1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Instigator - Sly Fox Brewing Company

Not Rated.
InstigatorInstigator

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

56 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 56
Reviews: 47
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 8.38%
Wants: 4
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Sly Fox Brewing Company visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Doppelbock |  7.30% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerBeing on 04-09-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 56 | Reviews: 47
Photo of kylehay2004
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the tasting room in Pottstown, PA

A: half finger head on a clear deep amber body. Nice lacing.

S: aroma is light with caramel malts and toffee mostly.

T: spices and herbal throughout. The spiciness is what I want from the style with the malt backbone well represented proving caramel toffee and brown sugar notes.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: the malt profile is excellent. The notes as above don't mesh well though to make this a great bock.

Photo of drabmuh
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer served on draft at the Goat races at Sly Fox. Beer is dark brown with a mild haze, thin tan head, low retention, low carbonation, no lacing.

Aroma is malt malt malt. Smells like a doppelbock.

Beer is medium in body and pretty malty sweet throughout. The finish is a little dry, overall a decent doppelbock and I'd probably have it again.

Photo of meatyard
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear mahogany with a short, tan head that shrinks down quickly to a cover while leaving little to no lace.
The smell is roasted malt and a little dark fruit.
The taste is toasted sweet (but not over the top sweet) malt, brown sugar and a little bit of dark fruit.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation drops off to quite low.
Drinkability: Not complex, not as flavorful as some but still a nice drinking beer that a 22 oz. bottle is pleasant enough. Not a Sly Fox best but good and if some tweaking added more flavor it would jump up a notch.

Photo of garuda
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Ruby brown, nearly black with a small white head that has decent retention and little lacing.

S - Nice strong aromas of roasted malts, and a touch of earthy, grassy hops.

T - Follows the nose, stays on roasted character malts, and some coffee in the lingering aftertaste.

M - Full body, low carbonation, nice and creamy smooth across the palate.

D - Goes down very smooth, and the alcohol is very well hidden. The abv will catch up to you quick. A solid offering from Sly Fox.

Photo of BeerGodz
3.44/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap @ Varga Bar

Look: Deep ruby/brown color, creamy tan head with decent retention & lacing

Smell: Malt, caramel

Taste: Malt, brown sugar from beginning to end

Mouthfeel: Medium body & carbonation, sticky

Drinkability: Light flavors make this a good session beer

Overall Impression: Not as flavorful or as complex as the better German examples, but still a good local beer worth sampling. Great beer for Newbeez!

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle served in a glass beer mug.

Caramel color with a fizzy beige head that thinned to a light layer leaving bits and pieces of lace.
The aroma is filled with sweet dark fruits and molases.
The taste is worthy of this brew being called a 'malt bomb', sweet and sticky all the way through.
Medium bodied with mild carbonation.
Goes down way too easy. If you like sweet malty beers this is a 'must try'.

Photo of Beertracker
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sly Fox Instigator pours up with ample carbonation that creates a low, creamish tan head that rings the deep copper-russet body nicely. The aroma is surprisingly fruity (dark cherry, plum, red grapes) with some underlying spiciness. Toasted Munich maltiness reminiscent of saltine crackers or soda bread. Hint of tartness. Sulfur? Moderate alcohol. The flavor starts of with some toasted breadiness that's underscored by a persistant bitterness that lingers towards the off-dry, acidic finish. Very uncharacteristic for a doppelbock. Medium-full bodied with some creaminess. Acidity is distracting. This is either past it's prime or maybe a bad bottle? Definitely worth a try. Don't be intimidated by the Instigator!

PROST! Beertracker

Photo of Deuane
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Deep ruby copper with a thin light tan head.

S-Slight malty sweetness and not much else...very tame,

T-Decent malty sweetness with hints of brown sugar notes. Nothing crazy going on here, very simple.

M-Medium body with good roundness. Smooth easy drinking character.

D-Totally innocuous, malty, smooth and easy to drink....but a bit dull overall.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A solid Dopple, but there are some classic Dopplebock character that this beer lacks. The beer pours a darker-than-expected brown hue, good head formation / retention, but light on the lacing. Aromas are strongly malty, very much like a Brown Ale. No fruitiness, but no caramelized, bready, melanoiden notes. Flavors confirm a heavy, complex malt bill that relies on malt additions for character and not the decoction process. Again, boardering on a Brown, the beer is flavorful and well-rounded, but not with the well attenueated, full-flavors that a Dopplebock should provide. A bit heavy to the mouth with a sticky feel. Finishes malty-rich with some chocolatey, nutty aftertastes.

Photo of dsa7783
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle purchased singly from Gary's in Madison for $4.99...
An aggressive pour yielded a full, five-fingered foamy and frothy head that nearly receded the glass and left a tremendous amount of lacing...
Nutty, malty, brown aroma replete with caramel, sugars, and vanilla...
Taste strongly complemented the smell, with an obvious suggestion of malts, licorice, caramel, vanilla, dehyrdated fruits, and toffee...
Decent, creamy, fruity, and malty mouthfeel with an equally good level of drinkabilty without any hint of alcohol present... Very malty, with a noticeable hint of prunes, figs, and dates...
Creamy stuff...
Not Sly Fox's best sample, but a good stab at the style nonetheless...
Worth a try...

Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to NJpadreFan for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a nice clean/clear dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, which leaves some nice small islands and sticky lacing. The nose is malty, nice touch of toffee, slight spicyness, and some caramel. The taste is slightly sweet, nice malty flavor, tones of toffee, spice, and caramel. Medium body, well rounded brew. Drinkable, so far this is the best Sly Fox for me to date.

Photo of grub
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got this one from DrJay as part of BC2. thanks jay!

22oz bottle. sampled jan 13/08.

pours crystal clear deep red-brown with a small dense off-white head. the head quickly drops to a ring around the glass. no lace.

aroma is nice. great malt. toasted multi-grain bread. hint of alcohol. light caramel and toffee. touch of lager character. bit of dark fruit. very light coffee and baker's chocolate. hint of smoke, but that could just be from the fireplace.

taste is good. nice hit of caramel and toffee to start. toasted muti-grain bread. bit of alcohol. nice lager character. bit of alcohol. great depth to the nice toasty malt. bit of sweetness, mostly as caramel+toffee.

mouthfeel is good. low carbonation level. solid medium carbonation level.

drinkability is good. well balanced and nice. drinks more like 4% than over 7%. great malty character keeps you going back for more.

Photo of Biscuit033
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark brown/ruby with about a finger of off-white head with minimal lacing.

S: There is molasses, coffee, caramel, sweet maltiness and some hoppiness that is coming through.

T: Red and dark berries, coffee, chocolate, molasses, with a bit of green apple hoppiness.

M: Malts coat the mouth until all you are left with is hoppy bitterness. There seems to be more carbination than necessary but as if bubbles are very tiny.

D: This beer is very drinkable especially on a cold fall evening. The alcohol is not perceptable at all in the taste. This very well made beer.

Photo of PEBKAC
3.84/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

It's about that time again kids. Time to reach on back into that dark, damp box & grab yourself a prize. No telling what kind of dangerous wildlife those month old leftovers in there can attract. Be prepared.

After making my way back from the crevices(& making sure I still had all my fingers), I pull out yet another bomber that I had thought had been lost. I believe I purchased this guy back in April, so I feel safer then I would be popping the tupperware some of the things in here.

This bottle is a Royersford edition, at least that what my eyes tell me. Having two separate pages for Sly Fox is really a pain sometimes.

Anyways, the beer pours out with very little inspiration. Just enough head develops with the stirring of the fluid, but none ever sticks around. You can just make out the some carbonation through the deeply rich ebony color. About as close to black without being opaque as possible.

The smell is of everything burnt. Burnt charcoal, molasses, burnt maple & honey as it seeps into the barbecue fire. Nothing caramelized, as it is all too well done. Alcohol creeps in towards the end. Be prepared for something sooty & sweet.

Taste is a mash of maple syrup, charred chestnuts, bitter coffee, & licorice. The end completely drowns in a sea of caramel, burnt molasses, vanilla, & all too much alcohol. A residual bitterness sits in the middle of your tongue for much after.

Carbonation is on the lower end, body is thinner then I assumed it would be. Not syrupy, but slightly sticky if you have warm hands.

Twenty-two ounces wasn't too difficult. Just the taste of alcohol impeded me more then anything. A more intense doppelbock than I'd care to have normally. Just not a smooth as it need to be to really enjoy the mishmash of flavors presented. :|

Photo of mcallister
3.21/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a very dark burnt brown sugar, apple pie top crust looking dopplebock. No redness as many will show just straight caramel colors. Pours with a small white head that fades very quickly.

Not much commotion in the nose. A floral hoppiness with dates and toffee. A heavy dosing of alcohol lies underneath with a herbal spicyness showing through.

A good solid beer with a very nice mouthfeel and slightly charred malts that are leaning toward sweet toffee and burnt caramel. Milk chocolate, raisin, and dates with an assortment of nutty characters and a hint of floral hopping and a very slight bitter finish. Herbal dosage exposes the mid palate and leaves things somewhat confused. Mouth is medium with a bit of tingle in the carbonation. Very easy to drink.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.38/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - pours a dark black / brown color with a huge tan head. half the glass on the first pour
S - Sweet malts, light ripe fruits and cola
T - similar to the nose with a hint of vanilla underlying
M - light bodied, over carbonated
D - too sweet towards a cola effect for me.

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dense rown but when held up to the light a nice red glow shines through. Not much in the way of a head and what there was dissolved completely. Nose is richly sweet with wheat and malted sugars.

Flavor is heavy on the wheat and sugars. Some toffee and butterscotch candies come through as well. Also picking out just a tad of roastiness. Medium to full body but only some slight alcohol longers after I swallow. Even with only a moderately high ABV this beer went to my head awfully fast. A nice after dinner drink with dessert--much like a good scotch.

Photo of Boto
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber: This one pours a dark mahogany brown color. Mine had a HUGE fluffy tan head on it, which drops off rather quickly. The lacing was minimal. Sweet malts to the nose, with some fruits and breadiness in there also. A touch of fizz on the tongue. The taste is caramel, but only minimally sweet. Some fruits, but the body is a touch lighter than I would expect. Still, a solid brew.

Photo of shaebs99
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber

Appearance: Pours a dark brown/amber with decent size head that quickly disappates and leaves no lacing. Beer is clear with light carbonation

Smell: rich and malty with a fruity and raisiny aroma.

taste: sweet, brown sugar or some dark fruitiness. maybe a little disappointing, but still nice and complex (only had a few other Doppelbocks, but they included Liberator and Celebrator which I consider a bit more flavorful. )

mouthfeel: light carbonation. I would consider it kinda of light bodied when compared to other rich doppelbocks.

drinkability: A beer that I will try again. You won't receive any arguments from me that there aren't better doppelbocks out there, but still a very solid effort and definitely worth a try.

Photo of oberon
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a .5 liter stein a deep mahogany color with some deep ruby tint a thinner almond colored head atop,malt tilted aromas to be expected deep caramel and brown sugar intertwined with some roastiness and a hint of iron.Somewhat sweet upfront deep brown sugar and caramel flavors to start off mixing with some roasted nuts and candied orange a slight drying in the finish but this stays more of a sweet sustaining brew.A tad thin but it goes down well a solid "big" malty lager here.

Photo of jwc215
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle:

Pours ruby brown with a thick, towering tan head that slowly descends to a lasting foamy head. I like a good head on a beer, but the foam filled the glass to excess, covering some of what's underneath.

The smell, once the head settled to a reasonable amount, was pleasant. Dark berry-like fruitiness, caramel and earthiness. Peppery alcohol lets the abv level known, but not to an overpowering degree.

The taste is berry-like fruitiness upfront that remains the main characteristic throughout. Caramel and some subtle chocolate notes give it sweetness. Nutty and earthy background.

The feel is thinner than expected for style, but holds on firmly to medium body. The carbonation is just too much, though. Fortunately, it doesn't kill it, but it does have an impact.

A nice doppelbock that is limited by too much carbonation, IMO. Still, well-worth trying as it does have a nice taste to it.

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for giving me this one!

Photo of Billolick
3.84/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bomber, pours dark auburn amber, clear with a quickly departing tan head, leaves no lacing and not even a hint of film left on top. Carbonation issues? Cola, malty nose. Plenty of sweet malt, but not cloying, vanilla, cola, warming and enjoyable, would like a head on this one however...

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sly Fox- Instigator

Appearance- Dark brownish/ black with no head.
Smell- Light nuttiness with hints of black licorice/ sambuca and cocoa powder.
Taste- Black licorice with sweet malt. Light cocoa powder comes through in the end.
Mouthfeel- Low carbonation, slighty flat.

Overall- Uninspiring but drinkable and worth trying.

Photo of Viggo
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear dark brown, some slight red in the edges, small tan head forms, settles down into a thin layer, with a ring around the edges and spots of lace on the glass. Smell is sweet, with lots of chocolate and caramel, some coffee roast, little bit of vanilla in the finish. Taste is sweet, buttery, caramel/toffee chocolate through the middle, some vanilla and iron in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation. Nice and different doppelbock, thanks DrJay!

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dull brick red with bright orange peel highlights. I'm a little concerned about the huge amount of carbonation that filled the glass with foam rather than beer on the pour. Fizziness is never a good thing when it comes to big beer. The fluffy ecru cap deflates reasonably quickly, without leaving much lace in the process. A second pour looks much better.

The nose (from what I can tell through three fingers of froth) contains no surprises. I like it more the more I sniff... and the lower the head falls. It's toasted caramel malty, nutty and slightly earthy. In liquid form it should be wonderful.

And it is. Sort of. It's a damn shame that something went awry during the carbonation process. I hate having to filter out the unpleasantness of all those bubbles to get to the malty beer beneath. There's nothing like brewing a good doppelbock and then ruining it prior to bottling. Maybe if I let it sit for a bit.

I like what I taste, but in its current state Instigator Doppelbock can't be considered a good version of the style. There's just too much to overcome with respect to the mouthfeel. The beer is much thinner than it should be and is much, much more fizzy. I can appreciate a dark maltiness, a dark fruitiness and a raisin puree sweetness that dries out considerably on the finish. Too bad they've been given such a lousy vehicle.

I hate it when I crack open a bottle of what is probably pretty good beer (that I'm unlikely to acquire again), only to discover that it has a major flaw that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. I get the sense that Instigator is a solid doppelbock that never really had the opportunity to show me what it could do. Quality control is everything.

to view more.
Instigator from Sly Fox Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.