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!



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?


  1. Bell’s has a slew of interesting dark beers, Jimmy. The Double Cream and Expedition are also excellent. I’m not a fan of their Java Stout, but it gets high marks from most Aleheads. As for the Cherry Stout…the less said, the better.

  2. I don’t like the Java Stout either, for whatever reason. A rare misfire from them.

    I guarantee that if the rest of you guys had been able to have the Great River Red Band Coffee Stout that I put on my list, it would be on this top 10 list as well. It is in a word, amazing. Maybe the best coffee beer I’ve ever had. Very similar to Surly’s Coffee Bender, if you’ve had that. Had it at a beerfest and mentioned to the brewery rep that it was similar, and he said essentially “It should be, because we get our beans from the same small roastery that they do and use the same cold-extraction method.”

    Cold extraction. I think that’s where it’s at for coffee beers.

  3. You know, I’ve heard about that beer quite a few times but I’ve never managed to get my hands on it, despite being a Chicago native. It always seems to avoid me.

  4. Duck Rabbit Milk Stout – worth the trip to nowhere North Carolina and possibly the best stout I’ve ever had. No love on the list?

  5. Get your hands on the Coffee Breakfast Stout from Central Waters, small brewery in Northern Wisconsin that is growing. It’s as good or better than anything on this list of the 7 I’ve had. Cheers. Thanks for keeping things interesting.

  6. Dave, I’m the only Alehead with access to Duck-Rabbit brews so there was no way it was going to get enough critical mass to make the Top Ten. I really enjoy their brews, but I actually like their Baltic Porter even more than the Milk Stout. Both damn tasty though…

    I also LOVE the Highland Black Mocha, but again, they’re hard to come by north of the Mason-Dixon.

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