It’s International Stout Day! What does that mean?!?! We have no idea!
Nevertheless, we like the sound of it. So in the spirit of this not-at-all-made-up holiday, the Aleheads are offering a highly unscientific list of the Top 10 American Craft Stouts. Remember, these are just “regular” Stouts. No Imperials on the list…so nothing tops 8% ABV or has a strong hop profile.
Before we get to the list, I’d like to point out that this was, quite possibly, the most confusing Top 10 list we’ve ever put together. First, no one could quite figure out what constituted a Stout. Some felt that Porters should be eliminated (like Doc), while others (like myself) agreed with Martyn Cornell that, at this point in time, the only difference between a Stout and a Porter is the name. Sure, there used to be an ABV-differential back in the day (Stouts were essentially strong Porters), but in the modern beer era, Porters are often stronger than everyday Stouts.
Some Aleheads did Top 10 lists. Some did Top 5 lists. Some (ahem, Beerford) did a Top 2 list. It was a goddamn mess is what it was. Slouch decided he was going to compile the results and, in typical Slouchian fashion, he went out drinking instead. Also, he put a Danish, 10% ABV beer (the Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Stout) as his #1 American Craft Stout, so I’m not sure he really should have been involved in this project in the first place.
I’m not going to bother explaining the math since it’s a clusterfuck. Plus, it’s getting late in the day and if I wait much longer, this list just ain’t getting posted on this, the holiest of holy days, International Stout Day. So here we go…come to the dark side, my fellow Aleheads!
TOP TEN AMERICAN CRAFT STOUTS (AND, UMM, PORTERS)
10. Troeg’s Java Head: The only coffee stout on the list, the Java Head is a mean, caffeine machine. Dark, rich, and decadent, it’s one of the Trogner Brothers’ best.
9. Cigar City José Marti: We love all things Cigar City, so it’s no surprise that this black beauty from Tampa made our list. Slouch and Herr Hordeum thoroughly love this brew.
8. Bar Harbor Cadillac Mountain Stout: Doc and I split a bomber of this big Stout a few months ago. It was good.
7. Three Floyds Moloko Milk Stout: The Baron introduced Doc and I to this Three Floyds offering at the Map Room in Chicago. We were forever grateful to him. Check out Slouch and Hordeum’s, Clockwork Orange-themed riff on this brew.
6. Avery Out-Of-Bounds Stout: Avery makes two wonderful, session-strength dark brews (the Out-Of-Bounds and the New World Porter). The OOB won out over its brother by the slimmest of margins.
5. Left Hand Milk Stout: The quintessential milk stout, the Left Hand is sweet and dark, but drinks surprisingly light and easy for the style. Left Hand also just released a nitro-version of the brew.
4. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter: Probably the best Great Lakes offering other than their sublime Nosferatu, the Edmund Fitzgerald is as sessionable as it is tasty.
3. Deschutes Obsidian Stout: The first Deschutes brew I ever had and still one the of all-time great American dark beers. The Obsidian is bold, complex, and drinks waaaaaay too quickly.
2. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout: Another Top-Two battle between Michigan’s biggest breweries, Bell’s takes the silver in this round with their crazy-delicious Kalamazoo.
1. Founders Porter: Oh, Founders…is there anything you can’t do?