Formerly of Royal Oak and now firmly placed in Marshall, ROAK Brewing Co. is known for the mesmerizing patterns on its labels and solid brews. When I was at the Great Lakes Beer Festival earlier this month, one of the beers everyone was talking about was the French Toast Devil Dog. Earlier this year, it won a Silver medal in Alternative Fermentation at the 2022 World Expo of Beer held in Frankenmuth. With this award and the hype at the festival, I knew it had to be good.

When I went to ROAK’s booth at the Great Lakes Beer Festival, they were completely out of the beer. I was shocked! I asked Charles Osberger, the representative from ROAK and Dark Horse Brewing Co, what had happened. He said it was all anyone asked for in the first hour of the festival. Disheartened, I went and enjoyed other beers before stumbling on a six-pack of this Oatmeal Stout in my local beer store. There was one six-pack left, and I snatched it up without much thought.

ICYMI: ROAK acquired Dark Horse in 2019. We had Adam Lambert and John Leone on in early 2020 to talk about the deal and the future of both brands on Episode 210 of Better on Draft.

french toast devil dog oatmeal stout roak brewing

First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the can art. Besides the hypnotic patterns on the can, it outlined the shape of a dog eating a piece of french toast. I’m told by Charles the dog in the label belongs to one of the owners too.

The beer was a deep, dark brown with a rich, driftwood-colored head. The aroma certainly did remind me of french toast and syrup (without the buttery flavors which are undesired in almost all beer).

For flavor, I was a little surprised. While it was undoubtedly a sweet Stout, it wasn’t overly sweet. The maple I picked up in the aroma was quite subtle. Cinnamon and sugar were present on the front end but then dropped off. Toward the end of the flavor and after I swallowed, a toasted bread came through. On exhale, the bitterness and crisped bread remained. Not what I expected, but it was in great balance with the front end of the beer.

All in all, if you like sweet Oatmeal Stouts, you’ll love this beer. Then again, if you’re someone who doesn’t like sweet Stouts because they tend to be one-note drinks, this is one you’ll want to try. It had a surprising complexity that made it one of the most interesting drinks I’ve tried in a while. I can see why it was so popular at the festival and there was only one pack left at the store.

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