Oatmeal stouts are the Snuggies of winter beers: depending on the concentration of oats, the beers’ textures range from silky to downright pillowy, hugging the mouth with roasty, dark grains. On cold winter evenings—or mornings—it’s hard to find a more comforting sip. But like a security blanket, it’s tempting to reach for the same, tried-and-true oatmeal stouts (no disrespect to Samuel Smith’s version, of course). If you haven’t yet tried these six, it’s time to shake up your routine: These are all lush and lively, with all of oatmeal’s signature softness but little of the heft.
Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat: This cream stout pours with huge, colalike bubbles, offering a nose that’s a dead ringer for Cheerios. Complex roasted flavors bring to mind both coffee and toasted oatmeal, with pleasantly low bitterness. The sessionable 5% ABV is an added bonus.
New Glarus Road Slush: On the earthy end of the spectrum, this stout has a nose like wet dirt (in the best way) and light coffee roasts. Medium-bodied with prickly bubbles, it tastes super fresh and mellow with a hint of meaty smoke. Notes of coffee roast and the aforementioned smoke make this a no-brainer brunch beer.
Ipswich Oatmeal Stout: This complex brew gives off chocolate-covered raspberry aromas, but there are even more flavors that develop on the tongue; pick out coffee roast and lightly acidic blackberry juice for starters. A creamy mouthfeel invites more exploration.
Madison River Black Ghost Oatmeal Stout: This lightly roasted stout is characterized by unexpectedly savory flavors of mushroom and earth, a total umami trip. Pour a bottle of this in a slow cooker with beef and creminis and you’d have an awesome stew—just don’t forget to hang on to another bottle for drinking.
Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis: Toasted oats and chocolate blossom in the nose. Chocolate runs over the tongue before unexpected earthy hops emerge. Vanilla adds a spice note rather than sweetness, underscoring the hop character.
Barrelhouse Stout: This 96-point silky stunner’s our highest-rated oatmeal stout ever. Peanuts, toasted oats and cocoa team up aromatically, while the silky sip introduces sweet molasses and nuttiness for a peanut butter cup effect. The swallow is so soft, it evokes a nitro pour.