Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

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very good
656 Reviews
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: 656 | Ratings: 1,233
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A firm tan head stays afloat above a dark body that looks black, but may be very dark brown; superior lacing that coats the entire glass. The nose is light and a bit on the earthy side, full of roasted grain notes and a bit off. The flavor has an odd oatey sense for a stout, but this may be the level of roasting of the barley.

The feel is super; full and creamy smooth without any sense of being syrupy. A very drinkable stout, but just a bit short on flavors.

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep coppery brown with a nice thicket of beige to tan colored head. Nice lacing. Toasted malt aroma, vanilla and cocoa, orange zest, bakers chocolate in there, too. A bit thin, but the toasted malty flavors of a stout are there. Rather quaffable. Right balance of hops. Good.

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

Poured a clear dark mahogany with a creamy beige head. Left fair lace. Aromas of sweet roasted malt, bitter chocolate, coffee and mildly spicy hops.
Tasted of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and a bit of licorice. Finishes cocoa dry with a mild tangy hop bitterness. Nice bittersweet balance.
Seemed light in the body for the style but that certainly made it more drinkable. A little light for me but still a quality brew.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark brown in color with a nice tan head.
Aroma of chocolate, cocoa, and roasty malt with a nice mix of hops (citrus maybe).

Taste is big on the chocolate and cocoa. A mild roasty malt bitterness as well. Significant, but not overwhelming hop flavor (seems citrusy or maybe floral) for a stout. Nicely balanced between sweet and bitter.

Good mouthfeel and drinkability. Fairly easy going for a stout. Nothing real bold, but still quite tastey.

Overall a good stout.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – What a head! I controlled it at the pour but it just stayed there, like a Venezuelan soccar goalie fending his net. I finally lost the waiting game and just drank it down. The body is pure, beautiful, solid black. The lacing literally covered my glass with a dark tan film of intricate design.

Smell – Big espresso and chocolate flavors with a lot of bitternes and some darkish malt to boot. The espresso bean, coffee, and chocolate aromas come together to form a wonderful (imperial) stout fragerance.

Taste – The smells from the nose come out in the taste. The coffee and dark chocalate especially are in full force, but the rest of this (rather complex) bouquet wimp out at the tongue.

Mouthfeel – A little thinner than I had hoped for, but good nevertheless. This one is on the full side of medium-bodied and somehow has a refreshing finishing.

Drinkability – At 1.29 per bottle this is a steal.

Update – I originally reviewed this in 2003 but drink it regularly so am posting an update with a 2005 vintage. I juggled some scores around but over all this is a good stout that smells terrific.

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Photo of pheurton
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a few shades off midnight black. full and foamy tan head. light burnt coffeeish aroma. medium body supported by adequate carbonation. could be a little thicker. delicate burnt roasted caramel flavors, with a commanding yet not overwhelming hop presence. sturdy and well built dry stout. i could easily have two or thee of these in a sitting.

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Photo of bditty187
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Mostly black in color, highlights of a darkish ruby hue. Beige head, the apex was almost two fingers worth, collapsed quickly to half that size, the remainder hung around for a while; it does lace very well. Lightly roasty malts emphasize the nose, distant coffee and chocolate hints too. Stout-like and inviting. Tasty palate, dry roasted malts upfront, far from dominating but solid enough. In the middle, charcoal and chocolate notes wafts through, a faint kiss of sweetness. The finish is also dry but heavier on the coffee taste, hops bitterness. This is pretty much all you want in a Dry Stout. Exceptionally drinkable! Simple but well constructed, session brew material. Medium-full body, light carbonation… very good mouthfeel. Just think of how many great Dry Stouts are ruined by that nitro-gimmick… I’m very glad this one is not. Recommended.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.34/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Color is a dark coffee brown with dark ruby highlights when put up to the light, thin compact tannish head fading fairly slow to leave ink blot patches of crumbly lace. Aroma is dark, sweet chocolate and a nice alcoholic warmth and spice. Also blends in some nice malty roastyness and dried hops with a nice overlaying touch of fresh coffee beans. Taste is quite different then what the smell leads on; mostly a heavy roasted flavor with an older left-in-the-pot coffee sense, a milding roasted sweetness and the chocolate is all but gone from the nose with only hints of cocoa powder and light burnt brownie drying that comes in and through the finish. Feel is medium bodied with a creamy start and middle wrapping up the finish with a favorable little bittering and drying factions with notes of cocoa, coffee, and cinnamon. A nice stout with a great nose and a nice finish. A solid stout all the way.

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Photo of marburg
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

My fiancee loves stouts, and I wanted a beer before bed last night. so this Old #38 it was. Deep sea brown/black with smallish tan head.

The nose has a constant -- but also faint and subtle -- chocolate aroma to it. Definite roasted malt presence. The aroma "feels" similar to that of chocolate milk, really. You can almost sense the creamy texture and thickness before you ever take even the first sip. I have to be honest -- I spent a good 5 minutes with my nose to the glass sniffing this beer like a dog to an ass. I must have looked like a complete dumbass. Really. But it was worth it.

Tastes quite nice as well. Chocolate malt presence up front; nice body; subtle hints of straight, bitter coccoa powder. Smacks you around a bit with a healthy bitterness. (Let me just say, too, that I have never chewed coffee grounds before. But if I were to do so, I have to imagine that this is what it would taste like.) Noticeable hop presence that blends nicely with the roasted bitter sensation of the malts.

This is a wickedly good stout. I could seriously drink this beer all night long. What a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of nomad
3.57/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a colo rso brown you have to call it black. At first had a big stout head: very pocky and cavernous, and didn’t fall as much as in exploding it ended in the ruins of a very thin head. Some wisps and spots of stain, and no lace. A miserable ending to an exciting beginning, at first pour.

Smelled of zesty hops with a citrus zing. Also a nice balance of sweet and roasted malts that combined to come smell like a roasty dark chocolate. Taste was a tasty roast flavor that slowly rolled into a sizable citrus hop flavor. Finish was a hard roast, tilting toward burnt toast.

A full-flavored stout but not captivating due to its simplicity. A good tasting session ale with a highly thin mouthfeel, it was a bit tangy for me to be a drinkable stout.

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Photo of edchicma
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gigantic creamy head with excellent chocolate brown appearance. Good malty aroma. Taste was a bit tart on the raosted malt side with an aftertaste that was ok, but not great. Had a medium mouthfeel that didn't feeel overly smooth. Definitely not a guzzler..ok on the sipping scale, but not great.

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Photo of Rumrunner
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle.

I like the train on the bottle. Trains are so important to the history of our nation. Maybe not so important now, except to get BA's from one pub to another.

Pours a nice dark chocolate caramel cream brown. Sadly a weak copper head and semi okay lacing. A nice deep coffee aroma. Some chocolate bitterness, mixed in with molasass sweetness and it ends with a charcoal biscuit bite on the nose.

This is a burnt stout from start to finish. For the stout lover who likes a harsh bite. Definite charcoal biscuit bite to begin with. A bitter dark unsweetened chocolate that has a dry quality finds its way through, and then there is the coffee finish. A bitter stout. The aftertaste lingers to remind you of the bitterness with a dry bite on the palate. If you like bitter, this is the stout to try.

A stout that drinks very well. A dry quality that allows this stout to be enjoyed with certain foods. A stout that is not as thick as others but definately has a nice kick to it. Enjoy if you like bitter and not sweet stouts.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear dark ruby appearance. Good sized creamy and somewhat rocky light brown head. Head has great retention. Looks the part. The nose is great. Roasted malt, coffee bean, bittersweet chocolate...lovely aroma. Mouthfeel is lowly carbonated and quite creamy. Body checks in a little better than medium. The flavors don't quite live up to my expectations after sniffing, but are good nonetheless. Fairly big bitterness stemming from roasted malts and probably some west coast hops. Baker's chocolate, milk sugar and java come to mind while drinking. Solid stout.

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Photo of arizcards
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another brew picked up at the local Cost Plus. Nice full tannish head from a dark brown brew leaving a nice lacing down the glass. Smells detected include coffee and chocolate. Nice taste of a creamy coffee and chocoate with a nice hop finish. Mouth feel is smooth going down initially and left with a dryness. Nice beer that is very drinkable, would not mind seeing this one again.

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Photo of kevinl6
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like this stout. Black in appearance (but not a 'black hole') with a very minimal head. A 'burnt' and roasty smell. I concur with Putnam in that it smells like a "mint chocolate chip milkshake" - good analogy! Taste is of burnt, roasted coffee. A very good, full mouthfeel....very 'milky'. I could drink several of these! This was my second beer of the day, had Guinness extra stout right before this one, and this one was considerably more enjoyable.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color, medium head. Deeply roasted malts, coffee and chocolate flavor, some hop spiciness. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is smooth and slightly dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter, some malt sweetness. Taste is a little thin for a stout, but still a very nice beer.

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

Smells precisely like a mint-chocolate chip milkshake.
Strong on eucalyptus, bitter chocolate and espresso, these images recombine on the palate to argue with the glossy, cream and milk texture. Dry, with every possible bitter nuance in the spectrum, there is a surprisingly high level of balance. Peppery, twiggy-flavored froth just cushions joints of carob, spice, palo cortado, hardened licorice and cola. This is very good beer.

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Photo of pezoids
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now there’s nothing like a warm stout on a warm and muggy night! This beer poured a very deep and clear mahogany brown color with ruby tints. Had a large creamy and clingy tan head. The aroma was one of bittersweet chocolate, caramel and coffee with a campfire smokiness there as well. Was surprised to see that this stout was low in bitterness and very very smooth. Nice clean finish which leaves a chocolate taste on the tongue. Dry finish and an overall delicious stout.

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

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep black color with two fingers of head that die quickly. There is a small amount of lacing left on the glass. The smell is fairly strong with coffee and chocolate. The taste is a nice start of coffee, caramel, and toffee, followed by a small hint of hops. The body is a little light and watery. Not terribly bad though. The drinkability is just alright. A fair stout, but Old Rasputin is better.

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Photo of ZAP
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A rather impressive stout....pours a brown-tinted black color with a nice tan head....very nice nose...sweet chocolate....roasted malt....burnt malt...java...quite complex and interesting....boyd is a little thin, but makes for easy drinking...I wouldn't say it is thin...just on the thin side of medium...and when combined with the low carbonation it really turns into a nice drinkable stout...gets better as it warms (as you'd expect)....flavor is chocolate, coffee beans, roasted malt, and some burnt malts on the finish...the nose really mimicks the taste nicely....I wouldn't say it is strong tasting but it is quite enjoyable....

Certainly not an elite stout but definitely a very good one that should be tried....I'd buy this again.....

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Photo of clvand0
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a dark color with a thick and steady tan head with quite a bit of lacing left on the glass. The aroma is not very strong, but there are hints of burned malts and possibly a hint of coffee - it has an interesting sweet character to the aroma as well. The flavor is a little spicy and reminiscent of coffee. The malt is also very noticeable. Very smooth with a little bit of sweetness in the aftertaste. I'm normally not a fan of this style, but I could have several of these without complaint.

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Photo of granger10
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks like a solid stout with a nice head. Smells of Maxwell House Hazelnut Coffee. The taste backs up that nutty coffee aroma but adds a strong roasted kick to it as well. Quite good. Hops are in the background and never come forth. Nothing overpowering here but definitely a high class stout from a high class brewery.

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Photo of BierReise
3.06/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Didn't really pack the punch I like in a stout but not that bad overall. Thick head with good retention. Aroma not real powerful but had a significant roasted malt presence and perhaps subtle notes of coffee. Dry and bitter but not as full as I'd like. Was satisfying none the less with good roasty malt flavor. I enjoyed their Imperial much more.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 fluid ounce, stubby brown bottle with just one main label that from the picture obviously links the name of the beer, ‘Old No.38 Stout’, to that of a class of steam locomotives. No freshness, strength or even best before date.

Appearance: The 12 fl.oz. poured into my 16 ounce glass to form the perfect looking Pint. A very dark brown mahogany body, with good clarity has a well-formed brown head at first. Good lacing and a reduced head as the beer drinks. Excellent inherent carbonation maintains a good overall appearance.

Nose: Deeply roasted malts with strong hints of Coffee beans.

Taste: Strong deep bitter roasted flavors dominate the start of the beer. The roast flavors lessen as the bitterness peaks in the middle. The finish is of dark chocolate mixed with bitter sharpness that you get from fresh grapefruits. Has an astringent dark smoky roast coffee ending. Bitterness lingers in the mouth, as the roast tastes fade away.

Mouthfeel: Solid levels of dissolved carbonation lend a very smooth mouthfeel. The roast flavors are silky smooth too; all of which contribute to the overall Drinkability.

Drinkability: I drank this chilled, as it has been a hot day in Long Beach today. Even so, on a warm night, this beer went down extremely well. Highly quaffable for a Stout. No problems in this department at all.

Overall: A very nice effort and a solid Stout. I bought the stores last bottle of this, but if I ever see it again, I will consider stocking up on a few more. Recommended!

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Photo of jcalabre
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 25 January 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a very dark brown. The schnauzola has lots of coffee notes. This is an extremely drinklable stout. If you wanted to introduce someone to stouts, Old #38 would be a good choice. It's very smooth on the way down. Enjoyable by all.

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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 656 ratings.
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