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Class V Stout - Kern River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

446 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 446
Reviews: 191
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 9.83%
Wants: 93
Gots: 74 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Kern River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 03-01-2007

River rapids are rated by a numeral system. Class V is the most difficult level rapid that can be negotiated.

This non-traditional beer is an Oatmeal Stout, Milk Stout and an Imperial Stout all in one. With a complex flavor profile ranging from coffee to chocolate, the sweetness is complemented with Chinook and Cascade hops to produce an extraordinary finish. But at 8.5% ABV, don't let the smooth taste fool you; this beer is like the Kern at high water - "Not for the Timid".
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 446 | Reviews: 191 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ghetto90007
3.69/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass, served at about 55 degrees.

Thick tan head, dark brown to black, nearly opaque. Lacing is substantial.

Nose is roasted malt, chocolate, some espresso notes, and I can tell there will be some piney hops.

Hmm, this one is an "imperial" stout? Roasted malt character seems to take a back seat to mild milk chocolate sweetness and caramel. Some espresso notes lurk in the background, but nothing bordering on complexity here. Hops comes in and while I would want to say that they are balancing, they don't seem to be melded into the flavor enough - instead they are sort of jumbling.

I had high hopes for this one, but I was a little unimpressed here. The malt profile is straightforward, lacking the complexity that we all love in imperial stouts. And the hops, while tasty, don't lend much to this beer and instead create a confused beer that is like scattershot on the palate.

Mouthfeel is very soft, smooth from the lactose character. Drinkable. Carbonation is just right.

This one seems to lack the richness and intensity of an imperial stout. While intense does not always equal good, as we have discussed here on BA, intense seems to be part of the imperial styles, particularly the American Imperial Stout which traces it's roots to the Russian Imperial Stout. Accordingly, I found this one a little underwhelming.

With the lower key roasted malt character and strong hop notes, it struck me more as a Cascadian Black Ale (or American Black Ale, as it is officially referred to here on BA), or a stout of a lesser order.

I enjoyed drinking this beer, but it doesn't stand up to other imperial stouts.

Photo of orangesol
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of nickd717 shared with Deuane and Hojaminbag. Poured into a taster glass. Thanks again Nick!

A - Pours pitch black with a small one finger tall tan head, dissipating down a thin film, leaving light lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of dark roasted coffee, chocolate malt, licorice, and some earthy hops. A bit more roast than I was expecting in this one.

T - Flavors are very similar to the nose with the rich dark roasted coffee once again taking a slight lead over the rest of the flavors. The finish is what you would expect, more roast. This was OK but far from mind blowing.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Roasty feel with plenty of dark roast and light smoke in the finish, lingering for some time. Just a bit too thin for my liking.

O - I had high hopes for this one but it left me wanting a bit more. The flavors are all there for it to be great but it seemed like none of them wanted to take the lead.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.38/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to Scalene for this one via Light Whale BIF 2. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Darkness snifter.

A: Standard pour yields a massive, quickly rising, frothy, powdery, 2.5 finger light mocha colored head with incredible retention. Beer is a bit thin but presents as an appropriate opaque black. Lacing is thick and layered with very good cling. Nice looking beer but points off for a head that is a bit over the top for the style.

S: Nose is heavy with liquorice and roasted malt. Some sprinkling of cocoa powder, milk chocolate, lactose and a slight espresso bean sourness. Pleasant but not overly aromatic or enticing.

T: Opens lactose, milk chocolate, and liquorice. Some dark fruit gummies towards the middle with a cocoa powder graininess. More liquorice and some espresso and roasted malt bitterness towards the end. Finish is roasted malt and a touch of booziness with a smoky coffee aftertaste. Pleasant but not extraordinary.

M: Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Smooth and light in the mouth and goes down with a prickle and a slight bit of heat. Finish is rather muted with a faint, slightly lingering aftertaste. Nice and oily in the mouth but a bit thin.

O: A good effort by Kern River overall, Class V stout is attractive and flavorful but a bit thin for its style. At the same time though, the body lends well to the feel and drinkability. Worth a try.

Photo of aval89
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours pretty much black. About a fingers worth of tan head, with nice tight bubbles.. non transparent body..

S: cocoa, nutty, coffee beans, vanilla, milk chocolate

T: upfront is milk chocolate.. espresso, mollases & oatmeal take up the mid-palate.. finish has some hop earthiness, but finishes with a dominant coffee bitterness with a dark chocolate lingering aftertaste.

Mf: thick & syrupy.. low carbonation

O: solid imperial stout! Alcohol is pretty much hidden.. drinks so smooth & easy

Photo of HosP
3.92/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tremens snifter. 22oz bottle.

A- Pours almost black, very small amount of light around the edge. Head is big 2 finger, dark brown. Good retention with nice lacing all the way down the glass.

S- Mild nose to the beer. Some burnt malts mixed with chocolate aroma. Can't get past the burnt/roasted aroma here to get much else.

T- Nice smooth taste here. Starts with bitter chocolate. Turns to nice roasted flavors, hints of coffee mixed in nicely. I keep going back and forth between bitter and sweet here, hard to tell which one is coming or going. I'm leaning to more of the sweet side of the beer. Nice balance though throughout.

M- Medium body. Almost no carbonation. Very smooth and a little creamy.

D- Nice stout here. Would think its more of a stout/milk stout rather than a double. Still very easy to drink. Alcohol is masked nicely. Solid stout we got here!

Photo of stephens101
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's warming up outside and summer is right around the corner, but oddly enough I've had a stout jones lately, so I'll just go with the flow.

Pours jet black with a thin crimson edging. Two fingers of dark tan head sit stoic, but eventually succumb, leaving a quilt-work of lace.

Sweet malts, vinegar, pine, smoldering wood and dark chocolates converge at the nose. Creamy with a grainy edge on the palate. More dark chocolates and a bit of caramel malts mix in with a bit of oak preceding a subtle pine end.

Goes down viscous with a semi-hot background. Weighs medium to heavy, but sits pretty. Ok, ready for another glass. . .

Photo of Penguin3200
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this bottle thanks to my new trading partner. Pours dark black and fairly thick. Aromas galore of caramel, chocolate, malty goodness. Taste follows suit with the chocolat and malts coming through. Mouthfeel is pleasant but a little thin for my taste. Finish is good and lasts. Great beer.

Photo of joecast
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thick black liquid pours heavily into the glass. Looks impressive. Dark foamy tan head.

Smells got it all. Coffee chocolate and roast are all over this. Huge. My only gripe is, if possible, it's too intense. Really big dark malty aromas hammer the nose.

Taste as well is quite intense. Thick complex malt character. Bitterness more from the roast and coffee than anything else. Plenty of malt sweetness as well but that adds to the intensity rather than adding a balancing effect.

Really interesting beer but for me it just goes past the point if enjoyment. Toned down a bit and this could be really good. It's got all the bases smothered.

Photo of CooperEllis
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into mini snifter

Requisite dark body, cappichino foam head in color, though a bit thicker in texture. Some thin lacing.

Very nice aroma, roasted malt dominates with notes of coffee and chocolate. More to the dark side of each.

I know other reviews have noted that there is a strong hops presence, I didn't find a strong presence, but there is a slight hops bitterness at the end - the mouthfeel is an asset here as well, leaving the palate cleanly and allowing the flavors to develop through the pour.

drinkability would have been scored very high here, maybe as much as a 5.0, simply easy to drink.


Photo of MbpBugeye
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

My first Kern River tick is brought to you in part by Ryan011235.

Big, billow head. Lots of lacing and good retention. Its not that black on the pour and has be ready for an easier drinking, smaller stout. There is a lot of sediment in this.

This smells both hoppy and roasty. Lots of coffee with very bitter dark chocolate. The chocolate sweetens up substantially as it warms. Some caramel also opens up. I swirled up a smell like milk with alcohol in it.

Some dark chocolate truffles and a nice even coffee roast is tasted throughout. Milk chocolate, toffee and perhaps some citrus. The end holds some citrus hops that are all buy buried under the roastiness.

Highly carbonated and pretty dry.

Very nice stuff. There is a nice complexity with nice development through the course of the glass.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque pitch black with a huge 3 inch chocolate milk colored head that fades to a small cap. Good latticed lacing on the drink down. Smells of espresso, cocoa powder, and some citrus zest hops. A very tasty beer with roasted coffee/espresso beans, semisweet chocolate, vanilla, and faint citrus hops. This beer is sweeter than I was expecting with the bitterness coming more from the coffee/espresso and hops tastes. Carbonation level is somewhat low which makes for a very creamy and thick feel in the mouth. Overall, this is an amazing stout that I have been sitting on in my fridge for months now. I am glad I finally cracked it open. The price of $4.99 for a bomber is sure to have me coming back time and again to this brew.

Photo of Vdubb86
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter

Thanks to injuredreserve for hooking me up with this stout from parts beyond.

This stout pours a very dark brown that when sitting in the glass looks black, but if examined closely it's is actually possible to penetrate it with light. A small contingent of foam sticks around throughout most of the glass, but it's not more than at the ridges and in various pockets on the surface. The aromatics are complicated. Initially all that I was able to pick up on was roast, cocoa powder, and vanilla. As the beer warmed however, I was able to detect some hop aromatics, there was more of a citrus and grassy smell. The flavors followed suit. They were mainly comprised of coffee and vanilla, but it finished with a hoppy bitterness that when combined with the roasted bitterness was almost too much too handle. The bitterness was not for the timid. Overall this was a very good beer. In my opinion, it is definitely a unique experience for the style. I would have liked it to be darker, but it was very imperial stout like where it counted.

Photo of Axic10
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Dark black with two fingers of fluffy mocha head that settles down to a thin layer for the remainder of the drink.

Smell: Roasted malt and bold coffee hints mixed with rich dark chocolate.

Taste: Strong roasted coffee and malt mixed with dark chocolate and a noticeable hoppy bite.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and smooth.

Overall: I enjoyed this stout a lot and would definitely seek it out again.

Photo of SupaCelt
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is brown with a table sawed finger of cocoa coloured heading that plummets lickity split. Some spatters of lacing hang themselves out to dry.

The nose is dry and roasty toasty chocolate. Slight milky cream on the end. Some peanut shell and a dab of coffee grounds. Slightly grainy. Pleasant.

The taste is mild and dry and very American appropriate. Very low sweetness. The flavors are enjoyable and easily handled. The alcohol percentage is very well masked. The nose and flavor are nearly identical. Chocolate and roasted tones with some coffee grounds. A dash of creaminess. Fluffy to dry and bitter.

The mouthfeel is a hefty medium. It is dry enough to feel less than heavy.

Overall this is a solid number. The most striking aspect is how well the alcohol content is covered up by the mild and well defined flavors. This beer just gets more and more delicious as the bottle wears on and the temperature slowly warms. This is another trade extra that I am sad to see go empty. Very nice.

Thanks, Martin.

Photo of Verecund
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received as an extra from a generous BA. Opened on March 27, 2011.

Pours dark, dark brown with one finger of tanned head. Above average lacing for the style.

Lots of milk chocolate on the nose, some milky lactic quality, and roasted grains. Pretty straightforward, but pleasant. If I just smelled this, I would think this was a nice 6-7% milk stout.

Some bitterness in the mouth beyond that on the nose. Light coffee grounds, dark chocolate, and roasted maltiness. The finish features some lingering bitterness, but it's hard to pinpoint the exact flavor - just a lingering roasted coffee bitterness. Overall, Class V is fairly sweet, with hints of molasses and brown sugar to contrast the dark chocolate and roasted notes.

Medium-bodied, with just over medium carbonation. It feels a little light for the style, but is still fairly creamy.

A nice offering; I'd love to try Class X. The lingering bitterness on the finish was a pleasant surprise and the chocolate notes are pretty spot-on. Again, it reminds me of an almost-imperial milk stout.

Photo of Tucquan
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2011-03-27 in Torrance, CA

A - Impenetrable black with a big, 3-finger, brown head that reduces to 1/2-finger pretty quickly. Good lacing.

S - Milk chocolate and some coffee.

T - Coffee then milk and dark chocolate. Some bitterness from the hops and not much astringency from roasting. A little booziness gives an Irish coffee taste, which is nice. Not overly complex but a nice flavor.

M - Medium body and medium carbonation (perhaps a bit more carbonation than expected for the style). I think a little less carbonation would help the flavors settle on the tongue longer.

O - Enjoyable but not mind-boggling. As an example, I'd take a Founders Breakfast Stout over this.

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Surly Darkness tulip on 3/23/11.

Pours a pitch black with a finger of light brown head that dissipates leaving a pretty light brown lacing on about 50% of the glass.

Smells like tons of coffee, and chocolate in the background. A little hops in the background but not much.

Taste is a lot of coffee and a little chocolate with some hop bitterness on the back end.

Mouthfeel is is heavy but smooth with a little coffee acidity on the back side.

Drinkability is high on this one. Its smooth it has a decent ABV, great taste and it goes down easy.

Photo of notchucknorris
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

100th Review!

A: Black with a thin, sand colored head and some really nice lacing.

S: Smelled a little like a frappuccino. For me, that was a good thing. A lot of coffee in the nose along with some milk chocolate and a little bit of leather.

T: Pretty delicious. A lot of coffee with some earthy, roasted malts. Brown sugar and some cocoa powder thrown in as well. Finish is earthy with a bitter coffee note and a slight warming sensation. I would definitely have this again.

Photo of Trilogy31
3.05/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a duvel tulip at 55 degrees. Black with tinge of chesnut at the rim. Two fingers of khaki colored head that dissipated slowly and left nice lacing. Nose smells of darked roasted malt, with maybe a touch of peaty smoke and some piney hop notes as well. Taste is very similarm to the nose without offering much else besides a glimpse of bakers chocolate on the finish as well as ending with an unpleasant astringency. It had a nice silky mouthfeel as being its major plus for me, i am thinking maybe i will try my other bottles a bit colder and 3-4 months of age.

Decent imperial stout, but nothing special and not something i would revisit.

Photo of djaeon
3.58/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a very dark opaque brown, almost black. Has a nice cascading, thick and frothy light cappuccino head, which has good retention. While the head starts out thick and frothy, as it dissipates, it coalesces into larger bubbles, which makes it look thinner. Has good lacing.

S: Smells of roasted coffee with a light hops presence.

T: Tastes of coffee & dark chocolate. Hops is present in the finish, along with mild alcohol flavor. The dark roasted malts balance out the hops well, although, I don't think the hops need to be there.

M: Has a good velvety mouthfeel with decent carbonation. There is a bit of bitter aftertaste.

D: This is a fairly drinkable stout, but to reiterate, I think hops hurts this one a bit. The light hops flavor and bitter aftertaste are a little out of place.

Photo of imagese
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

No bottle date

A- Medium viscosity pour of black with a 3 finger head that faded slowly, and hung around the edges and left pretty thick lacing

S- dry cocoa, plum, sugared almonds, faint hop bitterness, and a slight alcohol finish. Great smell to this beer. Not too sweet or bitter

T- chocolate with pine hop bitterness, but the chocolate is much more of the assault. Great roasted malt finish with the slightest touch of dark fruit sourness

M- Decent thickness, but the carbonation could be a tad lower. The smell and taste make you want to let this beer sit in your mouth to let all the aspects of this beer come out, but the carbonation cuts that short

D- Big winner here. I keep grabbing the glass and enjoying the smell and taste experience each time.

Going to let a few of these age to see how they do, but may be hard to not grab them and enjoy often

Photo of Kadonny
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle gotten via trade with Dabecassis. Thanks David!

A: A lighter black color with some hints of dark brown. A light brown fluffy head is had on an aggressive pour. Minimal glass lacing.

S: First whiff is a surprise. Hops! Floral and earthy hops tingle the nose with the darker roasted smells with some chocolate notes. A great smelling brew.

T: A wonderful hop bite starts off with floral and earthy tones that does not back off when the darker roasted malt flavors come in. Dark chocolate, roasted flavors a slight coffee flavor and some sweetness is again taken over by the hops to finish things out with bitterness. The roasted flavors couple with the hops to linger in the mouth. Wow, this is a real nice beer.

M: Medium with nice bitterness and some creaminess. Alcohol is hardly present. Perfect carbonation in my opinion.

D: This beer is very drinkable, and it's scary.

Overall this is a great west coast hoppy stout that surprised me with it's hops. I know this bottle was fresh, and I'm sure that helped let the hops pop out. This was a wonderful beer and I'm glad to report I still have one more bottle to enjoy. Why don't people talk more about this beer? Probably because not many people can get it. I'm super glad I got to try it.

Photo of scottfrie
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Beer Revolution in Oakland.

A: Served a super dark brown with a thin head.
S: I get loads of coffee with some roasted almost barbeque flavors. As the beer warms more alcohol comes out along with some notes of acetone.
T: Dark malts which are pretty sweet actually. Flavors are roasted, chalky and fruity with a touch of molasses and acetone.
M: Soft mouth, creamy body, low carbonation but slightly astringent in the finish. Alcohol is noticeable but not in warmth, just flavor.
D: Drinks just fine. A bit sweet, but good. Acetone is a little rough, but a few months of age would polish it off.

EDIT: Bottle with a year of age is smooth as hell. No acetone, no alcohol. Rich creamy and easy to drink. If you buy a bottle, age it.

Photo of Dijeriduster
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Blind Lady Ale House poured into a brandy style snifter.

A - Dark almost black in the glass with a very appetizing creamy colour head. Looks thick and mean but approachable.

S - Roasty dark chocolate with a hint of coffee coming thu. Smells like a brilliant stout.

T - Damn this is a great stout. Very approachable for an imperial stout, doesn't hit you over the head with the booze but certainly overwhelms with the roasted barley and coffee flavours.

M - Lovely, just a hint of creaminess that isn't too full on the tongue - aka you could drink a few of these and not feel bloated like some oatmeal stouts can do.

D - I'd order this all the time if it were around. I think this is one of the best imperial stouts I've had in a while, too many of them end up steering toward RIS territory and end up astringent and hard to drink.

Photo of Bung
4.01/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. Not quite pure black pour, 2 solid fingers of frothy solid tan head. Does stick and retain quite well.

Malty earthy aroma. Fairly straight forward.

Taste is a good mix of roast and caramel and chocolate maltiness. More here than in the aroma. Just light coffee and fainter yet citrusy hops in the finish.

A thinner body than ideal for an imperial, but in coats pretty well. Goes down super smooth, would want to say watery easy, but it is not watery by any means. No alcohol presence what so ever.

A very good balanced drinkable double stout. Probably a good value out west, having ordered on line, not so much of a value for me.

Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 446 ratings.