet yet an acrid/burned bitterness dries out the finish.
Schlafly Mexican-Style Chocolate Stout (95)
The chocolate is quite high and works with the vanilla to soften the spiciness. Where the nose emphasized cacao nibs and caramel, the flavor is more like bittersweet dark chocolate. The bitterness fades into roast malt, but there is a little roughness in the transition. The cayenne and cinnamon are nicely restrained, and the cinnamon and ginger are more in the swallow and aftertaste. Finishes slightly on the sweet side.
Humboldt Brewing Company Black Xantus (95)
Intense dark fruity sweetness, with a concentrated raisin and currant character. Chocolate, sherry, and oak add complexity. It’s quite boozy and sweet, with moderate bitterness to balance. The roastiness comes out much more as it warms, and it lingers with every passing sip. Some of the finishing sweetness tastes like vanilla from the oak, or even smoked licorice.
Odell Brewing Company Jolly Russian (95)
Chocolate and roast add complexity up front, with a light alcohol warming toward the finish. Notes of rum, but also a note of tequila. The oak quality of the barrel is evident. Flashes of cocoa and vanilla weave through dark fruits of fig, plum, prune, and raisin. Intense flavors, but no single flavor dominated.
Fremont Barrel Aged Dark Star 2016 (95)
Huge sweet milk chocolate. It’s a dance between the roast and the chocolate, with some malt sweetness. Notes of caramel, coffee as well, and from the barrel, some smoky wood, moderate oak tannins, and vanilla. Black licorice, with raisin, plum, and prunes that come out as if eaten straight from a bowl, supported by the bourbon and malt sweetness.
Goose Island Bourbon County Properietor's '16 (95)
The rich, smoky flavor gives the chocolate and roast malts a smoky twist, and then the pepper flavor comes in, along with a rich, caramel sweetness that buffers the moderate chile warmth. It’s slightly cloying, but the flavors are all in balance. A bit of bacon, BBQ, tobacco, and hot chiles. But as strong as the flavors were, they didn’t overwhelm the beer’s overall stout nature.
Mad River Brewing Company Steelhead Extra Stout (96)
Initial sweetness, followed quickly by sharp roast and chocolate flavors that emerge nicely as it warms. Moderate hops bitterness and moderate astringency in the finish. Hops bitterness is mild with hints of citrus but carries through in the finish with a slight sweetness. Some subtle esters and spice as it warms, which works well with the underlying complex roasted malt character.
Victory Brewing Company Storm King Imperial Stout (96)
Strong roasted malt blended with dank hops—a roiling mix of sweet and bitter. The full-bodied malt sweetness competes with the aggressive hops, both in flavor and bitterness. The way the brewer juggles the hops character and malt character is creative and deft.
Eel River Brewing Organic Raven's Eye (96)
This beer tastes like a caramel dunked apple from the fair! Malt complexity from roast, caramel, and slight chocolate are well blended. Bitterness throughout to balance the malt. Sweet but not too sweet. Finishes smooth with a nice warming character in the end. I like the warmth and rich malt profile.
Southern Tier Brewing Company 2x Stout (96)
The lactose adds some extra creaminess to the malt sweetness. Lots of coffee in the finish, almost latte-like. A hint of hops spiciness keeps it interesting without overwhelming the lactose. Caramel with a subtle roasted malt character, mostly reminiscent of chocolate. Sweetness is well balanced with enough bitterness from both hops and roast to avoid it becoming cloying.
Verboten Brewing Pure Imagination (96)
Sharp black coffee with a serving of brown sugar. The malt complexity is nice, with toast and caramel joining the roast. Smooth. The esters are toned down a little but that’s okay. Good hops flavor. Nuttiness and toffee. Alcohol heat is noticeable in the finish.
Westbrook Brewing Company Mexican Cake (96)
Rich chocolate flavor up front with a chile flavor in the middle followed by a long chile spice that starts to grow. It never gets very hot, but there’s no missing it. As it warms, a little bit of a honey sweetness tames the heat, and the heat cuts the sweetness. Roast flavors hang out in the background relative to the forward chocolate notes. Coffee and the chocolate with some nice caramel malt underpinning, plus a very light smoke note as well.
Dogfish Head Brewery World Wide Stout (96)
This is very tasty, suggesting an English barleywine that hasn’t sanded off its rough edges: toffee, vanilla, molasses, and caramel. Big esters with cherry, plum, and raisin. There’s some light roast and chocolate as a nod to the stout gods.
Avery Brewing Company Mephistopheles Stout (96)
Thick roast coffee syrup poured over graham crackers. Fresh (unlit) tobacco here, too. Great malt complexity with toffee, toast, and chocolate and a big cherry ester. Sweet but not cloying. Alcohol is very warming, washing over the flavor letting the roast remain to the bitter end. There’s a cool spicy phenol that melds well with the alcohol warmth.
Jackie O’s Brewery Oro Negro (96)
“Oil of Aphrodite with cinnamon, vanilla, cacao nibs, oak staves, and habaneros doing some serious work in the stainless tank for three months until the brew was ready for packaging.”
New Belgium Brewing Clutch (96)
Smoky malt character, with an appropriate tartness. Lots of coffee and chocolate notes, pronounced roast, with an almost sooty note. Bread crust and melanoidins are present throughout, especially as it warms. Nice fruity esters—pear, cherry, and raisin—with a sour cherry lime flavor at the back end. A bit thin on the body for a stout, yet flavorful, and somewhat dry in the finish.
Lawson's Finest Liquids Coffee Fayston Maple Imperial Stout (96)
Smooth and thick, with heavy caramel, big chocolate sweetness, and a high dark coffee flavor. It’s got a big body and light carb. Fruity esters of raisin, spice, and other dark fruits, with strong hints of dark coffee and maple syrup like a sweet iced coffee. A smoky character gives it a bit of a campfire coffee character, too.
Epic Brewing Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist 2016 (96)
Well-blended roastiness from the malt and coffee, and some light barrel character helps pull the pieces together with notes of tannin, leather, oak, and vanillin. Nutty caramel, sherry, and a fruity yeast profile that includes dry cherries make for a fruitcake effect. Coats the mouth without being cloying. A deeper dominant flavor note than others in the category, heavy on bass notes.
Transient Artisan Ales Kentuckley (96)
Big upfront sweetness is strongly cherry-like, with the coffee and chocolate immediately taking over. It unfolds with layers of complexity as you move through the cherry, coffee, and chocolate for a few cycles. It’s hot, with a big ethanol presence. The sweetness hangs on until the finish, but isn’t cloying, leaving a sugary coating that balances the residual heat.
Oskar Blues Brewery Ten FIDY (97)
Complex blend of roast, biscuit, cherry, peppercorn, and alcohol. Hops bitterness lingers but is not prominent. Balance is on the malt side, and this is definitely a heavy example of an imperial stout—rich and roasty. Nice earthy character and some lemon sweetness with slight bitterness which helps to cut the sweetness. Coffee roast character is buoyed by the bright, peppery alcohol. Rich, dense, and extreme.
Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout Nitro (97)
Wonderful round chocolaty sweetness. If it were the right color I would swear I was drinking chocolate milk with a touch of coffee. Chocolate flavors are complex, from semisweet to cacao nib. Nice mild roast with a touch of bitterness to balance the sweetness. Very subtle dark fruit ester notes. Finish is balanced with a lingering roastiness.
Avery Brewing Company Uncle Jacob’s (97)
Lots of bourbon and vanilla up front, with semisweet and dark chocolate, caramel malt sweetness, and a slight tannin in the finish to balance the sweetness. Sweet bourbon, vanilla, dark fruit, and fig character with chocolate cocoa notes. Port quality adds great complexity as well. Noticeable soy sauce umami.
Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery Champion Ground (97)
Rich dark chocolate note, to the point of bitter chocolate, with a moderate alcohol note that swoops in to take its place. Moderate coffee is well-integrated and very smooth. Nutty malt, a touch of licorice, moderate earthiness. Light sweetness, but the aftertaste is coffee, chocolate, and dry. Low-medium vanilla supports everything.
Ninkasi Brewing Company Noir Milk Stout (97)
The roast malt slides in smoothly and builds to a nice coffee intensity. Creamy flavor and creamy mouthfeel. The underlying sweetness is pleasant but not too powerful until it fades down to let you really get the roasty bitter finish of the coffee flavor. The bitterness lingers along with some acidity, but it’s buoyed by the remaining sweetness. A faint whiff of hops in that initial sip adds some pleasant earthy complexity. Coffee balances the sweetness with a crisp roasted background.
Great Divide Brewing Co. Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti (97)
Sweet chocolate and roasty malt slowly fade into a balanced bitterness from hops (distinct earthy/pine needle freshness) and malt. Coffee complements the roasted malt and hops bitterness, acts as a background for assertive hops flavor. Nice alcoholic warmth.
Elysian Brewing Company The Fix (97)
Mocha smooth cold extracted coffee with a shot of chocolate syrup. Sweet without being cloying. Coffee and chocolate are strong but balanced by big roasted malt rich malt. Moderately sweet up front fades into a bracing bitterness with a hint of acidity. Moderate alcohol flavor adds richness and complexity.
Fremont Brewing Barrel-Aged Dark Star, Coffee Edition (97)
Moderate dark chocolate with a lighter body than expected. High coffee notes with an earthy, peppery note. Light vanilla note toward the end of the sip. High carbonation doesn’t create a bite but perhaps masks a slight alcohol note. Slightly smoky and touch of cinnamon, notes of nutmeg, smooth warming alcohol with a bit of spice. Good oak woodiness without going too tannic. Finishes medium-dry with a touch of heat and carb bite.
Wicked Weed Brewing Milk & Cookies (97)
Intense cinnamon throughout that melds well with the roast and chocolate malts. Sweetness that fades slowly but lingers into the finish. Malt chocolate (accentuated by the vanilla) with a hint of roast. Lactose comes through that adds a smoothness and sweetness. A bit like an oatmeal-raisin cookie or holiday baked treats. Alcohol evident and warming.
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. Eclipse Grand Cru (97)
The roastiness in this beer is really nice and the chocolate comes in with a nice smoothness. Nice coffee flavor. Sweet cherry notes hit through the flavor. There is a vanilla sweetness that hits and carries through the finish. The oaky, fruity barrel character plays well with the rich chocolate malt notes from the base beer. A hint of alcohol doesn’t overwhelm. A pleasant amount of roast bridges the gap between the barrel and the sweetness in the beer.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Scarface (97)
Big chocolate milkshake with a shot of espresso. Roasted chestnuts straight from a drum cooker, burnt cinnamon roll, old-school earthy American hops, and a very present amount of yeast. Once your palate adapts to the bitterness, the big stout flavors are more noticeable: caramel and chocolate malt, the espresso edge, and the nice sweetness.
Tree House Brewing Company That’s What She Said (97)
Dark chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. Holy sweetness! This reminds me very much of chocolate fondue. Medium roast notes toward the end of the sip. Aftertaste is very sweet and almost cloying with notes of mango and cantaloupe. Rich pipe tobacco and sweetness supported by dark chocolate and cherry tones. Medium dry mouthfeel through the finish, once the initial sweetness subsides.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Black Hand (97)
Big chocolate with sweetness that slowly builds and then fades into slight bitterness and a hint of acidity in the finish. Caramel and roasted malt support. Moderately dry finish. There is a creamy (vanilla) sweetness to this beer that makes it taste like chocolate milk.
Weldwerks Barrel-Aged Mexican Achromatic (97)
Starts with the cinnamon and chocolate, and then a touch of tartness to make you think of chocolate-covered cherries. Huge coconut, German chocolate cake, and cinnamon spiciness, along with some good coffee roast and strong vanilla. Very subtle pepper warmth.
Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher (97)
Moderately sweet, with the dark fruity esters dominating up front and transitioning into a dark-chocolate character, for a cherry-cordial note. Notes of roast, smoke, coffee, and malt bitterness are balanced by the sweetness. The smooth mouthfeel mellows out the alcohol heat. Finishes with light smoke, chocolate, light cherries, and a touch of alcohol.
Weldwerks Brewing Coffee Maple Achromatic (97)
The rich coffee and maple syrup blend nicely with an obviously big sweeter stout. The roast and chocolate notes from the base beer show up in the mid-palate, and the bitter roast and coffee offer a bracing finish. This beer is like eating a piece of coffee candy and a maple cookie at the same time, despite the aggressively bitter foundation. The finish is sweet yet dry.
Transient Artisan Ales Win Bigly (97)
Fruit esters come through on the flavor, with well-rounded plum and date flavors. Great milk chocolate and malt sweetness with slight toffee in the back. From start to finish, it rides the line between sweet and bitter roast, and no one flavor dominates—they start and finish together. Lots of warmth on the mouthfeel—it’s really amazing, creamy, and smooth as it carries the flavors.
Brew Gentlemen Double Mex (97)
Good roast malt and coffee up front, along with some Hershey’s chocolate, and nice accents of cinnamon and chile to add some welcome edges. It’s oaky and full of vanilla and coconut. The medium chile heat doesn’t linger but adds a spicy aftertaste. The body is medium-heavy, and the finish is overly roasted, almost ashy.
La Cumbre La Negra (97)
Tons of roasted marshmallow comes through in the flavor, with rich chocolate, malt, and toast. Intensely sweet up front, but with a healthy amount of roast to keep it grounded. Big vanilla, light cherry, and coconut flavors play throughout with subtle spice from the bourbon emerging as it warms.
BrewFist Spaghetti Western (98)
The coffee character carries through the beer leading to a dry chocolate finish. Intense coffee insanity continues, like a double shot of espresso poured over a melted Hershey kiss. The earthiness still lingers but it is much more mild than in the aroma.
AleSmith Brewing Company Speedway Stout (98)
Very smooth malt roast character. Malt sweetness of caramel, some toffee, slight vanilla, and coffee that rounds out the beer in the finish with a slight sweetness. Great chocolate profile and a nice balance of malty sweetness and delicious roast and coffee/dark chocolate character. A wonderfully sophisticated chocolate character that hides the booze well.
Revolution Brewing Company Rise (98)
High hops flavor up front with bit citrus notes. Moderate chocolate with big roasty notes support the hops. Quite sweet up front. Sweetness slowly fades into a low bitterness. Toward the end, slight smoke note but big hops that continue into the aftertaste with a mix of roast. Dry, bitter hoppy finish. As it warms, the smoke turns into a burnt molasses note. Very fruity: passion fruit and pineapple. Finish is sweet and lingers. Rich chewy body that doesn’t come across as thick. Big pine and orange flavors from the hops. Chocolate from the malt gives it a chocolate orange flavor. The sweetness comes together with all the different bold flavors and finishes with a slightly dry finish.
Founders Brewing Co. Breakfast Stout (98)
The first sip offers the same coffee complexity, along with a light touch of tart acidity. As you sink into the coffee, the chocolate builds into a nice mocha wave before fading to leave the bitter tang of roast malt in the finish. Even though it’s so roasty, it’s smooth, not grainy. Good understated sweetness up front and a dry finish.
Two Roads Brewing Co. Igor’s Dream (98)
A surprisingly unique citrus and chocolate combination with a decent amount of roast added for good measure. Some nice barrel characteristics (vanilla), but they only enhance the wild show going on between whatever hops these brewers are using and the delicious chocolatiness they’ve developed.
Grimm Artisanal Ales Double Negative (98)
‘Richness’ doesn’t begin to cover the luxurious flavors of this beer. It’s like drinking a dark cherry cordial, dipped in dark chocolate and soaked in bourbon, through a chocolate, vanilla, roasted coconut straw. A very rounded beer, with no one note dominating. Creamy. The oak adds great depth to this beer.
Copper Kettle Brewing Company Snowed In (98)
A wonderful blend of coffee and stout that helps you appreciate the difference between roast malt and coffee. This is clean coffee first, sweetened with caramel syrup and vanilla, with a pleasant roastiness that sneaks in near the finish and lasts. Alcohol is warming and a little spicy. The base beer has nice chocolate and toast character with vanilla from the barrel to sweeten things up a bit, then the coffee brings things together.
DeStihl Brewery Dosvidanya (98)
Tastes like a fresh brownie hot out of the oven with the same thick chewy vanilla and chocolate present in the aroma. It is creamy, with just enough carb to make everything pop. Strong coffee notes, moderate sharp roast, caramel sweetness, and oak tannins. Coconut and spicy alcohol round it out.
Blue Mountain Barrel House Dark Hollow (98)
A very smooth, almost creamy feel enhances the chocolaty sweetness of this beer. A restrained roast lets the sweetness dominate, but it doesn’t come off as cloying. Some notes of coconut and vanilla from the barrel also help enhance the experience. The chocolate flavors range from milk sweetness to semisweet to dark bitter chocolate. Some coffee notes. Nice warmth in the end.
Trillium Brewing PM Dawn (98)
The flavor delivers the same rich coffee effect, with a stronger sense of vanilla and brown sugar. It’s roasty with a touch of acidity, and it’s sweet without being cloying. A very nice base stout with plenty of chocolate and vanilla character, brown sugar, cherry, and date. The chocolate malt and caramel remind me that this is a beer.
Grimm Brothers The Count (Batch 2) (98)
This is a chocolate-covered cherry with all the tannic goodness of a nice bourbon or whiskey. Moderate roast and smoke up front play nicely with light chocolate sweetness. Mild alcohol warming and light fruitiness, which includes cherry and raisins, and some nice vanilla and almond notes. As it warms, the light oak flavor emerges, adding a level of complexity. The mouthfeel is medium-thick, with a slight heat on the finish that’s just slightly roasty and rough.
Transient Artisan Ales Buckley Light (98)
The balance between coffee and roast was nicely done, with notes of roast, cappuccino, caramel, mocha, vanilla, and chocolate. A hint of papery oxidation in there from the roast. Some dark-fruit esters and sherry, which make up some alcohol warmth, and a light touch of piney hops fit in smoothly. The mouthfeel is nice and chewy, and right before the coffee really hits on the finish, a cherry ester pokes out to brighten the overall character of the beer.
Tallgrass Brewing Company Bourbon Buffalo Sweat (99)
The beer has a nice smoothness. The roast is present with some coffee and chocolate sweetness, as well as bourbon and some dark cherry notes. Hints of vanilla cream sweetness. The body is slightly light but expected at this strength. The beer finishes with some complexity of chocolate and vanilla and a slight dryness. It's not as sweet as the aroma would suggest. There are oak notes in the aftertaste.
Deschutes Obsidian Stout (99)
Intense dark chocolate and cacao nibs up front, aggresive roasted bitterness coupled with hops bitterness. Espress-like roast is balanced by light vanilla sweetness and medium-full body. The finish is chocolaty and lightly astingent and alcoholic. Some burnt coffee flavor, with some sweet chocolate that comes through and a bit of citrusy hop character. Roasty finish leaves a pleasantly bitter aftertaste.
Heavy Seas Beer Siren Noire (99)
The chocolate character dominates and carries through but isn’t overpowering. The roast character helps to balance the sweetness, and it sits nicely on the finish. Vanilla and cocoa round out the beer with a nice warming character. The oak-barrel character adds some nice complexity and is in balance with the beer. Hops are a friendly afterthought.”
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Velvet Merkin (99)
Caramel, almond, and oak showcase. The vanilla character is strong and carries through. Nice roasted notes of coffee and malt help keep it from being too sweet. Cherry and plum esters. Balanced, with a pleasant sweetness that lingers in the finish.
Deschutes Brewery The Abyss (99)
Roasty notes dominate the front, coming through as burnt coffee and espresso. Dark chocolate, reminiscent of unsweetened cocoa, followed by notes of vanilla and sweet tobacco. Slight oxidation comes through as leather or sherry, but not unwelcome. Finish is almost bitter from roast character.
Founders Brewing Company KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (99)
Coffee notes of espresso and barrel notes of bourbon blend nicely up front, with a bit of caramel malt sweetness to support. Finish is a bit sweet with a slight coffee lingering note. Initial chocolaty sweetness fades quickly. Light earthy hops bitterness. Coffee character is faintly nutty and caramel-like. Very smooth. Boozy warmth in the finish adds to this beer.
EPIC Brewing Company Big Bad Baptist #27 (99)
Intense coffee/espresso notes with a wonderful chocolate character to round it out. A mild amount of barrel character, but the coffee is the star of this show. Caramel malt sweetness and subtle vanilla oak character come through, and the finish is mostly balanced—impeccably smooth without being cloying.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Kentucky Christmas Morning (99)
The ginger is stronger than the nose, but I still get the other Christmas spices in spades, along with vanilla. The roast malt grounds it with an earthy bitterness which emphasizes the perception of gingerbread. Mild cocoa and a hint of coconut with mild warming alcohol. Moderate coffee.
Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery Bourbon Dark Apparition (99)
Rich, juicy, and chewy throughout with a strong umami profile indicative of being nicely aged. Complex blend of perceived earthy, salty, soy-sauce, vanilla, and coconut components. Some low level esters reside underneath, but are well blended. Finishes relatively dry with some contribution from the tannins likely. Some chocolate, slight coffee, and dark fruits are present.
Cigar City Brewing Marshal Zhukov (99)
“Notes of espresso, chocolate, dark toffee, and hints of black-strap molasses. The English hops varietals provide a subtle herbal dryness, and it finishes with a hearty slap of roasty espresso.”
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company Frost Monster (99)
“Huge malt backbone with layers of roasted malt, chocolate, and dark fruit. This is big beer that puts all the emphasis on the malts.”
Tallgrass Brewing Company Big RICC (99)
Excellent blend of coffee, roasted malt, and chocolate. Moderate sweetness accentuated by the chocolate that fades into moderate bitterness from a mix of subtle resinous hops and dark malt. Alcohol warmth and a touch of caramel, figs, raisins, and spice.
Magic Hat Brewing Company Meatwhistle (99)
Lots of chocolate and vanilla carry through from start to finish and are complex and full. Dark fruity notes/cherry esters. Roast and malt character add a good back to the malt sweetness with some good toasty/roast quality. The oak (almost like almond or toffee) adds complexity and shines well; it mellows out the edges. The bourbon and oak blend well, but don’t dominate. Nice warmth in the finish. Vanilla and caramel are in full force but not cloying or annoying. Hops bitterness is appropriately low to make room for the major wood. Alcohol is noticeable but smooth and dangerous.
Perennial Artisan Ales Abraxas 2016 (99)
Very mole. The cinnamon is big, with lighter cocoa, paired with caramel and chocolate malt. Rich, complex spicy blend of the standard Mexican chocolate players. Moderately strong alcohol contributes complementary spicy notes and warmth—it’s definitely a sipper. Some sweet dark fruits, possibly plums and dates. The carbonation makes the spice pop just enough without being harsh, and the dryness from the roast makes you want another sip.
Hardywood Park Trickery (99)
Big sweetness, with moderate caramel and apple (like caramel apples), brown sugar, dark fruit (plum, prune, raisin), and a sweetness that carries through to the finish. The body is creamy and sweet and balances well with the faint smoke character.
The Bruery So Happens It's Tuesday 2016 (99)
Slight brightness up front, that has a touch of citrus that verges on sour—lime, perhaps? More fruity notes of pear, apple, white raisin, Riesling, dark cherry, and plum. Some malty sweetness of chocolate and caramel, with vanilla and a little oak—the bourbon comes through and adds so much to this beer. Mouth-filling carbonation and a luscious mouthfeel.
Perennial Artisan Ales Maman 2016 (99)
Huge bourbon up front, followed by strong malt sweetness of caramel, molasses, and heavy chocolate. A touch of maple syrup, coffee, spice, vanilla, and light oak tannins as well, with some heavy dark fruits of plum, cherry, and raisin. The whiskey alcohol warming is pleasant, with just a touch of alcohol burn, and a light licorice sweetness.
Hoppin' Frog Rocky Mountain D.O.R.I.S. (99)
Huge chocolaty flavors, coupled with a unique citrus hops character, give it a chocolate orange note that works well with the rich nature of this beer. There’s some roast and toasted marshmallow in there, whiskey, umami notes, and dark cherry esters. The body is thick and chewy and almost viscous, but there’s enough heat and roast bitterness for balance.
The Bruery Black Tuesday 2016 (99)
Assertive alcohol up front continues throughout the sip in a big and inviting way. Very intense raisin and plum charge the taste buds. Chocolate and roast sit in the background, with a touch of tobacco, strong oak tannins, light vanilla, and malt sweetness. Oak and bourbon come through, along with some oak tannins. Light acidity and a hint of vinegar balance the sweetness. It’s full-bodied and chewy.
The Lagunitas Brewing Company High Westified 2016 (99)
Intense barrel flavors, with strong vanilla, coconut, bourbon, and light roasted almond. The beer has heft but doesn’t sit too heavily on the tongue. Really nice creaminess rounds it out. Very complex beer with a lingering malt character of chocolate and rum.
Avery Brewing Company Tweak (99)
Rich, sweet dark chocolate with cherry and vanilla throughout. Notes of caramel, brown sugar, and dark roast bring out some malted-milk ball flavors. Plenty of vanilla and oak and oak tannins, with a delicate finish of tobacco. The body is quite sweet, but dries out on the finish. This is a very big stout.
Surly Brewing Company Darkness 2013 (100)
Rich and full bodied—what an explosion of flavor! It’s very sweet but the alcohol dries out the finish nicely. Everything the nose promised is here: malt complexity, warmth, and fine aging. Roast quality meshes well with the other malt flavors and the raisin/dried fruit richness is welcome. High in alcohol for sure, but the higher alcohol meshes well with the malt and it seems well aged.
Great Divide Brewing Company Yeti (100)
Warm and welcoming. Soft roast and bitterness mesh well. Alcohol is very present, especially at the swallow and into the aftertaste, but mostly emphasizes the sweetness with a touch of spicy warmth. Deep, rich roast malt character is both very sweet and very bitter at the same time. Finishes fairly balanced between lingering sweetness and bitterness
Goose Island Beer Company Bourbon County Brand Stout (100)
Lots of vanilla and bourbon with a very pleasant chocolate character to support. Malt sweetness comes through as caramel and toffee. Subtle chicory roast and red wine vinegar. Burnt sugar and vanilla wood is so nice! Some nutty and coconut flavors, plus sweet dark fruit.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Parabola (100)
Roasted dry malt character. Very slight wild Brett character but nothing obvious or offensive. Complex wood makes an otherwise simple base very intriguing. Incredibly rich, full bodied. Cherry, fig, tobacco, alcohol, black patent. Finishes oaky, dry, and well balanced for such as huge beer.
The Bruery Black Tuesday (100)
Big bourbon notes with vanilla plus huge oaky tannins, chocolate, and caramel. Yeast character is subdued and clean. Hops are hiding in the wings. Tastes like Grandpa’s tobacco pipe smells—warm, comforting, and timeless. Definite bourbon and vanilla sweetness and oak character.
Goose Island Beer Company Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (100)
Beautiful blend of smooth espresso coffee, bittersweet and dark chocolate, and most of all, delicious vanilla and bourbon oak flavors. The chocolate is complex, sweet, and dry. Vanilla-and-oak character blends well with the great coffee-and-bourbon character of this beer.
Perennial Artisan Ales Barrel Aged Sump (100)
Very bold, strong coffee flavor. Sweet malt profile, hints of vanilla, complex chocolate, slight spiciness, and earthiness. The sweetness is balanced well with the coffee roast and roast malt character. Finishes full-bodied and chocolaty. Nice warmth and smoothness for the size of this beer. A perfect blend of roast maltiness, malty chocolate notes, and intense espresso character.
AleSmith Brewing Company Barrel Aged Speedway Stout (100)
Rich chocolate and coffee flavors dance on the tongue, hitting all flavor centers. Medium barrel characters do emerge above the chocolate/coffee copulation, but the complex malt profile is the feature. Caramel and coffee are intricately bound with oak tannins to create this gorgeous palette of flavors. Finish is spicy, earthy, and sweet.
Goose Island Brewery Bourbon County Brand Stout Proprietor’s 2015 (100)
Rich sweetness, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, slight soy sauce. Complex mocha/caramel/roast malt, esters, and smooth warming alcohol (spicy) set up a perfect storm of richness. Big dark fruits (cherry, blueberry, blackberry, currant, raspberry) and bright acidity. This is a rich mouthful.
Great Divide Brewing Co. Barrel-Aged Yeti (100)
Juicy, chewy, and rich. Huge dark chocolate notes dominate, but they are cut by vanilla sweetness and oak tannins to add a nice complexity. Some background coconut from the barrel but also a nice fruitiness that lends a roundness. The roast isn’t overly bitter, but still prominent.
Goose Island Brewery 2015 Bourbon County Stout (100)
So many layers to the malt bill and barrel character that unfold over time...mocha on steroids leads to some vanilla and cherry which then lead to more chocolate and alcoholic heat...Crazy complex. Big caramel, moderate sweetness, touch of hops bitterness, moderately creamy. Cool nutty element with hints of pecan and almond.
Fremont Brewing Rusty Nail 2016 (100)
Sweetness is present up front, with burned roastiness and some dark fruits (raisin and plums) that follow. It’s a beautiful blend of chocolate, vanilla, coconut, roast, dark cherry, and molasses, with light coffee notes that add complexity. A nice blend of a bourbon-barrel character, with spice and booziness.