We’re all for a good dessert. So it’s no surprise that we’re also charmed by dessert beers. We’re not talking beers-as-sweets, like a beer float or stout-infused ice cream. We mean brews that hit on those classic dessert elements — sweet, creamy, and right on the razor’s edge of “too rich for their own good.”
Typically porters, stouts, barleywines, or brown ales, this blossoming subgenre of the beer world often features barrel-aging, the addition of sweet elements (like cereal milk, vanilla beans, or actual ice cream), and high ABVs. They’ve also proven to be the perfect platform for cool collaborations and bold inventiveness among the people who make them. Sure, sometimes that creativity goes too far, but it’s also led to many of the gems we’re highlighting today.
Below you’ll find a collection of the most “practically overkill” dessert beers on the market (we have a few outliers in the mix, too). Don’t let that hyperbole scare you off — these beers all get our stamp of approval but do read the “bottom line” so that you know what you’re in for.
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Average Price: $12.99 for a six-pack
This Imperial Russian Stout from Brooklyn brewmaster Garratt Oliver is brewed with six different malts and three mashes. The result is a rich, velvety beer that tastes so much like dark, rich chocolate that you’ll think you’re drinking boozy chocolate syrup.
On the nose, this beer has major chocolate and roasted malt aromas. The first sip is like diving into a pool filled with dark chocolate and caramel. It ends with a long, warming sensation (thank the ABVs for that) and a final hint of hot cocoa.
Drink the first pint to warm you up in winter. Use the second to pour over a bowl of vanilla ice cream for an indulgent treat.
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Average Price: $29.99 for a 750ml bottle
You may have tried the iconic Founders KBS (or Kentucky Breakfast Stout), but have you tested its counterpart, Canadian Breakfast Stout?
For this sweet gem, Founders pours their already bourbon barrel-aged stout into a second round of barrels, which were once filled with maple syrup. Sounds like overkill, right? It veers dangerously close, but we’re happy to report that CBS skirts the line.
Take a whiff and you’ll be greeted with aromas of espresso, chocolate, roasted malts, and subtle maple candy. On the sip, you’ll find flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, rich maple syrup, and brown sugar. In the end, you’ll notice lingering notes of milk chocolate and bourbon.
While Founders KBS is now available year-round, it’s still not easy to get your hands on a bottle (or a few bottles) of CBS. If you do, pair it with a nice stack of pancakes or waffles. Everyone likes breakfast for dinner, right?
Southern Tier Nitro Crème Brûlée Stout
Average Price: $13.99 for a 4-pack
An offering from the brand’s “Blackwater Series,” Nitro Crème Brûlée is… pretty much exactly like it sounds like. It’s a dessert beer that was brewed to taste as much like the classic dessert as possible by adding vanilla beans as well as other natural flavors. The result is a creamy, decadent wonder.
On the nose, you’ll find distinct hints of vanilla beans, caramel, and butterscotch. Take a sip and you’ll be rewarded with flavors of vanilla custard, brown sugar, and rich roasted malts. It all ends with a final mouthful of caramelized sugar and chocolate.
This is the kind of beer you want to pair with a similar dessert. Really take that indulgence-meter up to 11.
Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break
Average Price: $14.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
Evil Twin is known for its innovative and boundary-pushing beers. One of the best examples of the brand’s inventiveness is also its best dessert beer. Imperial Biscotti Break is an imperial stout that was brewed with coffee, almonds, and vanilla.
As you might imagine, this beer is supposed to taste like a classic Italian biscotti. Good news: It absolutely succeeds.
The first fragrance you’ll notice when you fill your pint glass is the unmistakable scent of vanilla beans. This is followed by rich, roasted coffee and a nice hint of almond cookies. The first sip is filled with roasted malts, sweet almonds, and creamy vanilla.
It all ends with a final flourish of sweet coffee and sugar cookies.
We don’t need to tell you that the best dessert to pair with this delicious beer is a decadent almond biscotti made in the traditional Italian style (more “firm” than “crispy” in texture). It’s right there in the name.
Firestone Walker Chocolate Cherry Stout
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack
This limited-edition stout was released earlier this winter. It’s not a barrel-aged beer and it isn’t high in alcohol. But what it lacks in those departments, it makes up for in bold flavor. This stout was brewed with cherries and cocoa nibs to give it a nice mix of sweet and bitter chocolate — for those who like their desserts a little subtler.
You’ll find aromas of roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a nice background of sweet cherries on the nose and those same flavors show up on the palate. The chocolate is prevalent and the cherry flavor, while definitely noticeable, is subtle and not overly cloying. The finish is surprisingly light and ends with a rush of chocolate-covered cherries.
While many of the beers on this list are rich and high in alcohol, this dessert beer is a little lighter in both senses. Enjoy a few after a heavy meal, (almost) guilt-free.
Guinness Imperial Gingerbread Spiced Stout
Average Price: $20 for a six-pack
This bourbon-barrel aged, imperial stout was released this past holiday season. It was brewed with allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg before being aged in former bourbon barrels from Kentucky for four months.
The aromas lean into cinnamon, gingerbread, sugar cookies, and bourbon sweetness. The first sip delivers hints of vanilla, baking spices, and fruit cake. The finish is sweet, velvety, and ends with a final note of warming spice.
Sure, the holidays are long gone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a flavorful, sweet, gingerbread-centric treat, right?
Lindemans Frambois Lambic
Average Price: $10.99 for a 750ml bottle
This one is a pretty sharp departure. You’re not going to drink this beer to get a buzz. You drink it because it’s slightly acidic, bright with fruity and berry flavors, and offers a wonderful palate cleanser after a big meal.
On the nose, you’ll find strong notes of fresh raspberries and crisp red wine. The first sip is tart, slightly acidic, and fills your mouth with more sweet berries. From there… oh, who are we kidding — it’s all berries through and through.
The dessert beer for those who prefer a cheese plate with some cherry preserves and aged gouda.
Funky Buddha French Toast Double Brown Ale
Average Price: $11.99 for a 4-pack
This brown ale is infused with cinnamon and vanilla and tastes almost exactly like the classic breakfast staple in beer form. Not much more to say about it that’s not right in the brew’s name.
No huge surprise here — the nose of this beer is like sniffing a plate of French toast. The aromas are maple, vanilla, and subtle cinnamon. Take a sip and those flavors are layered with rich malts — though sweet vanilla and buttery maple syrup still predominate.
If you really want to get the most out of this beer, you’ll pair it with a fresh, hot stack of French toast with butter, cinnamon, and real Vermont maple syrup. Sometimes overkill is fun.
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Average Price: $11.99 for a six-pack
Compared to other dessert beers on this list, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar is pretty simple. It’s a European-style brown ale with hazelnut flavor. It’s sweet, nutty, and incredibly mellow.
On the nose, you’ll find the distinct smell of hazelnuts reminiscent of amaretto alongside sweet vanilla. The first sip is filled with a nice mix of rich, dark malts, creamy caramel, and vanilla beans. It all ends with a smooth finish full of nutty sweetness.
This low-ABV brew remains decadent, sweet, and well-suited for after dinner drinking. Pair it will a buttery, soft blondie and you’re in for a great evening without too much guilt.
Wicked Weed German Chocolate Cake
Average Price: $14 for a 4-pack
Wicked Weed’s German Chocolate Cake is one of the beers in the brewery’s Guilty Pleasures Imperial Stout Variety 4-pack (along with Milk & Cookies, S’More’s, and Brownie). This indulgent imperial stout was brewed with real chocolate and coconut — resulting in a dark, malty brew that manages to capture the essence of German chocolate cake in a glass.
You’re sure to find aromas of semi-sweet chocolate, roasted malts, and subtle coconut. The first sip is full of vanilla beans, sweet coconut, rich molasses, and dark chocolate. It all ends in a final hint of coffee and rich, milk chocolate.
Grab a Guilty Pleasures variety pack and enjoy all four dessert-like flavors — not at once though… they’re pretty sweet.