Stout is a style of dark beer that has been enjoyed for centuries across Europe and has made its way to the states along with the craft beer renaissance that has hit modern America.
Stout as we know it is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, along with hops, water, and yeast. The common flavor profile of a stout is quite rich and moorish, expect notes of coffee, chocolate and sometimes even a tobacco like taste.
You may have also heard of porter which is pretty similar to stout, it is simply a slightly lighter stout.
The term stout was popularised by Arthur Guiness, the creator of the Guinness brand, who labelled his first version of Guinness in 1817 ‘Extra Stout Porter’ which was eventually shortened to ‘stout’.
Stout is popular in the UK and Ireland so much of the drink’s history, as well as the reputed brands, are based in the UK and Ireland.
Read on to find out what the best stouts on the market are on this side of the pond, Sláinte!
OUR TOP PICK
Guinness is undoubtedly the best and most popular stout across the board.
Guinness, as mentioned, was one of the first commercially saleable stouts in the world, the Guinness tap is basically part of the furniture in any pub in the UK and Ireland, they drink Guinness more than tea.
Guinness is the best selling alcoholic drink of all time in Ireland, and there is a good reason for that.
Guinness has a recipe that is super unique and protected. It is brewed in the St. James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland, and has been since 1759.
Imported all the way from Dublin, you can buy Guinness in cans, or if you are lucky you can find a bar that serves Guinness on tap.
Guinness Draught on tap is even better than it’s canned version. Draught Guinness has to be poured a specific way, a good pour is integral to a good Guinness.
In the Uk they even have secret Guinness testers who test the Guinness at pubs, unknown to the bartenders, and make sure it is poured properly.
Although Guinness doesn’t travel all that well, this means that the further away from Ireland you get the worse the quality is generally, so if you can drink it in Ireland, be prepared to be blown away and be sucking pints of cream all day.
A good pint of Guinness is seriously creamy and tasty, you should be able to get a clean coffee and chocolate taste that is super refreshing but also rich at the same time. If you haven’t tried Guinness we would seriously suggest getting some.
Created back in 1988, the Black Butte Porter has stuck around and become a favored stout from the American market.
Brewed in Oregon at Deschutes Brewery, this porter is American made and can also be found on tap across American bars, which is the best way to serve any stout.
Even drunk out of the bottle, we’d recommend pouring into a pint glass for some good head, you can still taste the bitter coffee and chocolate taste that is balanced with some vanilla notes and the creamy finish from a good head.
You should be impressed with both the taste and the mouth feel from this stout. It’s actually relatively low calorie, too.
If you are looking for something bold to drink on a Friday evening after a hard week at work, this Imperial stout will give you a run for your money. Inspired by the drinking habits of old Rasputin himself who enjoyed the dark and creamy elixir.
Although at 9.0% you best have the stature and sea legs of Rasputin to drink more than a few of these.
Oceans away from the Imperial cities of St. Petersburg and London, we find ourselves in California where this tradition of dark and creamy stouts appeals to the craft market rather than the legendary Russian courtier.
The flavors of this stout are big and bold like the man himself, except toffee and chocolate notes and the classic coffee bitterness balanced with a pleasant and creamy mouth feel, yet with a hum of alcohol that cuts through the creamy and rich stout.
Founders porter is an American made stout that is favored among Americans. Brewed in Michigan, this ale pours deep brown and settles into an ebony black contrasted by a white head that should retain for most of the drinking experience.
The flavor of this porter is great, while malt heavy it has a cramaelly sweet finish that can be enjoyed by many.
With a nutty aroma and fresh tobacco scent, along with a super smooth and creamy mouth feel, you should be able to enjoy this stout all night and have more than a few with the pretty sessionable 6.5% ABV.
The alcohol volume helps cut through what is an indulgent drink to be sipped all night.
If your regular stout isn’t doing it for you and you still crave something even more rich and savoury, then Belching Beaver have you covered with their ingenious invention of peanut butter milk stout.
Belching Beaver can truly claim to have the best peanut butter milk stout, as it is the only one on the market.
This is clearly a work of genius, though, as Belching Beaver’s own brewers had the idea to combine the peanut butter taste with the milk stout that already exists.
The outcome is a delightful drink, the roasted peanut flavors combine really well with the usual chocolate and coffee taste of a stout, and it’s all balanced out with a kick of alcohol and the milk stout style brew.
This brew has a little more crisp carbonation than other stouts making its head a little bubblier than creamy. But the carbonation and the alcohol help to moderate teh savoury and rich flavors.
This stout is brewed in Cork, Ireland, and imported to the US market for the craft beer lovers among us to enjoy. At 4.0% this is a fairly sessionable stout that is creamy and has a lot of taste.
This is overshadowed by Guinness in Ireland so you can see why they import it. This beer is imported by Heineken which demonstrates its quality. Classified as an Irish Dry Stout, the beer is dark in color and settles into a white and creamy head.
The drink is generally medium bodied and can be drunk at length, just as the Irish imagined. Expect the usual coffee and chocolate notes of Irish stout, which is cushioned with a creamy mouth feel.
Guinness is such a big dog in the stout game, that we have to mention them twice.
Guinness Extra Stout is a traditional version of Guinness that is where the original name ‘stout’ came from, which was originally just an adjective used by Arthur Guinness to advertise his porter, but soon became the main name for the style of beer.
Extra Stout is a rebrand of the historic ‘West Indian Porter’ that was made stronger than the original Guinness so they could transport it to Asia and the Caribbean. Extra Stout now makes up 45% of all Guinness sales abroad.
Guinness Extra Stout is stronger in both ABV and taste, and is made to be drunk at home rather than from the tap, like Guinness Draught. The Extra Stout version is… extra stout, literally.
It is stronger in taste, giving off much hoppier and roasted caramel notes. This variety of Guinness is probably best for the American market as it can handle importation issues much better than Draught can.
However, if you can get Guinness on Draught we would still prefer it over this version, but this Extra Stout variety is great for home drinking.
This stout is a brew inspired by a Belgian-style stout. Unlike most stouts, this brew has some light fruit notes and sweetness that is a welcome addition to the roasty and malty flavors.
The flavor profile is actually pretty restrained when it comes to stout but still manages a complex feel. The creamy head is a great counter to the bitterness of the stout and makes it smooth enough to ignore the relatively high ABV.
A few cans of these around a campfire like Allagash intended would be both warming and comforting on a cold night under the stars.
For those among us who want to enjoy the rich taste of stout without having to worry about a hangover the day, or you simply just don’t drink, Bravus have you covered with their brewery that is dedicated to only producing the most premium non-alcoholic beers.
Forget the alcohol and expect the traditional tastes of stout to still be present: coffee, chocolate, and malty sweetness. Not only does this stout go down a treat, it's actually relatively nutritious.
This stout is gluten reduced and vegan, with only 22gs of carbs and 99 calories per can, this truly is the definition of having your cake and eating it.
Sierra Nevada is a brand that has taken over American grocery stores having been a popular brewer at the beginning of the craft renaissance.
As Sierra Nevada have become more commercial they have branched out with some of their brewing methods including this traditional take on the porter.
Sierra Nevada salutes the London working class tradition of stout with a hop-forward American style porter that has a wealth of malty flavor and the complexity of stout we expect with roasted coffee and chocolate flavors.
The 5.6% is a great percentage to get your evening off to a good start. The porter is made to be drunk out of the bottle and the brewing process was altered to adhere to this vessel.
This one isn’t for the light hearted, but if we are going to include non-alcoholic stout, you may as well know what’s on the other end of the spectrum. Prairie Ales decided to take artisan ale brewing to another level with this stout.
At a whopping 13% you won’t need more than two of these. The flavor profile of this moves away from the traditional recipe by a fair margin.
The aroma is pretty coffee and chocolatey like you would expect of a stout, however the body of the stout is actually brewed with Ancho chilis which makes for a warm and spicy finish.
Chili is a welcome flavor in this drink and helps cut through the alcohol. The alcohol gives the drink a liquor vibe and makes it feel kind of like the beer version of Kahlua, but this isn’t bad by any means.
The Original Reaper stout is one to enjoy in the afternoon as a mid weight session stout. The recipe has ample roast and cocoa bitterness that is rounded off with some sweetness from dark fruits.
The head is rather non existent among the canned exterior, which would help improve the smoothness of the stout, but as it isn’t too strong tasting anyway it will still go down a treat at any occasion.
A whisper of booze in the stout is enough to cut through the bitterness and get you going for another one.
This is a great stout that does what it says on the tin, is brewed in the US, Chicago to be exact, and has an ABV that will get you through any BBQ or family get together. Don’t fear the reaper with this one, give it a try!
Stout may be a drink that isn’t such a common thing in the US, but with any of the choices on this list you may find your new regular order at your local bar.
Moreover, if you are bored of drinking your classic beers and don’t take to the IPA renaissance of recent times, drinking stout can be a new and fun way to explore the world of beer and ale through something that is unique and also full of history as well as flavor. Find your new favorite drink today!
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