Best “plain” stouts

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by thebeers, Jan 1, 2021.

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  1. thebeers

    thebeers Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I went through the “Top 100” listings of various stout styles to try to find the top-rated “plain” versions listed. By that I mean no barrel aging, no coffee, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, peanut butter, peppers, etc. Also not served on nitrogen.

    Below is what I came up with. I would love any corrections. Did I miss any higher-ranking “plain” beers? Or does one listed below actually have chocolate or coffee or some other additive in it?

    ALSO... I couldn’t find any “plain” American Imperial Stouts in the Top 100 list. Do you have any favorites? Or other favorite plain stouts?

    American Stout
    1. Deschutes Obsidian Stout (#8, 4.21)
    2. Broomtail Rappe (#34, 4.5)
    3. Carton Unjunct (#38, 4.13)

    Oatmeal Stout
    1. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout (#14, 4.23)
    2. Ipswich Ale Ipswich Oatmeal Stout (#18, 4.18)
    3. Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout (#19, 4.16)

    Russian Imperial Stout
    1. Närke Kaggen! Stormaktsporter (#11, 4.49)
    2. The Alchemist Lucious (#16, 4.44)
    3. Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout (#19, 4.39)

    Sweet / Milk Stout
    1. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Engineer's Reserve Blackest Ale (#53, 4.24)
    2. Austin Street Six Grain (#89, 4.21)
    3. 3 Floyds Moloko (#95, 4.14)

    English Stout
    1. Trillium Secret Stairs Boston Stout (#2, 4.15)
    2. Samuel Smith Extra Stout (#3, 4.13)
    3. Middle Ages Blackheart Stout (#4, 4.11)

    Foreign/Export Stout
    1. Snake River Zonker Stout (#1, 4.19)
    2. The Kernel Brewery Old Engine Oil Engineer's Reserve Blackest Ale (#2, 4.21)
    3. Guinness Special Export Stout / Antwerpen Stout (#3, 4.13)

    Irish Dry Stout
    1. Atlantic Cadillac Mountain Stout (#1, 4.2)
    2. Great Lakes Wolfhound Stout (#2, 4.29)
    3. 3 Floyds Black Sun Stout (#3, 4.06)

    American Imperial Stout
    (None in top 100?)
     
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  2. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Is Middle Ages still around? I sure would like to have some of their stouts just one more time.
     
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  3. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Regarding American Imperials, no matter where it falls in the rankings SN Narwhal remains one of my all time favorites.
     
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  4. thebeers

    thebeers Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    They updated their tap list the day after Christmas, so I think you’re good...

    https://www.middleagesbrewing.com/beers
     
  5. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

  6. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Their Barleywine was the first I ever had. Loved it!
     
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  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    In contemporary craft brewing whether a beer is branded as a Stout or a Porter is simply a marketing/business decision. Given this, permit me to list some of my favorite 'plain' Porters:
    • Founders Porter
    • Bell's Porter
    • Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
    • Deschutes Black Butte
    Cheers!
     
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  8. Providence

    Providence Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Trader

    Thanks for listing these. I wish there were a “plain stouts” list on BA. So many times I see a stout at the store and when I read the label I find out it’s got some kind of bullshit ingredient (bullshit to me that is, I know folks love it). It’s frustrating.
     
  9. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    10.50 will always be a personal favorite.
     
  10. BMBCLT

    BMBCLT May 9, 2014 South Carolina
    Society

    Founders Imperial Stout
     
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  11. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey
    Trader

    I’m still waiting for a good expiation of the difference between America and Russian Imperial Stouts.
     
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  12. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Nice. Now I just have to get my ass to Syracuse :slight_smile:
     
  13. zac16125

    zac16125 Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    Most of these have already been mentioned but for me it’s probably CCB Marshal Zhukov as the #1 non-adjunct/non-BA imperial stout.

    Others that I particularly enjoy and would be in the conversation for me are TenFidy, Founders RIS, and Bells Expedition.
     
  14. Reef

    Reef Dec 2, 2016 South Carolina
    Society

    Local: Coast Brewing Black Beerd

    Really local, specializing in English style ales: Hunter-Gatherer Plain X Stout 4.25 ABV.
     
  15. zac16125

    zac16125 Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    I think you may be waiting for a while.

    Many years ago it seemed like you may be able to make an argument that RIS were heavier on the roasty/leather/tobacco characters and the American versions were often sweeter with more chocolatey and molasses characters. However, that was probably an arbitrary distinction and it seems like that doesn’t hold true today. Now it seems that it’s pretty much up to brewery to decide if they label their IS Russian or American.

    I didn’t take the time to look but I assume these are not distinct styles from various brewer guilds. If that’s an incorrect assumption someone feel free to correct me
     
  16. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey
    Trader

    The same thing applies to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.
     
  17. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    For sure!
     
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  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I will let you decide whether the below is “good” or not but below are extracts from the BJCP styles guidelines for the Imperial Stout category:

    “Comments: Traditionally an English style, but it is currently much more popular and widely available in America where it is a craft beer favorite, not a curiosity. Variations exist, with English and American interpretations (predictably, the American versions have more bitterness, roasted character, and finishing hops, while the English varieties reflect a more complex specialty malt character and a more forward ester profile).”

    And:

    “History: A style with a long, although not necessarily continuous, heritage. Traces roots to strong English porters brewed for export in the 1700s, and said to have been popular with the Russian Imperial Court.”

    In the first paragraph above I suggest you interpret “English” as equating to a Russian Imperial Stout.

    One other difference to my mind is that a Russian Imperial Stout that is brewed to style should utilize English hops (e.g., East Kent Goldings hops) while an American Imperial Stout is not constrained. A hop that might be used in producing an American Imperial Stout could be Cascade, Centennial, etc. and take note in the first paragraph above of “more finishing hops”. An Imperial Stout that is brewed using “more” hops like Cascade, Centennial, etc. will be quite different than a RIS.

    Cheers!
     
    #18 JackHorzempa, Jan 1, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
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  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Well, you might want to read the BJCP style guideline (see some extracts in my post #18 above).

    Cheers!
     
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  20. Billet

    Billet Dec 17, 2013 Michigan
    Society

    New Holland's The Poet American Oatmeal Stout
    Great Lakes Ohio City Stout (couldn't find any this year :slight_frown:)
    Bell's Special Double Cream Stout
    Bells Kalamazoo Stout
     
  21. champ103

    champ103 Sep 3, 2007 Texas
    Society

    Does anybody have any info on if Harviestoun Blackest is actually a Milk/Sweet Stout? I have never seen anything saying lactose is used, but that doesn't mean its not. Just wondering if its miss labeled or is actually to style? Just thought it was a stronger version of Old Engine Oil...
     
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  22. BMBCLT

    BMBCLT May 9, 2014 South Carolina
    Society

    Fixed that for you. :slight_smile:

    Blackbeerd is pretty good, but it's very hop-forward. The barrel-aged version is awesome though. My favorite local, non-barrel aged Imperial Stout is Westbrook Siberian Black Magic Panther.

    I'm sorry, but H-G is one of the worst breweries in SC.
     
    #22 BMBCLT, Jan 1, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
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  23. papposilenus

    papposilenus Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire
    Society

    Beelzebub from The Alchemist would have been in my top 5, style notwithstanding.
     
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  24. nc41

    nc41 Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I like Bells Kalamazoo Stout, where it fits not a clue, they use brewers licorice.
     
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Doh! :grimacing:

    How could I forget: Heretic Shallow Grave - a great pint!!

    Killed too many brain cells celebrating last evening!?!:flushed:

    Cheers!
     
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  26. IKR

    IKR May 25, 2010 California
    Trader

    If I were in the mood for a stout with some roast to it I would seriously consider Bell's 35th Anniversary Expedition Stout Reserve in a store with a selection of stouts that were barrel aged, barrel aged with adjuncts blah blah blah. Damn good non stout with no enhancements!
    Happy New Year all!.
     
  27. Rocktire

    Rocktire Jan 15, 2017 New York
    Society

    Guinness...still fantastic, imo
     
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  28. officerbill

    officerbill Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Just fly in, hit their airport bar, then fly back out. :grin:
     
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  29. ScaryEd

    ScaryEd Feb 19, 2012 New Hampshire
    Society

    I don't see it around anymore but Sierra Nevada Stout is outstanding. Everything you want in an American stout.

    As for the imperial stouts, it will always be Ten Fidy for me. Just...so much balance in a monster 10.5 stout.
     
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  30. Ronmarley1

    Ronmarley1 Jan 20, 2014 Ohio
    Trader

    Great Lakes Blackout Stout (not bottled this year, by the way :confused:)
    Jackie O’s Dark Apparition
     
  31. deanzaZZR

    deanzaZZR Jan 8, 2015 California

    I quite like North Coast's Old #38 (Irish) Stout as well although the only place I find it these days are the big box stores so freshness and sitting unrefrigerated for months is an issue.
     
  32. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    I'm a pretty big NC fan in general. Old Stock is a near perfect beer, Raspy is great, and Pranqster is awesome. Been years since I've had a 38, but I'll fix that soon. Thanks for the reminder.
     
  33. denver10

    denver10 Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico
    Society

    Left Hand Milk Stout
     
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  34. defunksta

    defunksta Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota
    Society Trader

    Some of my favorites:
    1) Old Rasputin, this RIS always hits the spot.
    2) Founder's Porter and similarly
    3) Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
    4) Bell's Porter
    5) Deschutes' Obsidian Stout, this one is so chocolately but good nonetheless.

    These are pretty standard/plain stouts besides maybe #1
     
  35. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Mackeson XXX should be included in the Sweet/Milk Stout category.
     
  36. thebeers

    thebeers Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Just checked and Ten Fidy is ranked #102 among American imperial stouts, so there’s a good chance it’s the highest ranking of the “plain” ones.
     
  37. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey
    Trader

    That's as good an explanation as any I have heard. I feel there are only 2 types of Imperial Stouts. 1st type are Stouts brewed with only Malts or Barley, Hops, Yeast and Water. I call those Imperial Stouts Stouts brewed with other grains or other added flavors I call flavored Imperial Stouts.
     
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  38. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    Hops.


    :wink:
     
  39. Roguer

    Roguer Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader


    I came here to say Narwhal. :wink:

    But actually, after looking through @thebeers 's list, Ten Fidy seems to be a conspicuous absence from the top 3. Does Luscious get a ratings boost because it's the Alchemist? I think Zhukov is a worthy "regular" RIS.

    As much as I love Narwhal, I don't know if it actually belongs in a Top 3 RIS list, even though it's the one I drink the most. But it's certainly worthy of more consideration for those who have forgotten about it. :slight_smile:
     
  40. hopsputin

    hopsputin Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey
    Society

    I've always been partial to the following, which are in no particular order:

    Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout
    Big Bear Black Stout

    Edit: took out Old Rasputin as I see it's in Top 100
     
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