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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 662 | Ratings: 1,251
Photo of SchmichaelJ
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Old 38 poured a black color, with some hints of red in the light. A nice thick head dissipated to a smaller, thinner layer over time. The nice tight lacing on the glass rounded out the impressive appearance. I was also impressed by the nice roasted, caramel aroma, with a subtle hop scent. A caramel / coffee taste was followed by mild bitterness and hop bite. Great roasted characteristics. The mouthfeel was smooth and creamy. Pretty full and heavy, and very appropriate for the style. I really had a hard time finding anything sub-par with this stout. Very solid all around. The Old 38 won't really shock or excite stout drinkers, but it's a great, consistent brew overall. Well done.

 691 characters

Photo of kbub6f
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of little explosions in the big, doughy, tan head. Lacing is thin and a little runny. The color is black with ruby-brown highlights when held to the light.

The smell of coffee, roasted grains and slightly sweet grapes hints at an understated complexity. Coffee accents the roasty, sweet chocolate front. The middle is malty and chocolatey, full, with a little fruit and some milk. A very nice, dry, hoppy finish is complemented by bitter chocolate. This is a very nice dry stout: roasty, fruity, hoppy. Quite creamy with temperature.

 541 characters

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

This stout pours a dark brown. Small, tan head, which dissapates quickly. The aroma is mainly of chocolate, with hints of coffee and roastiness. Roasted malty flavor is the most prevalent. Some bitterness in it also. Flavor is strong, but the body is a little thin. Overall this is pretty good, but I'll stick to their Old Rasputin.

 332 characters

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 Morris729
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, color with a thick and creamy tan colored head that coats the sides of the glass with sheets of lace as it recedes. Nose is sweet malts and toffee with a touch of fresh coffee. Full in body with a creamy mouthfeel. Taste is roasted malts and grains up front quickly followed by notes of bitter burnt coffee leaving a very dry finish. The taste and mouthfeel improve as the beer warms a bit.

 429 characters

Photo of mjohn27603
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a 2 inch head. Deep brown in color. Taste is very much of coffee not too bitter. The mouthfeel is a bit disappointing, being a bit on the watery side. Sweet taste. Nothing outstanding or objectionable.Slight bitter aftertaste starts to settle in after a while. This one doesn't really stand in North Coast's lineup.

 327 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 RonfromJersey
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black body with ruby highlights. Big lumpy beige head rises over the edge of the glass. Excellent lacing. Nose features coffee, chocolate, roasted malts, floral hops, and some general earthiness. Taste is lead b the roasted malts, then chocolate and coffee and a long lingering hop twang with some herbal qualities. Mouthfeel is slightly on the thin side, could use a little more "chewiness". Easy, pleasant enjoyable drinking. Remember, not all stouts are imperials. Not up to neighbor Sierra Nevada Stout, but a fine example of a straight forward American stout.

 564 characters

Photo of oberon
3.79/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very well dark with ruby tinges,does have nice caramel color head.Nice roasty smell,with chocolate and coffee in it as well,what a good stout should smell like.I do agree with a few others in saying it is a little thin and weak for the style,taste to me doesnt match the smell.A little bitterness in the ending salvaged this one for me.Nothing great but not horrible either.

 380 characters

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

The beer pours a deep garnet color, the head is initially modest, frothy in texture, but erodes quite quickly leaving a fair to middling sheet of lace to conceal the glass. Light hints of roasted grains and coffee, malt and a pleasant enough nose I guess, malt and lightly sweet at the start, the top disappointing in its feel, a bit light for this stout lover. Finish is moderately carbonated, the hops adequate, the aftertaste dry. Maybe I should classify it as a beginner’s stout, certainly most stouts have nothing to fear from this rather “Wimpy” stout, not bad mind you, just a tad to light for me.

 607 characters

Photo of Jarod
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured into the glass a chestnut brown/light red color that was very clear. The head was foamy and rich tan. The lace was full and lasting to the bottom of the glass. The aroma was of malt, cocoa, coffee, some sweet overtones as well. The tastes were of bitter chocolate, coffee, malt, kind of watery in the middle of the swallow, some slate near the end as it ended dry. As this beer warmed, it seemed to become more bitter and the chocolate also seemed to become more pronounced. To be honest while rinking this I had to check back to the bottle and reassure that this was a STOUT. To me it seemed more like a PORTER. Over all, not a bad beer, not my first choice when I think of Stouts.

 699 characters

Photo of zerk
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black and opaque with a thin tan head. Has a nice roasted malt aroama... chocolate and a touch of coffee with just a touch of herbal hops. Flavor is much the same as the smell... roasted malt with some slight spice and, a touch of sweetness. Very smooth and creamy. A very drinkable stout.

 289 characters

Photo of the42ndtourist
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Most disappointing aspect of this beer - the rather weak head. It did manage to hang around until the end, though.
Good dark black colour, not Guinness dark, but still respectable.
The taste is very sweet. Good amounts of caramel and toffee, backed by the typical stout chocolate and coffee. Finishes with a fair dose of bitterness. Very good, smooth and tasty. I want more!

 377 characters

Photo of Brent
4.57/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another beer that falls into the "it made me happy" category. Fantastic aroma - like Hershey's chocolate syrup in milk. Crammed full of mocha-coffee notes and roasted malt, but not burned or overdone. Hops is there enough to balance the chocolate/coffee sweet elements - very drinkable. Just dry enough at the finish to invite another quaff.

 341 characters

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

Appearance: Dark brown body with garnet highlights that almost fools you into thinking it's black. Bubbly, light tan head barely shows up, then disappears quickly.

Smell: Roasted grain, toffee, and a hint of licorice.

Taste: Starts with a strong bitter note, then opens up to a roasted flavor with a slightly burnt taste. A touch of toffee at the tail end.

Mouthfeel: Starts a bit thin, but gets thicker as it warms. Smooth and dry.

Drinkability: Good...I wasn't impressed with the first couple sips, but it's improving as it warms. This could be a session beer on a cold, winter night.

 598 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

What a great country we live in. There are so many good beers available that even those that aren't greatest can be so drinkable. This falls there. This beer has weaknesses, such as after a nice full rocky tan head it thins very quickly and basically dissappears. Also it has a thinner than average mouthfeel. Yet this is a highly drinkable beer, and really enjoyable. In light it's clear and more garnet to brown/black. I like the varieties of flavors with bitter chocolate to the burnt malt and bitter flavor on the tip of the tongue that fades to a lingering bitterness on the back. Nice nose of roast malt as bring the glass up.
Why is this a specialty stout?

 672 characters

Photo of Pegasus
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep mahogony brown color, some light does pass through the glass, revealing that this beer is not black. Nice half inch or so tan-colored head with modest carbonation, quite a bit of sticky, irregular lace. Aroma of coffee, dark chocolate, alcohol, and a slight fruitiness. Taste opens with dark (actually burnt) malts, and earthy flavors. Towards the middle of the taste, some sweet, berry flavors appear, these carry to the end of the taste. Finish is dry with bitter chocolate and coffee notes. A touch thin in body, but otherwise excellent.

 551 characters

Photo of budgood1
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

oh yum! very dark brown color...a big, tan, rocky head that leaves a great deal of lace. aroma of dark roasted barley, lots of sweet chocolate with a hint of alcohol. tastes great; the chocolate flavors are straightforward, with an underlying faint hop presence. medium bodied with a mouthfeel that starts creamy smooth, becomes quite bitter then ends very dry. a lingering aftertaste of burnt malt and a definite warming sensation leaves me quite satisfied. a very impressive stout. highly recommended.

 514 characters

Photo of BeerAngel
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown color (nearly black) and has a thick medium tan head. The smell of roasted mocha coffee and malts get the mouth watering. First taste of each swallow reveals an odd twang, but then fades to a more pleasant chocolate and roasted malt flavor. It has a rather thin mouthfeel and light clean finish for a stout. It could stand a little tweaking to get rid of the strange twang, but maybe it’s on purpose. Not bad, and I can struggle through the trenches to get through the twang ;-) since I have a few more of these. Cheers!

 551 characters

Photo of aracauna
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

The head is reluctant to form and once it does form has trouble lasting. What remains of the head clings to the sides of the glass like a 12-year-olds at their first dance. The body is a bit pale for a stout. Instead black with light seeping only through the edges, light passes relatively easily through this beer making is less black and more blackened ruby. The first thing I caught on my first whiff was a shock of citric hops that didn't seem to mesh well with the chocolately dark malt. I tried again and the hop aromas died down until after a few minutes all they were was a suggestion of bittereness lurking beneath the sweet malt. The flavor is moderately sweet and far from dry. I wouldn't describe it as rich, but I would call it chocolatey with low bitterness. There are few coffee or other bittering flavors from the darker roasted malt, although a lighter crisper malt lurks underneath the chocolate. Sadly, the mouthfeel is very thin for a stout. Of course that also makes it unusually drinkable for a stout. Still the flavor could benefit from a richer body and the mouthfeel really shouldn't so thin.

My final verdict is that for a stout it's only run of the mill. It has some high points, like the fairly complex and lush flavor and aroma, and while a little too transparent for what I like in a stout, the resulting color is quite attractive. But it also has low points, like the thin mouthfeel and wimpy head. Despite all this, for pure easy-drinking pleasure, it's not a bad beer.

 1,505 characters

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

Pours dark and rather clear with somewhat sparse, fleeting head and light carbonation. Copper-red tones on the edges. Smell is pleasant enough but quite muted. Taste is not as smooth as some stouts, but the crispness is interesting. Still has the dark toastiness one expects. Pretty good mouthfeel and reasonable drinkability.

 331 characters

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

A very nice stout by one helluva brewery. It is not as think and viscous as I would have liked, but this stout has all of the deep and dark roasty and sweet flavors and aromas many look for in their brews. Well worth the try. Prost!

 235 characters

Photo of mzwolinski
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, with red highlights when backlit. A dark tan head which settles very quickly to a thin top.

Aroma of cocoa, roasted malt and grains. Somewhat chocolately and bitter.

Taste is much the same, with a very strong roasted flavor and a dry finish of bittersweet chocolate. Pretty hoppy, but most of the bitterness seems to come from the grains.

Medium-full bodied, and pretty drinkable, though I found the roasty character to be just a bit overdone.

 467 characters

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

North Coast produces a quality stout with Old #38. The almost opaque pour features a tan head that survives and laces well. The aroma is of roasted malt and lots of hops in the typical west coast style. This beer tastes of the hops, roasted malt and some java-like notes. Mouthfeel is fairly carbonated and appropriate for the style. It's easy to have more than one of these fine stouts.

 387 characters

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

Very dark brown with reddish highlights and a full foamy tan head that holds well and leaves very good spider-web lace throughout the entire glass. The aroma is of sweet caramel malt, cocoa, and some roastiness. The body is medium-light and the mouthfeel is nicely creamy. The flavor starts with cocoa and toffee up front, becoming very chocolatey with a slight acidity as it crosses the palate, ending with swirling flavors of nuttiness, cocoa and biscuit, and eventually finishing with drying bitterness and a residual bittersweet chocolate note.

 548 characters

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