Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
661 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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 661 | Ratings: 1,249
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A very solid offering from an amazing brewery, the old no. 38 is a classic sweet stout that I am fortunate to have access to. This beer pours a very dark ruby amber tone that looks black almost opaque with a mohogany colored billowing two finger width head. Looks amazing, but it's nothing compared to the smell of this well done stout, with the dark fragrant roasts and strong coffee esque aroma just wonderful. The taste is also a great part of this beer very refined with hints of espresso and notes of dark chocolate the dark roasted barley fills this beer with slight burnt finish that is pleasant when matched with the other flavors going on. Well made with medium to heavy body and a full creamy mouthfeel to each sip makes this one a winner. I could drink this stout any day any time any place. Muy bueno!!!

 815 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Londonderry Quick Stop.
Pours a dark brown bordering on black with a huge off white head that takes a few to recede. Aromas of roast and hints of caramel, dried fruit, and chocolate. The flavor follows the aroma quite well. Slightly tart roasted grains with a hint of caramel and chocolate. Meidum bosy with a moderate level of carbonation and a slick almost creamy mouthfeel. Decent stout, I could drink it, but its not one of my favorites.

 453 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 from notes 12-2006. Pours a clear but deep ruby with a tan head. Nose is fairly mild actually. Minute amounts of cherry. Flavor hits with a quick punch of sweetness and then the alcohol takes over. In my opinion it stays way too long as it leaves a aftertaste on the mouth. Just seems a bit too much, though it doesn’t completely overpower. I wonder what age would do to that. Slight cherry tone. Feel is slightly syrupy with minimal carbonation. Even though at first the alcohol is extremely present, this one is highly drinkable. Though I doubt you’d want to go through too many of these at once.

 605 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark black with a half of an inch of brown head that has good retention. The nose is roasty with a hint of chocolate and yeast. The taste is roasty, chocolaty, charcoally, burnt, and mildly yeasty. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, smooth, and has little carbonation.

This is a smooth drinking, refreshing Irish Dry Stout. Everything about this beer is traditional. I would have this again for sure.

 420 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured on nitro tap, into a labelled Old #38 Stout shaker pint glass at Matchbox pizza. (I think the head was a little too large but I wont split hairs...)

Classic creamy head, very light tan in appearance. There's some noticeable large soda like bubbles on the side of the glass but not too many, maybe even some cola carbonation strangely. Classic dark walnut brown, and lots of thick lacing of course for nitro.

Very impressive nose, a fruity quality of red berry, cherry, reminds me of Barney Flats, even a hint of sourness that is just playful but not overbearing or disturbing.

Taste matches the nose on the palate nicely. Milk chocolate with a silky classic nitro texture, hinting at some light bodied wetness for a typical Irish Dry. Afterfinish hits with a taste of just light carbon, maybe even some decent coffee.

Overall real solid, and really like this slight fruit angle to this stout. Great stuff!

 916 characters

Photo of jwc215
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a one-finger head that slowly descends to a lasting thin cover, then a lasting patch that leaves trailing lace.

The smell is of robust coffee with chocolate notes. Mild roasted smokiness in the background.

The taste is of chocolate and espresso cofee. Dark roasted grains give a slight smoky character. Hints of dark fruitiness. Sweetness well-balanced by toasty bitterness. Suggestions of chocolate-covered fruits in the long, dry, bittersweet finish.

Thins just a tad to pull from expected full body to a higher side of medium. Nice, smooth, creamy texture.

Easy to drink - rich and complex without being overly powerful. Alcohol is well-covered. This is one very nice stout!

 712 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer, twist top, no freshness indicator to be found. Pours dark molasas, fairly light for a stout. moderate head/carbonation. Leaves only minimal lacing. Nose is caramel, and coffee. Rich and thick mouthfeel, especially as this one warms up abit. Toffee, expresso, burnt flavors, pleasant and drinkable. Decent, lighter then average stout. Probably needs some more black grains to beef up the roasted flavors and "ooommph" of this one.

 440 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is completely black, with a fine, creamy tan head.

Aroma is largely roasted, espresso notes, nutty, some hints of chocolate.

Very toasty and warm. Palate is smooth, and very, very dry. Finish is brief. Altogether, a solid and tasty, no-frills stout.

Perfect for effortless drinking, and I'd take one over a Guinness any day.

 342 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.01/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a six-pack at the local beer store. Poured into a pint glass. The beer pours a jet black, with a thin, tan colored, dense head. The nose is almost completely coffee, with some molasses and malty notes. The beer has inital flavors of bitter coffee, with a sweet undertone of malt based tastes. There was a smooth, round, full feel to the beer in mouth, and the flavors blend into a decent, light crisp finish. It's more dry than a cream or milk stout, but not as dry as an oatmeal of most dry stouts. The aftertaste is all coffee, but actually without the bitter. The easy aftertaste makes this beer easy to drink all night long.

 635 characters

Photo of GClarkage
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12/09/04- Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA

Appearance- Nice black pour with a 1/2 inch head and nice lacing left in the inside of my glass.

Smell- Roasted malt and chocolate. Maybe some caramel and toffee. Hops?

Taste- Kind of like a weak bittersweet chocolate. Definite roasted malt and definite bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Very full feeling stout with a medium carbonation level.

Drinkability- Nice stout that I would try again if given the chance. Would really like to try it at the brewery on tap.

 514 characters

Photo of Duff27
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Aggressive pour yields a huge three-fingered frothy mocha head in my pint glass. Beer itself is dark brown. Great lacing and head retention

S- Smell is of semi-sweet chocolate.

T- Roasted barley. Finish is sweet(!) chocolate with a slightly metallic taste.

M- Creamy. Medium mouthfeel. On the lower end of carbonation it seems.

D/O- I liked this one. Been a damn long time since I've had one, pre-BA days. It's a looker...rich and creamy but not too filling.

 465 characters

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.

 425 characters

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

Beer is black / dark brown with a few tan bubbles, no lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet, malty, with a kind of roasty.

Beer is sweet and medium body. Beer has a coffee-ish bitterness at the back but it's weak. The beer overall is weak, it's sweet and roasty and finishes nicely, I doubt I'll ever have it again.

 319 characters

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.

 243 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a black color with a fluffy 3" head that lasts a while.

Smell: roasted malts and some floral bitterness comes from the glass.

Taste: roasted malts, dark chocolates, and some softer espresso notes are the core flavors. The bitterness is a bit stronger than expected.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Smooth from start to finish and a hint of dryness late. Aftertaste is long as the roasted tones linger a while in the mouth.

Drinkability: easy to drink stout that is strong on the roasted tones with a bitter profile. A few of these can be had in a session.

 573 characters

Photo of liamt07
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Long813 ages ago, 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Can't believe I haven't opened this yet. Thanks again Martin.

Pours a near black, finger of light khaki head fading to a real thin layer and a bit of a collar. Some dark ruby red around the edges when held to the light. Minimal lace. Loads of malted barley and milk chocolate in the nose. Maybe some molasses and licorice here too. Nice and sweet smelling. Tastes mostly of chocolate with a bit of coffee, smooth and a bit watery. Mouthfeel is smooth with only a small amount of carbonation, but this goes down quick. A nice drinker and a nice dry stout overall.

 624 characters

Photo of tempest
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't about the style, but this certainly is a tasty beer. I got big milk and dark chocolate flavors along with chocolate grains and an aroma to match. There's a medium body with a balancing bitterness and touch of citrus hops flavor. Overall this is a great dessert beer and I'd love to see a coffee version of this.

 319 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Almost black in colour with a very thin head that disappeared quickly. Some visible carbonation.

S - A very distinct chocolate nose with some coffee with toasted malts. A very robust nose.

T - Lots of roasted malts with coffee. Very well balanced.

M - Medium body, somewhat thick and chewy. Carbonation is just right.

D - A very solid stout. Could drink a couple.

 375 characters

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.

 277 characters

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

Pours a dark brown/black color, nice carbonation, not much of a head though and quickly disappears, a few nice island appear. Scents of malts, slight hops, coffee, and caramel. The taste is of roasted sweet malts, and a nice caramel dry finish. Medium body. A pretty tasty brew from North Coast, would recommend. Thanks jhammerly.

 330 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep black color with a thin off-white head. The aroma is good. It has a nice black malt/ roasted scent that is a bit dry and awfully malty. The taste is good. It has a rich black malt flavor that is dry and dark tasting. It goes down easy and finishes with a black malt aftertaste. The mouthfeel is great. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a fine stout with great flavor and mouthfeel; an excellent sessions brew.

 464 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.99/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Stubby 12 ounce bottle from Tom's Farm, on to the beer:

Opaque appearance with chocolate ruby brown hues on the edges and a short head on top. Breathe in...yummy...chocolate! Bits of brown sugar lava cake poking through. To the taste we go...mellow, sweet, mello, sweet. The carbonation is a bit much upfront. but for the taste, semi-sweet chocolate and hops are the way it's rolling. Coffee is found in the lingering aftertaste. Very pleasant to drink on.

My only complaint is the carbonation level is wound up too high. Model it after the flavor; let it mellow.

 566 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Single bottle poured into a Flying Fish pint glass.

A- Old 38 is a very deep dark brown but not exactly black on a closer look. A nice tan colored cap rose up a faded into little islands of foam on the surface.

S- Big roasted malt and a nice hop scent coming from this. Some creamy milk with some tootsie roll in the background. Chocolate scents coming through.

T- Not expectng much from this I was actually surprised that this had a nice taste to it, with a fairly nice balance as well. Chocolate comes out more with malt giving off more sweetness. Hops really dont make a dent in the taste but are lingering afterwards.

M- Kind of reminds me more of a regular stout than a dry Irish but either way this has a nice full feel with a nice but short aftertaste. This one feels thin and is light in carb.

D- Good enough to get again and it is light in alcohol so this passes the drinkability test for me. I finished my 12oz in no time. For some reason I found this in a dingy liquor store and I don't see this paticular beer carried in a lot of places, i wonder why?

 1,070 characters

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

Pours with a frothy, three finger thick, brown tainted, tan colored head the leaves a light lacing pattern on the sides of the glass. The beer itself is a almost black color with a brownish tint to it. The aroma smells softly of dark grain and burnt raisins. A light roast grain tartness hangs around towards the end of the aroma along with black coffee aromatics and heavily toasted malt notes. In the middle there is a soft, sweet, dark chocolate note that helps to mellow out the other more roasted notes.

The beer starts out soft and creamy with a mouth coating quality to it, but the carbonation quickly adds a zippy note that tends to balance this out. Finishes with a burnt grain and hop bitterness as well as a black acidity. Sweetish, dark malt notes intermingle with chocolate and a sweetened espresso character never quite balancing out the dominant dry roasted grain notes. This beer strikes a light crispness up front despite the color, yet in the finish has a mouth coating creaminess to it that adds to a perception of heft.

All in all this is a great beer to sit down with over a couple pints. Light and quaffable, yet at the same time chewy and interesting. If I had to perfect this I would add a touch more chocolate and sweet malt notes to balance the roast acidity, but then it would not be nearly so quaffable.

 1,337 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz picked up at New Vintage for about $1.50 and pulled from the basement cooler.. shared with my bro... my half from a shaker pint.

Good 1" lite tan head.. dark dark brown (clear) with dark red highlites... lacing melts away but is still obvious.

Dark roasted grains and a touch of roasted barley with a kiss of chocolate is the only aroma evident.

Flavor is all dark grains.. very little sweetness.. only enough to barely balance.. bigger dark roast malts and touch of caramel.. could use a touch more black grain bitterness... I am getting no hops.

This is only the 4-5th time I've had this brew, and I think North Coast can do better, but I also need to fine tune my palate to understand more what a good American "Irish Dry Stout" actually tastes like.

 762 characters

Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,249 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.