What is a White Stout (And What Do They Taste Like?)

A white stout sounds like an oxymoron. How can a stout be white? While this style may be confusing if you’ve never heard of it the style is alive and quite tasty!

A White Stout is a light-colored beer similar to a blonde ale in appearance but similar to a cream or outmeal stout in flavor and mouthfeel. White stouts typically have coffee, chocolate, and vanilla flavor notes with less bitterness or roasted character compared to typical dark stouts.

Though the idea of a white stout may be a joke to some, much thought goes into the style. The question is what is a white stout and is it really a style?

What does a white stout taste like?

The flavor of a white stout can vary a little depending on the skill and choices of the brewer. As with all brewing, there is more than one way to make a specific style of beer. 

White stouts taste like coffee, chocolate, and vanilla, similar to a milk stout. Most have a creamy mouthfeel and smooth body. Brewers typically aim for common stout flavors such as roast bitterness.

Some white stouts can also include notes of caramel and toasty bread. It all depends on what the brewer can include while keeping the characteristic light coloration. This lends itself to experimentation.

What makes a white stout a stout?

If there is variation, it raises the question of what unites the style. What is it that makes a beer a white stout? While the answer is simple, it does leave it open to interpretation.

A white stout is any beer that has a light color, exhibits the flavors of a traditional stout or milk stout, and is mid-strength to strong in regard to ABV. 

There is no official definition of a white stout, but a beer with the above three characteristics is generally accepted to be a white stout.

The coloration does not have to be as pale as possible. It can range from pale straw to pale amber, certainly no darker than 15 SRM or so.

The flavors of a white stout depend on what the brewer thinks of when they think of a stout. Though this varies, there are some commonly accepted flavors. They include: 

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Caramel
  • Toasted bread

Lastly, the ABV of a white stout can range anywhere from 4.5% to 8%. The most common ABV range is 5-6% for a white stout.

What type of beer is a white stout?

At the moment, white or pale stout is not a recognized type of beer by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) or the Brewer’s Association Beer Style Guide. This leaves classification up to the community of brewers involved.

Many argue that a white stout is a blonde ale that emulates some stout flavors. This reduces the beer to its coloration. It is more accurate to say it is a cream or oatmeal stout based on the flavors present that has the coloration of a blonde ale.

The type of beer you classify a white stout as depends on what aspect of a beer you consider the most important to its characterization. A white stout tastes like a cream or oatmeal stout but looks like a blonde ale.

This is particularly true of the white stouts, where the brewer was less concerned about keeping it light in color.

What is the difference between a stout and a white stout?

The modern idea of a stout is pretty clear. There are certain characteristics they all have: dark color, roasted malt flavors, and mid to high strength. Then there are the characteristics that stouts generally do not have: fruity flavors, light color, and excessive hop profiles.

White stouts differ from stouts due to their color and resulting flavor profiles. Although white stouts emulate the flavor profile of a stout, there are often a few notes missing. This is simply due to the differences in recipes. The coloration difference is a deliberate choice.

It is possible to get very close to what we think of as a stout with a white stout. That said, it is difficult to match without using the same dark malts that give stouts their dark color.

This, however, doesn’t matter as much when you consider the traditional reason a beer was labeled “stout”. All stout used to mean was that the beer was stout or strong. If a white stout has a decent ABV, then it is a stout.

Who makes a white stout beer – best ones to try in 2023

Of course, you must try this beer style to believe it. Here are some of the best to try.

  • Naughty Sauce – Noble Ale Works
  • Ivory White Stout – Brew Link
  • Golden Stout With Coffee – Karl Strauss Brewing

Naughty Sauce – Noble Ale Works

This Anaheim, California-based brewery made this white stout with Playground DTSA and Portola Coffee. It is a 5.5% ABV beer that pours golden and has coffee, caramel, and vanilla notes.

Ivory White Stout – Brew Link

Ivory “White” stout is brewed in Plainfield, Indiana. It has 4.8% ABV with chocolate, coffee, and vanilla notes. Find this beer at the Oak Tree golf course.

Golden Stout With Coffee – Karl Strauss Brewing

Last but not least is the Golden Stout with Coffee. This golden stout was brewed with Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. It has notes of coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. Find this 7.5% ABV brew in San Deigo, California.