10 Craft Stouts Beyond Guinness to Drink for St. Patrick's Day
Guinness. Murphy’s. Beamish. Known as “the big three” among beer aficionados, these are the storied Irish stouts most revelers will be gulping this weekend. And while these beers have provenance and tradition on their side, there are some exceptional North American-made dry stouts that can provide drinkers a nice change of pace on St. Paddy’s Day.
Unlike other stout styles, most dry Irish stouts are quite low in alcohol—around four percent to five percent ABV, says Zachary Mack, a cicerone and owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City. Often opaque and nearly black in color, dry Irish stouts don’t include the milk sugars or oatmeal that sweeten other styles of stout. Instead, they burst with flavors of roasted malt and bitter baking chocolate. They also typically have low levels of carbonation and a dry mouthfeel, Mack explains.
If you’re stocking up on beer for the weekend—or planning to go bar-hopping this Saturday—keep an eye out for the craft offerings on this list. Each is an interesting and able substitute for the traditional Irish brews you know and love.
Love Stout by Yards Brewing Company
First brewed way back in 1997, this roasty stout is overflowing with coffee aromas and flavors and has racked up multiple brewing awards for Philadelphia-based Yards. Love Stout is smooth and scrumptious, but light-bodied enough for all-day drinking.
Old No. 38 by North Coast Brewing Company
According to its makers, Old No. 38 is a “Dublin dry stout” named after a historic California steam engine. It’s dark and smooth, and the coffee and malt notes are accented by vanilla and mild spice. Fort Bragg, California-based North Coast produces a number of great beers, but this is arguably their best.
Cadillac Mountain Stout by Atlantic Brewing Company
At 7 percent ABV, this Maine-made beer packs a heavier wallop than most Irish-style stouts. It’s also heavy bodied, and so not the kind of beer you could chug by the gallon during a long afternoon of drinking. But if your St. Paddy’s plans involve just one or two pints, this is a complex, bewitching brew.
Chuli Stout by Denali Brewing Co.
Named after a powerful river that flows near its Talkeetna, Alaska brewery, this stout is frothy, smooth, and pleasantly dry—even for the style. It’s also on the bitter side, but that’s not a knock. This is a beer to sip and savor, even if you plan to enjoy several.
Donnybrook Stout by Victory Brewing Company
At just 3.7 percent ABV, this beer from Pennsylvania-based Victory is one you can enjoy freely during a long St. Paddy’s Day. And enjoy it you will. The roasted malt richness and bitter chocolate are present, but toned-down compared to many other dry stouts. Donnybrook is an understated but satisfying take on the style and one that still goes down easy after a pint or two.
Le Sang D’Encre by Le Trou du Diable
Don’t let all the French throw you off; this Montreal-made brew would make any Irishman smile. If you’re looking for a big, bold punch of roasted malt, this isn’t the beer for you. But if you’re in the market for something subtler and more balanced, Le Sang D’Encre (roughly, “inky blood”) is a great choice.
Stout by Postmark Brewing
You’ve got to love the unpretentious name. And while its moniker is simple, this beer from Vancouver-based Postmark isn’t one-note. Earthy, rich, and laced with cocoa-nib goodness, Stout is a medium-bodied, balanced brew that you’ll want to keep in your fridge more than one weekend a year.
Boston Irish Stout by Harpoon Brewery
You’ll have a hard time tracking this beer down if you’re outside the Northeast. But if you’re anywhere in or around New England, this is worth seeking out. Creamy and bright, this dry stout from Boston-based Harpoon is a delicate, thirst-quenching offering.
Black Fly Stout by Gritty McDuff’s
Burnt charcoal and a touch of dried fruit lend this beer added layers of complexity. But at 4.7 percent ABV, it’s still light and sessionable, and it packs all the roasted malt and dry hops you’re used to in the style. If you’ve never tried a beer by Maine’s Gritty, start with this one.
Uncle Steve’s Irish-Style Stout by Short’s Brewing Co.
You can’t find this brew much outside Michigan, but we couldn’t leave it off this list. It’s a delectable mix of chocolate, espresso, and caramel that manages to be both hefty and buoyant at the same time. Short’s is a local favorite—and one that already has good credibility among craft fans. Even if you’re not in the Midwest this weekend, look these guys up the next time you visit.