Ghostfish Brewing Watchstander Stout

Ghostfish Brewing Watchstander Stout

Winter Seasonal Brewed in Seattle

This is the first time I’ve written about the Watchstander Stout by Ghostfish Brewing. I am told the recipe has been tweaked this year, so if you tried it in past seasons, this year’s brew may present a slightly new experience for you.

Ghostfish Brewing Watchstander Stout

Stouts are viewed as difficult in the gluten free beer world. Not that it can’t be done–there are some phenomenal ones out there that are 100% gluten free form start to finish. But they are difficult. It takes effort to recreate the body that we expect in a dark beer with the lighter nature of alternative grains and extracts. But lucky for us, there are many breweries up to the challenge.

Tonight, we will taste Ghostfish Brewing’s only bottle-release Stout, one of their darkest offerings. This beer is released seasonally in late fall/early winter in 22 ounce bottles. The Watchstander Stout won a gold medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, a recognition earned by their older recipe.

Ghostfish Brewing Watchstander Stout

The Taste Test

2017 Watchstander Stout

This beer foams beautifully, forming a very attractive head that lingers. It’s dark–but it’s not opaque, meaning you can see light and shapes through it when you hold it up. It smells of espresso and chocolate…a bittersweet combination that is the likely reason for my love of stouts.

The body is not quite as heavy as one would expect when looking at the color and the texture of the pour. It’s delightfully bitter–but not at all sharp, with subtle sweetness, and heavy notes of chocolate. This ale drinks incredibly smooth for a stout. It rides that line of dinner beer and dessert beer quite nicely, making it suitable for either.

Ghostfish Brewing Watchstander Stout

The Watchstander is brewed from malted millet, brown rice, and buckwheat. It holds a 6.5% ABV and 30 IBU. I do love the addition of buckwheat in my brews. I find it adds a smooth, earthy quality to gluten free ales.

Although I wouldn’t describe this beer as “heavy”, it does have a distinct velvety texture that makes it extremely easy-drinking. I think if I got to choose though, I would take a little more thickness in the body, although that would likely shift it into the after-dinner beer category for me…and I am enjoying it alongside my dinner at the moment.

Ghostfish Brewing Watchstander Stout

Who makes your favorite winter stout? Have you had the opportunity to try Ghostfish’s Watchstander? If so, I would love to hear what you thought of it. You can comment your thoughts below, or you can shoot me an email at


Until next time…cheers!




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Gluten free since 2011. An unapologetically passionate dancer of many paths. Lover of thunderstorms, golden retrievers, and AMAZING craft beer. Bitter and hoppy is my jam.★

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