Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

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very good
658 Reviews
Old #38 StoutOld #38 Stout

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

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: 658 | Ratings: 1,238
Photo of MaximalC
3.57/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark mahogany color with a towering head of craggy, khaki foam with nice retention. Aroma smells primarily of roasted malt with notes of dark chocolate and toffee.

The taste features a substantial dose of herbal, peppery hops that mostly dwarfs the roasty malt base. A touch of caramel and molasses lends modest complexity to the malt profile. Medium body and fine carbonation make for a smooth, robust mouthfeel that suits the style fine.

Overall, this stout is more hop-forward than I prefer, but you may like it if that’s your thing.

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Photo of crimsonfloyd
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Black with tan head. Smells of malt with a hint of sweet mint. Pretty typical stout taste. Minerally with tastes of chocolate. Well carbonated and fairly refreshing. In short, solid, but nothing special.

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Photo of mmmbeer89
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Nice and dark coloring. There's not a whole lot of flavor while drinking it, it's kind of watery, but more flavor comes thru on the aftertaste. it's definitely on the light side for a stout beer.

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Photo of Bierliebhaber3
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This stout pours a very dark brown color with a thick, foamy, deep tan head with good retention. The scent is heavily malty with hints of coffee and chocolate. The flavor is strong and malty with mostly roasted, bitter coffee flavor and a little bit of dark chocolate and toffee. The aftertaste is smooth and creamy, but dry, very much the typical Irish stout mouth-feel (think Guinness). Maybe it’s just because I haven’t had a stout in a while, but this tastes really good right now. My only complaint would be that it’s maybe a little bitter in a stout for my taste, but otherwise it’s a really good, robust, full bodied stout.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Black pour with a brown to the outside color scheme, 1/2" tan head. A little boozy, acrid burnt malt notes.

Taste brought out chocolate malt more than the nose. Chewy, smooth, but amply hopped at the same time. Carbonation on point. Mixture of dry and chewy at the same time.

This is a nice, more sessionable stout than Old Rasputin. Just depends where you're wanting to go with your drinking that day I guess.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chocolate black into the snifter with an initial 2 finger head that fades to a finger in a couple minutes' time. Mossy blobs are left on top to remind me of where the head was.

Lots of bitter dark chocolate in the aroma, with licorice, coffee, barley, and molasses. Nice nose.

Taste is heavy on the coffee but surprisingly the bitterness is countered by the rich malts used generously in the recipe. It's not sweet at all, to call it sweet would be a grave sin; it's very much anti-sweet - tons of roast coffee and burnt raw cocoa/cacao...but still not exactly bitter. With this being said, it has been extremely easy to drink so far, and I'm almost done with it!

Feel is supremely carbonated, and rests on that as its strength. The dryness typical of Irish-style stouts is there, but overshadowed by hard notes of wispy smokiness and occasional wet laps of hydration.

Overall, the Old #38 is a solid performer, I'd have it again; it didn't blow me away but nothing has drank easier to my palate on the stout side of things for a good long while. Nice little crafty brew here.

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Photo of gandres
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Tap to glass @ North Coast Brewing tap room@ Fort Bragg,CA
Appearance: Black, big foam-last long
Aroma: licorice, fragrant, aromatic
Taste: no bold taste, lightly bitter, light sweetness
Palate: light body, soft carbonation, abrupt finish
Overall: good beer, but not the top stout
Drank: April 13, 2016

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Photo of Beginner2
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

North Coast is a good example of a second (possibly first) generation brewer who did the English style very well, but also made numerous offerings in the Belgian style and few were as good... although possibly successful enough to keep North Coast brewing them. Anyway, perhaps this is a lesson in sticking to your knitting.
Old #38 was first brewed in 1988 from a recipe in a home-brew "how-to" manual. It is dry, true to the Irish tradition. And it's hops (53 IBU) are well-concealed from my sensitive palate.
I was saving this bottle for next winter, but today it snowed (and stuck) in Chicago after opening day (baseball), so I felt obliged to raid my stash.

Bottom-line: I recommend this stout.

Reviewed in Roger Protz' CAMRA classic "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"

Old #38 also is listed on the "1001" and deserves to be there. The review was written by one of my top five favorite beer writers, fellow Chicagoan Randy Mosher and I recommend reading it. He did quote Michael Jackson as saying that Old #38 "may well be one of the best stouts produced in America."
I couldn't find that reference, but I will share that MJ's 1999 "Guide" gave Old #38 three of four stars and called it "creamy and chocolatey with lots of flavour development."

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Photo of Tone
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a black color. One inch head of a tan color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, alcohol, hint of roasted malt, hint of tea, and a hint of hops. Fits the style of an Irish Dry Stout. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of hops, sweet malt, hint of roasted malt, hint of yeast, hint of tea, and slight alcohol. Overall, a pretty darn good Irish Dry Stout.

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Photo of lastmango
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured black with a 3 finger creamy tan head. Lots of lacing. Mild aroma of roasted malt and cocoa. Smooth light roasted malt, chocolate and black licorice. Mild bitterness on the end. Moderate body and soft carbonation. Did I say smooth? This is a nice Stout that is very drinkable.

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Photo of LennyOvies
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

L- Jet black body with a creamy tan head with medium persistence, leaves no head after several minutes.
S- Dark chocolate and roasted grains.
T- Bitter dark chocolate, brown sugar, wood. Dry finish.
F- Rich, creamy, smooth.
O- Although the smell is weak, overall this is a very good stout. Very smooth, easy drink.

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Photo of stompilator
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz. bottle, into a bomber converted into a pint glass.

A - Black as night, beige head, slightly opaque.

S - Dark chocolate, roasted grain.

T - Bitter chocolate blooms out in the front-palate. Nutty chocolate malt dominates, with a bitter roastiness fading up with it. A mineral-laden water character comes in around the mid-palate. Not unlike oversteeped black tea. Fairly bitter throughout, ending on a light residual roastiness and bitterness.

M - Creamy and full-bodied, moderate dryness and residual bitterness. Low carbonation.

O - Very solid dry Irish stout. Nails all the characteristic flavors well.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.16/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Pours jet black with a tan film for a head.

Smells of roasted malts, coffee, and a dry nuttiness.

Tastes of coffee, cocoa, oak, and toasted malts.

Medium body with tingly carbonation throughout.

Very tasty stout with a lot of good flavor and body, especially for the abv. Definitely worth trying and one of the better Irish stouts I have had in a while.

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Photo of Pukstopper
4.21/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My rating covers about 6 ounces as my wife took the other 6 as she likes it as well and there was only 1 bottle in our sampler 6 pack.
Poured a black color into a pint glass with nice head that fades leaving nice lacing. Good Carmel notes with nice malty overtones
A nice east stout to drink.

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Photo of Cnote_crafty_1
5/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old No. 38 Stout %5.4 ABV, 53 IBU's

Look: It is ofcourse black as night with a tan head.
Smell: Just a faint smell of roasted barley, grains, but more aroma than you would get from most irish style dry stouts
Taste: It has a nice full flavor with hints of chocolate, coffee, dark barley malts and grains. It is pretty bitter as you would expect from a beer touted as a beer brewed in an Irish style. There is not a heavy aftertaste that lingers at all.
Feel: It is a light feel, but it does have a nice body to it.
Overall: It is a very nice drinkable beer that has alot of flavor. I would surely drink it again. If you are looking for a drinkable stout that has a bit of a bitter bite to it this would be a good choice.

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Photo of Gorilla_Biscuits
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

It pours nicely, it's pitch black. Just a great looking stout. It's enjoyable and it's thick for a low abv stout, but it tastes mostly like tobacco with some bitter dark chocolate and coffee. So it's nothing too crazy, but it's a great basic stout.

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Photo of ColdOneKev
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Looks amazing. Black body with a think tan head. Fades slowly, leaves moderate lacing and a thin layer that never fades.
S - Light roasted malts, coffee, bitter cocoa.
T - Cocoa, roasted malts. The usual suspects.
M - Creamy, medium body, very low carb.
O - A very good example of the style, Irish Dry. Easy to drink.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours bright, dense black under a 1” tan foam cap.
S: Malt aromas with chocolate and light coffee notes.
T: Rich roast malt, caramel with a little chocolate in the flavor. Nothing harsh or burnt.
F: Medium full body, medium to medium low carbonation.
O: This is a nice, drink all day kind of a stout.

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Photo of stevoj
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On nitro at Boise Brewing. Pours extra thick and creamy, head silky smooth and tight. Inky black body, roast grain on the aroma, plenty of coffeeish bitterness. Pretty slippery and slick for a stout. Extra appearance points for the nitro body.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: [3.50] Very dark, almost black beer. Pours out with a 1/2 a finger of tan head. The head is creamy and recedes down but does not disappear. I can't find an ABV or a date.

S: [3.50] Bittersweet cocoa. Dark fruits. Raisins maybe.

T: [3.50] Smoked hickory up front with a hint of bacon. The middle has some sweetness and the finish has a slight bitter note.

M: [3.75] The mouthfeel is creaming and it coats the tongue.

O: [3.50] This is decent beer. I got none of the coffee flavors indicated on the label. But the body and the mouthfeel were nice. The flavor holds up well. The bottle is missing ABV and a date - I always hate that. I'd guess this is in the 6.7% ABV range. No my favorite but it is worth repeating.

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Photo of SensorySupernova
3.99/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Jet black with very smooth off-white head. Eventually settled to a ring of lace around the outside.

Smell: Roast malt, coffee.

Taste: Roasted malt up front, pretty dry, coffee, fades at the end to leave very little aftertaste. Very little bitterness.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin, fine carbonation.

Overall: Solid flavor, pretty standard, would be nice with more body.

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Photo of kitch
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 fl oz bottle into a pint glass. There was no bottled or best by date on the bottle.

Appearance: The beer poured a rich opaque black colour with a bit less than one finger caramel tan head that dissipates quickly leaving a small amount of lacing.

Aroma: Aromas are a bit weak, but mainly of roasted malts, cocoa dark chocolate and brown sugar. There is also a slight amount coffee mixed in.

Taste: Sweet cocoa and roasted malts followed by brown sugar, milk chocolate, coffee and maybe a small amount of caramel.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, sticky, light to medium bodied with light carbonation and a small alcohol kick.

Overall: Overall this was a decent stout that may be a little bit on the sweet side. However when compared to Guinness, I have to say that I’m leaning towards Guinness for a variety of reasons. It’s not as sweet, only one-third of the cost, and a lot easier to find in Hong Kong since its available in every supermarket.

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Photo of doktorhops
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

All aboard the North Coast Old #38 - next stop: anything but a train-related joke. Please have your tickets ready [Dammit Doc!]. I like North Coast, especially their Old Rasputin RIS (which is a DSM or a ‘Doc’s Stout Must-haves’ not to be confused with the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ or ‘The Other DSM’) so it’s only natural that their Old #38 Stout - North Coast’s take on the Irish Dry Stout style (e.g. the one that Guinness is) and I should cross paths for a good old fashioned review. In case you were wondering what the Old #38 is North Coast’s web page has the answer young grasshopper: “Named for a retired California Western Railroad steam engine on the Fort Bragg to Willits run through the Redwoods”. Goody.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Rich black opaque body with a delightful 1 cm mocha head that beckons the drinker to sip and be merry. The head soon reduces to a thin lace but my appetite remains. This beer on nitro tap would be a force to be reckoned with. 8/10.

S: Classic Stout aromas - coffee and cocoa make a smell-pearance, along with brown sugar and some toasty smoke-char. “Hey you wanted a classic Stout, you got it!” says North Coast as it lays down the aroma gauntlet to Stout-lovers worldwide. 9/10.

T: The coffee characters take on a ripe coffee berry flavour, merging with powdered cocoa and topped off with a hint of brown sugar and that smoky roasting note towards the finish, which is a balanced juxtaposition between dryness and coffee grind bitters. The aroma does perhaps oversell the flavour a little as it has a watery/metallic aftertaste that detracts from the overall taste. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, slightly watery, with a light to flat carbonation. Certainly not winning any awards here. 6/10.

D: There is a damn good brew in this Stout that is marred by aftertaste and body, which is a shame because I do enjoy nearly all of North Coast’s brews, it just feels as if this particular North Coast Stout was brewed on a Friday afternoon. How does it compare to Guinness? Well I would say favourably, but then again Guinness borders on water for me with all the drops in ABV it has had over the last decade - Old #38 fortunately doesn’t suffer from the mid-strength handicap of today’s Guinness, yet in some ways I would take a Guinness over this any day (it’s a lot cheaper for starters, and the nitro-cans beat bottles). 7/10.

Food match: The perfect match for a Irish Dry Stout is still Beef & Guinness pie.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Solid all around, and very affordable for the quality if purchased as a sixer at World Market. It is a perfect enhancer for all manly meals--pizza, curries, grilled burgers or sausages, pasta with red sauce. In an ideal world, this would be the basic stout served everywhere, with premium stouts offered where there are lots of taps. I enjoy drinking these North Coast brews that have no faddish flavorings but are simply beautiful products of a remarkable brewer who is an artist with the basics.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. Pours black with tall, long lasting, creamy, beige head and nice lacing. Aroma is of bready malt, toast, dark fruit, coffee and brown sugar. Body is medium, creamy and smooth. Taste is of toasted malt, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, dark fruit and herbal hops. Finish is long and dry. On a sweet side but tasty brew.

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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,238 ratings.
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