Belhaven Scottish Ale: Tarnished brass color. Served with the help of a draught nitro push that produced an overall creamy head and texture. The malt gives this beer a nice caramel-like sweetness, which is balanced nearly evenly by the presence of a good amount of hops.
Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout: This NC beer pours a deep dark brown with a tan head that lasts throughout. The aroma is a mixture of roasted malt with a hint of cocoa. Overall it has a silky mouthfeel with semi-sweet milk chocolate elements and a roasted coffee base.
Foothills People’s Porter: Another North Carolina beer, this pours a dark brown color with a tan head that remains as a ring around the top of the beer throughout. Nice roasted round grain flavors. Touch of licorice in the finish.
Founders Breakfast Stout: If you like coffee, you can skip Starbucks and go straight to this beer. Dark black color with a tan head and plenty of roasted aromas. Wonderful stout flavor notes surrounded by espresso and cocoa with a finish that lingers for quite some time.
Left Hand Milk Stout: Dark black brew with a firm tan head. Nice roasted aroma. Sweet, milk chocolate and vanilla flavors race through this beer.
Maredsous 8: This Belgian abbey ale has a firm, off-white head that remains strong throughout. Rich brown amber color with reddish edges. Nice malty sweet flavor.
Moylan’s Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout: This brew is black as a moonless night. A rich mocha head stays thick throughout and the malty aroma is very inviting. This beer has enormous flavors: roasted sweet malt base, touch of vanilla, espresso, fig and hint of cocoa in the finish.
Pugsley’s Signature Series Shipyard Imperial Porter: Creamy tan head and almost toffee-like nose. Smooth mouthfeel that is not thick or clinging. Bittersweet chocolate flavor in background and nice malt notes throughout.
Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale: This beer has a slightly red hue and a fruity nose. It drinks much stronger than the stated 7 percent alcohol by volume. The flavor characteristics suggest aging in wine casks.
Spaten Optimator: Dark brown color with a thick off white head. Caramel notes emerge early with clear alcohol notes. A good balance of biscuit and dark fruit notes, with hops at the end for balance.
Surly Bender: This oatmeal brown ale with nicely formed coffee and cocoa notes in a smooth package. The malt here makes this a very drinkable beer. For a little different twist, look for Surly Coffee Bender, a full bodied, coffee-flavored beer that delivers all of the java you really need.
Thomas Creek Deep Water Doppelbock Lager: This beer pours with a creamy tan head that laces the glass. Traditional doppelbock mahogany color that glows around the edges. A sweet malt aroma leads to a rich, roasty flavor with hints of cocoa and a substantial malty background.
Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock: This beer opens with a sweet and slightly fruity alcohol aroma, with a rich mahogany color and tan head. The flavor is dominated by caramelized malt and vanilla that surrounds your taste buds, but the finish twists to a slightly tart, dry note.
Rick Lyke is a freelance drinks writer based in Charlotte, NC.