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 round 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 12 of the best stouts to drink in 2022.

The Best Traditional Stouts

Guinness Extra Stout

Dublin, Ireland
5.6% ABV

Guinness extra stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

Few things compare to a perfectly poured draught 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, dark chocolate, and coffee aromas. The palate serves an astute balance of body and flavor, and a pleasantly bitter finish.

Deschutes’ Obsidian

Bend, Ore.
6.4% ABV

obsidian stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

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 roasted coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and licorice notes. With good reason, this beer has become a mainstay.

Maine Beer Company Mean Old Tom Stout

Freeport, Me.
6.5% ABV

mean old tom beer is one of the best stouts for 2022

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 attractive vanilla notes, rich chocolate, and espresso crema — just like its pillowy head.

The Best Milk Stouts

Left Hand Brewing Co. Milk Stout

Longmont, Colo.
6% ABV

left hand stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

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 option.

Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout

Paso Robles, Calif.
5.5% ABV

nitro merlin stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker is well versed in brewing darker beer styles. This nitro release coats the palate with exceptionally smooth, creamy, and sweet sips, all without the aid of a nitro widget. Named after brewmaster Matt “Merlin” Brynildson, take some time to “master the surge pour” in order to appreciate its full textural qualities, with some added theater to boot.

The Best Oatmeal Stouts

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

Tadcaster, England
5% ABV

samuel smith stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

As the name implies, oats play a vital role in bringing body and mouthfeel to oatmeal stouts while also smoothing the beer’s toasty bite. At 5 percent ABV, this bottling from Samuel Smith Brewery places on the lower-alcohol end of the stout scale, and oozes drinkability via subtle sweetness and a lightly roasted finish.

East Brother Beer Co. Oatmeal Stout

Richmond, Calif.
5.4% ABV

east brothers stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

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

The Best Barrel-Aged Stouts

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2021

14% ABV

goose island stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

The beer that inspired a subcategory of stouts, Goose Island’s annual Bourbon County Stout release (and lineup) consistently delivers. The 2021 release spent 12 months in Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, and Wild Turkey barrels, picking up and building upon delicious notes of dark fruits, vanilla, and sweet caramel. Watch out for that proof, though.

New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve Rye Barrel-Aged Stout 2022 Reserve

Holland, Mich.
11.8% ABV

dragons milk stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

The first 2022 limited release in the Dragon’s Milk Reserve series is aged with cinnamon, toasted chilies, and vanilla extract in rye whiskey barrels. Its aromas immediately invite, while flavors of malt and vanilla meld seamlessly with the barrels’ recollections of herbaceous whiskey. Cinnamon and a suggestion of spice round out each enjoyable sip.

The Best Widely Available Imperial Stout

Elysian Brewing Dragonstooth Stout

8.1% ABV

elysian stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

This imperial oatmeal stout arrives at a fairly tame 8.1 percent ABV, making it an easy intro to the style. With a light mocha head, it serves pillowy pours of toasted malt, dark chocolate, and oats.

The Best Imperial Stouts

North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Fort Bragg, Calif.
9% ABV

old rasputin stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

Inspired by England’s traditional Russian Imperial style, this stout is strong and decadent, with well-incorporated alcohol. Bitterness and sweetness are equally represented on the palate, allowing its toasted character to shine.

AleSmith Speedway Stout

San Diego
12% ABV

alesmith speedway stout is one of the best stouts for 2022

A super heavyweight from California, this is a powerful, punchy imperial stout. A spectrum of fruity, fresh, and toasted coffee runs throughout, building upon its cacao core. Keep an eye out for seasonal releases, including a recent Mexican dark chocolate, Mexican coffee, and sea salt expression that kept us warm all winter long.


What kind of beer is a stout?

A stout is dark-style ale made with roasted barley. Originally called a “Stout Porter,” 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 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 Imperial and American Imperial, 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.