72 Chicago Stouts, Blind-Tasted: 2019

Chicago's 20 Best Stouts: 2019

THE TOP 20 OF 72 CHICAGOLAND STOUTS, BLIND-TASTED AND SCORED

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On March 1st, we gathered 50 friends in beer–from the industry and otherwise–to our studio to blind-taste and score 72 of Chicago’s best stouts, from 49 different breweries from the city and suburbs. Aptly dubbed “Stout Night”, this was the third iteration of our tasting. And for 2019, we revised our ranking system slightly…

Last year, we had capped the lineup at an even 50 beer entries, and accounted for any interpretation of the style. From 3.8% session stouts to 15% barrel-aged bruisers, we had it all. This time around, we invited every previous participant back, as well as an open call to other Chicagoland breweries to submit their stouts, up to one of each, across three different categories: 1) Low-Gravity (Non-barrel-aged, less than 7.5%), 2) High-Gravity (Non-barrel-aged, higher than 7.5%), and 3) Barrel-aged (Any interpretation or adjunct).

Some previous brewery participants chose not to enter this year, or did not have a stout available at the time of our tasting. Other breweries submitted for the first time. In the end, we had a wide-ranging lineup of 72 beers, all of which were tasted blind and scored via BJCP Guidelines on aroma, mouthfeel, flavor and overall impression, out of a possible 30 points.

The following are the results of the top-scoring beers from each of the three categories. Enjoy!


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Top 5 Low-Gravity Stouts

(NON-BARREL-AGED BEERS, LOWER THAN 7.5% ABV)

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1. Spiteful Brewing – Mrs. O'Leary's

CHICAGO, IL / 7.0% / MILK STOUT

2. Adams Street Brewery – Milk Stout

CHICAGO, IL / 5.8% / MILK STOUT

3. On Tour Brewing Co. – Grind

CHICAGO, IL / 6.5% / COFFEE STOUT

4. Pollyanna Brewing Co. – Coffee Fun Size

LEMONT, IL / 6.1% / COFFEE STOUT

5. Short Fuse Brewing – German Chocolate Cake

SCHILLER PARK, IL / 6.5% / MILK STOUT

Honorable Mentions

Solemn Oath Brewery / Most Important Beverage of the Day / 7.2% / Coffee milk stout
Old Irving Brewing Co. / Champurrado Krampus / 6.5% / Milk stout


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Top 5 High-Gravity Stouts

(NON-BARREL-AGED BEERS, HIGHER THAN 7.5% ABV)

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1. Penrose Brewing Co. – Samoa Stout

GENEVA, IL / 11.5% / IMPERIAL PASTRY STOUT

2. Mikerphone Brewing – Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit Peanut Butter

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL / 11.5% / IMPERIAL COFFEE STOUT

3. Spiteful Brewing – Malevolence Chocolate Caliente

CHICAGO, IL / 10.5% / RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT

4. Roaring Table Brewing Co. – Suburnt Mirth Dessert #2

LAKE ZURICH, IL / 9.5% / RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT

5. Hubbard's Cave – Coco Van

SKOKIE, IL / 12.0% / IMPERIAL STOUT


Honorable MentionS

Begyle Brewing Co. / Imperial Pajamas / 9.8% / Imperial stout
Hopewell Big Cold Brew / 9.0% / Imperial coffee stout


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Top 10 Barrel-Aged Stouts

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1. Half Acre Beer Co. – Double Barrel Benthic

CHICAGO, IL / 14.0% / BOURBON/APPLE BRANDY BA STOUT

2. Goose Island Beer Co. – Bourbon County Brand Stout Reserve 2018

CHICAGO, IL / 15.2% / BBA IMPERIAL STOUT


3. Pollyanna Brewing Co. –
BBA Imperial Fun Size

LEMONT, IL / 13.5% / BBA IMPERIAL STOUT


4. Mikerphone Brewing/More Brewing Co. –
BA Vanillanoize

ELK GROVE VILLAGE/VILLA PARK, IL / 11.2% / RYE BA STOUT


5. Lake Effect Brewing Co. –
Niagara Falls

CHICAGO, IL / 10.5% / BBA OATMEAL STOUT


6. Revolution Brewing –
Café Deth 2018

CHICAGO, IL / 14.8% / BBA COFFEE STOUT


7. Middle Brow Beer Co. –
Rye BA Milk-Eyed Mender

CHICAGO, IL / 11.5% / BA IMPERIAL STOUT


8. 18th Street Brewing –
Typeset

HAMMOND, IN / 10.5% / BA MILK STOUT


9. Pipeworks Brewing Co. –
The Coconut Jones Dog

CHICAGO, IL / 13.0% / BBA IMPERIAL STOUT


10. Begyle Brewing Co. –
Rye Whiskey BA Snooze Button

CHICAGO, IL / 13.6% / RYE BA STOUT

Honorable MentionS

Solemn Oath Brewery / BA Goldmund / 10.0% / BA Imperial Mexican chocolate stout
Side Lot Brewery / Distinguished Gentleman / 12.5% / BA Russian imperial stout


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2019 BEST IN SHOW

Half Acre Beer Co. – Double Barrel Benthic

From the onset of this tasting, we had an inkling that this beer would fare well. It’s a bourbon & apple brandy barrel-aged imperial stout with coconut & cinnamon, and if that doesn’t sound like a mouthful, well…it is. This is one of the more interesting and memorable stouts you might ever sample. As the name suggests, it first sits in apple brandy barrels for months, before transferring to bourbon barrels to continue its rest. The result is a layered, apple cinnamon, cidery sweet-up-front stout that finishes with a bourbon oaky warmth. We hope that this is a beer you’ll get to sip at some point or another...

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OVERALL Runner-up

Goose Island Beer Co. – BCBS Reserve (2018)

After taking top prize for two years straight, BCBS finished runner-up in our 2019 tasting, we can assure you by the slimmest of scoring margins. Tried and true, this variant that aged in 12-year-old Elijah Craig Bourbon barrels is as warming and full-bodied as they come.


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Thanks to all of the 2019 Participating Breweries:
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18th Street
Adams Street
Alter
Around the Bend
Band of Bohemia
Begyle
Bixi
Burnt City
Corridor
Cruz Blanca
Crystal Lake
DryHop
Empirical
Finch
Forbidden Root
Gino's
Goose Island
Greenstar
Half Acre
Haymarket
Hopewell
Hubbard's Cave
Illuminated

LaGrow
Lake Effect
Lo Rez
Marz
Middle Brow
Mikerphone
Miskatonic
Noon Whistle
Old Irving
On Tour
Open Outcry
Penrose
Pipeworks
Pollyanna
Revolution
Roaring Table
Short Fuse
Side Lot
Sketchbook
Solemn Oath
Spiteful
Temperance
Urban Renewal
Wild Onion

 

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Photography by Michael Hubatch