Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
662 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: 662 | Ratings: 1,251
Photo of Libeertarian
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

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Photo of FLima
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of hman43
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of ordybill
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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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 Squire123
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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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 Wasted_Youth
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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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,251 ratings.
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