Pairing a drink with a sweet, decadent, possibly chocolate-covered dessert is easy. A glass of milk works. So does a slightly bitter coffee. But sometimes after a long meal, you’re looking for a boozy kick to go along with all that sugar in your system. This is where sweeter whiskeys, potent wines, and dark, complimentary beers come into play.
While we could write plenty about port wines (and other sweet wines), bourbons, single malt scotches, and even dark rums that work well with an indulgent final course, today we’re turning our attention to dessert beers. Some that pair nicely with sweets and some that could be desserts all on their own.
Below, you’ll find eight of the most delectable, indulgent dessert beers on the market, ranked based on their overall flavor, their sweetness ratio, and how well they work as an end-of-the-meal digestif or pairing. Keep scrolling to see these excellent craft beers in all of their chocolate, nutty, cinnamon sugar goodness.
8) Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Average Price: $11 for a six-pack
This 5.6 percent ABV brown ale is an homage to the popularity of hazelnuts in Rogue’s home state of Oregon. Brewed with 2-row, C15, C75, C120, Kiln Coffee, and Pacman yeast, Brown malts as well as Perle and Sterling hops, it gets its notable nutty, sweet flavor from the addition of real hazelnut extract.
There are notable aromas of hazelnuts that immediately let you know what you’re in for. There are also hints of toffee and vanilla to add to the sweetness, but not much else. The flavor continues with the aroma. There’s a ton of nutty sweetness from the hazelnuts, sugar cookies, some fudge, and butterscotch. It’s very sweet and nutty.
Overall, it’s a little too sweet for some drinkers — enough to turn away some fans hoping for a little more bitterness and spice.
7) Stone Xocoveza
Average Price: $17 for a six-pack
This very popular 8.1 percent imperial stout was made to taste just like Mexican-style hot chocolate. Made with coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate, and a spicy dose of pasilla peppers, this spicy, sweet beer has to be imbibed to be believed.
Spices are up front on this beer’s nose. There are aromas of cinnamon, bitter chocolate, and nutmeg. The palate is loaded with hints of sweet vanilla, freshly brewed coffee, dark chocolate, more cinnamon sugar, and gentle heat from the addition of the pasilla peppers.
This beer has a nice mix of sweetness and heat, but might be a little bolder than some dessert beer drinkers are expecting.
6) Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Average Price: $13 for a six-pack
No dessert beer is complete without Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. This bold, chocolate-filled Russian imperial stout was originally the beer Brooklyn brewmaster Garret Oliver used as his resume beer. It’s known for its roasted malt and over-the-top dark chocolate flavors.
The nose is filled with scents of dark roast coffee, bitter chocolate, raisins, dried cherries, and sticky toffee. Sipping it reveals even more flavors like freshly brewed espresso, dates, fudge, slight hops, and a nice roasted malt backbone that ties everything together.
For a beer that touts itself as a “Black Chocolate Stout,” this beer is surprisingly complex. The complex and nice, fruity flavors pair well with the chocolate and roasted malts.
5) Prairie Sundae Service Imperial Stout
Average Price: $14.50 for a 12-ounce bottle
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more dessert-like beer than Prairie Sundae Service Imperial Stout. That’s because this bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout was literally brewed to taste like a classic hot fudge sundae. Prairie did this by adding chocolate, vanilla, fudge, cherries, peanuts, and even sprinkles.
Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of fudge, vanilla beans, and sweet bourbon before your first sip. This is followed by a palate of butterscotch, buttercream frosting, bourbon, dark chocolate, and a nice, nutty sweetness throughout. It literally tastes like an ice cream sundae in beer form.
This beer would be a little too sweet and indulgent if it wasn’t for the bourbon barrel-aging. The aging adds a gentle warming nature that mellows out all of the overly sweet flavors.
4) The Bruery Bakery Sticky Bun
Average Price: $8 for a 16-ounce can
Placentia, California’s The Bruery is known for its boundary-pushing beers. This is extremely evident in its “Bakery” beers. One of the best is Sticky Bun, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout brewed with maple syrups, vanilla, cinnamon, and pecans.
Not surprisingly, this beer smells like a cinnamon bun. There are welcome aromas of maple candy, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla. The palate swirls with vanilla beans, sticky toffee, butterscotch, cinnamon sugar, freshly brewed coffee, and bitter chocolate. It ends with a nice hit of maple sweetness.
This creamy, flavorful beer is the closest thing you’ll ever get to a stick bun in beer form. It has everything a beer drinker and a fan of sweet breakfast desserts could want.
3) Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break
Average Price: $13 for a four-pack
There’s a reason this is one of Evil Twin’s most popular beers. This 11.5 percent imperial stout is brewed with coffee, vanilla, and almonds flavors. It’s a rich, sweet homage to classic biscotti. It’s one of the best examples of dessert beer on the market.
On the nose, you’ll find a wallop of toasted vanilla beans, French roast coffee, almond cookies, dried fruits, and a good deal of chocolate. The flavor is very complex with notes of amaretto, vanilla cream, raisins, sweet caramel, and bitter chocolate. It’s warming, sweet, and highly memorable.
Evil Twin set out to craft a complex, warming dessert beer that tasted like a classic biscotti in beer form and they did just that. It’s a truly exceptional beer.
2) Burial Skillet Donut Stout
Average Price: Limited Availability
There are numerous doughnut-themed beers on the market and one of the best is Burial Skillet Donut Stout. This breakfast stout is brewed with multiple barley malts, oats, milk, molasses sugars, and coffee beans. It’s everything you could want in a sweet, rich breakfast stout.
When nosing, the first scent that hits your nose is that of freshly brewed coffee. This is followed by roasted malts, treacle, and chocolate. The palate is centered around more roasted coffee beans, cinnamon sugar, molasses, caramel, and dark chocolate.
As the name suggests, this beer tastes like all of the sweet breakfast items paired with a nice, steaming cup of slightly bitter, robust coffee.
1) Great Notion Double Stack
Average Price: $11 for a 16-ounce can
With a name like Double Stack, you sort of know what you’re getting into with this beer. This beloved eleven percent ABV imperial breakfast stout was fermented with maple syrup and aged on roasted coffee beans locally sourced in Oregon. It’s maple and coffee mayhem.
There’s a ton of coffee on this beer’s nose. It’s slightly bitter but very welcoming. There’s also a little hit of maple candy underneath. Taking a sip reveals flavors of chocolate fudge, roasted coffee beans, maple syrup, and toffee. The finish is a mix of maple sweetness and coffee dryness.
Overall, this is a truly great beer.
It was a bit of a toss-up between Burial Skillet and Great Notion Double Stack. Both have a great mix of maple and coffee. Great Notion just balances it a little bit better — making it the dessert beer champ.