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Class V Stout - Kern River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

460 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 460
Reviews: 195
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 9.8%
Wants: 93
Gots: 81 | 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: 460 | Reviews: 195 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 06/25/11 notes. Bottle shared by nmann08; thanks Nate. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into my Bruery tulip.

a - Pours a murky, very dark brown color, with one finger of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, light citrus hops, and floral hops. More hops than I was expecting.

t - Tastes of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, citrus hops, floral hops, and nuts. A lot more citrus than the nose, and pretty hoppy for a stout.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Nice creamy body.

o - Overall a nice, hoppy stout; a lot more hops than I was expecting. Lots of roasted and chocolate notes mixing with citrus. Would have it again.

Photo of biegaman
4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

If you have something that needs hiding, I can promise no one will spot it behind a glass of Class V Stout; the beer has an unwaveringly black colour and staunch, enduring opacity. Plus its head is thick and lathery enough to conceal pretty much anything. The lacing it leaves sparkles, despite the fact that the foam itself is of a wickedly dark brown tone.

Undisturbed, the bouquet seems a little unexciting, but swirl that sucker around a bit and there turns out to be plenty of black forest cake and coffee dessert to go around. Enough chocolate brownie character surfaces to assume the maltiness overpowers the alcohol, although it definitely has the voltage to set it apart as a *double* stout.

Decadent, dark notes of chocolate, coffee and roasted malts are cut with a spritz of citrus, but no leafy, spicy or floral notes factor in. Still, those hops really lighten the load; like a quality cheesecake, it's the kind of thing that would cause calorie-counters to faint, but it's astonishingly light and easy to down considering how sinfully rich its flavours are.

Class V Stout has the flavour of dark chocolate without the bitterness, the taste of coffee without the bean astringency, a pleasantly fruity hoppiness without any acidity and the character of a double stout without the alcohol presence. It is full and decadent in the mouth, like a big slice of black forest cake. Guinness drinkers should feel downright cheated.

A lot of American brewers won't bother with double/imperial stouts anymore unless they're jacked-up to a ridiculously high gravity and aged in a barrel. They need us to keep drinking the cool-aid for their products to keep selling; Kern River reminds us that stouts that are just stouts can be every bit as gratifying. This is a simple yet tremendously enjoyable offering.

Photo of Cavery
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared with Klym on a sweet Sunday afternoon.

Poured into a Stone Nonic.

A: Octopus ink with some micro bubble foam latching onto the glass. A solid 1 1/2 finger head collapses to reveal flanges of vertical lacing. A thin filmy head remains as the beer warms. A promising series of aesthetics!

S: smells of light coffee creamers and vanilla extract. There's an ambiguous seasoning, bay leaf? Nutmeg and dark tree barks come to mind.

T: Wham! Delicate dark chocolate brownie frosting cracks to reveal the mealy oat body, Soy creamer keeps the theme of low glycemic-index beer going. It's really not so sweet at all, a shadow of dark bitterness ventures into the realm of savory. cloves with maybe some peppercorns? Very interesting! A subtle and refined offering.

M: Such a soft mouth-feel. It is satin in the mouth, featuring some of the tiniest bubbles tickling the tongue. Just a precious sensation to match the anti-sweet theme.

O: All in all really good, but how is this not an oatmeal stout? I need to grab the bottle. Very good but what in the heck, quite a bit of a curve ball. For the sake of authenticity I need to re-evaluate this. My head is spinning with confusion.

Edit- This must be an imperial oatmeal stout, I maintained my original review with that in mind. The imperial/double Stout label threw off my initial review.

Photo of Klym
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared yet again with Cavery. Poured into a stone nonic.

A: This is about as dark a brown as you can get without being truly black, and even not calling it black is more of an intuitive judgment than it is a clear discernment. Very frothy head with brown-sugar colored bubbles.

S: Lots of chocolate and oatmeal in the nose. There's a tinge of sourness like a near-rotten milk, but it's not as offputting as one would expect.

T: Plenty of milk chocolate, oatmeal, roasted nuts with an aftertaste like a burnt steak crust. Chocolate really dominates this for me, one of the most accentuated chocolate tastes I've had in any type of stout, and the roasted nut taste is full, multi-layered and delicious. Very solid taste, straight-forward.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and frothy which is right as I think it should be. I have no qualms with it but also feel hesitant to say it couldn't be improved.

O: A solid,delicious beer but lacks complexity in flavor and smell. I could see this being a go-to beer for someone but I can't imagine it hitting the top of many seasoned peoples' lists.

Photo of sendsilk
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle reviewed from notes.

Nice dark pour looks and smells good. Taste reminds me more of a porter. Actually, it tastes VERY much like Jose Marti Porter which I love. The mouthfeel is a little weak for a dark stout for me. I would drink this again but expect it to be a little lighter on the flavor and mouthfeel Sort of bordering on a milk stout.

Photo of Deuane
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to orangesol for sharing this one.

A-Deep black/brown with a large tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap. Head retains nicely and leaves pleasant rings of lace.

S-Dark chocolate and French roast coffee initially with a touch of ash and roasted malt in the background. Overall aroma is pleasant but rather light.

T-Compared to the nose the flavour profile pops nicely. A wave of dark chocolate and coffee comes in first quickly followed by an astringent smack of roasted malt and ash. Subtle notes of vanilla, treacle and blackstrap molasses in the finish.

M-Medium body and solid with good lingering flavours.

D-A fully enjoyable and flavourful brew. A very easy strong stout to sip and enjoy sitting by the fire on a cold winter night.

Photo of Spider889
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Ryan011235 for sharing.

The label is kinda cool, it looks like something out of an old version of Oregon Trail.

There's a tall frothy head, the color of an ashy rootbeer float. Very thick looking, the beer is black and left nice heavy lacing. There was great head retention with some large soap bubbles of foam atop the beer through the entire glass.

Lots of roasted bread in the aroma. There's also coffee, sweet chocolate, and peanut hulls. Man do I love this property in a stout.

Chocolate plays a large role in the flavor, and it is quite sweet - sweeter than most beers that officially proclaim to contain chocolate. Dry and bitter coffee grounds, light grainy roastiness, and even some mild oak rounds out this nice stout.

There's some heat in the mouthfeel, but the beer is very smooth and silky. It finishes slick with a little dryness that lingers long after.

Overall I really like this. It was very drinkable - well done and balanced.

Photo of drummermattie02
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into DFH snifter. And I feel that I have to start by saying, I don't understand this beer.

Pours almost opaque with a big tan head, although haze is evident despite the darkness. Head has good retention and leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell is odd, not bad, but a lot of really fresh malts, almost cereal-like.

Taste has a lot of chocolate milk going on, none of which was present in the smell. A bit of alcohol in the finish, but well-masked by the malts.

Good thick, but balanced, feel. Overall a pretty interesting imperial stout, can't quite figure out what's going on, and definitely can't think of a similar beer. Just need to try this one again probably.

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared by someone at Half Acre or perhaps it was Pipeworks guys. Thanks to whomever.

A - The brew pours a deep brown-black, and is capped with a thick tan head; lacing ensues.

S - The aromatic contribution is mostly roasty; I don't get much beyond that. This has a nose I'd expect from a FES. As it airs out, light chocolate and coffee notes appear.

T - Taste-wise, this brew is quite mild. Coffee and chocolate are discernible, as is roast barley and some hints of naked grain, but the whole package is on the low side of flavor-volume.

M - A bit thin, but it is quite silky.

O - This is very drinkable for an Imperial Stout; it is not a big badass of a beer, however...

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A tasty, mostly chocolate 1.5x stout.Roastiness, though understated. Greeted by bittersweet chocolate and a very hoppy beer at 75 IBU of Cascade and Chinook. It all works. ABove average mouthfeel. Pitch black body, with a good amount of brown foam head.
Thanks Augustgarage.

Photo of xnicknj
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into tulip

Pours an opaque dark color, almost all blacked out, with a decent layering of tanned head. Retains for a while, leaving some patchy lacing on the glass.

Very roast and nutty in the nose, some tones of chocolate and coffee beans, booze is masked well.

Decent profile right up front, some hoppiness is noticeable, followed by a thick roasty malt base. Some nuts and coffee tones with a dash of chocolate or cocoa. The alcohol is masked surprisingly well, finishes with another hoppy note and some chocolate sweetness.

Fuller medium body, decent carbonation, creamy and pleasant on the tongue. A nice drinking stout, easy going on the palate and senses.

Photo of Ryan011235
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter on 4/9/11

Thanks to jlb502

"Ooh, I think I saw a gnarly old booger go in there."

Dark, cola brown. Nearly black in the glass with a faint showing of brown at the stem. One and a half finger head billowed up quickly before dying down. Retention is of the skimmed, bubbly variety but it leave lots of lace.

Buttery caramel aroma, calling to mind that faux-caramel Halloween candy. Undertones of roasted coffee. Some earthiness. Faint notions of unsweetened chocolate. Smells better as it opens up and the caramel is toned down.

Decent hoppiness with a moderate, bitter kick. Actually, it's quite hoppy; grows over time. Subtle mix of flavors - coffee, chocolate, caramel and hints of berries (the most subtle of the bunch). Roastiness creeps into view after a few sips. Noting over-the-top but it seems well-constructed.

Medium-full body; perhaps a bit thin for the style. Carbonation is a click or two above average; not harsh or prickly. Finishes with a cross between malty and hoppy.

Nicely done and enjoyable; I wouldn't mind drinking this again. It would be pretty cool in the six pack format.

Photo of Kelly88
4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into my Bruery tulip. Bottle is about a year old.

A- pours a woody brown that surprisingly settles into an opaque brew that is topped by a greyish tan thin head that fades to a skimpy skim top.

S- this is strong in the odor department. I can smell it from 4ft away. Delightful smells of sweet roasted malts. Chocolate is strong and is balanced by some very subtle nutty coffee.

T- sweet decadent chocolate strips down your tongue. Your undressed tongue is then sexed up with candied caramel candies. The chocolate gives you a final kiss and that is it. Such a great taste.

M- pretty light for a stout. Not too much carbonation but it works to give the beer some body since it is relatively light. A touch slick on the tongue, really no problem here.

Overall a really great beer. I'm not sure what this tastes like fresh but with some age, about a year, it is amazing. Sweet not cloying and both nice to look at and smell. Kern river doesn't disappoint

Photo of beagle75
3.71/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black color showing clear dark brown at the periphery, with one finger of light beige foam head. Heavy lacing--nearly continuous sheeting in places--remains on the glass.

S: The roast is nutty and thick, pudding-like, balanced by fairly green herbaceous hops. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with conspicuously spirituous roasted malt that comes across as energetically acidic. Husky bitterness builds through the middle and finish as acidity mellows, with faint earthy herbaceous hops left to linger on the palate.

M: Medium to thick viscosity, Smooth and briefly warming on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Kern River's flagship stout is a solid contribution to the style, although some could debate which style it contributes to. Like Bear Republic's Black Bear stout, it weighs in heavy for an export stout, yet too light to be a real Russian imperial. The taste of this beer suffers some from the alcohol presence, suggesting that it could drop to 7% abv and not really lose much that is essential. It does possess a versatility that allows it to serve as a slow, pensive sipper that pairs happily with rich food, or it can be chilled and consumed more aggressively as if it were an oatmeal stout.

Photo of ghetto90007
3.69/5  rDev -9.6%
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 -6.9%
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 -17.2%
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 +5.4%
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 -3.9%
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%
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 -0.7%
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 -1.2%
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%
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 -0.7%
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 +6.1%
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.

Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 460 ratings.