We Asked 10 Brewers: What’s Your Go-To Stout (That Isn’t Irish)?

Someone’s first stout is often the ubiquitous Irish stout Guinness. But this balanced classic is far from the only option for drinkers who acquire a preference for a stout’s signature maltiness. Breweries across the world, not just in Ireland, make this comforting and malty brew. The stout is a classic beer style that most beer-makers will brew at least once, and may always have on rotation.

Still, most people aren’t reaching for this style as their go-to beer. Maybe it’s because of its “heavy” reputation, or maybe it’s because people believe it’s a pub-only indulgence — but there are stouts from all over worth discovering. That’s why we asked 10 brewers for the stouts that have reached go-to status when they’re scanning menus.

From Sri Lankan imports to chocolaty indulgences and no-fuss standbys, these are the non-Irish stouts to keep an eye out for when you’re looking to drink on the dark side.

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The Best Go-To Non-Irish Stouts According to Brewers Are:

  • Founder’s Breakfast Stout
  • Lion Stout
  • Old Rasputin
  • Keegan’s Mother’s Milk
  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
  • Southern Star’s Buried Hatchet
  • Saugatuck Brewing’s Neapolitan Milk Stout
  • Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout
  • Bell’s Kalamazoo
  • Imperial stouts
  • Gun Hill Void of Light

Founder’s Breakfast Stout is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“Founder’s Breakfast Stout. I’ll admit, I’m a Guinness fan at heart, but this beer changed my perception of coffee and beer, which has inspired us to brew more coffee-forward beers.” —Jonny Ifergan, co-founder and lead brewer, Niteglow, Brooklyn

Lion Stout is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“Lion Stout. There’s probably only a few places left in the U.S. to find this Sri Lankan-brewed tropical stout, since its export has been cut way down over the past few years. But it’s a stout close to my heart — a lot of memories were made drinking Lion Stout at The Northdown, a much missed taproom on the North Side of Chicago. It’s a huge, warming stout at 8.8 percent ABV, which, for me, perfectly paired with the coldest and darkest winter evenings. Decadent in its mocha and cherry flavors without being cloying — in fact, it’s dangerously easy to drink — it pulled us through those nights. We’d fill our bellies with grilled cheese dredged through a batter made with Three Floyds’ Scottish ale, and the Lion Stout was a great partner with its ABV and slight barley roast to cut and complement the cheddar and fontina cheese and sourdough toast. I miss it a lot.” —Jenny Pfafflin, marketing and creative manager/brewer, Dovetail Brewery, Chicago

Old Rasputin is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“I think Old Rasputin is an absolute staple. They do really interesting barrel ages on it. And also Keegan’s Mother’s Milk — I think it is such a power move to make your flagship a milk stout.” —Patty Maguire, brewer and distribution, Fifth Hammer Brewery, Long Island City, N.Y.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“My go-to stout would have to be Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. I rarely go out of my way to buy it, but whenever I see it on a bottle list or the shelves of a beverage center, I feel this gravity towards it. Partly nostalgia but always delicious.” —Ryan Demler, director of brewing operations, Community Beer Works and Thin Man Brewing, Buffalo, N.Y.

Southern Star's Buried Hatchet is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“I love stouts. My go-to for a while has been Southern Star’s Buried Hatchet. Such a well-balanced stout, not too sweet and not too boozy. I love a hint of coffee. It triggers a bit of nostalgia, as it was one of the first stouts I really enjoyed. When I’m not up for a motor oil-bodied stout, this is the one to get!” —Sally Ayala, cellar person and brewer, Alamo Beer Co., San Antonio, Texas

Saugatuck Brewing's Neapolitan Milk Stout is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“I usually forget I like stouts until it’s snowing and I’m out running errands and feel the need to sit in a bar before 5 p.m. I usually avoid the heavily barreled and overly adjunct beers. But when I bump into Saugatuck Brewing’s Neapolitan Milk Stout anywhere in the world — even in the summer in Saugatuck by the beach — it’s reminiscent of eating ice cream as a kid and I usually go back for seconds.” —Tori Fried, brewer, Omega Yeast Labs, Chicago

“One of my guilty pleasures is an imperial stout. Something middle of the road for ABV (8 to 9 percent), and aged so that the harshness of alcohol has subsided. [Something] brewed to not be cloyingly sweet [with] a balance between body and a quick, noticeable bitterness. [Imperial stouts have] nuanced flavors of chocolate, caramel, coffee, and malt from the thoughtful use of grains used to brew the beer, which are artfully supplemented with tones of oak, vanilla, or the odd adjunct from aging. They’re perfect for sipping either around a fire, or hanging at a table with friends playing trivia on a workday night. The emphasis around [this] style of beer, in my opinion, is enjoyment rather than consumption.” —Jeff Marquis, owner and head brewer, Granite State Brewing, Peabody Mass.

Samuel Smith's Chocolate Stout is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“My go-to stout would be Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout. Such a classic style and the flavor of the water composition really stands out with Samuel Smith’s beers. They have a very distinct taste and style. This is where I would start as a base for a stout if I made one. You can taste the brewery in their beers and this stout is creamy and velvety without a high sweetness.” —Robert Young III, owner and brewer, Tapped 33 Craft Brewery, Augusta, Ga.

Bell's Kalamazoo is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“I definitely lean more towards lagers. So if I’m looking for something malty with a little more body, I’ll reach for a dunkel or a dopplebock instead. However, on the rare occasion I’m drinking a stout, it’s gotta be Bell’s Kalamazoo. It’s a simple yet beautiful example of a traditional American stout. No lactose, no extracts, no fuss, and consistent quality.” —Kayla McGuire, brewer, Gemüt Biergarten, Columbus, Ohio

Gun Hill's Void of Light is one of the best non-Irish stouts, according to bartenders.

“Gun Hill’s Void of Light is a gold-winning example of an export stout that satiates my desire for more old-school, chocolate-forward stouts that are balanced, rich, and perfectly bitter.” —Ian Smith, lead brewer, Kings County Brewers Collective, Brooklyn

*Image retrieved from LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS via stock.adobe.com