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Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
654 Reviews
For Trade:
Old #38 StoutOld #38 Stout

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Irish Dry Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
53 IBUs

Added by kbub6f on 10-18-2001

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Reviews: 654 | Ratings: 1,226
Photo of StoutHunter
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I picked up a bottle of North Coast Brewing Company's Old #38 Stout a couple weeks ago for $1.70 at Toskey Sands Market. The only beer I've had from this brewery is Old Rasputin and since that's such a solid Stout I thought I would give one of their other Stouts a try, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date. Poured from a shorter brown 12oz bottle into a imperial pint glass.

A- The label looks nice, it's got some nice artwork of a steam train that goes good with the name. It poured a dark brown color that bordered on being black and it took on more of a dark brown hue when held to the light with two and a half fingers worth of light mocha colored head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left some nice spotty rings of lacing behind. This is a good looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a with a higher amount of sweetness followed by a good amount of dark roasted malts that impart a medium roasted, dark chocolate and cocoa powder like aromas with a light bit of vanilla and coffee coming through. Up next comes a very earthy aroma that may be from the hops, but I'm not sure. The aroma was nice and pretty true to style.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a medium amount of sweetness followed by a good amount of dark roasted malts that impart a nice medium roasted, dark chocolate and cocoa powder like flavors with a very slight amount of vanilla and a very light coffee flavor showing up in the back ground. Towards the end I get that same earthy aspect that I got in the aroma with a slightly higher amount of low bitterness with a nice roasted and chocolate like aftertaste. This a pretty nice tasting beer, that was very true to style.

M- Smooth, slightly rich, a little creamy, on the the thicker side of being medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel was pretty nice, the carbonation was a little high, but other than that it was pretty good.

Overall I thought this was a good beer and a good example of the style, it had pretty much all the aspects that I look for in the style with nothing that was too out of place for the style. This beer had good drinkability, it was smooth, a little creamy, not to filling and the taste did a good job at holding my attention, I could see myself drinking a couple of these, it's a pretty easy drinking dark beer. What I liked the most about this beer was how true to style it was, it's just what I want in an Irish Dry Stout. What I liked the least about this beer was the aroma, it wasn't bad, but it had a slight stale aspect to it. I would buy this again, and I would like to try a bottle that I know is fresh, I enjoyed it and it was priced well. I would recommend this to anyone who likes the style. All in all I was happy with this beer, it represents the style nicely and it's pretty easy drinking. Good job North Coast, I'll have to keep an eye out for more of your beers, keep up the good work.

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Photo of bisonbrewing
3.16/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

pours dark brown/black with a small creamy head dissipating quickly. sediment suspended throughout the glass. dry malted barley predominates the nose while a subtle hint of coffee/bitter chocolate harkens back to the murphys and Guinness I had in Ireland. underwhelming malt flavor up front, followed by a dry roasted character, light hops, and bitter chocolate. thin/weak body is its most salient feature, although for the style its quite on point.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours deep, deep brown to black. About a 1 finger, tan and chocolate brown head forms and retains pretty well. Lacing is also pretty good.

S- Dry, dark malts are first and foremost. Hints of bitter chocolate and lots of dark malts intermingle to provide a fairly delicious smelling aroma.

T- Starts of with a lot of dark malts and their subsequent bitterness. Very much like chocolate bitterness, but drier. Some burnt flavors also mix in to heighten the bitterness. Just a slight hint of chocolate makes an appearance in the middle of the drink. Ends with more dark malt bitterness that lingers for a little bit.

M- Lighter in body, but smooth and fairly creamy. Sits light in the stomach.

Overall, this is what a dry stout should be; bitter, dry, and light in body. Quality malt scents and flavors make this a great example of the style.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz short brown bottle with a label that features the Steam Engine the beer is named after. Decent looking label of green and the train engine. Poured into a standard pint glass.

A - black colored with the smallest hint of ruby and a solid brown. Tan colored head pours lovely and sits to perfection like a sheet of straightened cloth leaving good stick.

S - not much going on other than a dry roasted aroma with hints of dark malt and a faint whiff of bitter chocolate.

T - dark and roasted malt flavors with a hint of coffee and bitter chocolate. A toffee comes toward the middle with a small amount of bland hop flavors creeping in toward the back. Dry finish but the bitterness lingers for a moment.

M - pretty decent texture and not a bad thickness to the body. I can't say its smooth but it is pretty refreshing for a stout. The dry character allowed me to enjoy this stout and the roasted malts are done fairly well in 38.

O - a pretty good stout. Nothing fancy or out of this world about it, but a solid year round offering from a solid brewery. I really dig North Coast and while this isn't one of my favorites from them its still something ill grab from time to time.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.26/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled back on 9/15/13. Chilled down to 36 degrees in my beer cooler and poured in a pilsner glass. Pours a nearly black in color with with a good 3+-finger tan head that lasts awhile. Lots of lacing is seen with each sip. The aroma is of roasted malt, espresso and chocolate. Perfect carbonation. When first sipped the taste of bittersweet chocolate is apparent and on the dry side. Very taste and smooth though and goes down very easy. No harsh aftertaste. Overall, a good stout.

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Photo of Omnium
3.46/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Pours a ruby black, one finger of tan head, mild lacing.
S - Weak aroma, some roasted chocolate malt, very very little earthy undertones.
T - Taste makes up a little bit, mild bitterness, kinda herbal, dried fruits, some lighter smoked and roasted malts.
M - Dry? yes, but its more on the metallic side, kinda lame.
O - Not a fully satisfying IDS, but a decent one, I wouldnt seek it out again though.

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Photo of mattsdenney
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle pour into tulip glass. Pours nice and dark, one finger of light brown frothy head. Scents of charred bread, chocolate, malted milk balls, and black coffee. Pretty bitter but also great flavor from the dark malt and roasted barley. Notes of coffee, chocolate, and malt, very toasty. The mouthfeel is light with mild carbonation. Not too heavy or filling, pretty drinkable. Overall a nice dry stout, flavorful, perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness.

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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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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 654 ratings.