As Michigan enters this years Polar Vortex of freezing temperatures, it is a perfect time to stock up on those belly warming beers, worthy of sitting in front of a warm fire place in sweatpants and hoodies while looking out the backyard window and wondering why we stay in such a cold place. Here is a list of a combination of 30 stouts, brown ales, and porters to look out for if you can get them!
Roasted notes of chocolate and coffee with a light bitterness and a creamy mouthfeel from using oatmeal and the nitro pour. At one time, when the craft beer community in the United States was beginning to grow, this was in the discussion of the best stout in the world. It still holds up, but if you don’t like nitro beers (they tend to present a flat, low-carbonation feel) this will disappoint.
Chocolate and roasted malts dominate the flavor with notes of dark fruit, toffee, and caramel. A healthy dose of coffee is added to the brew to really help the dark chocolate flavors pop! Unlike Yeti, Speedway Stout comes in even more dangerous with its easy drinkability, and you probably wouldn’t believe it is 12% ABV. Be careful with this one!
New Holland Brewing has always been a step ahead of upcoming trends in beer. When High-Gravity, barrel-aged stouts became a popular category, New Holland had already been one of the first to mass market their offering. Dragon’s Milk became such a big deal, that they had to rework their production of this amazing stout, and eventually create brand extensions with different flavor offerings (I take credit for the raspberry dragon’s milk, but that’s a story for another time). Roasted malt delivering notes of coffee and chocolate, with sweet undertones of vanilla and oak from a 3 month stay in bourbon barrels. 11% ABV, and delicious from start to finish.
A big, rich double milk stout brewed with dark brown sugar, Madagascar vanilla beans, and cocoa nibs for a decadent chocolate chip cookie-like profile. You can’t get Firestone Walker in Michigan, but I have seen it in Illinois, so if you happen to be that way and they have this, grab it!
A little biased, because they have been my business next door neighbors for 20 years, but they always deliver the highest quality beer or they don’t release it at all. Kalamazoo stout is a smooth, full-bodied blend of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and a significant hop presense. Only 6% ABV so you won’t have to call off work in the morning. Sorry.
If Left Hand brewing didn’t invent the milk stout, they definitely perfected its creation. I remember clearly when they came to Michigan and partnered with Imperial Beverage for distribution. The President of Imperial Beverage is missing his left hand. How could they sign on with any other distributor after that meeting? Roasted chocolate malt and coffee notes and lactose (milk sugar) for a creamy mouthfeel and a rich, robust body with hints of caramlized sugar and dark chocolate.
Southern Tier makes a series of Imperial Dessert stouts. They are all 10% ABV and they all have a sweet backbone, but this particular one is out of this world. With aromas and flavors of vanilla, custard, caramel, and brown sugar and a rich, silky mouthfeel, you’ll be glad you skipped dessert and went with this. If you are an overachiever and paired it with dessert, it goes perfect with Creme Brulee and Bananas Foster. Try it out!
A rich, intense brew with complex traditional stout flavors of chocolate, coffee, caramel and roasty malt that doesn’t go easy on the hop backbone. This beer has been around for decades, and it is extremely well received at any competition it enters. If there ever was a perfect stout to consider, this is the blueprint.
Brewed annually since 1992, Goose Island only uses the best bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Buffalo Trace distilleries. Expect flavors of vanilla, dark chocolate, toffee, molasses, almonds, and dried fruit. Hard to find, a hit to your wallet, but worth every penny. Just remember to sip it though, because at almost 15% ABV, it isn’t meant to be consumed in a rush. Maybe start watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy when you open a bottle.
It would be a travesty if I didn’t mention the greatness that Founder’s has created with Kentucky Breakfast Stout. What eventually and inevitably spawned a variety of flavors under the same brand umbrella, it is hard to argue against the original being the best. Brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolate and then bourbon barrel-aged with a silky full-bodied essence of vanilla, cocoa, and charred oak. It doesn’t really matter what flavor you pick up, if it says KBS, you have a winner.
Didn’t see a stout that you think should be on the list? Please let me know, because if I haven’t had it, I would love to try it. Please take a minute to check out some of the cool affiliates that work with Dad Joke Genius below! Thanks for reading!