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Class V Stout - Kern River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

465 Ratings

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Ratings: 465
Reviews: 196
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 9.8%
Wants: 93
Gots: 83 | 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: 465 | Reviews: 196
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.

Photo of Vdubb86
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
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 +2.9%
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 -2.7%
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 -2%
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 -3.2%
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 +0.5%
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 +8.3%
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 -25.2%
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 -12.3%
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 +2.2%
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 +5.4%
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 -2.7%
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 +3.7%
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 -1.7%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to injuredreserve for this beer.

Pours a black color, nice carbonation, little fizzy light tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some chocolate/toffee notes, some roastyness. The taste is malty, sweet, nice touch of chocolate/toffee, nice little roast note. Medium body. Drinkable, a tasty Imp. Stout, but not worth seeking out again.

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter. From notes

I recently brought a bottle of this to a tasting but was glad I had another one to have to myself to review. Pours a deep black with reddish brown edging against the light and during the pour. Roast coffee and some chocolate nose. I pick up a hint of vanilla and almost an oatmeal graininess to it. Tastes mostly of roast chocolate, bready malts and a touch of bitterness. The mouthfeel was good, a touch thin and could be a bit creamier but not bad. This is very easy to drink and I would definitely like to have more.

Photo of maximum12
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to cloudskipper & dgb3 for dropping bombers of this into action-packed boxes as extras. Wanted to try this beer, as whitewater rafting was a youthful hobby which has morphed into canoeing in old age.

Bonus points for the cool label. I like the donkey, the guy in the river, & the guy holding a beer & the donkey who is undoubtedly yelling "Get out of the rapids you moron!" Or maybe I'm projecting. Looks right at home in my Darkness snifter. Odor is mild. Dollops of roast, chocolate, & malt sweetness.

Class V Stout lays a surprise: hops! Now it feels even more comfy in its glassware surroundings. Hops come out punching with a quick jab of bitterness, but they're quickly overwhelmed by roast, chocolate, sweet malts, & a pinch of lactose. As the beer warms the hops get a bit more persistent, & insert themselves in the middle of all the maltiness stuff. Finish is smooth & mellow, like an oatmeal stout on the Barry Bonds Juice. ABV is a suprise.

Very good beer. Maybe it's the snifter, but with the peppy hops, easy drinking, & nice layering of flavors, this reminds me of a poor man's Darkness. Kern River is 2 of 2 with me.

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Class V Stout has a very dark, opaque body and a healthy brown head that reaches a few fingers in height and leaves good lacing after showcasing some nice retention.

A rich, roasted malt flavor teams up with good doses of both chocolate and coffee. A hint of hops thrown in at the finish.

Kern River gets a lot of attention for the IPAs and IIPAs, but I had not hear a single thing about Class V, or anything that was a hop bomb for that matter. I'm surprised, because Class V is quite good, better than the Just Outstanding IPA that I had the chance to try. This beer is bursting with big roasted malt flavors, but moves on to richer, sweeter malts before it can become one-dimensional. First comes quite a bit of coffee, followed by some chocolate and a little of a molasses flavor. The finish has a bite of bitterness and a touch of citrus; just enough to let you know that the hops are there. I think the flavor for Class V falls somewhere between a 4 and a 4.5, so I will just round.

The carbonation is a touch high, but the beer still manages to feel smooth and full.

I like Class V a lot, enough that I wish I had brought two bottles back from SoCal instead of just one.

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

An extremely vigorous but controlled pour produces a three-finger thick, lace inducing, nicely browned, quite dark tan colored head. The beer is quite dark, mostly black, definitely opaque and perhaps shows a touch of deep brown color to it, but only just. The aroma smells richly of toasted whole grain, cocoa, smoothly burnt malt and in the finish a huge, dry, whole grain cracker almost dried hay / grassy note. Underneath this is perhaps a suggestion of anise, a suggestion of round / burnt dark fruit, and a concentrated, though somewhat subtle dark caramelized malt character. The aroma on this stout is exactly what I want right now, hugely malty, but smooth and appetizing.

Dry tasting as it hits the front of my tongue, but it quickly picks up a dark malt sweetness and roast character as it rolls across the tongue. The roast character amplifies towards the finish and there is a nice, pine / herbaceous hop character here as well. The finish sees a nix mix of burnt grain bitterness and hop bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. The sweeter dark malt notes contribute notes of molasses, burnt brown sugar, a suggestion of dark chocolate. The hop character here adds a fresh hop character that I wasn't expecting from the nose; there is an ample herbal hop character that has suggestions of citrus (this last, I expect, would be much more noticeable in a paler beer). The hop character is certainly dominated by the malt, and in the middle the dark, sweet, slightly burnt malt character is the most noticeable; the finish though sees an equal mix of malt and hop character provide a nice balance. I like the rich texture of this beer, it is not heavy, and in fact fairly quaffable, but I really like the support that it plays for the hop and malt flavors, it really serves as a cornerstone for the great balance that this beer is able to achieve. A touch of alcohol is noticeable in the oral nasal interface. There actually seems to be a solid vanilla flavor (and perhaps even aroma here) that seems to accentuate the sweetness of this beer.

This beer really strikes a great balance between sweet, concentrated dark malt flavors, the dry, but smooth burnt / roast malt character and the vivacious, but supporting hop character. Can perhaps be a touch sweet at times, but this helps contribute to the over all balance of the beer.

Photo of artdob
2.99/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Tan head. Dark but not coal black as some Imperial Stouts Full of suds on the sides of the glass.

S: Aroma is yeasty. Eucalyptus notes. Chocolate esters emerge after sitting in the glass for a few finites

T: Very roasty malt flavor with burnt molasses and woodiness. Less chocolate , fruitiness, and sweetness that I've found common in Imperials. Bitter hoppiness.

M: Good carbonation - full bodied, somewhat creamy texture with a dry finish.

D: Decent stout considering the mix of styles advertised by Kern (Imperial, Oatmeal, Milk stouts all in one). With so many rich contenders in the field however, don't know that I'd revisit this one.

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Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 465 ratings.