Total Score: 7.35/10
All aboard the North Coast Old #38 – next stop: anything but a train-related joke. Please have your tickets ready [Dammit Doc!]. I like North Coast, especially their Old Rasputin RIS (which is a DSM or a ‘Doc’s Stout Must-haves’ not to be confused with the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ or ‘The Other DSM’) so it’s only natural that their Old #38 Stout – North Coast’s take on the Irish Dry Stout style (e.g. the one that Guinness is) and I should cross paths for a good old fashioned review. In case you were wondering what the Old #38 is North Coast’s web page has the answer young grasshopper: “Named for a retired California Western Railroad steam engine on the Fort Bragg to Willits run through the Redwoods”. Goody.
Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Rich black opaque body with a delightful 1 cm mocha head that beckons the drinker to sip and be merry. The head soon reduces to a thin lace but my appetite remains. This beer on nitro tap would be a force to be reckoned with. 8/10.
S: Classic Stout aromas – coffee and cocoa make a smell-pearance, along with brown sugar and some toasty smoke-char. “Hey you wanted a classic Stout, you got it!” says North Coast as it lays down the aroma gauntlet to Stout-lovers worldwide. 9/10.
T: The coffee characters take on a ripe coffee berry flavour, merging with powdered cocoa and topped off with a hint of brown sugar and that smoky roasting note towards the finish, which is a balanced juxtaposition between dryness and coffee grind bitters. The aroma does perhaps oversell the flavour a little as it has a watery/metallic aftertaste that detracts from the overall taste. 7/10.
M: Mid to light bodied, slightly watery, with a light to flat carbonation. Certainly not winning any awards here. 6/10.
D: There is a damn good brew in this Stout that is marred by aftertaste and body, which is a shame because I do enjoy nearly all of North Coast’s brews, it just feels as if this particular North Coast Stout was brewed on a Friday afternoon. How does it compare to Guinness? Well I would say favourably, but then again Guinness borders on water for me with all the drops in ABV it has had over the last decade – Old #38 fortunately doesn’t suffer from the mid-strength handicap of today’s Guinness, yet in some ways I would take a Guinness over this any day (it’s a lot cheaper for starters, and the nitro-cans beat bottles). 7/10.
Food match: The perfect match for a Irish Dry Stout is still Beef & Guinness pie.