Old #38 Stout
North Coast Brewing Co.

Old #38 StoutOld #38 Stout
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Irish Dry Stout
Ranked #26
Ranked #19,325
3.85 | pDev: 10.65%
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States
Very Good
Old #38 StoutOld #38 Stout
Notes: 53 IBUs
View: Beers
Reviews: 669 | Ratings: 1,288 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of JohnIrish
JohnIrish from California

4.88/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best pint of stout I've had on the Western Hemisphere. Never mind your watery, bland pint of Guinness, this stuff is the best: full-bodied, malty and a solid finish. (Bit of a wiff of perfume off it, but absolutely no issue with the flavour).

Only issue is that it is hard to find: it's in the bar on the top floor of the Westfield Shopping Mall if you're ever downtown SF.

May 26, 2019
Photo of josanguapo
josanguapo from Spain

4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

From Saveur Biere. In Ikea's pint glass. At lunch, with macaronni bechamel. No bb date but old. Pleasant dry roastyness with a ending sweetness. Strong bitterness and a tad smokey. Leaves a long, delicious aftertaste

Sep 16, 2018
Photo of Stoutmaster9
Stoutmaster9 from California

3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not much smoke from the bottle, yet poured nigh room temp.
Jet black, thin head, grand lacing.
Scent: Malty-Chocolate: roasted, with a hint of cooking -
Smoky. An abundance (and Beyond?) of bitter roasted malt. Licorice, dark fruits and bread. Tobacco.
Interesting contrast with other (mellow, non-Imperial) masterwork Stouts, yet certainly not a go-to brew.

May 26, 2018
Photo of HoppingMadMonk
HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Almost solid black with an above average body,a little thick and creamy with a decent amount of carbonation but not too much. Aroma is mostly roasted malt with some grain, and perhaps a little vanilla and coffee. Finishes dry but with a small amount of sweetness that makes very pleasing. A great try at the style and an overall great beer

Mar 24, 2018
Photo of Bluerabbitbell
Bluerabbitbell from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Good stout from an old friend! Visited the brewery on our trip up the coast, but had this on tap at industry. Very smooth and drinkable. Good example of this style.

Dec 19, 2017
Photo of TerribleTaste
TerribleTaste from California

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this beer on nitro over at 99 Beers on the Wall in Santa Cruz. (Bad ass little joint with some delicious HUGE burgers)
The beer looked amazing, two finger head that was inviting, smelled of sweet aromatic vanilla and chocolate, the beer went down so well with the nitro, however the taste left a little to be wanting.
And honestly that could just be my personal subjective taste, this Stout was a tad smokey, and not that I don't enjoy a hint of smoke flavor, but I prefer it to by in my porters.
The only reason the taste gets a little bit of a knock from me is because I was totally not expecting smokey flavors from it, Still though.... was better than anything else I tried =p

Jun 19, 2017
Photo of tekstr1der
tekstr1der from New Hampshire

4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Need to find this again - after the fact review. Dark pour with creamy head. Aroma is nearly perfect pure roastedness. Flavor follows similarly - never too dry or imparting any other flavors than delicious roasted malt. Finish is clean leaving me wanting more. Fantastic stout.

May 14, 2017
Photo of Libeertarian
Libeertarian from Montana

3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes taken 04/17/17:

Dark reddish brown, mostly opaque. Golden brown head, with fine uniform bubbles, a spongey texture, good retention, and clingy lace. Cocoa, coffee, booze, toasted grain, light dark fruit notes. Not as balanced or strong as I would like. Overall, reminds me of those dark chocolate covered berries, good but a little too sharp. Palate has a little better balance, quite toasty-toasty along the lines of dark chocolate, some toasted grain, a little toffee, a little vanilla, a little smoke, only moderately fruity-sweet, and then some earthy hops and some booze peaking in the balance at the finish. Full-bodied, smooth, fairly thick, but thinned out by an even, consistent medium carbonation of tingly and then velvety suds. Flattens fast. Plenty of heat, but I don’t think the ABV is terribly high, doesn’t say on the label.

Apr 19, 2017
Photo of FLima
FLima from Brazil

3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Black color with a thin beige head with short retention.
Aroma with predominant notes of licorice and roasted coffee. Hints of dark fruits, some charcoal and cocoa nibs.
Flavor with notes of cola, a bit of charcoal, roasted coffee beans, resiny and citrusy hops, mild cocoa nibs with mint and licorice. Quite dry aftertaste with a lingering roasted coffee note.
Medium body with medium carbonation.
Well executed Dry Stout (rather an American Stout), not sweet with lots of roasted coffee and hop notes. Hops are sure noticeable given its 53 IBUs, but they don’t take over the flavor from roasted barley and dark malts.

Mar 18, 2017
Photo of hman43
hman43 from North Carolina

3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: Pours very dark brown with a brown head.

Smell: It has a coffee aroma with molasses, roast, and a bit of chocolate.

Taste: The flavor has coffee, roasted malts, unsweetened chocolate, and toast.

Feel; It has a moderate body with a dry finish.

Overall, this is a roasted malt driven ale with a dry aftertaste highlight by the complexities of the malts.

Dec 03, 2016
Photo of ordybill
ordybill from Georgia

3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. The appearance is a dark brown to black with a large tan colored head. The aroma has a sweet chocolate smell mixed with some caramel malt. The taste is boozy chocolate with some caramel.

Nov 26, 2016
Photo of MaximalC
MaximalC from Illinois

3.57/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

Sep 27, 2016
Photo of crimsonfloyd
crimsonfloyd from California

3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

Sep 05, 2016
Photo of mmmbeer89
mmmbeer89 from New Mexico

3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

Aug 18, 2016
Photo of Squire
Squire from Mississippi

3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark cola color with some reddish brown highlights.

Aroma is roasted malt with something like figs in the background.

Taste is roasty malt backed with the same fig note with a hint of sweetness. I don't know if there really is anything in there that really is sweet but it tastes that way to me. Hop level is higher than what I've found in other stouts and is apparent from the start lasting all the way through. Rounded dry finish.

Texture is medium-full with a creamy sorta thickness.

I like to keep some stouts around for those who like the style and this one serves as well as any.

Jun 27, 2016
Photo of Bierliebhaber3
Bierliebhaber3 from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Jun 10, 2016
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

May 13, 2016
Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
The-Adjunct-Hippie from South Dakota

4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Apr 20, 2016
Photo of gandres
gandres from Philippines

3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Tap to glass @ North Coast Brewing tap [email protected] 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

Apr 19, 2016
Photo of Beginner2
Beginner2 from Illinois

3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
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."

Apr 09, 2016
Photo of Tone
Tone from Missouri

3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Apr 08, 2016
Photo of lastmango
lastmango from Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

Jan 24, 2016
Photo of LennyOvies
LennyOvies from Mexico

3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Jan 24, 2016
Photo of stompilator
stompilator from Texas

3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Nov 29, 2015
Photo of Cylinsier
Cylinsier from Pennsylvania

4.16/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

Nov 22, 2015
Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 1288 ratings