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North Coast Old #38 Stout
Written by Matt
I’m not a stout drinker … not yet at least. My exploration into the world of craft beer started with a few choice brews which I will list. New Glarus Spotted Cow, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, North Coast Brewing Red Seal Ale and North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner. Oh wait, dare I say it? Yes, even Budweiser American Ale. Like many, I shied away from those evil dark beers because somehow I bought into the lie that dark beers are heavy and full of booze. Due to the fact that I drank mainly cheap American light beer until my “enlightenment”, it’s not too difficult to understand why my first choices were lighter, clearer, more approachable selections. Now having spent nearly a year exposing myself to beer, making beer, and learning about beer, I’m really not afraid of anything. All that to say, I still haven’t really gotten into stouts, or porters. This is unclaimed territory, and that excites me. But I stopped at Binny’s after lunch again yesterday and just couldn’t pass up Old #38, especially for a cool .99/each. Like I said earlier, North Coasts’ Red Seal Ale and Scrimshaw Pilsner are two beers from this brewery that I’m very fond of, and I’d heard of Old #38 from my brother Nate, who currently resides in California.
It was fairly late for a Monday night, but my wife had started a small fire and since I had been thinking about Old #38 all day, it seemed like a perfect time to crack one open. It pours dark black with an intriguing ruby red hue shining through when put up to the light. Small head that diminishes to just a faint rim of bubbles around the edge of the glass within just a few moments. Deep, roasted coffee-like aroma. I taste the dark malts that the label describes, but I don’t get a huge amount of flavor from this beer. What I do get is a slight metallic taste, resembling copper, which I really do not enjoy from any beer. But….as it warms, I do pick up a subtle, but pleasant chocolate flavor worth mentioning and that really helps with my overall enjoyment of this beer. The mouthfeel is full and velvety – not too dry, not too creamy, a pretty good balance. I enjoy the mild carbonation and the slight hop bitterness you get at the end.
I can tell this is not a low alcohol beer, but also not a high alcohol beer. My research leads me to discover its 5.5%, which is right where it feels it should be. I could easily drink more than one, and I enjoy the mild warming sensation that lets you know the alcohol is there.
I wish this beer had more aroma and more flavor- for me, this one is not much to write home about. But at 5.5%, with good mouthfeel and good drinkability, this beer is something I would drink again. Whereas North Coasts’ Red Seal Ale is something I tell my friends about, Old #38 is just okay in my book.
Grade: B-North Coast Old #38 Stout,