Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,255 Ratings
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 Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,255 |  Reviews: 664
Photo of drizzam
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours with a dark brown body, topped by a fluffy tan two finger head. Excellent head retention and generous lacing.

S - Plenty of toasted malt and dark chocolate in the nose. Smells delicious.

T & M - Those roasted malts are forefront, followed by a dark bitter chocolate and some hops rounding things out. The hop presence is bigger than I would have expected and it lends a bitter dryness to the end of this brew. Medium bodied mouthfeel, maybe a bit light for a stout.

D - A very tasty brew, if it was between this or Guinness, I would drink this hands down any day of the week. An easy drinker and a good example of the style. I would love to try this on Nitro...think that would add a creaminess to the brew that would make it phenomenal!

 751 characters

Photo of PEIBeerGuy
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Premier Wine & Spirits carries a good selection of brews from the North Coast Brewing Company. This is one of the several I've picked up, Old No. 38 Stout... a name which makes one think of old-time beer... black as a railway tie and thick as molasses.

The beer is pretty dark. Its colour is quite dense. I thought this one would have a mammoth head, for whatever reason, but couldn't squeeze any more out of it than you see here. About a finger's worth that lowers to pretty much nothing, with very limited lacing.

It has a bit of an alcoholic smell... a bit of bourbon / dark rum, perhaps. Some sweetness / molasses?

The flavour is mostly all coffee bean, with a bit of chocolate. Also there is a bit of fruit, like cherry or raspberry. That alcoholic smell is pretty well all gone in the taste.

The feel is fairly watery. Not what I expected. I like my stouts a little thicker. I'd almost call this more of a dark ale in how it feels. The carbonation is fine, as is the balance of bitter & sweet. The finish is fairly dry.

It's easy to drink, as it's not very rich. You could put a few down, but if you're looking for a great stout, there are other better picks.

 1,170 characters

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Single purchased at Cost Plus World Market for $1.59.

A-Pours a deep, dark brown hue with a full, two finger creamy tan head with good retention and ample lacing.

S-Faint bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and dark roasted barley malts with some sweetness present.

T-Roasted malts, creamy chocolate, coffee and a subdued, but pleasant hop bitterness.

M-Firm bodied, very smooth with just the right carbonation level.

D-This was better than I expected. I favor the American, and heavier Foreign/Export and Russian Imperial Stout styles. This is the best Irish Dry Stout I have had and will definitely enjoy this again.

 688 characters

Photo of SAxDRC5
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours an opaque dark brown. light tan head. Head stays around for quite a while. leaves a white lacing.

S - Smells of roasted malts, dark chocolate and burnt coffee. maybe a slight scent of sweet fruit.

T - Taste is about the same as the smell. The dominant flavor is the roasted malts. a bit of brown sugar flavor. ends with coffee, chocolate, and hops.

M - Fairly light. pretty creamy feeling. a bit dry. not the typical feel for a stout.

D - low ABV for a stout makes it quite drinkable.

 498 characters

Photo of Lesbrad
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is what Guinness ought to be. it looks a little more tantalizing, smell a lot better and actually have great flavor and mouthfeel, unlike it's more heralded forefather.

Note: do not drink this in a bottle or not on nitro. This beer is meant to have a thick pillowy head.

This is the best Dry Irish style stout in America - bar none!

a black with cascading creamy rising nitro head, thick cafe au lait or cappuccino top

s a little chocolate with strong coffee aroma on a nice roasted malt backdrop

t much like the smell is a stronger roasted presence and a touch of what seems to be oatmeal

m full, rich, creamy - perfect

d surprisingly sessionable, totally satisfying

 685 characters

Photo of culver501
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours black with a 1 inch light tan head

S-I don't see oatmeal as a qualifier for this stout but the first smell i get is that sweet flaky oat smell, otherwise a faint nose of milk chocolate

T-the taste doesn't maintain the oaky flake form the nose but it's still well balanced between a roasted coffee flavor and a little bitter and then sweet flavor

M-pretty average for a basic stout

D-very drinkable, especially at this ABV

 433 characters

Photo of beeragent
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle.

A - Pours a deep brown, appearing almost black when completely poured. 1/4 inch mocha head with light lace on the glass.

S - Strong aroma of coffee and roasted malts!

T - Like the aroma, a simple taste of roasted malts and coffee. No cocoa flavor commonly associated with some stouts. Very smooth taste.

M - A bit thicker than what I expect an Irish Dry Stout to feel like. More like medium bodied with low carbonation.

D - It would be hard not to like this stout. It has everything that a basic stout should have. Great body, flavor, and aroma. For an everyday stout, this is perfect.

 637 characters

Photo of djbreezy
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance - generous head, dark black/brown, pours light/medium

smell - roasted malts and barley, cocoa, coffee

taste - coffee and chocolate notes, carefully roasted barley and malt, hops, water, a nice balance to bring forth a very balanced stout flavor

mouthfeel - slightly creamy, medium body, not too light, slightly dry

drinkability - very flavorful for simple ingredients, nice example of the style, really didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised

 473 characters

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

Single bottle purchased at the liquor store. Poured into a stemmed glass. Extremely dark brown color. Huge off-white head. Plenty of lacing on the glass. A near perfect looking stout. Smell was like chocolate powder. Taste was quite flavorful. Dark coffee flavors and hints of cocoa. Mouthfeel was not as good as I would have wished for. For an Irish styled stout, it was on the thin side. If it was brewed with more body, it would kick ass. Drinkability was high, as it was smooth, flavorful, and has a moderate abv. A somewhat run of the mill stout, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Old # 38.

 604 characters

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

Serving type - Bottle

A - Pours a deep dark brown/slightly ruby hue, with a thin sepia head that quickly gives way to a fairly creamy lacing.

S - Smell is of sweet cocoa, bakers chocolate, roasted coffee, and a very slight presence of floral hops.

T - Taste is of bittersweet chocolate and roasted coffee, with semi-bready malts, and very slight hop bitterness at the end.

M - Medium bodied, moderately carbonated. Somewhat creamy going down.

D - This one is slightly less full-bodied than most stouts, so it gets a good drinkability score.

Overall - A pretty solid stout overall. The Irish dry stout category suits it well. This is a good beer to seek out if you want the roasted flavors of a dark beer, but without the heavier body associated w/many stouts and porters. Pretty approachable, drinkable, and true to style!

 828 characters

Photo of 4000qtrap
1.86/5  rDev -51.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Source/Serving: Draft, on hand pump

Smell: Not very intense. Smooth, sweet cocoa and 'lite' creamed coffee.

Taste: Really light and creamy...pretty sweet with some cocoa from the nose. The only thing that keeps this from being a total bore is a mild fruity - though not great and reminiscent of a canned (straw)berry note in the middle that is unique. But, as it sounds not very tasty. A slight sour note appears as it warms. Finish is a little dark grainy, very smooth and doesn't linger but does leave a shadow of roast coffee behind.

Maybe the low score is just a sign that Irish Stouts aren't my thing??? But i'm still trying to judge to style....

 654 characters

Photo of biglite351
2.48/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - light through the middle of the glass. Tight head.

S - very mild malts and a barley scent.

T - rather bland. Minor malts with a mild coffee bitterness, but mild.

M - tiny tingle on front of tongue.

D - nothing bad about it, but so mild that I do nor think that it OS worth it.

 284 characters

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

A - Pours an opaque black with 1 finger tan creamy head. Head retention is great, lacing as well.

S - Smells of dark malts, brown sugar, some dark fruits, molasses, very sweet smelling for a stout. As the head dissipates, roasted malts come through much more.

T - Taste is just as sweet as the smell suggests. The dominant flavor is the roasted malts, but the sweetness compliments it perfectly. The molasses, brown sugar, and dark fruits come through less than in the smell, but they are still there. Slight chocolate/coffee tastes as well.

M - Fairly light for a stout, though that keeps with the style. Roasted flavor almost feels like it's sticking to your mouth. Finish is all roasted malts and chocolate.

D - Average ABV, low carbonation, rich flavor, make this beer very easy to drink. Hard not to go back for another sip. Will definitely get more of this.

 867 characters

Photo of CHL
4.27/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark, sweet-smelling malty beer with a bit of alcohol noticeable, light hops as the beer warms. I actually favor this sort of profile in a dark beer.

The taste is quite sweet-biased for a stout, which is what I look for. It's roasted, bitter, and sweet like molasses, then smoky. Strong coffee flavor to begin with, which becomes more complex and satisfying as the beer warms, bringing out some hops.

I wish it was a little thicker, but it is creamy and feels refreshing and crisp going down. Quite drinkable for a dark beer.

 527 characters

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

A: Very DARK brown, with a slightly darker than cola head.

S: Somewhat sweet, but with what, I'm not sure. Definitely sweeter than most stouts.

T: Smokey stout that's slightly sweeter than usual, which I favor. And I usually find smokiness offensive, but this one's pretty good. Besides the smoke, the malt is quite heavy. + some unsweetened chocolate.

M: Medium to thin body for a stout, with almost no carbonation. Slightly drying.

D: For a smokey stout, this one is rather good.

 488 characters

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

A: Black as black can be. Held it up to the light and nothing came through this brew. Very little head with bigger bubbles clinging to the glass with tiny patches of lacing floating about in the center.

S: Initially smells somewhat like molasses, though faintly, giving way to roasted barley and malts. Follows with a hint of roasted coffee beans.

T: As with the nose, initially has a faint taste of molasses, giving way to a watery malt and barley flavor. Follows weakly with a hint of coffee. After smelling the aroma, a lot was left to be desired by the taste. While certainly not bad, it was a little disappointed after a promising smell.

M: Very slick feeling, not creamy or viscous as with other stouts, but a very clean feeling that makes its presence known and goes on its way. Medium amount of carbonation with a medium-light body.

D: Quite drinkable though not particularly memorable as the flavors are a little on the weak side. Again, not a bad beer but good for what it is.

 990 characters

Photo of Long813
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dated: NA
From: Premier Wine & Spirits

A: Dark brown almost black body with only a thin ring of head. No head to speak of.

S: Pleasing notes of dry roasted malts, some hoppiness to it, roasted coffee and some smoke.

T: Hard to pick out much of the flavours here. Mixture of roasted malts.

M: Light bodied and medium carbonation. Water like texture and leaves a dry malt finish.

D: Not bad. Favourite of the style so far, but far from a likable stout. For what it is, it's good.

 486 characters

Photo of bobsy
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black pour with the faintest (and I mean absolute faintest) hint of brown at the edges. A light tan head lingers for the duration and puts down a few streaks of lace. Chocolate malt aroma, with mild coffee and caramel. Lightly sweet and pleasing. Extremely smooth and approachable flavour. Milk chocolate belends with caramel and light coffee notes, while a dark fruitiness provides depth. The occasional hint of tobacco hovers at the back of the palate. Relatively light body with a smooth and creamy carbonation makes this one go down easy.

A surprisingly good stout from a great brewery. I'd argue that this should be rated a lot higher than it is based on drinkability alone.

 680 characters

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

This is a dry Irish stout; not an imperial stout. I read so many reviews that say that they want MORE from this beer. But this is not one of those overpowering stouts.

A very solid offering from a very fine brewery. The beer pours a very dark ruby amber tone that looks black almost opaque with a mohogany colored billowing two finger width head.

The aroma is where this beer shines. The dark fragrant roasts and strong coffee aroma just powerful.

The taste is not shabby either with very refined with hints of espresso and notes of sour cream. The dark roasted barley fills this beer with slight burnt finish that is pleasant when matched with the other flavors going on. The malts are prevalent, but the hops are not lost in the final judgement.

Medium body and an acidic mouthfeel.

A fine example of the style.

 818 characters

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

Thanks to BBrianBoogie for sending me this one during CanBIF6.

Beer pours black, not very dark. I get some reddish notes on the edge. Nice brown head, very thick but disappear quickly. Thin film stays however. The aroma is intense for a dry stout. I get some licorice and some chocolate. Not much coffee notes. In the taste, still it is chocolaty with an espresso bitterness at the end. The taste lingers in the mouth. A little bit thin in the mouth.

 451 characters

Photo of grittybrews
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep black into a Chimay chalice with a bit of loose, tan head that quickly receded to a thin film with little lacing.

Nice aroma of coffee, sweet chocolate, and roasty malts. Moderate carbonation and a surprisingly light and dry mouthfeel for a stout. Very dry flavor as well with just a hint of smoke, toast, and coffee. The chocolate from the initial aroma doesn't really come into play, although the flavor becomes more pleasantly creamy as the beer warms. Fairly quick, watery finish with a malty emphasis. Easy to drink, but it didn't really leave much of an impression.

 586 characters

Photo of SShelly
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on nitro.

Black with a giant creamy head.

Aroma is lightly roasted but very very light.

Flavor is light and creamy, light chocolate and roast thick mouthfeel. Leaves almost nothing in the mouth but a light creaminess, really want more roast.

This is a decent beer, could use more of everything.

 305 characters

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

12 oz. bottle from West Richland WA Beer and Wine, poured into shaker pint glass 3.22.2010

Dark brown opaque body no visible carbonation dark tannish rising brown head ala Guiness, rocky, slow dissipation with significant lacing. The first smell was heavily of coffee, but nose became more nuanced as the beer warmed, some grassy hops and a bit of chocolate. Coffee forward taste which once again gained in complexity as the beer warmed, some chocolate, sweetish malts and grassy hops not bitter on the back end. Mouthfeel was pretty oily and full. Drinikability, wihile I am not a fan of this particular style, was pretty good. Worth a try, certainly worth doing a side by side comparision with the Big Three.

 711 characters

Photo of chaz01
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasting portion at a North Coast beer tasting event at a local grocery store. Poured into a champagne flute glass. The beer rep from North Coast indicated that the philosophy of the brewer was to make beers that closely resemble the style guidelines for that type of style (i.e., to make the perfect beer for that style), and that Old 38 was a fine example of that philosophy for the dry Irish stout.

A: Dark & black in color, with a nice foamy head.

S: Deep aromas of roasted malts and coffee.

T: I pick up that sweet Irish whiskey like flavor that you typically find in Irish stouts, along with some coffee flavors. The beer finishes with burnt toast sensation and somewhat dry.

M: A little light bodied for a stout, but that's likely typical for this style. Creamy and low levels of carbonation.

D: Well balanced, smooth and light bodied stout. Not a sipping beer, you can have a couple of these easily. I'd much prefer this beer than some of the Irish counterparts like Guinness or Beamish.

 1,000 characters

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

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz. bottle. Pours a solid and dense black in color with half an inch of mocha foam. Clear and dark mahogany in the light and offering decent retention initially, glassing off a bit by mid pint.

Nice roasted malt nose with a fair amount of chocolate and some roasted coffee bean notes. Smell reminds me of some bigger stouts. Lighter in flavor than the nose and pour might suggest and offers a bit of dark fruit with a somewhat thin body. Some texture returns on the finish then the dry roasted character returns and lingers moderately along with some chocolatey spice. Quite dry overall with a bit too much of overly roasted coffee underpinning the taste and feel for me though decent nonetheless.

 733 characters

Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,255 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

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

    Learn More