Guinness is often a safe bet when going out for a pint or picking up a four-pack at the store. But, what if you had enough Guinness during St. Patrick’s Day and want to try out a new stout?
The best beers to try if you like Guinness are Murphy’s Irish Stout, Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout, Mast Landing Gunner’s Daughter, O’Hara’s Irish Stout, North Coast Brewing Old No. 38, and Rogue Chocolate Stout Nitro. Similar styles to Guinness include milk stouts, porters, brown ales, and black lagers, as well as a few other darker beer styles.
Continue reading for specific beer alternatives and some other beer styles to try if you like Guinness, plus tasting notes for Guinness itself.
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What type of beer is Guinness?
Guinness Draught is one of the most recognizable beers in the world. Guinness even claims they sell more than 1.8 billion pints every year! If you’re a beer drinker, chances are you’ve enjoyed one yourself, but what makes it so special?
Guinness is an Irish dry stout, featuring the style’s signature combination of bitter and sweet with noticeable roasted and coffee flavors. Guinness is brewed with roasted and malted barley, hops, yeast, and water. The beer is then nitrogenated for a smoother mouthfeel and has a noticeably dark body with a creamy white head and a 4.2% ABV.
Originally created in Dublin, Ireland at St. James’ Gate, this beer can be found anywhere in the US in nitrogenated cans and bottles. The beer can also be found in kegs at certain retailers.
Guinness is such a staple in Ireland that founder Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for St. James’ Gate brewery in December 1759, of which Guinness still pays 45 pounds a month to rent.
Guinness also brews different versions of the beer, such as Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Blonde.
Flavor profile and tasting notes
Guinness Draught is perhaps the most notable beer in the Irish dry stout style. Its roasted and malted barley ingredients give the beer a taste that fits the style’s bill.
Guinness has a toasted taste of malt and barley with a sweet and bitter blend. It has coffee notes on the mouth and nose with slight hop bitterness. It has a rich and creamy mouthfeel, courtesy of the nitrogen used.
For everything you need to know about Guinness’ taste, origin and ingredients, check out our recent comprehensive article on Guinness.
Other stouts similar to Guinness
If you’re looking to expand your stout beer horizon, there are plenty of tasty options to try that are similar to Guinness.
Here are the best stouts to try if you like Guinness:
- Guinness Extra Stout
- Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
- Murphy’s Irish Stout
- Left Hand Milk Stout
- Mast Landing Gunner’s Daughter
- O’Hara’s Irish Stout
- North Coast Old No. 38
- Rogue Chocolate Stout Nitro
Let’s look at each of these beers in detail!
Guiness Extra Stout
Guinness Extra Stout is based on the brewer’s original 1821 Guinness recipe.
It is a medium, well-balanced stout with the signature roasted flavor with a crisp barley flavor not found in the Draught. It is not as smooth as the Draught, but has a slight bite with a dry finish.
Due to the brewing method, it is also a slightly stronger beer than the Draught, with a 5.6% ABV to the other’s 4.2%.
While it may not be as iconic as the Guinness Draught, the Extra Stout is readily available at most beer retailers, although it may not be as common in restaurants.
Guiness Foreign Extra Stout
The Guinness Foreign Extra Stout was originally brewed with additional hops to ensure its ability to survive the long, hot voyage to the West Indies in the early nineteenth century – thus the “foreign” name.
This is a much stronger, fruitier beer than the classic Draught, but you’ll still find the signature roasted flavors and rich, dark coloring. Where the Draught perfectly balances the sweet and the bittersweet, this beer leans heavily into its bitter fruitiness and you’ll find a pleasant smokiness toward the end.
The extra hops in this brew make it the strongest drink of the lot, with a 7.5% ABV.
Although it’s not for everyone, consider picking up an Extra Stout from your local beer retailer, although you’re unlikely to find it on tap outside of the occasional Irish pub.
Murphy’s Irish Stout
A very similar beer to Guinness is Murphy’s.
This Irish stout has a similar taste to Guinness in that it contains notes of coffee and sweet, roasted malt. It’s brewed with malted and unmalted barley, hop extract, and it’s also brewed with nitrogen. It has a more bitter taste than Guinness and, at an even 4.0%, a slightly lower ABV.
Murphy’s can be found in cans at pretty much any beer retailer. It can be found in bars and restaurants but it’s often picked second to Guinness.
Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout
If you love Guinness, but you’re looking for something slightly more complex, you can’t go wrong with the Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.
Also nitrogenated, this milk stout has a smooth mouthfeel with notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and cinnamon sugar. It’s made with 2-row, Crystal, and Chocolate Munich malts, oats, barley, CTZ, and US Golding hops.
Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout has a 6% ABV and can be found almost anywhere, including bars and restaurants.
Mast Landing Gunner’s Daughter
Mast Landing Gunner’s Daughter is a nitrogenated milk stout that has rich and salty notes of peanut butter and coffee with hints of chocolate. It pours a very dark brown with a brown, off-white head. It’s brewed with natural flavors and has a 5.5% ABV.
Gunner’s Daughter can be found across the US in different craft beer stores.
O’Hara’s Irish Stout
For a stout that leans heavily into the style’s signature coffee notes, try O’Hara’s Irish Stout.
This dry Irish stout contains complex flavors of chocolate, espresso, and roasted malt. It’s brewed with a large amount of Fuggle hops for a dry and bitter finish to complement the espresso notes. It’s brewed with an “extra pinch” of barley.
This stout clocks in at 4.3% ABV and can be found in kegs, bottles, or new, nitrogenated cans at most beer stores. It’s tough to find one at a bar or restaurant.
North Coast Old No. 38
This Irish dry stout is brewed with roasted barley and offers a coffee and roasted malt taste. It’s slightly bitter and finishes dry. It’s dark brown in color with an off-white, brown head. The aroma contains notes of roasted nuts.
Old No. 38 has a 5.4% ABV with 53 IBUs. It can be found in bottles in the Northwestern US and less commonly in beer stores across the country. As for bars and restaurants, good luck trying this beer in either.
Rogue Chocolate Stout Nitro
Rogue’s nitro chocolate stout is heavy on the chocolate flavors.
The slight chocolate bitterness comes out in the smoothness of this nitrogenated stout. Hints of roasted malt and barley pair up with the chocolate for a sweet, toasted taste that has just the right amount of bitterness. A well-balanced stout.
This 5.8% beer can be found year-round in cans and at craft beer retailers across the US, and on draft at bars and restaurants.
Other beer styles you might like if you love Guinness
If you like Guinness, you’re probably drawn to the sweet-bitter balance and the roasted malt notes. In that case, there are several other types of beers you may be interested in trying.
Here are some beer styles you might like if you enjoy Guinness:
- Milk Stouts
- Brown Ales
- Black Lagers
- Bocks and Doppelbocks
Let’s dive in and see what these styles are like and why you might like them!
Milk stouts are the most similar in overall flavor to Guinness’s dry Irish style.
Milk stouts have a high malt sweetness with notes of chocolate and caramel. These beers are black in color and are sweeter than they are bitter. They finish less dry than Irish stouts tend to and range in ABV from 3-6%.
For more information about milk stouts (plus 10 of the best to try this year), check out this article!
Porters contain a roasted malt flavor – similar to Guinness.
They’re a tad on the caramel side of sweetness but they maintain the balanced bitterness that’s attributed to stouts like Guinness, and the predominant coffee flavor is reminiscent of the roasted barley notes. These beers are generally milder than stouts but have a higher ABV – typically 5.1-6.6%.
Brown ales are similar to porters.
They’re heavy on the chocolate and caramel notes with less bitterness and usually a thinner mouthfeel. Brown ales are often brewed with caramel and crystal malt to give them even more sweetness than other dark beer styles, and they’re very similar in taste to Guinness.
They range in ABV, anywhere from 3.8-6.3%.
If you like Guinness, you’ll like black lagers.
These paradoxically light and drinkable black beers boast less fruity esters. Instead, they offer a sharper bitterness to play with the toasted flavors from the roasted and black malts. They’re thin in mouthfeel and have an ABV between 3.8-4.9%.
Rauchbiers – or smoked beers – come in many different forms.
Most often, it’s the stouts, porters, and darker ales or lagers that get the smoked treatment, because their roasted flavors complement the smoky, campfirey taste of rauchbiers.
They have similar aromatic and tasting notes to Guinness, and can range widely in ABV.
Want to know more about smoky beers? Check out this article for the full taste profile and four of the best!
Dunkels are dark beers with notes of chocolate, caramel, and roasted malt – all similar to Guinness.
They have more of a breaded, biscuit taste and aroma than the aforementioned styles, but still offer a balance between sweet and bitter. The ABV range for these beers is small at 4.8-5.3%.
Bocks and Doppelbocks
Bocks have notes of caramel, whereas doppelbocks do not.
They each offer a heavy roasted taste and smell, with a high malty sweetness. Bocks are more bitter than doppelbocks. They have a high ABV with an overall range of 6.3-7.9%.