For some beer lovers, nothing compares to a pint of the Black Stuff this time of year, but we decided to see if any Michigan-made stouts could give Guinness a run for its money. With more than 350 breweries in Michigan and with online alcohol sales up 80 percent during the pandemic, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Guinness alternatives this St. Patrick’s Day while supporting our wonderful local breweries.
With so many different flavor combinations, our stout selections are sure to please a variety of palettes. Admittedly, there is a lot of coffee and chocolate represented here, because those flavors go so well with stouts, but there may be a few surprises as well. Without further ado, here are several of our favorite stouts – Guinness alternatives – made in Michigan.
For chocoholics: Founders KBS Maple Mackinac Island Fudge – Grand Rapids
We had to kick things off with a staple of our state. Nothing is more Michigan than Mackinac Island Fudge, and this beer totally does it justice. Aged in oak bourbon barrels with coffee and maple notes, this is the chocolatiest beer of them all. Grab a bottle and reminisce of summers spent on its namesake island.
For espresso fiends: Brew Detroit Maple Espresso Stout – Detroit
Continuing with the maple theme, this stout is brewed with Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company Hydro espresso and maple syrup. It is aged in Detroit City Distillery Bourbon Barrels for over nine months. Sweet with strong coffee notes, this imperial stout will please the espresso lover in you.
For sweet tooths: Founders Big Luscious – Grand Rapids
Surprisingly, this chocolate raspberry offering from Grand Rapids’ famous brewery is sweet but not too filling. It definitely feels like drinking dessert, but it is very balanced, with tartness from the raspberry and decadence from the dark chocolate. Even if you don’t have a huge sweet tooth, this one is worth a try.
For bourbon buffs: New Holland Brewing Co Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout – Holland
According to the company, Dragon’s Milk is America’s number-one selling bourbon barrel-aged stout. I don’t envy whoever has to milk that dragon, because this stuff is STRONG. Roasted malt delivers notes of coffee and chocolate married with sweet undertones of vanilla and oak from a three month sojourn in bourbon barrels. Occasionally, the brewery releases “reserve” versions of Dragon’s Milk, such as s’mores, vanilla chai, and stroopwafel.
For peanut butter lovers: Big Lake Brewing Imperial Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout – Holland
Another option for a dessert beer, this imperial stout offers what its name promises: a big, sweet, dark, chocolate, peanut butter bomb. It’s strong and malty, which the familiar flavors of chocolate and peanut butter complement nicely.
For adventurers: Eastern Market Brewing Co White Coffee Stout – Detroit
OKAY, this one hits different. Apparently, white stouts rely on chocolate and coffee for flavor (this one has both), rather than the roasted malt that also creates the dark color in traditional stouts. Reminiscent of mead or a wheat beer, this is for those who want something truly different. This stout uses coffee from Great Lakes Roasting Co, and cocoa nibs give the impression of a sweet white mocha.
For s’more connoisseurs: Grand Armory Brewing Co Fluffer Nutter Peanut Butter Marshmallow Stout – Grand Haven
This milk stout, with its marshmallow and caramel notes, is one of a kind. Milk stouts (also sometimes called “cream” stouts) are dark beers brewed with lactose, a type of milk sugar. Apparently, lactose does not ferment when exposed to beer yeast, and so it lends this style of brew a subtle sweetness. Grab your camping gear and take this one along, because it will make you pine for nights spent outside by a campfire.
For malt mavens: Bell’s Expedition Stout – Kalamazoo
Whew nelly, this is a strong one! The brewery claims that it is one of the earliest examples of Russian imperial stouts in the United States. With a rich malty flavor, the Expedition Stout has complex flavors, including a blend of chocolate, dark fruit, and other aromas. If you don’t drink it right away, that’s ok. It’s meant to age over time as the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth.
For coffee addicts: Brew Detroit Cold Brew Detroit Stout – Detroit
This is far and away the favorite of the bunch, which, given the popularity that cold brew coffee has enjoyed over the last several months, is not that much of a surprise. This stout contains fresh-steeped Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company Motor City blend, with the addition of flaked oats. A smooth and roasty brew for any coffee lover.
We hope this gives you some inspiration to try some made-in-Michigan Guinness alternatives for St. Patrick’s Day. Special thanks to Livonia Fine Wine and Liquor for their help in selecting our stouts!