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Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

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very good
660 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: 660 | Ratings: 1,242
Photo of Dope
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown with a good sized and fluffy light brown head. Fades slowly, leaving moderate fluffy lacing behind. Decent head retention.

S: Mild roast with some char and a bit of anise. A bit of dark fruit surprisingly.

T: Again, some dark fruit up front, mixing with a bit of roasted malt. Fruit fades away into the middle leaving the char to stand on its own with a bit of creaminess. Creaminess and sweetness fades away into the finish, leaving just bitter char and hints of dark chocolate. Lingering bitter roasted malt characteristic between sips.

M: Fairly thin, low ABV but creamy and smooth.

O: A surprisingly good irish dry stout. Flavorful despite low ABV, the sweet dark fruits really mix in well. Has a nice creaminess to it too that is typical of good irish dry stouts. I really enjoyed this one, one of the best examples of the style. It's a bit simple as you would expect but honestly packs a lot of flavor in 5.6%. Very drinkable too.

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Photo of elNopalero
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This pours a solid black with creamy, thick “chocolate milk” in beer form foam.

I get a toffee cocoa aroma that’s both smooth & sweet.

The beer itself is sweet with a body that holds up as expected, with a flavor that’s sweet, creamy and chocolaty.


The Old 38 I had finished like… bbq sauce. Yes. Bbq sauce. It doesn’t taste like it, doesn’t smell like it, and there’s no reason to think of bbq sauce given that it’s a stout, but after I finished my pint while struggling to place the “off” notes I realized it’s … bbq sauce. Go figure. Is it maple syrup (artificial maple syrup) that’s lending those hints? I never noticed such a characteristic in other brews made with maple but I definitely found this here—and corroborated my findings with others tasting with me. Pretty sure I won’t try this one again.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Deep clear brown when pouring, black in the glass with an off white head.

S-Molasses, coffee, roasted malt and some vanilla

T-Chocolate, roasted-almost burnt malt, some coffee as well. No bitterness to speak of.

M-Medium bodied, smooth with some carbonation.

O-An easy drinking stout, doesn't bring anything overpowering to the table but enough to enjoy.

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Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense tan head that died down but never completely faded away, leaving a thin head covering the surface and webs of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderately strong aromas of chocolate malts in the nose along with some notes of roasted malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and does not have much in the way of perceptible bitterness. For this reason, there are some faint hints of sweetness.
M: It feels a bit more than light-bodied and airy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. Slight hints of smoothness become evident as the beer warms up. Some dryness is present in the finish.
O: This beer is extremely drinkable given its light body. I would definitely consider this to be sessionable because it has some nice flavors and I wouldn't mind drinking more than one of these during a single sitting.

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Photo of troysoy2
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle in a pint glass.

Nice light tan head that sticks around for the long run, splotchy lacing here and there, and an opaque, black body with a tinge of red to it.

The smell can tend to be a little metallic on occasion, but it's got a nice, dry roasted malt to it.

Slight tartness, with a graininess strangely akin to Russian Standard Vodka? Strange tangent, but that's what's in my fridge at the moment. ANYHOW, the finish is mildly dry with a moderate roastiness. Slightly light on the mouthfeel, but hey, it keeps this stuff really nicely drinkable and easily likeable. I mean, I like it... not bad at all.

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Photo of The_Kings_Quart
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Nice dark mocha pour with about a finger's worth of creamy head that fades to a thin skim along the top.

S: Very delicate chocolate and spice. Little bit of coffee and a less than pleasant hit of yeast now and then. Gives it an almost metallic smell at times.

T: Nicer than what the smell left me with. Much milder compared to others of its kind, but there's a very faint tartness that's a nice touch. More coffee to the finish, which is a bit oily, but still clean enough.

MF: Airy and a little too susceptible to foaming in the mouth. Mild carbonation. Nothing particularly thrilling here.

O: Had two bottles of this because the first tasted like liquid tinfoil. Second bottle was good, but this is still much better on tap as far as I'm concerned. Nevertheless, a decent brew, and worth trying.

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Photo of BenHesk12
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

North Coasts Old no.38 stout is a simple, dry stout enjoyable on any occasion. At only 7 dollars for a six pack, this beer has good value and good flavor. The beer pours a dark black with a substantial frothy brown head and is aromatic of burnt coffee. A somewhat strong carbonation hits the mouth making it drinkable but slightly harsh. For a dry irish stout, this old 38 is has no surprises. Well balanced, mild but not watery, bitter and flavorful enough to keep you interested until the glass is empty. This isn't a beer I would get excited about but definitely a go-to beer at a pub, and I would easily recommend it to a friend. If this is North Coasts attempt at making an entry level affordable beer to a wider audience, I think it hit the mark and I wholeheartedly approve.

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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.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a warm black color with a two finger khaki colored foamy head which lasts for about two minutes. Medium body and medium-light carbonation levels. It could stand to have a bit more fullness in the body IMHO.

Aroma is bitter char-malt forward with lesser components of dark chocolate and roasted malt in the middle with just a touch of fig in the background. Contrary to the nose, the flavor is mostly toasted-malt forward with less emphasis on bitter char and more on tea and herbal / earthy hopping bittering. In this sense, the flavor felt a bit more 'porter-ish' to me than like a stout.

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

A- Awesome, poor's a black with maybe a slight amber color reflecting from the light in the room. Nice huge head that is a dark mocha cream color.

S- Great barley smell.

T- Wonderful malty flavor with the chocolate notes.

M- Medium full body with a creamy head that compliments the body wonderful.

O- This is a terrific stout that just has everything I look for when I want a simple wonderfully produced stout.

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Photo of pschul4
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a very nice dark black with no hues around the edges. Lacing is better than I was expecting

S- Roasted malts and some chocolate. Not a ton going on but I like whats there

T- Lots of tasty malts and chocolate notes hitting the right spots along with a decent alcohol backbone that cleans everything up without being overbearing.

M- Nice and smooth. A winner in this catagory

O- Really enjoying this one and it cured my stout fix without having to crack open one of the yetis or IRSs I've been trying to age

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Photo of Josiah2729
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Dark black with half a finger of creamy tan head that dissipates fairly quickly, decent lacing.

Smell: Dark roasted malt, some coffee, slight hoppiness.

Taste: Dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, a hint of bitterness from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness, slight carbonation, somewhat of a creamy texture.

Overall: Delicious stout, I will try again.

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Photo of chinchill
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

undated 12 oz bottle served in a Porter Bar goblet.

A: Pours with a well-proportioned, creamy tan head. The liquid pours dark brown and somewhat clear, but is essentially opaque and nearly black in the glass. As the head settles, the glass gets partially coated with sticky lace.

S: The nose features dark roasted grains, of course, but also has a considerable note of spicy hops, as well as hints of toffee and vanilla.

T: Fine dark roasted malt flavor, with no burnt elements. The hops are way less evident in the flavor but a great sweet/bitter balance is obtained. Hints of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and vanilla, with some hop spiciness coming through.

M: full body, and very creamy, with an excellent level of carbonation. An inevitable warming from the high ABV. [4.25]

O: an exceptional stout; well worth seeking out. [4.25]

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Photo of bmwats
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Black with a lot of carbonation. Pours about a finger and a half, foamy, brown head. Disintegrates fairly slowly and unevenly leaving only a slight beer ring. No real lacing.

S: Woody chocolate, with hefty floral tones, and honey.

T: Woody, with unsweetened chocolate, and a bit of a hop bite.

M: Full, hearty body, with the washed-out feel often characteristic of the style. Pretty heavy on the palette, though.

D: Sip and enjoy.... it's kind of thick.

Atmosphere is pretty solid. Dark body, heavy carbonation, thick foamy head. Nose is chocolaty and floral malt goodness with some sweet tones. Woody body, with a chocolaty flavor and hop bite.... well done. Overall, this is a really good quaff.

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

Here comes a good old fashioned stout taste. The raostiness was the first thing that hit me. Nice. Overall, this is a very "sessionable" stout. It reminds me of how a stout should taste plus a little smoke.

It's pretty average looking (black), with some lace and weak head in my conditions. But the taste is good. I would buy again if I were seeking a drinkable stout with a smokey flavor. Nice.I said that twice so it must be so.

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Photo of IllNate
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with red highlights. Thick frothy tan head. Great looking poor, except a bit light on color. Dark roast with rich malt, hints of coffee and licorice. Taste follow with darkly roasted malt and a lightly burnt tones, again coffee and licorice. Nice and dry with a good amount of bitterness, nice drinker. Hop character is earthy and at times piney, but the malt dominates. Mouthfeel is smooth and the bittering is near perfect. Overall a very fine stout, full bodied, yet dry.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a near black, with cola brown edging. Head is a little over finger width, good retention, with an average lace.

Smell - Strong coffee aromas, backed by a strong, bittersweet hop.

Taste - Roasted malt body. Predominantly coffee, with notes of mocha. Hops are classically european and dry.

Mouthfeel - Medium body, smooth and creamy. Finish is a touch on the dry side.

Overall - Solid irish dry. Reminiscent of Guinness Extra Stout, but a touch smoother. Good, but nothing necessarily original.

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Photo of McNealc31
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pouring as black as the coal that likely fueled engine No. 38, this stout from North Coast offers quite the inviting aroma, as well. Overflowing with caramel, currants, and raisins. Very smooth on the palate and a bit sweeter than expected as there is a flavor of burnt marshmallows. The hops come in late and are not particularly strong, but just enough to cut the sweetness before it gets cloying. Charred woods comes to the forefront as it warms. The dry finish also becomes more noticeable.

Overall, another very impressive brew from North Coast. It takes a bit to get used to all the fruit notes, but the charred and toasted character along with peppery hops lead to a very nice balance. Pick this up when you find it!

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Photo of AdamBear
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-black with a thin tan head that fades to nothing

S-oh i've come across this smell before. it smells like vomit, much like victory storm king can smell. has a hint of chocolate.

T-oh thankfully there's no vomit in the taste. comes in with a great burnt dark roasted grains taste. its actually of pretty good quality. has a good semi bitter coffee taste to it.

M-medium carbonation with a pretty dry finish

O-this is actually a decent and full flavored stout. the smell turned me off at first but the taste really made up for it. i wouldn't mind having this again.

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

Poured into a beer mug.

A: Pours a very dark brown color. The head is a three finger tan color with good retention and lacing. It doesn't have the beauty of Guinness, but as the old saying goes, looks ain't everything...

S: I really like the subtle chocolate notes this give off, but I also smell a light fruitiness from the esters alongside the typical roast. Not much coffee on the nose, but still a good smell.

T: This has a bit of a milk stout vibe to it, with its lactic twang and light milk chocolate notes intertwining with its roasty base. Just like in the smell, this could use a little more coffee. The back end of the flavor profile sees hints of fruitiness pop up. Not insanely complex, but well balanced and very likable.

M: Light-medium body, with subtle dryness on the finish and medium carbonation. Mild astringency give a pleasant tingling on the tongue, without going overboard.

O: Looking back on it, I regret not buying a six pack of this. Impressive stuff.

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Photo of mactrail
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

So this must be why we have nitro. About the best nitro-fuelled beer I've had. The usual creamy body but with a perfect cap of foam. The black beer looks great in the standard pint glass. Texture and flavor are both like chocolate cake, but not sweet. Roasted malt in the nose. Pleasant warmth, a little bit of hops, some caramel hint.

What's not to like about this? A beer made for swilling. This should make the Irish take another critical look at their Beamish Stout. Not as sour and charred as the Irish cousins. On the nitro tap at South Park Abbey in San Diego.

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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!

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Photo of Murrhey
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Reviewed from notes.

A- Two finger white head astride a black settling body. Dry stout, nice looking.

S- Dry dark malts, some chocolate sweetness.

T- Roast malts, chocolate, caramel and light mocha notes.

M- Smooth and full bodied. Kind of light and dry.

O- Opens up as it warms up. Yummy.

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

Pours a very nice deep brown/black with wonderful head and great lacing. Very nice deep scent, nice roastiness and quite a bit sweet maltiness. Very nice flavors with a nice roastiness, good earthy finish, but perhaps a bit much on the malt sweetness and just a bit not-enough-dry. Still goes down smooth and is a very nice Irish dry stout... just not as good as the guy at Big Red told me it would be.

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Photo of jeremy13586
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark beer with a lite tan one finger head. Dissipated pretty quickly and didn't leave any lacing. Nice layer of bubbles settled on top.

Very big aroma of roasted malt with some chocolate and coffee and a bit of smoke. Also smells of some sweet dark bread.

A whole lot of malt with some nice bitter hops to even it out. It does finish with a bit of astringency.

Medium bodied with a very smooth carbonation.

A very drinkable brew, but I did find myself a bit disappointed. The nose led on that there would be more to the flavor, but I just didn't find it. I'd still probably try it again in the future, but I have some more interesting beers in the queue that Id rather get to first.

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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,242 ratings.
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