Five on Five: Stout & Porter

From deceptively easy-drinking to weighty and ponderous, the comforts of these dark delights run the gamut. Here, five pro brewers share their favorites.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff Dec 30, 2021 - 4 min read

Five on Five: Stout & Porter Primary Image

Photos, From Left: Matt Graves/; Jamie Bogner; Courtesy Carlsberg; Jamie Bogner; Courtesy Garden Path Fermentation

Hogshead Gilpin Black GOld

Jake Gardner, head brewer, Westbound & Down in Idaho Springs, Colorado
“I can’t not be a homer, so I have to go with Hogshead Gilpin Black Gold. That beer changed my life—it quite literally kept me on my career path and kept me at the Hog for five great years. The use of brown malt—to accomplish a layered complexity of baker’s chocolate, toffee, and a hint of roast—can keep one at the bar far longer than is appropriate. On cask, divine!”

Deschutes Obsidian Stout

John Mallett, VP of operations, Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan
“Crushing pint after pint of artfully poured Guinness, elbow-to-elbow in crowded rooms around Boston, paved the path to a lifelong love of the dark. That said, when American brewers adapted the style to incorporate great PNW hops, beers like Deschutes Obsidian Stout arose. A full range of dark malt flavors in this consistently well-executed beer plays beautifully with just enough hops to declare their geography, and a low enough ABV to allow a proper drinkability assessment. Barkeep, can you pull me another?”

Carlsberg Carnegie Porter

David Berg, brewmaster, August Schell Brewing in New Ulm, Minnesota
“Granted, I haven’t had a Carnegie Porter in probably 20 years. It was the first time I had a porter where I thought, ‘This is an imperial stout, but [with] manageable alcohol.’ Between the bitter chocolate, licorice, and dry finish, it is an amazing beer to me. It’s hard to pack that complexity into a sub-6 percent beer, but they do it seemingly with ease.”

Side Project Beer : Barrel : Time

Brandon Branscome, cofounder, Incendiary Brewing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
“I gravitate toward complex beer, aged in spirit barrels long enough to develop that magical symmetry among the oak, spirit, and base beer, and one shining example is Side Project Beer : Barrel : Time. The rich chocolate note marries tremendously well with the vanilla and coconut characters of the barrel, while the body is big enough to withstand thinning due to oak tannins from extended aging. It’s a luscious, bold stout with a full barrel character that exhibits many layers of complexity, and I have a fond memory of sipping this beer with a friend while we hand-waxed our 2021 Interception of Entropy bottles.”

Block 15 Nebula Oat Stout

Adam Cieslak, cofounder and head brewer, Maplewood Brewery & Distillery in Chicago
“I’m often in Oregon and recently picked up Nebula Oat Stout from Block 15. It’s fantastic. My wife and I have been smugglin’ some back to Chicago since. It’s rich with cocoa notes, roasty, and has an outstanding smooth body—everything you’d want in a 6 percent stout, and a real reminder of how good a lower-ABV stout can be. Love that beer!”