America’s 50 Best Stouts
Alabama: Good People Coffee Oatmeal Stout
“Coffee Oatmeal Stout” sounds like a big beer and often, beers of this style are—but Alabama’s most consistent brewery offers up a take that is immensely drinkable and, at 5.7 percent ABV, lower on the alcohol scale.
Alaska: Midnight Sun Berserker
Few beers pair as well with cold weather like a heavy stout. The brewers at Anchorage’s Midnight Sun must have felt that their state’s extra-cold climate called for an extra-big stout because in 2006 the brewery introduced this beer. The 12.7 percent ABV, bourbon barrel-aged Berserker gets added thickness from maple syrup and molasses.
Arizona: McFate Candy Bar Milk Stout
“Chocolate” is a common tasting note for stouts. Scottsdale’s McFate uses honey roasted peanuts, cacao nibs, vanilla bean, and a touch of sea salt in its fall seasonal milk stout to create this beer’s award-winning “candy bar” flavor.
Arkansas: Ozark Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Cream Stout
In a state with few hype-worthy beers, Ozark’s annual Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Cream Stout (often shortened to BDCS) is in a class all its own. Each year, the Rogers-based brewery holds a ticketed event allowing people a first crack at trying and buying this extremely limited release beer described by the brewery as “a bourbon soaked brownie.”
California: Stone Xocoveza
Stouts are known for their big flavors, but Stone’s Xocoveza tosses in the kitchen sink anyway: The beer is brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk sugar, creating what the Escondido brewery accurately describes as “an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate.”
Colorado: Ratio Beerworks Barrel-Aged Genius Wizard
Nowadays, every brewery and its mother’s brewery barrel-ages its stouts. But producers like Denver’s tiny Ratio Beerworks prove that barrel-aging isn’t just a gimmick; even in the insanely competitive state of Colorado (where the delicious stout Ten Fidy flows freely), whiskey barrels help turn Genius Wizard into a worthy standout.
Connecticut: New England Imperial Stout Trooper
New England Brewing Company is probably best-known for its acclaimed Fuzzy Baby Ducks IPA, but most breweries that can muster a world-class hop bomb also aren’t shy about offering up a massive imperial stout as well, and the Woodbridge-based brewery delivers the goods with its Star Wars-referencing Imperial Stout Trooper.
Delaware: Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
Originally released in 2010 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’s classic Bitches Brew album, Milton’s Dogfish Head Brewery occasionally re-releases this excellent beer. It’s the complete package, literally and figuratively: A lovely stout inspired by an amazing album delivered in a bottle beautifully adorned with that record’s classic artwork.
Florida: Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout
Yes, following in the footsteps of 3 Floyds Dark Lord, plenty of huge imperial stouts have their own dedicated “[PUT STOUT HERE] Day.” But whereas Dark Lord devotees find themselves in Munster, Indiana, Cigar City’s annual Hunahpu’s Day is in sunny Tampa, Florida. Besides the weather, diehard fans of this chili-laden brew will tell you the stout’s better as well.
Georgia: Terrapin Cinnamon Roll’d Wake-n-Bake Oatmeal Stout
Some would consider starting your day with a cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee a guilty pleasure. But the guiltiest of them all would prefer to drink those two amazing flavors together in beer form. Those people should seek out this stout from Terrapin Beer in Athens.
Hawaii: Big Island Brewhaus Tall, Dark & Mandarin
Though some beer geeks can make a convincing argument that stouts are enjoyable in warm weather, most drinkers would say that the dark style isn’t conducive to tropical climates. But Big Island Brewhaus, on the Island of Hawaii, tosses in a healthy dose of locally grown Mandarin oranges for its Tall, Dark & Mandarin, adding an island touch to this chocolatey stout.
Idaho: Boise Brewing Black Cliffs
Currently the reigning silver medalist at the Great American Beer Festival for American-style stout, Black Cliffs earned its acclaim by remembering that true American stouts don’t forget to emphasize their national character with a healthy dose of Northwest hops.
Illinois: Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout
Start with what is probably America’s most renowned stout, then add coffee from one of America’s best third-wave coffee roasters (Intelligentsia—which is located next door to Goose Island): It’s a match made in heaven (in this case, also known as Chicago).
Indiana: 3 Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout
The beer, the myth, the legend. Over a decade later, this massive, 15-percent ABV stout brewed with coffee, Mexican vanilla and Indian sugar is still only available one day a year, Dark Lord Day in April, and still gets people to line up down the street in Munster.
Iowa: West O CoCo Stout
This Chocolate Stout from tiny West Okoboji (population 293) turned heads when it won back-to-back gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014 and 2015 in the Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category. The brew gets its award-winning sweetness from cocoa nibs, bourbon vanilla beans and imported sugar.
Kansas: Free State Ironman
Creating big Imperial Stouts can be as complex as the flavors they contain, and Lawrence’s Free State Brewing loves to talk about how it uses ten different malts and five different hops to craft a deliciously roasty and chocolatey brew—without using any additional additives.
Kentucky: Against the Grain Bo & Luke
Originally brewed as a collaboration with Brouwerij de Molen in the Netherlands, Louisville’s Against the Grain helped put its stamp on the Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout craze by using cherry wood-smoked malt to add a distinctively smoky flavor to Bo & Luke.
Louisiana: Abita Macchiato Espresso Milk Stout
Interested in swapping your Starbucks addiction for something a bit more intoxicating? Abita’s Macchiato Espresso Milk Stout may be right up your alley. The Abita Springs-based brewery adds espresso dolce beans to give a caffeinated kick to its sweet, creamy flavor.
Maine: Liquid Riot Albino Stout
Albino stouts (or white stouts) are probably the rarest stouts on the market. In a blind taste test, you’d think you were drinking a traditional stout (thanks to the addition of flavorings like cocoa and vanilla), but in appearance, the beers are as golden and translucent as blond ale. Portland’s Liquid Riot offers up a solid version of this unique style on occasion, if you’re looking to give it a try.
Maryland: Evolution Rise Up Stout
Salisbury’s Evolution Craft Brewing combines two stout styles into one unusual beer. The brewery’s Rise Up is described as a Caribbean-style Stout—essentially a slightly lighter take on the stronger export stout style—that’s also infused with coffee.
Massachusetts: Tree House Good Morning
Big stouts are craft beer royalty, but the style still tends to play second fiddle to hopped up IPAs. What often gets overlooked, however, is that the best breweries can nail both. Case in point: Though Monson’s Tree House is at the front of the pack when it comes to IPAs, their Good Morning stout, brewed with a healthy dose of maple syrup, will have you forgetting about hops entirely.
Michigan: Founders KBS
Michigan has plenty of great stouts, but all of them would probably kill to be this legendary. First brewed back in 2003, this nearly 12 percent-ABV stout made with chocolate and coffee and aged in bourbon barrels isn’t content with having its own day: It now has its own “KBS Week” release party each year in Grand Rapids.
Minnesota: Surly Darkness
Though Darkness has been garnering acclaim as one of the country’s best Imperial Stouts since it was first released in 2007, Brooklyn Center’s Surly decided to join the barrel-aging trend with Darkness in 2015. Then, in 2016, Barrel-Aged Darkness took home a gold at the Great American Beer Festival. Turns out you can make a great thing even greater.
Mississippi: Slowboat Dairy of a Madman
Slowboat is new to the small Mississippi scene, but locals appear to have already taken a shine to this sweet beer, a vanilla bean-accentuated milk stout described by the Laurel-based brewery as a variation on the brewer’s very first homebrew. Give them credit for a name with a solid pun as well.
Missouri: Perennial Sump Coffee Stout
What do you get when you pair one of St Louis’s best small independent breweries with one of the city’s best small independent coffee roasters? A stout worthy of both brands’ hype.
Montana: Big Sky Ivan the Terrible Bourbon Barrel Aged
The oversized style of barrel-aged imperial stout, with its complex flavors and huge ABV, tends to get oversized praise as well. Still, beer fans agree that in Montana, you won’t find a better stout than this one, a barrel-aged version of the brewery’s acclaimed Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout.
Nebraska: Nebraska Black Betty Imperial Stout
Nebraska Brewing Company has been making some of the best beers in its namesake state since opening in 2007. So when the Papillon-based brewery took a stab at the barrel-aged stout style in 2010, it was no surprise when it produced a winner.
Nevada: Tenaya Creek Imperial Stout
In a town known for slinging cheap suds, Tenaya Creek has continued to make solid big brews in Las Vegas since 1999. The brewery’s 9-plus percent ABV Imperial Stout is no exception, one of the few stouts brewed in the city that’s as engaging for your taste buds as a walk down the Strip.
New Hampshire: Kelsen Vinatta
Don’t let the strange images on Kelsen’s labels fool you. Though the graphics might seem like they belong in a fantasy film, the beers are the real deal. Vinatta is the Derry-based brewery’s biggest offering: a 12 percent-ABV Russian Imperial Stout that will wallop you like a broad axe.
New Jersey: Kane A Night to End All Dawns
This small brewery in Ocean Township has released plenty of highly acclaimed dark beers, but its most coveted brand is A Night to End All Dawns, the brewery’s series of bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts that earned a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014. This year, Kane released five varieties including versions aged on Cacao, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans and on freshly roasted organic coconut.
New Mexico: Boxing Bear Chocolate Milk Stout
A chocolate milk stout might seem like the last beer style you’d want to drink in the desert landscape of Albuquerque—unless, of course, it’s absolutely delicious. And Boxing Bear’s take on the style has recently grabbed the hardware to prove just how good it is—landing a trifecta of gold medals last year at the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup and North American Brewers Association competition.
New York: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Most observers see Brooklyn Lager, introduced in 1988, as Brooklyn Brewery’s most important statement. But when but when current brewmaster Garrett Oliver joined in 1994 and introduced his Black Chocolate Stout, a 10-percent imperial stout was quite a rare thing. Don’t take this massive chocolate stout (which isn’t made with any actual chocolate, by the way) for granted.
North Carolina: Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout
Not many brewers can say a Milk Stout is their best selling beer, but Farmville’s dark beer-focused Duck-Rabbit Brewery keeps the style at the heart of its year-round lineup, and the slightly sweet brew continues to be a popular and drinkable selection.
North Dakota: Fargo None More Black
With just 10 craft breweries (according to the Brewer’s Association’s 2016 numbers), North Dakota currently ranks next-to-last in that metric (ahead of only Mississippi). So though in some states an annual release day for a Russian Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla, cinnamon, coco nibs and Guajillo & Negro Pasilla peppers might seem passé, in Fargo, the fall release of None More Black proves just how far the flavored Imperial Stout craze has reached.
Ohio: Hoppin’ Frog BORIS
In an extremely competitive state for big beer styles, BORIS—which stands for Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout—gets the nod in part for its impressive feat of taking gold in the highly contested Imperial Stout category at the Great American Beer Festival in two separate years: 2008 and 2011.
Oklahoma: Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb
By the time Bomb was first released in 2013, the whole chili-peppers-in-a-stout thing certainly wasn’t new, but the Tulsa brewery made a serious impact with this 13 percent-ABV beer’s well-balanced mix of coffee, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chili.
Oregon: Deschutes The Abyss
The Abyss could be seen as Deschutes’s answer to Bourbon County Stout. But the Bend brewery tries to push the limits even further, including additional ingredients like blackstrap molasses, brewer’s licorice, vanilla beans and cherry bark and aging in a mix of bourbon and wine barrels. Needless to say, if you like this kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed.
Pennsylvania: Lancaster Milk Stout
Lancaster Brewing has been operating in its namesake Pennsylvania town since 1995. It’s been brewing its signature milk stout for just as long, and this soft, drinkable, lightly creamy beer is a standard-bearer for the style.
Rhode Island: Crooked Current Chocolate Cherry Stout
Pawtucket’s Crooked Current might be the smallest brewery in America’s smallest state, but brewmaster Nichole Pelletier compensates with her creativity, unleashing tiny batches of unique products like this beer built specifically for Valentine’s Day.
South Carolina: Westbrook Mexican Cake
In honor of its first anniversary, Mount Pleasant’s Westbrook Brewing whipped up Mexican Cake—which quickly became an imperial stout coveted by beer geeks. Its distinct flavor comes from a mix of cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and habanero peppers, but its legend comes from its barrel-aged version—which sometimes goes into Pappy Van Winkle barrels.
South Dakota: Lost Cabin Smokewagon Coffee Stout
Grand Rapids’ Lost Cabin Beer Company may just be turning one year old, but its Smokewagon Coffee Stout is already building a big reputation thanks to a collaboration with nearby Pure Bean Roasters.
Tennessee: Wiseacre Astronaut Status
Memphis’s Wiseacre has built a reputation as one of Tennessee’s best breweries, so it attracted serious praise when it began to occasionally barrel-age its limited-edition Out in Space Imperial Stout.
Texas: Jester King Funk Metal
Sour stouts aren’t the most common beers on the market, but when a dark stout and wild yeast work in harmony the intermingling of sweet and sour can be mind-blowing. Austin’s Jester King focuses on working with far-out fermentations, making its Funk Metal—which also gets oak barrel-aged and blended—a must-try when available.
Utah: Uinta Labyrinth Black Ale
Utah occasionally still catches some slack for its strict alcohol laws, but that didn’t stop Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company from unleashing this acclaimed 13-percent-plus monster on the state back in 2010. Labyrinth Black Ale gets an added kick of flavor from licorice sticks and an extra boozy edge from aging in rye barrels.
Vermont: Hill Farmstead Earl
Greensboro’s Hill Farmstead may have built its unparalleled reputation on paler products like saisons and IPAs, but Earl proves the acclaimed brewery is no slouch with an oatmeal coffee stout either.
Virginia: Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
Richmond’s Hardywood is practically a stout specialist: Some of its most popular beers include a raspberry stout, a coffee stout and a stout with the very appealing name of Christmas Morning. But the brewery’s signature product is probably its Gingerbread Stout, made with local baby ginger and wildflower honey, as well as a laundry list of other ingredients, to create an awesome seasonal brew.
Washington: Freemont Dark Star Oatmeal Stout
Seattle’s Freemont Brewing has taken the state by storm, releasing all sorts of barrel-aged stouts with epic reputations. But if you happen to miss the boat on those limited edition brews, you can always fall back to the original. Plain old Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout is available for the first two months of every year.