We're all adults here, right? Most of us got over a common childhood fear in our teen years, but it's ok to admit it if you haven't. You're still a little bit afraid of the dark. I'm talking about dark beer, of course. Stout beer as it's also called, isn't scary at all. What was scary were the keg parties where beer flowed and illness often followed.
Craft beer has changed beer's image and beer lovers no longer need to whisper their love of fermentation. They shout proudly in trendy bars, beer clubs, brewpubs, and concert venues. And while there are so many beer styles like lagers, IPAs, and pale ales, stout beers are sometimes criminally overlooked.
Even within the stout beer category, there are beer styles like milk stout with some sweetness from lactose sugar to be beer aged in bourbon barrels. They can be as high as 12% ABV in a Russian Imperial Stout or as low as 5% ABV in an Irish stout.
If you love coffee, dark chocolate and bold flavors, dark stout beer may be your cup of tea. Stout beer is made for foodies. Often called "a meal in a glass" because of the richness, stout beer will have layers of flavor too. You can find just about everything, including peanut butter, coffee, chocolate, raspberry, pumpkin, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and banana alongside roasted malts.
12 Stout Beers To Try
1. Half Acre Brewery Original Reaper
Chicago's Half Acre Brewery is a great place to start your dark beer journey. Original Reaper is a simple stout. There are no fancy flavors or brewing styles, just the classic stout taste of roasty malts and a bitter dark chocolate. It's a respectable 6% ABV and a well made introduction to the pure stout beer flavor.
2. Evil Twin Brewery "Even More 8 LB 6 OZ Newborn Infant Jesus" Milk Stout Beer
This New York City brewery believes they're doing God's work. Or God's brewing at least. So "Even More Jesus" is a beer from their Jesus series. All their beer names are unforgettable. It's NYC after all.
Flavors of caramel, vanilla beans, and coffee 'n cream are combined with roasted malt. This milk stout also has more hop bitterness than most. The lactic sugars that go into a milk stout balance out the strong hoppy flavor.
3. Firestone Walker Brewery "Velvet Merlin" Oatmeal Stout
You'll get hazelnut, nutty vanilla, and cocoa powder with roasted coffee. Do you love Nutella? Do you love Nutella for breakfast? Now, I'm not telling you that this oatmeal stout is perfect with breakfast, but read between the lines.
4. Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout Beer
Coffee? Chocolate? Spice? Sign me up. The Xocoveza recipe was inspired by Mexican hot chocolate. Brewed with coffee, pasilla chili peppers, vanilla beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, you could categorize Xocoveza as a coffee stout or a chocolate stout, but it's a lot more than that.
There's a pairing of roasted coffee and roasted malt that gives this dark beer an incredible depth of flavor. No need to wait for a fiesta to try this Mexican hot chocolate flavored brew.
5. Guinness Extra Stout
Guinness Extra Stout is the original Irish stout. The Guinness recipe dates back to 1821 with roasted malt being the main flavor. Irish barley and espresso notes make up this creamy iconic dark beer that screams, "Ireland!"
6. Guinness Draught Stout
Guinness Draught is a lower alcohol (4% ABV) and slightly lighter version of Guinness Extra Stout (5.6% ABV). It's best on draught in a bar but the next best thing are the cool Nitro cans you pick up in the beer section. The nitrogen gives that creamy head and fresh bar flavor.
7. Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout Beer
Originally just a limited release but now brewed year-round, Oyster Stouts are a rare style of stout beer. Beer legend has it that the term "oyster stout" originally referred to a stout beer that was sipped while slurping oysters on the side. But somehow the oyster shells made their way into the brewing process.
The oyster shells may give a slight briny flavor to the stout, but it could be a case of mind over matter. You might not taste the mollusk at all. This is considered a dry stout which means it's lower in alcohol but high in roasted malt flavors like dry roasted barley and roasted coffee beans.
8. Deschutes Obsidian Stout
I'm a fan of Oregon's Deschutes Brewery IPAs and their Obsidian Stout is just as impressive. this American stout has all the expected flavors of roasted coffee and chocolate along with subtle black licorice and dried figs.
9. North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout was first brewed in England as a gift for Emperor Peter the Great of Russia. With alcohol content between 8 to 12 percent, Imperial Stouts are much higher in alcohol than traditional English Stouts. This is the beer to grab if you're looking for full bodied and complex flavors of dried prunes and dates, coffee, and dark chocolate. This is a true meal in a bottle but also delicious along with a hamburger. Just be prepared to unbutton your pants.
10. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island first released Bourbon County Stout in 1992. This is a barrel aged stout that rested inside a used bourbon barrel to take on that sweet bourbon taste of vanilla and oak along with that familiar beer flavor. Close your eyes and go back and forth between the spirit and beer world.
11. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
Oatmeal adds a silky creamy quality to this dark beer. Low on bitterness and alcohol, Oatmeal is a great choice for when you know you'll want to have more than one beer. All the chocolate, vanilla, and coffee flavors are there but it's all kept on the down low.
12. Maine Beer Company Mean Old Tom Stout
Maine Beer Company labels their beers with minimalist labels as if your college boyfriend typed up a name he just made up on the bottle. It's pretty cool and definitely stands out in the beer cooler.
Mean Old Tom is a big boy. Dark coffee and chocolate with a pleasantly spicy bitterness make this stout hard to pass up on. If you can find this dark beer, buy it without a second thought.
Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.