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Old #38 Stout - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old #38 StoutOld #38 Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

647 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 647
Hads: 1,205
Avg: 3.83
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 52
Gots: 66 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Irish Dry Stout |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 10-18-2001

53 IBUs
View: Beers (29) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old #38 Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 647 | Hads: 1,205
Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Dark chocolate black, cream colored head that recedes to a film and leaves sheets of foamy lacing.

Aroma: Cocoa powder, dark chocolate, roasted malts.

Taste: Dry bitter chocolate coated with a cocoa kind of note. Bitter hops in the finish balance out the chocolate notes.

Mouthfeel: A tad watery.

Overall: A really good dry stout. I'm glad I finally bought it.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into tulip. no dates.

A: pretty much pitch black. head is frothy and is big. retention is fantastic. spotted lacing.

S: bittersweet. dark roast coffee. a touch of vanilla. virtually no hop aroma to be found.

T: roasty and plenty dry. a minor bit of sweetness. quickly depleted after the roast comes back into the finish. ash. I cant tell if there is a little bit of butter on the back-end or not...

M: carb is super mellow. would love to see this on nitro or in nitro packaging. medium body.

D: my only complaint would be that this is a little too big of a body for a dry irish stout, however I may be being picky. not blown away here, but a good brew for sure.

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Photo of PieOhMy
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A Black. Foamy. Tan head that fades slow.

S Chocolate. Roasted malts. Burnt sugar. Banana. Mocha.

T Very much coffee up front yet not overpowering. Toasted cereal grains. Malts. A little bitter. Closes with a nice lemon pepper zest.

M Bready. Thick, full, chewy. A little bit bready but finishes clean and refreshing (especially for a beer this thick).

O Nice stout. Reminds me of a fuller but toned down Extra Foreign Stout. Coffee is there but it doesn't floor you. Bitterness is there but not overpowering. A little zesty but not off-putting. Everything is pretty subtle but noticeable. If you get the chance to try this you should take it.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

"Named for a retired steam engine on the California Western Railroad Redwood route, Old No. 38 Stout is a smooth, firm-bodied stout with the toasted character and coffee notes of dark malts and roasted barley." Brewed in the style of an Irish Dry Stout, but reminds me more of an Export Stout based on it's qualities and aroma.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a pint glass. Served north of 48º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a brown smooth, yet crispy head with an average retention and light crispy lacing. Body color is a dark brown, near black. Moderate visible carbonation. Appearance is nice although not a big draw of this beer. 3.5

(Smell) Aroma consists of a moderate roasted barley, a forward herbal and floral hop character, and a mild acidity that wafts over an otherwise clean, subtle malt base. The aroma reminds me a great deal of a Guinness Foreign Extra, and probably comes close to other Export Stouts in its composition. I really enjoy the hop presence in this one, it's a driving hop character that pairs well with the roasted barley. Potency is medium. 3.75

(Taste) A lot more of the same, although the acidity is a bit more pronounced, with a very subtle clean roasted bread finish. The hop character is very herbal and mildly grassy, and the malt bill is somewhat masked, much like an Irish dry stout would be. Sweetness is moderate at best and the hop character and acidity makes for the most pronounced part of this beer, complimenting a notably dry finish. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Carbonation is very light, with just a touch of buzz on the tongue, but not a lot of creaminess or thickness to go with it, it feels a lot like a dry stout minus the nitrogen boost. Body is medium/heavy for a dry stout, medium+ overall. Alcohol presence is mild for the style, tucked behind the hop character. 3

(Overall) I find this beer uncommitted between competing styles, and as such I can't determine whether I actually enjoy it or not. The makings of an Irish dry stout are nearly all there, with a dry, modestly-hopped malt body, well masked. The hops are more prevalent than in the average dry stout, and make for more of an export-style stout. Despite the focus, I can find many enjoyable things in this beer, it's not my choice beer, however, but may be a step up from Guinness or Murphy's lovers, however. 3.5

North Coast Brewing Company's
Old No. 38 Stout

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Photo of CrazyHarry
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a really terrific dry stout.

Pours a dark black with a creamy tan colored head that has a nice sheen to it.

Faint aromas of coffee and chocolate, but the real joy is the taste - medium bodied, smooth mouthfeel with flavors of roasted dark malts, chocolate and coffee without the tart/sour flavor of a Guinness. I could drink this all night!

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Photo of tito42
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle to a tulip.

A: Nearly opaque black with a touch of cola around the edges of the glass. Thick, foamy, cocoa head.

S: Roasted barley, bready yeast, earthy hops, peat, and hints of plum and chocolate.

T: Strong roasted barley presence up front. Flavors of plum and chocolate are much more present than in your reference Irish Dry Stout (Guinness). White cane sugar.

M: Light-bodied as a dry stout should be, with a middling hops finish for the style and a bit of a drying effect on the tongue.

O: Very solid dry stout. My first North Coast brew, I'll definitely be trying more of their offerings.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown/black in color, with ruby highlights, big, thick cloud-deck of tan foam.
Aroma-Faint chocolate, coffee notes
Taste-Dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, drying finish. Roasty and tasty, a nice example of the style.

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Photo of olfolxholme
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle into Samuel Smith tulip pint glass

A - Massive cocoa head on top of a surprisingly dark brown beer with red highlights. Impressive head retention, bits of lacing. Lives up to expectations, for sure.

S - Initial aroma is a blast of chocolate and lots of sweet, sugary, dark roasted malt. Some coffee. Aroma fades a bit, but is still a very pleasant component of the beer.

T - Roasted malt character, chocolate, a touch of bitterness. A pinch of mineral character. Cereal grains in the aftertaste - reminds me of Grape Nuts.

M - I have to remind myself that this is an Irish Dry Stout and that the thinner mouthfeel is appropriate (as compared to an American Imperial Stout, which I usually drink). It's pleasantly carbonated, very refreshing, and just because it's thinner than most of the stouts I drink - that doesn't mean it's "thin." Some dryness with the grape nuts aftertaste. Definitely begs for another sip.

O - I really enjoyed this beer. It's not a style I drink that often, but it makes me want to try a few others and compare. My hunch is that this is a fuller flavored representative of the style. A lot of the flavor and aroma profile could work just as well in a bigger, oilier Imperial Stout. But it works quite well in this context. A MUST TRY for fans of the style, and one I will check in with from time to time, I'm sure. Worth trying for any BA. Could be an excellent "gateway beer" for Guiness drinkers.


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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, no bottle dating. Pours very dark brown, almost black color; with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of cocoa, chocolate, roasted malt, light char, toast, molasses, raisin, toffee, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity; decent strength. Taste of cocoa, chocolate, roasted malt, toast, light char, molasses, toffee, light raisin, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Lingering notes of cocoa, chocolate, roasted malt, toast, molasses, toffee, light raisin, and earthiness on the finish for a short bit. Very nice balance and complexity of roasted flavors with some light fruitiness; with good robustness, and zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a lightly creamy, chalky, and fairly crisp mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with almost zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very good dry stout style. Good balance and complexity of nicely robust flavors; and very smooth to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering; but I probably got an old bottle judging by the fruitiness and molasses notes.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.53/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

North Coast Old No. 38 Stout has a thick, creamy, beige head and a dark brown (almost black) appearance with heavy lace left on the glass. The aroma is of brown bread, dark-roasted malt, and hop spice in the nose. Taste is the same, with chocolate, dark coffee, raisin, black cherries, and hop bitterness all mixed together. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, and North Coast Old No. 38 Stout finishes semi-dry, rich, and quite drinkable. Overall, this is a most excellent beer!


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Photo of Oakenator
4.27/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown to black in appearance. Strong two finger head on pour but lighter in color than expected - ivory - for this dark of a beer. Mouthfeel is decent but watery towards the end. Smell is powerful - strong bold coffee with a hint of mocha. Taste is sweet forward but a dry finish. Another great borderline sessionable stout.

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Photo of KajII
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Suggesteed Glassware: Nonic Pint]

The pour was a muddy jet black with a large (2-3 finger) light brown frothy head that slowly receded, down to a medium film with a large collar and had good streaky lacing.

The aroma was of a roasted dark bread malt and a leathery yeast with notes of molasses, baker’s chocolate and dark roasted coffee.

The taste was very similar to the aroma starting off a bitter malty with a slight molasses sweetness and a strong bitter chocolate note, and finishing with a large dose of roasted coffee and a smooth bitter ending. The flavor lasted a decently long time following the swallow with a bitter coffee taste that was left to linger.

Mouthfeel was a few shade above medium in body with a thin oily texture and a carbonation that was just past mild.

Overall this brew was a prime example of a bitter Dry Stout, possessing a decent body and taste along with a nice easy drinkability...


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Photo of Dope
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown with a good sized and fluffy light brown head. Fades slowly, leaving moderate fluffy lacing behind. Decent head retention.

S: Mild roast with some char and a bit of anise. A bit of dark fruit surprisingly.

T: Again, some dark fruit up front, mixing with a bit of roasted malt. Fruit fades away into the middle leaving the char to stand on its own with a bit of creaminess. Creaminess and sweetness fades away into the finish, leaving just bitter char and hints of dark chocolate. Lingering bitter roasted malt characteristic between sips.

M: Fairly thin, low ABV but creamy and smooth.

O: A surprisingly good irish dry stout. Flavorful despite low ABV, the sweet dark fruits really mix in well. Has a nice creaminess to it too that is typical of good irish dry stouts. I really enjoyed this one, one of the best examples of the style. It's a bit simple as you would expect but honestly packs a lot of flavor in 5.6%. Very drinkable too.

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Photo of elNopalero
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This pours a solid black with creamy, thick “chocolate milk” in beer form foam.

I get a toffee cocoa aroma that’s both smooth & sweet.

The beer itself is sweet with a body that holds up as expected, with a flavor that’s sweet, creamy and chocolaty.


The Old 38 I had finished like… bbq sauce. Yes. Bbq sauce. It doesn’t taste like it, doesn’t smell like it, and there’s no reason to think of bbq sauce given that it’s a stout, but after I finished my pint while struggling to place the “off” notes I realized it’s … bbq sauce. Go figure. Is it maple syrup (artificial maple syrup) that’s lending those hints? I never noticed such a characteristic in other brews made with maple but I definitely found this here—and corroborated my findings with others tasting with me. Pretty sure I won’t try this one again.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Deep clear brown when pouring, black in the glass with an off white head.

S-Molasses, coffee, roasted malt and some vanilla

T-Chocolate, roasted-almost burnt malt, some coffee as well. No bitterness to speak of.

M-Medium bodied, smooth with some carbonation.

O-An easy drinking stout, doesn't bring anything overpowering to the table but enough to enjoy.

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Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense tan head that died down but never completely faded away, leaving a thin head covering the surface and webs of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderately strong aromas of chocolate malts in the nose along with some notes of roasted malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and does not have much in the way of perceptible bitterness. For this reason, there are some faint hints of sweetness.
M: It feels a bit more than light-bodied and airy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. Slight hints of smoothness become evident as the beer warms up. Some dryness is present in the finish.
O: This beer is extremely drinkable given its light body. I would definitely consider this to be sessionable because it has some nice flavors and I wouldn't mind drinking more than one of these during a single sitting.

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Photo of troysoy2
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle in a pint glass.

Nice light tan head that sticks around for the long run, splotchy lacing here and there, and an opaque, black body with a tinge of red to it.

The smell can tend to be a little metallic on occasion, but it's got a nice, dry roasted malt to it.

Slight tartness, with a graininess strangely akin to Russian Standard Vodka? Strange tangent, but that's what's in my fridge at the moment. ANYHOW, the finish is mildly dry with a moderate roastiness. Slightly light on the mouthfeel, but hey, it keeps this stuff really nicely drinkable and easily likeable. I mean, I like it... not bad at all.

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Photo of The_Kings_Quart
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Nice dark mocha pour with about a finger's worth of creamy head that fades to a thin skim along the top.

S: Very delicate chocolate and spice. Little bit of coffee and a less than pleasant hit of yeast now and then. Gives it an almost metallic smell at times.

T: Nicer than what the smell left me with. Much milder compared to others of its kind, but there's a very faint tartness that's a nice touch. More coffee to the finish, which is a bit oily, but still clean enough.

MF: Airy and a little too susceptible to foaming in the mouth. Mild carbonation. Nothing particularly thrilling here.

O: Had two bottles of this because the first tasted like liquid tinfoil. Second bottle was good, but this is still much better on tap as far as I'm concerned. Nevertheless, a decent brew, and worth trying.

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Photo of BenHesk12
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

North Coasts Old no.38 stout is a simple, dry stout enjoyable on any occasion. At only 7 dollars for a six pack, this beer has good value and good flavor. The beer pours a dark black with a substantial frothy brown head and is aromatic of burnt coffee. A somewhat strong carbonation hits the mouth making it drinkable but slightly harsh. For a dry irish stout, this old 38 is has no surprises. Well balanced, mild but not watery, bitter and flavorful enough to keep you interested until the glass is empty. This isn't a beer I would get excited about but definitely a go-to beer at a pub, and I would easily recommend it to a friend. If this is North Coasts attempt at making an entry level affordable beer to a wider audience, I think it hit the mark and I wholeheartedly approve.

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Photo of tone77
3.11/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1 inch head. Smell is mild, some roasted malts. Taste is also mild, kind of bland for this style. Some roasted malts, a hint of coffee, a touch of hops. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a mediocre beer.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a warm black color with a two finger khaki colored foamy head which lasts for about two minutes. Medium body and medium-light carbonation levels. It could stand to have a bit more fullness in the body IMHO.

Aroma is bitter char-malt forward with lesser components of dark chocolate and roasted malt in the middle with just a touch of fig in the background. Contrary to the nose, the flavor is mostly toasted-malt forward with less emphasis on bitter char and more on tea and herbal / earthy hopping bittering. In this sense, the flavor felt a bit more 'porter-ish' to me than like a stout.

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Photo of MeowTom
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Awesome, poor's a black with maybe a slight amber color reflecting from the light in the room. Nice huge head that is a dark mocha cream color.

S- Great barley smell.

T- Wonderful malty flavor with the chocolate notes.

M- Medium full body with a creamy head that compliments the body wonderful.

O- This is a terrific stout that just has everything I look for when I want a simple wonderfully produced stout.

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Photo of pschul4
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a very nice dark black with no hues around the edges. Lacing is better than I was expecting

S- Roasted malts and some chocolate. Not a ton going on but I like whats there

T- Lots of tasty malts and chocolate notes hitting the right spots along with a decent alcohol backbone that cleans everything up without being overbearing.

M- Nice and smooth. A winner in this catagory

O- Really enjoying this one and it cured my stout fix without having to crack open one of the yetis or IRSs I've been trying to age

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Photo of Josiah2729
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Dark black with half a finger of creamy tan head that dissipates fairly quickly, decent lacing.

Smell: Dark roasted malt, some coffee, slight hoppiness.

Taste: Dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, a hint of bitterness from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness, slight carbonation, somewhat of a creamy texture.

Overall: Delicious stout, I will try again.

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Photo of chinchill
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

undated 12 oz bottle served in a Porter Bar goblet.

A: Pours with a well-proportioned, creamy tan head. The liquid pours dark brown and somewhat clear, but is essentially opaque and nearly black in the glass. As the head settles, the glass gets partially coated with sticky lace.

S: The nose features dark roasted grains, of course, but also has a considerable note of spicy hops, as well as hints of toffee and vanilla.

T: Fine dark roasted malt flavor, with no burnt elements. The hops are way less evident in the flavor but a great sweet/bitter balance is obtained. Hints of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and vanilla, with some hop spiciness coming through.

M: full body, and very creamy, with an excellent level of carbonation. An inevitable warming from the high ABV. [4.25]

O: an exceptional stout; well worth seeking out. [4.25]

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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 647 ratings.