Dressing for March can be tough in continental climes, with false promises of spring quickly giving way to icy flurries. It’s a similar story when choosing what to drink: Do we reach for something light and fruity to optimistically transport us to warmer months? Or should we embrace the final cold throes and indulge in heartier libations?

Thankfully, one of the year’s most popular drinking occasions comes around to nudge us in the right direction. We’re talking, of course, about St. Patrick’s Day. Whether stouts remain on the menu year-round for you, or St. Paddy’s marks that one pint you savor annually, the day is a great reminder of everything the dark beer style has to offer — Guinness and beyond.

From creamy, sweet, and approachable milk and oatmeal stouts to deeply complex imperial and barrel-aged offerings, here are 17 of the best stouts to drink in 2023.

The Best Traditional Stouts

Guinness Extra Stout

Dublin, Ireland
5.6% ABV

Guinness Extra Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Few things compare to a perfectly poured draft Guinness. But for packaged options, skip the nitro-widgeted canned Guinness Draught and opt instead for bottled Extra Stout. Produced at the iconic St. James’ Gate Dublin brewery, this velvet pour effuses toasted grain and dark chocolate aromas. The palate serves an astute balance of flavor and a pleasantly bitter finish.

Murphy’s Irish Stout

Cork, Ireland
4% ABV

Murphy's Irish Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

When it comes to Irish macro stouts, Murphy’s is the second most recognizable name after Guinness. Murphy’s also has the iconic nitro widget floating about in its can, making for a cascading foamy head when poured into a pint glass. Murphy’s malt bill also lends itself to a thick, creamy body supporting sweet notes of roasted coffee — and at 4 percent ABV, it’s as easy-drinking as it is delicious.

Deschutes’ Obsidian

Bend, Ore.
6.4% ABV

Deschutes' Obsidian is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Among the most classic examples of American stout, this Oregon release gains its name from local volcanic rock. Pouring an equally dark hue, this is a robust stout, rich in dark chocolate, roasted malt, and licorice notes. With good reason, this beer has become a mainstay.

Maine Beer Company Mean Old Tom Stout

Freeport, Maine
6.5% ABV

Maine Beer Company Mean Old Tom Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Aged with vanilla beans, this jet black stout is brewed with roasted barley, chocolate malt, flaked oats, and Centennial hops. A bold, bitter baseline is tamed by hints of vanilla, oak, and espresso. While most famous for the Lunch IPA, Maine Beer Company proves its versatility with Mean Old Tom.

The Best Milk Stouts

Mast Landing Brewing Co. Gunner’s Daughter Milk Stout

Westbrook, Maine
5.5% ABV

Mast Landing Brewing Co. Gunner's Daughter Milk Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

A true-to-form milk stout, Gunner’s Daughter somehow pulls off an even more successful draft-style head than Guinness or Murphy’s, even without the signature nitro widget. This lactose-infused beer is loaded with rich flavors of peanut butter, toffee, and malted milk balls, all supported by a velvety, almost chewy mouthfeel. Though its ABV is on the lower side for a beer of this style, Gunner’s Daughter does not skimp on decadence.

Left Hand Brewing Co. Milk Stout

Longmont, Colo.
6% ABV

Left Hand Brewing Co. Milk Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Another American stalwart, Left Hand’s Milk Stout exemplifies the style’s subtle, approachable sweetness. Its milk chocolate and toasted grain aromas are prominent, while the palate lands slightly more reserved, making this a relatively crushable brew. Left Hand also makes a nitro version of this beer, but the original holds its own.

The Best Oatmeal Stouts

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

Tadcaster, England
5% ABV

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

As the name implies, oats play a vital role in bringing body and mouthfeel to oatmeal stouts while also smoothing out the beer’s toasty bite. Hailing from the U.K., Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is brewed with well water, supporting the beer’s mellow, lager-esque texture. With roasty, campfire-like undertones, this offering is widely available in 550-milliliter bottles, making it a great sharing option.

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout

Monrovia, Calif.
5.2% ABV

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

A Trader Joe’s exclusive, Stockyard Oatmeal Stout is a sessionable brew that tastes more like a blonde ale than a traditional stout, but lives up to its expectations when it comes to rich texture and head retention. Resembling Leffe in flavor and a cappuccino in texture, this brew has exceptional drinkability and doesn’t linger on the palate like some of the bigger, boozier stouts out there.

East Brother Beer Co. Oatmeal Stout

Richmond, Calif.
5.4% ABV

East Brother Beer Co. Oatmeal Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

An exceptional California take on the classic English style, East Brother Beer Co. delivers roasted, nutty complexity with this release. The mouthfeel feels light yet creamy, with bold cocoa flavor complemented by a malty, fruity aftertaste.

The Best Barrel-Aged Stouts

Founders Brewing Co. KBS

Grand Rapids, Mich.
12% ABV

Founders Brewing Co. KBS is one of the best stouts for 2023.

At one point a seasonal release, KBS became a year-round offering as of March 2020, and the beer community could not be happier. Founders’ KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) is a bourbon barrel-aged stout brewed with “a massive amount of coffee and chocolate.” Its aroma presents a bouquet of roasted chestnuts, raspberries, and Hefeweizen-like banana notes. Even though chocolate is an adjunct here, this stout unleashes distinct vanilla notes and a slight whiskey tingle with each sip. For the bourbon lovers out there, this beer will not disappoint.

2022 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Biscotti Stout

Chicago, Ill.
14.3% ABV

2022 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Biscotti Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Cracking a bottle of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Biscotti Stout — part of the brand’s annual Bourbon County release — will flood the room with aromas one would think only exist in an Italian bakery. Pouring like crude oil and clocking in at 14.3 percent ABV, this is certainly the “biggest” stout on this list. That being said, this stout’s thoughtful adjuncts (cocoa nibs, toasted almonds, and anise seeds) come together beautifully to create an herbaceous, licorice-forward, nutty delight.

The Best Imperial Stouts

Elysian Brewing Dragonstooth Stout

Seattle, Wash.
8.1% ABV

Elysian Brewing Dragonstooth Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

This imperial oatmeal stout arrives at a fairly tame 8.1 percent ABV, making it an easy intro to the style. Dragonstooth Stout’s blend of Magnum, Cascade, and Centennial hops exudes tones of black pepper and rye bread. With a light mocha head, it serves pillowy pours of toasted malt, dark chocolate, and oats.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. Mornin’ Latte

Decorah, Iowa
8.9% ABV

Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. Mornin' Latte is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Mornin’ Latte is an adjunct stout brewed with lactose, cacao nibs, and coffee. Resembling espresso with its light brown, copper-colored head and resounding notes of mocha, this beer teeters on the edge of astringent but balances its black coffee-like acidity with sweet hints of prunes, raisins, and chocolate.

North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Fort Bragg, Calif.
9% ABV

North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Inspired by England’s traditional Russian imperial style, this stout is robust and indulgent, incorporating pleasant umami tones from its malt-forward profile. Bitterness and sweetness are equally represented on the palate, leaving its high ABV well disguised — a surprisingly sessionable option.

Southern Tier Brewing Co. Peanut Butter Cup Imperial Stout

Lakewood, N.Y.
10% ABV

Southern Tier Brewing Co. Peanut Butter Cup Imperial Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

Southern Tier knows how to make a mean pastry stout, and this one checks all the boxes. Delivering dense notes of Reese’s Cups while still pushing its sugary sweetness to the back seat, this beer is everything a pastry stout should be. Its delicate blend of chocolate malts and milk sugar evokes notes of maple syrup, cinnamon rolls, and caramelized bananas, making for a decadent — but not overwhelming — treat.

Grimm Double Negative Imperial Stout

10% ABV

Grimm Double Negative Imperial Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

A no-frills, adjunct-free Russian imperial stout, Grimm’s Double Negative won gold and silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival in both 2014 and 2015, and for good reason. The mouthfeel alone is a true accomplishment in beer, boasting an outrageously light, cloud-like texture. While the nose is deceivingly underwhelming, Double Negative packs warming flavors of roasted walnuts, tobacco, and Palo Santo on the palate.

AleSmith Speedway Stout

San Diego
12% ABV

AleSmith Speedway Stout is one of the best stouts for 2023.

A super heavyweight from California, this is a powerful, punchy imperial stout. A spectrum of fruit and fresh coffee runs throughout, building upon its cacao core. Keep an eye out for seasonal variants, including Salted Caramel Brownie, Vietnamese Coffee, and Madagascar Vanilla & Ceylon Alba Cinnamon.


What kind of beer is a stout?

A stout is dark-style ale made with roasted barley. Originally called “stout porters,” stouts emerged from the porter style, only stronger and with more depth of flavor. Stouts are characterized by their dark brown to black color and low carbonation levels, typically accompanied by a creamy mouthfeel. Within the stout category, a number of sub-styles exist — each with their own distinctive qualities — including Irish, English, and American stouts, Russian and American imperials, as well as oatmeal stouts, milk stouts, and oyster stouts.

Why is beer called stout?

The term stout was used in the 18th century to identify a beer with high alcohol content. The term “stout porter” — stout’s original name — was used in reference to dark beers with ABVs higher than 7 percent.

What is the most popular brand of stout?

Guinness Draught is undeniably the world’s most popular brand of stout. Every day, over 10 million pints are sold, and each year, an estimated 1.5 billion pints of Guinness are poured worldwide.