Stouts are delicious, dark, roasty beers with a variety of flavor notes like chocolate, caramel, biscuit, dark fruits, and more. Our stout North Sky features some smooth notes of chocolate and caramel alongside a hint of sweetness. Stouts tend to derive most of their flavor from malt as opposed to hops or yeast. If you like stouts, there are plenty of beers, both in and outside the stout family, that we think you’ll love.
If you’re looking to branch out slightly from stouts, the next closest beer would be porters. In fact, porters and stouts are often so similar you might not find any difference at all. Porters were born from English Brown Ales a few hundred years ago. Stouts came after, as stronger, fuller-bodied versions of porters, aka “stout porters.” Nowadays stouts may be ever so slightly roastier or fuller-bodied than porters, but there are exceptions. For example a robust American Porter will taste bolder than a Dry Irish Stout.
Porters are broken into a few standard types: British, American, and Baltic porters. British and American are the two most common. British-style porters will have a softer, more caramel-like malt balance akin in flavor to a sweet stout. American-style porters tend to be drier with a more pronounced hop character. This style will feel very similar to (and sometimes identical to) an American stout depending on the brewer’s interpretation.
Baltic porters, which probably deserve a section of their own, are also worth trying especially if you’re a fan of stronger, sweeter imperial stouts. Baltic porters are higher ABV and typically lagered which leads to a very smooth mouthfeel. They have just a hint of roasted coffee flavor and some additional fruitiness that you wouldn’t find in a classic porter.
Great Lakes Brewing Edmund Fitzgerald – rich but balanced American style porter
Sierra Nevada Porter – clean and classic porter
Deschutes Black Butte Porter – smooth notes of chocolate and coffee
Allagash Haunted House – our dark, hoppy ale with a hint of Belgian flair (not technically a porter but quite close)
Jack’s Abby Framinghammer – big, beautiful classic Baltic porter
Following the stout lineage back, Brown Ales are another great option—especially if you enjoy the nutty, toasted, biscuity, toffee flavors you often also find in stouts. Brown ales sometimes also have a light chocolate character, but not as much of the roasty, coffee-like quality you would find in a stout.
Brown Ales can be categorized as either American or British. Similarly to the difference in porters, British Brown Ales tend to be slightly sweeter, where American-Style Brown Ales will be drier with a more noticeable hop presence.
Smuttynose Old Brown Dog – well-balanced American brown ale
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale – classic British brown ale with notes of toffee and toasted nuts
Bell’s Brewery Best Brown Ale – a smooth, toasty beer that offers hints of cocoa and caramel
In addition to Baltic Porters, there are some other dark lagers that will make stout lovers swoon. As with all lager beers, a longer, cooler fermentation with lager yeast will allow dark and toasty malts to shine.
We suggest you start with a German Dunkel lager, which will have toasted flavors of bread crust with a mellow nose of chocolate. Dunkels are wonderfully balanced with less roasted flavors than a stout. Dunkel literally means “dark” in German.
Schwarzbier is another great option for stout lovers, particularly if you’re a fan of dry Irish stouts. These inky lagers have a lighter body and balanced bitterness like a good dark chocolate. Schwarzbiers are roastier and drier than Dunkels, with a direct translation of “black lager” in English.
Notch Brewing Dunkel Lager – aromas of chocolate with flavors of bread crust and caramel
Suarez Family Bones Shirt – dark lager with hints of roast, chocolate, and dark bread
Schilling Modernism – notes of dark malts, bittersweet chocolate and caramel
There’s a range of tasty, malt-forward beers with origins in Scotland worth trying. From Scottish “Light” all the way to Wee Heavy, Scotch ales feature a range of bread and caramel malt flavors with varying degrees of strength. They can range in color from copper to very dark brown.
Stout lovers may particularly enjoy Scottish Export and Wee Heavy styles which feature toasty malt and richer, fuller bodies. Wee Heavy will be the sweetest and strongest with notes of dried fruits like raisin and dates.
Allagash Brewing Pictavia – A Belgian-inspired Scotch ale aged in Scotch barrels (a limited release)
Odell Brewing 90 Schilling – balanced and smooth copper colored Scotch ale
Oskar Blues Old Chub – semi-sweet Scottish strong ale
Alesmith Barrel Aged Wee Heavy – boozy, barrel-aged take on the style