The Best Stouts of 2019

Incoming hot take: stouts are delicious. We love them to warm us up on a cool wintry day, and we love them as a roasty post-dinner treat. Or a pre-dinner treat. Or during dinner. Or with any meal. The point is we love stouts. Whenever we hit the taproom of a new brewery, our eyes usually go straight to the end of the list where the stouts live. They can be relatively simple, they can be packed with additional flavors, they can be aged in barrels for years– it doesn’t matter how they were made as long as they end up in our glasses. Below is a list of the best stouts we had in 2019. As with our list of the best sour beers of 2019, we’re basing our list on date of consumption, not on date tapped or bottled.

We’re also limiting the list to one beer per brewery, just as we’ve done with our other lists. Selecting just one stout from titans like Aslin, The Bruery, Jackie O’s, and Other Half may seem like an impossible task. Well, you’re right– it was. We had hundreds of stouts and loved the vast majority. However, we clenched our fists and typed out a list of the twenty-five that, for whatever reason, stood out from the pack. (We realize you can’t clench your fist and then type– we were trying to emphasize the difficulty of the task.) Here are those standout stouts.

Aardwolf Brewing: Rum Barrel Aged Neapolitan El Mariachi

“The nose is appropriately ice creamy, with strawberry and vanilla tapdancing on your olfactory glands. The cocoa and strawberry swirl with rummy goodness, giving you 11% to help you forget about the season Blake Bortles had.” Read more about this beer in our Extreme Beer Fest coverage.

Adroit Theory: Dia de Los Muertos

“One of our Virginia favorites, it’s no surprise that Adroit Theory brought the stout heat, giving you coffee, macadamia nut, and coconut— and then putting it over the edge with a splash of honey at the end.” Read more about this beer in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

Aslin Beer: Pisghetti Western

We had our first can of this Aslin wonder over a campfire at Joshua Tree National Park. Impossible to imagine a better place to crack this open and revel in its flavors– chocolate, hazelnut, coffee, and a splash of cinnamon. Sweet, roasty, and velvety, it pairs perfectly with Smores and also helps warm the blood as the nighttime temperature drops. This is Aslin’s second straight year on this list, and I wouldn’t be surprised by a third.

Begyle Brewing: Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas

We named Begyle Brewing one of the must-visit breweries at Great American Beer Festival, stating “we’re most excited that their pour list includes the Barrel Aged Imperial Pajamas, an imperial coffee stout that hits the spot.” Then, a few days later, BA Imperial Pajamas won the Gold Medal for Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout. Coincidence? We think not!

Boxing Bear: Chocolate Milk Stout

As we said last year, “Remember that scene in Ratatouille when the food critic tastes the meal and is immediately sucked back to his childhood? The best milk stouts can do that.” Boxing Bear unquestionably has one of the best milk stouts in the country, wowing us for a second consecutive year at GABF. You haven’t had a milk stout until you’ve had Boxing Bear’s.

Casa Agria: Drawn to Dawn

We enjoyed this beer twice this year, once at Summit Beer Festival and again in their Oxnard taproom. The phrase “maple cinnamon” seems to indicate a cloying sweetness often associated with the cliche of what a pastry stout is. However, Casa Agria, per usual, avoids all pitfalls and delivers an elite stout with the perfect amount of sweetness.

Central Waters Brewing: Maple Barrel Stout

“We’re normally hesitant with maple stouts— but Central Waters has mastered the art, giving their stout the perfect balance of maple syrup flavor without going overboard with sickly sweetness. Other pastry stout brewers should take note.” Read more about this beer in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

Flatland Brewing: Path of Righteousness

“When Russell tried this beer, he immediately put down in our notes, “Perhaps the best beer of the entire festival.” It’s nutty, boozy, a pinch salty, wonderfully balanced, and impossibly smooth for a 13.5% ABV barn burner.” Read more about this beer in our Summit Beer Festival coverage.

Fonta Flora Brewery: Sedentary Reverence

“The Sedentary Reverence was one of the more impressive stouts of the trip— it’s a collaboration with Perennial Artisan Ales, delivering an elegantly executed imperial with a smidge of ancho chile flavor at the end.” Read more about this beer in our Firestone Walker Invitational coverage.

Fremont Brewing: Coconut Edition B-Bomb

One of the more fortunate moments of Great American Beer Festival: after wandering past Fremont Brewing longingly multiple times and seeing discouragingly long lines, we squeezed into a gap at the end of day one and tried a bevy of fantastic beers. Their barleywine gave us Life, but this monster bourbon and coconut version of their legendary B-Bomb is also bar none one of the best stouts of the year.

Highland Park Brewery: No Rest w/ Coffee

We enjoyed No Rest at Firestone Walker Invitational. And again at LA Beer Week. And again at the California Craft Beer Summit. Very rarely do we ever seek out the same beer at every festival, but when the same collaboration from two LA stout masters, Highland Park Brewery and Three Chiefs Brewing, keeps pouring? You keep drinking.

Horus Aged Ales: Proper Dose

“Proper Dose is shockingly creamy for a lactose-free stout, and while it indulges heavily in rich chocolate flavor, the sweetness of its flavors and the bitterness of its coffee finish end up balancing the scale flawlessly.” Read more about this beer in our Extreme Beer Fest coverage.

Ironfire Brewing: 2019 All Oak Everything

Too many breweries overplay the spice in chili stouts. Here, the geniuses at Ironfire use the tequila barrel to provide most of the heat and let the flavor of the chilis themselves shine. The spice never punches your tastebuds– it just lightly knocks on the door, as if your tastebuds were asleep and it wants to stir them awake peacefully.

Jackie O’s: Rum Barrel Aged Oil of Aphrodite

“The Coconut and Vanilla Rum Barrel Oil of Aphrodite is their always-terrific Oil of Aphrodite imperial stout conditioned with, as we were told, “a sh*tload of coconut and a sh*tload of vanilla.” Not only was that the most effective beer sales pitch of the Invitational, it was also one of the best stouts of the day.” Read more about this beer in our Firestone Walker Invitational coverage.

Modern Times: Mega Devil’s Teeth

“Our brains keep going back to Thursday’s special, the BBA Mega Devil’s Teeth with Coconut and Macadamia Nut. Even by their own impossibly high barrel aged stout standards, they’ve outdone themselves here.” Read more about this beer in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

Moonraker Brewing: Foam Walker

“Everyone knows Moonraker for its exceptional hazy IPAs, but we were especially taken aback by the Foam Walker, their Nitro Coffee Stout, creamy and salty and rich. If you see these cans available, buy as many as possible.” Read more about our love of Moonraker in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

More Brewing: Arketype: Coco Flux

“The Arketype: Coco Flux is one of the best beers of the weekend of any style, with chocolate and coconut flavors so rich that they’re currently throwing election fundraisers.” Read more about this beer in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

Mumford Brewing: Stick Figures 4

Mumford is a must-stop every time we’re in downtown LA, and we’re fortunate to have tried every incarnation of Stick Figures to date. The 4th, a collaboration with stout masters J. Wakefield, was their best so far, a rich chocolate-and-cinnamon churro of a stout. Stick Figures keeps improving every go around– we’re excited for Batches 5, 6, and so on.

Orpheus Brewing: an air portends

“an air portends was a mammoth mixture of bourbon barrel, chocolate, vanilla, and roasted macadamia nuts. We’d put it on the same tier as Grey Monday and Mega Devil’s Teeth when it comes to big barrel booze bombs.” Read more about this beer in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

Other Half Brewing: We’ve Been Out There in Orbit (Coffee Coconut Macadamia Nuts)

As we said after our big trip to Brooklyn in February, “The best beer I had on my trip, though, was the We’ve Been Out There In Orbit (Coffee Coconut Macadamia Nuts), a boozy dessert stout that will almost certainly make my Best of 2019 list.” Well, here we are, at the end of 2019, and sure enough, this monster is still a standout.

Prison City Brewery: Wham Whams

“Wham Whams inspired two of the best notes Russell took all year: “I’m drinking a coconut” and “THIS IS A F***ING STOUT.” Need we say more?” Read more about Wham Whams both in our Great American Beer Festival coverage and our Favorite Beers From Each of the Fifty States list.

Snake River Brewing: Speargun

“Snake River brought masterful beer ranging from lagers to stouts, but this was our first encounter with Speargun, their GABF-medal winning coffee stout, and it did not disappoint, standing out in a festival with many A-level coffee stouts.” Read more about this beer in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

The Bruery: 2019 Grey Monday

It’s impossible to try Grey Monday and not include it on a Best Stout list. It’s an absolute monster that’s tempered with thick chocolate and hazelnut. At GABF, we said, “We lucked out and arrived right as the timed pours of the 2019 Grey Monday hit. This hazelnut beast ran out quickly— which, given its quality, makes sense.” Read more about The Bruery in our Great American Beer Festival coverage.

Tree House Brewing: Impermanence

When people on Instagram post pictures of themselves drinking Tree House, it’s nearly always their legendary hazy IPAs. Those fortunate enough to visit their Charlton taproom should not, however, overlook their stouts. Impermanence is nothing short of full-bodied motor oil, a black-as-night breakfast beer designed to be enjoyed fresh instead of cellared. We drank it right away. Good choice.

Untitled Art: Chocolate Macaroon Imperial Stout with Cerebral Brewing

“A 12% ABV pastry stout in a can usually sets off alarm bells– these tend to be cloyingly sweet and overwhelmingly sugary. Untitled Art, however, has mastered the (ahem) Art.” Read more about our favorite beer from Wisconsin in 2019 in our Favorite Beers From Each of the Fifty States list.

What were your favorite stouts in 2019? What are you looking forward to trying in 2020? Please let us know in the comments below! Check out our lists of the Best Sour Beers of 2019, our favorite beers from every state in 2019 and keep an eye out for a couple more Best of 2019 lists coming in the next few days!