Old #38 Stout | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,256 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

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Ratings: 1,256 |  Reviews: 664
Photo of wnh
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours deep, dark, opaque brown with the slightest of garnett highlights. Light cocoa colored head, foamy and slightly creamy, diminishes to a thin fizzy film.

First thing I notice on the nose is vanilla. After a recent not-so-friendly run in with a certain vanilla porter, I'm proceeding with a little trepidation. Chocolate underneath, somewhere between milk and dark. A solid dose of roasted coffee bean aromas are lurking in the background. Would be better overall with less vanilla in the nose.

Taste lines up with what I think the nose ought to be. Vanilla, dark chocolate, and roasted coffee beans all dance back and forth, with less of an emphasis on vanilla than the nose suggests. The sweet notes (milk chocolate, vanilla) and the bitter notes (dark chocolate, coffee beans) seem to be playing a little tug-of-war; there's a pleasant back-and-forth effect that prevents it from being too predictable. Dark chocolate in the finish, topped off by the slightest bit of earthy hops. Very mild lingering bitterness.

Medium bodied and creamy. More round on the palate than I'd expect, but with a good dose of biting roastiness on the tail end. Astringent, maybe? Pretty good carbonation, but doesn't take away from the creaminess. Drinkable enough, though it's starting to feel a little heavy.

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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?

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Photo of kelvarus
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown with a brown head.

Smell: Detected some chocolate and roasted barley. Honestly had a very pleasing smell.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth going down. The after taste was just as I expected, slight hints of chocolate and maybe some coffee. I detected coffee through the drink but it was always in the background for me.

Drinkability: I'll be picking it up again and see it as a good drink by yourself beer. Not sure if it would make for a good session beer

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Photo of BigMike
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I had this back in '98 when i was visiting CA. We went to Fort Bragg to ride on the "Skunk Train" and while waiting for the train they had a refreshment area. Being that this is very close to North Coast Brewing they had many of their beers. I Chose old no. 38 stout. I found this beer last week at The Foodery and of course i had to buy one for the purpose of reviewing.

Pours a typical stout black. Head is very thick and creamy and nearly ran over the top of the glass.

Smells mostly of chocolate and roasted malts.

Taste is pretty mild. Light sweet chocolate and coffee. Not too much hop presence.

Light and smooth on the palate with a watery finish.

I prefer my stout a bit more flavorful then this one. I'm glad i got to try one again for sentimental reasons.

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Photo of jminsc76
4.24/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a big creamy head that's a slightly light espresso brown atop an almost impenetrable dark, reddish body. Thick, creamy lacing spiraling down the side. Great visuals, and the carbonation of the head reforms quickly upon agitation.

Sweetly intense aromas of caramel and candy. A light smell but the bouquet definitely lifts the nose to high heaven. I could breathe this one all day.

The taste is not as intense as the aromas; a bit mellower. A lot of light, roasted malty flavors. A sip yields slightly bitter, coffee flavors with a little figs and spiciness to provide a nice refinement. Reminds me of a good, refreshing Baltic Porter. Again the flavors don't match the intensity of the overall aroma, which is stellar, but this is a highly session-able beer with a full mouthfeel and high drinkability that I enjoyed even more upon a second helping.

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Photo of Seanstoppable
2.9/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a mug as a completely pitch black beer with plenty of thick tan head. Head slowly evaporated, leaving lacing down the glass. Taste is smooth, with some brief chocolaty hints. Not very strong and doesn't last very long either. Overall, I was very underwhelmed by the averageness of this beer. Drinkable, but unremarkable.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
2.9/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to (I'm pretty sure) crazynelson for the extra!

Pours a thick, opaque black with a thin ring of tan head, subtle highlights around the bottom. Tiny bubbles, this has a champagne-like consistency, not as thick as other dry stouts. Some lacing that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smells like grape soda at first, then sort of funky/veggie-ish, & a little sweet. Getting very mild milk & roast notes toward the end. Tastes of grape soda up front, too, then fades to a dull, almost chalky malt flavor that characterizes a lot of dry stouts, but here just seems limp. I was very happy with the first after-taste, which finished in a pleasant milk chocolate/roast coffee character. Sadly, that disappeared after the first sip, & I desperately tried to get it back after that, as it was the best part of the brew. No luck.

The mouthfeel is thin, nothing like the thick creaminess I expect from the style. A little fizzy, but that dies in about half a second. This reminds me more of a brown ale or a weak porter than a stout, & I'm sad to say I find it lackluster. North Coast has never disappointed me before, but there is just so much more to be expected from the style.

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Photo of Jablonski
2.49/5  rDev -35%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass. Of the Irish Stout's I've had, this beer is the last opaque, as I could see through it when held to light. It has a small tan colored head. The smell appears to be great, and strong for the style. I can pick up milk chocolate with some coffee as well. The taste was almost repulsive. Initially there was a strong roasted flavor up front, and before the taste could settle in, the dry bitterness set in. I'm not sure what hops were used, but it left for a bad aftertaste. This one was close to a drain pour. The mouthfeel was decent: good carbonation yet a bit weak on thickness. Due to the bad taste, I cannot rate this beer high on drinkability, even with it's low ABV. I'm using this beer as a later drink in my evenings to finish off this six pack.

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Photo of TLove
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes:

Appearance is strong and dark, with a light head, but a bit watered-down looking for a stout.

Smell is rich with scents of dark chocolate and plum.

Taste is mellow and smooth, with smokiness and complex figs.

Remarkably low-key and lightly-carbonated, this beer is substantive and flavorful on the palate.

Finish is smooth and resiny. Delicious.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in a standard pint glass. Poured two shades shy of black with a quarter inch tan-colored head that quickly dissipated into a soapy slick of foam. Minimal lacing with weak legs. Nose suggests chocolate malt and a hint of caramel and lactic acid. Strange taste - definitely chocolate malt, but a strange peppery quality. Also a bit of char somewhere in the mix. Mouthfeel is a little on the watery side with a consistent background effervescence. Drinkability is decent - just not overly digging the peppery/charred character in the flavor profile.

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

120z bottle with no freshness date poured into pint glass.

A slightly aggressive pour produces a large tan head that recedes to a surprisingly stiff and resilient cap. Body is a dark brown on the precipice of black, and opaque.

Aroma consists mostly of charred grains, with some milk-chocolatey sweetness and a hint of spice.

Taste is a smooth mix of roasted malts, light chocolate sweetness, some milky lactose sweetness, rounding out with a dark fruit taste that's a bit like a lightly spiced raisin or prune.

Mouthfeel is nice and full, low carbonation and smooth.

Nice enough going down. Decent stout, worth the purchase, though nothing remarkable.

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

This is a fairly good stout, solid but unexceptional.

Dark, essentially black, it has a decent, somewhat creamy tan head that steadily shrinks to a thin, wispy top and ring with a little hint of weak lace.

The aroma is pretty much a dry stout, roasty with hints of charcoal, chocolate, coffe, but with a slightly fuller charcter with a faint prune quality.

For a dry stout, it has fairly good, rich flavour and body. Overall, it's well-rounded and the balance is good but the bitter chocolate/coffee element seems just a little too strong.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A :: Very, very dark brown with a frothy tan head.
S :: I smelled a TON of roasted malts and not much more. Another deep breath revealed some sweetness. I didn't get any complexity hear.
T :: Roasted malts and 'burnt' flavors. I detected a note of bittersweet baker's chocolate in the finish.
M :: Medium body and very dry.
D :: While drinkable I feel the roasted/burnt flavor was little too much.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. Poured fairly thick and was near-black in color. Tan head was fluffy and not quick to dissipate. Initial aroma was a waft of sweet cocoa and roasted malts, pleasant to the nose. Mouth-feel was decent with an apparent dryness, which was acceptable for the style. Flavors were roasted malts and dark chocolate with a balanced hop character - the finish seemed to be more bitter chocolate rather than bitter hops, which again was very pleasant. Overall a great interpretation of a dry stout - obviously different than an average Guinness, but very enjoyable.

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Photo of BeenJammin
4.11/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The beer looks great. It has a pitch black tone with an enormous tan head. I don't pick up a whole lot in the nose. It definitely has some roastyness but it is a little lacking. I am really digging the flavor of this beer. It seems like it sticks to the style very well with its roasty flavor. It is full of flavor with a light type of body that makes it very drinkable.

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Photo of BeerMeHearMe
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Okay I am golfing yesterday, come into the clubhouse bar to grab a beer for the back 9. Obviously water was apart of the equation also. But anyways I'm looking for something tasty..I see a green covered brown bottle next to a Heineken, it's called Old#38. They say it's a stout. So I was all for it. Little did I know this was a North Coast brew. But I was excited to have a stout on this windy day of golf. It kept me warm. Mouth feel is dry, smooth, tinge of alcohol, and some burnt taste of something. Smell was like coffee and chocolate. Appearance was nice. Foam proceeded to pour over my styrofoam issued course cup after "they" poured the brew for me, which was a little dismaying since I obviously wanted to drink what I paid for. So the head was thick and visually the brew looked like a Guinness. It is dry like a guinness with more carbonation and just about the same foam content. I was still able to enjoy the most o' this beer and am looking forward to getting a six pack; or an absurdly priced 4-pack. (I have had the 6 pack, twice now, they did not disappoint). Good stuff North Coast. Keep up the good work.

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

Poured a dark brown with a nice tan head.
Nose of roasted malt and quite a bit of cocoa. Roasted tones dominate upon tasting. Taste is dry right off, roasted coffee. Mouthfeel is rather than and dry. Ap retty good example of the style nut not one I would seek out again.

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

Poured cold from the bottle, the color is a ruby tinged burnt dark brown, almost opaque. The head is a scant swirl of light brown with fair lacing evidenced. The aroma is a sharp merlot and chocolate coffee. The flavor brings a deep chocolate bread pudding sweetness with a little smokey citrusy bite. I pick up sweet malt and a touch of rye within an effervescent but quite drinkable, tastey stout. Somewhat of a porter perhaps, although as either style this one is a wonderful treat which could easily be sessioned. Well done North Coast!

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

A- light black (if that makes sense) with see-through amber edges) and a nice tan-brown head that laces the glass thoroughly.

S- smell is of coffee and dominated by chocolate. smells like hot cocoa at christmas time. also a smoky bitter smell.

T- again, chocolate here, along with dark fruits. tastes like chocolate milk, only better. very good. a sweet but bitter (which seems contradictory and is, but somehow this beer pulls it off) dark fruit aftertaste.

M- a little over-carbonated (like rasputins), but not too much to worry about. full bodied for its style (not like an imperial of course) and medium bodied overall.

D- drinkability is good.

overall this beer is very good for a dry irish stout. underrated for its style for sure.

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

Dark brown with a lot of highlights. Quite clear; no big-stout opacity here. The nose is a bit muted by the creamy tall head, although mostly chocolate and a hint of roasted barley sneak through.

The flavor is middle of the road, with some decent malt presence but really it's just a hint of roasted barley backed by a mild hop presence. The flavor is ephemeral, un-exciting, and simplistic. The body is light and a little thin.

Easy to drink in the sense of a light body and mild flavor, but it's not begging me to get another bottle.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with a pillowy, crater filled tan head that leaves some nice lacing.

Roasty chocolate, black pepper, dark fruits and a bit of malted milk on the nose.

Balance can describe this stout well, not too roasty, hoppy or carbonated...just right amounts of each make for a very approachable and tasty dry stout. It is a bit thin and mild, but that is not always a bad thing. There is nothing offensive about this beer and the chocolate becomes more evident upon warming. This is a damn good beer, quite the sessionable stout. There is always room for this in my fridge...

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Photo of cottonkoozie
4.19/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Very dark, almost black except for a little brown around the edges.

S - Lots of roasted malts, with some good hops smell underneath. Smells pretty complex and balanced.

T - Good taste, not very strong or overbearing, but has a nice roasted taste with balancing hops and a coffee finish.

M - Great mouthfeel. Very full feel.

D - Good drinkability, the balance causes this to not be to bitter and very smooth drinking for the style.

Good Irish Dry, the roasted flavors and coffee flavors are not overbearing at all, which makes this beer very smooth all the way through and very drinkable. I would have liked more head and lacing due to the style, but taste wise this is a great beer.

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

A- Very dark black with only a bit of ruby hues coming through on the edges. The head is very creamy, large with good retention and lacing.

S- Sweet, spicy, chocolate, smokey, and cooked vegetables. Not as roasty as I would have expected.

T- Sweet, chocolaty, smoky, cooked vegetables. Kind of unique and the flavors work pretty well together.

M- Smooth, with some nice and active carbonation that gives it just a bit of a bite on the tail end.

D- An enjoyable stout. A little different, but worth a try.

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

Pours a black with trippy lacing swirling around the glass and leaving ring around the collar.

Faint smokiness, faint choco-coffee. Like a smoked chocolate coffee salmon the ether bunny leaves you.

Good taste, roasted malts, chocolate taste. Ancient chinese secret.

Dry aftertaste, each sip teases me workin' up my appetite, Sky rockets in flight, afternoon delight.

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Photo of BMoney575
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled on 3-8-09

Pours super black and opaque, with a deep red around the bottom edge. A pleasant tan head sits on top, with think but short-lasting lacing.

Smell is all smoky malt, with a nice woody edge. Very enjoyable.

Taste is a lot like the smell, very smoky and dry, but with a odd sweet quality. Not bad, just out of place.

Mouthfeel is good, a little thin, but right for the style.

Drinkability is decent, I'm just not a fan of the style.

Overall, a decent beer, I'm just not a fan.

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Old #38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,256 ratings.
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