There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a pint of Guinness or two on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, we assume you’ll be partaking in this Irish staple while you drape yourself in the Irish flag and drink one too many. But, after you’ve had a few pints of “the black stuff”, we implore you to give another dry Irish stout a try.
For those unaware, a dry Irish stout is known for its darkly roasted barley. This is what gives it its dry, roasty, chocolate, coffee, and lightly bitty flavor and differentiates it from other stout styles. On top of that, a traditional Irish dry stout is also brewed with specific hops such as Challenger, Fuggle, and East Kent Goldings.
A popular beer in Ireland, there are also myriad great examples in the U.S. beer world. This is why we selected eight great dry Irish stouts that aren’t Guinness and ranked them. Some are from Ireland, and some are from the U.S. All are dry, roasty, and well-suited for St. Patrick’s Day.
8) Breckenridge Nitro Irish Stout
Average Price: $10 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
One of the most popular dry Irish stouts in the American beer landscape, Breckenridge Nitro Irish Stout is a year-round beer brewed with traditional Irish malts. Crafted in the “old-world” style, it’s known for its roasted barley, chocolate, and malt flavor.
The aroma is fairly light with a mix of roasted malts and chocolate. You really have to concentrate to really find anything notable. The palate continues this trend. There are some lightly roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel malts. The finish is dry and lightly bitter. But overall, it’s surprisingly watery.
While this beer has all the traditional dry Irish stout aromas and flavors. Still, it’s all fairly muted and watery.
7) O’Hara’s Irish Stout
Average Price: $9 for a four-pack
O’Hara’s award-winning flagship beer is its dry Irish Stout. Brewed since 1999, it’s brewed with roasted malts and Fuggle hops. The result is a traditional dark, coffee, chocolate, and roast malt-filled beer with light hop bitterness.
On the nose, you’ll find aromas of bitter chocolate, roasted malts, and light caramel. It’s fairly muted though. The palate is slightly better with more roasted malts, vanilla beans, dried fruits, coffee, and dry, bitter hops.
Another beer that hits on all the flavors, but is just a little light and water for our liking. This dry Irish stout is just okay. It’s decent, but not overly memorable.
6) Left Hand Dry Irish Stout Nitro
Average Price: $15 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans
A great example of an Americanized version of the traditional dry Irish stout, Left Hand Dry Irish Stout is brewed with 2-row barley, Black barley, Chocolate barley, Munich malt, and rolled oats. It gets its bitter, floral flavor from the addition of Apollo hops.
A nose of coffee beans, roasted malts, chocolate, and vanilla beans draws you in. The mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy and rich with notes of coffee, roasted barley, vanilla, chocolate, and a light nutty sweetness. The finish is dry and pleasantly bitter.
Another beer that loses points because it’s a little thinner than you’d hope, Left Hand Dry Irish Stout is still a pretty good take on the style.
5) Murphy’s Irish Stout
Average Price: $8 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
While Guinness is undoubtedly the most popular dry Irish stout, Murphy’s is arguably the second most popular. Brewed with simple, traditional ingredients like water, malted barley, barley, and hop extract. This dry, bitter, chocolate-filled beer gets added creaminess from the addition of nitrogen.
Bitter chocolate, freshly brewed coffee, roasted malts, vanilla beans, and bready malts start the nose off right. Drinking it reveals more chocolate, roasted malts, brown sugar, yeasty bread, and a dry, bitter finish. It’s flavorful, but not all that exciting.
This is a great replacement for Guinness as it’s a classic dry Irish stout. It’s no frills and loaded with classic flavors.
4) North Coast Old No. 38
Average Price: $12 for a six-pack
This dry Irish stout comes from the brewers at Fort Bragg, California’s North Coast Brewing. It gets its name from a now-retired California Western Railroad steam engine. This award-winning beer is known for its toasted malts, coffee, caramel, and roasted barley flavors.
Bold aromas of freshly brewed coffee, dark chocolate, toasted malts, vanilla, and light floral hops greet you before your first sip. Drinking it brings forth more bitter chocolate, roasted barley, brown bread, caramel, vanilla, and a dry, pleasantly bitter chocolate finish.
This beer has everything an Irish dry stout fan could want. It’s dry, smooth, and loaded with dark, bold flavors.
3) Societe The Pugilist
Average Price: $13 for a six-pack
You don’t have to be a boxer to enjoy this award-winning dry Irish stout. Made to taste like the traditional stouts of Ireland, it’s known for its mix of roasted malts, chocolate, smoky, coffee, and dry, bitter hop flavors. Simple, elegant, and well-made.
An intriguing nose of dark chocolate, coffee, oats, vanilla, and gentle smoke greets you before taking your first sip. On the palate, you’ll find hints of roasted barley, toasted malts, caramel, and coffee. Dry, lightly smoky, and highly drinkable.
Societe The Pugilist is a nice take on the dry Irish stout. It’s dry, lightly bitter, and filled with coffee and chocolate flavors. The addition of gentle smoke only adds to the overall flavor profile.
2) Pure Project Milagro
Average Price: $6 for a 16-ounce can
San Diego is home to so many great breweries, it’s difficult to stand out. Pure Project is one of those breweries that’s definitely standing out. This is especially true with its Pure Project Milagro, a dry Irish stout brewed with Costa Rican organic coffee and Tahitian vanilla beans.
A complex nose of toasted vanilla beans, dark chocolate, roasted malts, toffee, and freshly brewed coffee meets your nose prior to your first taste. Sipping it reveals notes of sweet, floral vanilla, toasted barley, butterscotch, bitter chocolate, and bolder, coffee beans.
This definitely isn’t your traditional dry Irish stout and that’s okay. This vanilla and coffee bomb is a great change of pace from the usual Guinness.
1) Zero Gravity Extra Stout
Average Price: $12 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
This highly complex, pitch black, 5.9% ABV dry Irish stout was brewed with Maris Otter, roasted barley, Pale Chocolate, Chocolate, Black barley, Carafa III, Pale Crystal, Crystal, and flaked barley. It’s also brewed with house ale yeast and gets its classic stout bitterness from the addition of East Kent Goldings hops.
Notes of roasted malts, toasted barley, cocoa powder, coffee beans, vanilla, and light, floral hops are prevalent on the nose. The palate is butterscotch, bitter chocolate, vanilla beans, toasted barley, and espresso beans. Dry, sweet, subtly bitter, and highly memorable.
When it comes to US-made dry Irish stouts, you’ll have a hard time finding a better, more complex example than Zero Gravity Extra Stout.