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Class V Stout - Kern River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

442 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 442
Reviews: 191
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.05%
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: 442 | Reviews: 191 | Display Reviews Only:
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
3/5  rDev -26.5%
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.

Photo of claspada
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Aromas are fairly restrained to be honest. You get light amounts of bittersweet chocolate, caramel, roasted malts and just a hint of roasted coffee. As it warms you get some dark fruitiness.

The taste starts rather creamy with taste similar to the nose. Chocolate, not quite as bitter as I expected; dark roasted malts, sweet cocoa and finishes with a little coffee. Slight notes of dark fruit but only after is has warmed a little. Well balanced. If there was a style called Imperial Oatmeal Stout this would be the best example on the market.

Overall, this is extremely drinkable for an imperial stout at 8.5%; no alcohol detection at all.

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep black with a thin tab head. Decent lacing.

Aroma is just kind of roasty. Nothin super special but not bad. Little bit of toasted sugars.

Taste is awesome. Solid stout. Smooth and a little sweet. Reminds me of a sweet stout a local brewery makes.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I like my stouts to be. Dot of a dry stout feel. But not bad. Good carb.

Overall a solid brew. Very easy drinking and I could drink alot of it. This will have to be a staple of mine.

Photo of thatsfine
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

Pours a black color with a large tan head. The head disappears quickly but leaves a nice cap and nice lacing down the sides of the glass. Looks nice.

The smell is coffee, chocolate, and citrusy hops. Classic smells for a double stout.

The taste is coffee initially followed by roasty chocolate flavors. Next comes the hop flavor and the brew leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste. The hops are there but not overwhelming. The flavors are nice but not spectacular.

The mouthfeel is medium for the style and has decent carbonation.

This is dangerously drinkable for an 8.5% beer. I finished my bomber in less than 30 minutes. This is an approachable example of the style. Nothing spectacular but a very nice beverage. I will buy this again and see it as a stout I can drink on warm evenings when I am in the mood for something roasty. Worth buying.

Photo of zeff80
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. It left thin sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - Aroma is powered by molasses, chocolate and toffee. There are some subtle floral notes, too.

T - Great chocolate flavor with some burnt molasses flavors. It had a nice bitterness from the hops to balance things out.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. Medium to full bodied with a very clean, dry finish.

D - This is a really easy drinking Imperial Stout. The alcohol content is lighter than most and makes it a nice brew to drink.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Stone IRA glass.

A: Pours a deep black color with a thin tan head.

S: Bitter chocolate with a bit of coffee.

T: A solid stout, very tasty and easy to drink. Well balanced, not too sweet and not too bitter. Milk chocolate, coffee, toffee, with a lightly roasty and bitter finish.

M: Medium bodied, active carbonation.

D: Very drinkable, very well balanced. A solid stout. Also, no presence of alcohol even at 8.5%.

Photo of farrago
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Two fingers of deep brown foam easily achieved, appears denser than it must be because it does evaporate swiftly, albeit with a considerable amount of lacing left behind. While the liquid is pure black you sense that it's very clear with no haze to it, meager suggestion of orange at the very glass bottom. The nose is close to downright slutty, piling on the coffee roast, semi-sweet dark chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, pecan, Cool Whip as well as raisin, fig, cherry, apricot fruit, in turn brings yeast, mineral water, pine tar, white pepper and a good shock of herbaceousness. Full-bodied, very creamy and smooth in texture but not necessarily soft, displays good posture and some bite. Layers of chocolate, caramel, fudge, cappuccino while remaining towards the dry side, oatmeal, grains and that minerally touch all present. Lighter presence to the cherry, fig, raisin, plum fruit but consistent. The carbonation adds some fluff and certainly is responsible for a lot of the creaminess. More nut oil than primary nuttiness. The oatmeal, granola aspects dry but not hard. The pepperiness lower here. The coffee turns more bitter through the finish, nice pucker factor. Unassuming complexity, each individual flavor is deep and resonant and plays well with others.

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

Poured on-tap at the brewery in Kernville into a pint glass. The beer is a dark, opaque black color with a thick, creamy head. The beer smells of a light roasted coffee, with hints of nut. The flavors are a blend of coffee, bittersweet (baker's) chocolate, and nut. I had a hard time distinguishing what particular type of nut flavor it was. The stout is very light in mouth, with a bitter aftertaste. My wife and I both found the bitterness not typical of beer, but more typical of the coffee and chocolate we were tasting. The flavors balance the alcohol level very well. The beer is dry and crisp for a stout, especially with the bolder flavors. Very smooth finish, and a nice, light coffee/chocolate aftertaste. Very drinkable!

Photo of Douglas14
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first KRBC beer. I've heard so much about them but I just haven't had the chance to crack open this beer, which has been sitting in my cellar for a while.
The Class V pours out very black with a light-brown head - lighter than normal but really good. The nose is roasty and chocolatey with fruity esters as well. The taste is similar but has a pronounced bitterness...nice! The ester fruitiness comes through a lot in the taste...almost English-like. The mouth is full and thick yet the beer finishes rather dry, increasing the drinkability.

Well done, KRBC! I will begin trying all of your beers!

Photo of flannelman808
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Very very dark brown in color with almost no light shining through. A nice rocky light tan head tops it off. Great retention and very nice lacing.

S: Bitter chocolate (coco powder) with some christmas tree tree lingering in the background too (good timing on this one).

T: Interesting, this one is hop first and chocolate second. Pine and orange peel notes shoot to the palate and then a coco presence follows suit... nice, but maybe needs a bit more depth. I would love to try the oak aged version.

M: prickly and a little thin for the style

D: medium plus

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

A - Nearly opaque, with a chocolate looking finger of creamy, fluffy head. Laces well, and looks rather good.

S - Huge amounts of chocolate come off this thing. Sweetness is tamed, and the roasted malts are kickin'. There's definitely some roasted espresso in there. Smells great.

T - Roasted malts hit you first, with a little accompanying bitterness. Moves to a pleasant sweetness, and chocolate, and finishing with some cocoa and espresso roast and minute bitterness.

M - Creamy, slick, and smooth. Full bodied, but on the lighter side of full. Good feel, could have a hair more substance.

D - Excellent drink. This is a very good stout. Love the roasted and chocolate notes. Wouldn't hesitate for a second to drink more and revisit often.

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

Poured into my Founders snifter. Got this nice little extra from Pdiddey3d. Thanks!

A - Black body with a nice sized tan head resting on top

S - A nice roasted aroma is present. Also light notes normally found in a oatmeal are present but it finishes with a nice whiff of a sweet stout.

T - The roast continues to be present in the flavor. The milk stout qualities are there but certainly take a back seat to everything else. A strong hop presence blends in well to give it a bit of a citrusy finish. Some chocolate/coffee notes but the roast and hops really are the key players.

M - medium to heavy body, fairly smooth, standard amount of carbonation

D - Pretty drinkable. Don't really notice the higher ABV in this one. A really nice stout for sure. I would drink this one again in a heartbeat and would pick up some more if I had the chance.

Photo of injuredreserve
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with an off-tan head, good lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee espresso, rich malts.

T: Very nice. Dark chocolate, bitter coffee, dark fruits with a nice malty backbone finish.

M: Smooth, medium bodied, maybe little on thin side.

D: Easy to finish the bomber, and I wanted more.

Photo of birchstick
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a nice black color with a large chocolaty head

S - milk chocolates, touches of burnt coffee, and a lot of cascade, citrus hops...very mild smell to it

T - this beer starts off with sweet chocolates that are are complemented by a more subtle burnt malt / coffee flavor. The malts, however, are pushed aside by the barrage of citrus hops, which cuts into the malt flavors. Not uberly complex, but what is there is good. I was expecting a little more from a double / imperial stout in the flavor category, but it's still an above average tasting stout.

M - full, smooth, and a little slick...nice mouth feel to it

D - this is a decent stout. Like I said earlier, I was hoping for a little more from its imperial categorization, but it was still good. Big props to MaxStout for sending this California treat my way.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured nearly pitch black into my new hand blown Dogfish Head glass, brownd ruby edges when held toward the light. Dark tan head forms nice and thick with chunky sporadic lacing forming nicely between sips and as it settles. Aromatics offer up dark chocolate and coffee roasts with hints of anise and herbal hops in the background. Flavor wise the chinooks were evident with a green spicy herbal leaf flavor amongst te dark creamy chocolate and coffee bursts. A very nice big American stout from the west coast, these Kern River beers are so drinkable this one has a big body but nothing about it hurts the drinkability. Carbonation is smooth and mellow slightly chewy with body being so big, but it never becomes cloying. A beer I will be on the look for if it every comes East or shows up in the Burgh.

Photo of newk340
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: oily black, thin ring of cream foam.

S: heavy wafts of thick milk chocolate assault the nose.

T: a mouthfull of warm roasted chocolate followed by a humid hoppy aftertaste with a subtle nuttiness.

MF/D: a full-bodied stout with warm flavors throughout, an excellent stout to be enjoyed with friends... or alone.

Photo of IllNate
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a black liquid, no highlights, a true stout. Finger of creamy brown head. Decent retention.

S - Roasted malts, mostly chocolate.

T - Taste follows with lots of chocolate. A sweetness balances out the tannins from the dark roasted malts. Alcohol is hidden well, each drink follows with a flushing effect. I would put this in the oatmeal imperial stout category if one existed.

M - Creamy, very smooth. Excellent mouthfeel.

D - Drinkability is really good on this high ABV beer.

Photo of DoubleJ
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

What has the crew for Kern River have in this stout? On to the beer:

Poured into a full 20 ounce imperial pint glass (because that glass kicks ass!), the beer is black as expected, with a little ruby red hues at the very bottom of the glass. Don't pour the entire bottle in or you'll have orange sediment floating, but my first pour was without the sediment. The head is tanned in color, has very good retention lasting till the end, and the lacing it leaves is good. An impressive nose, a pot of coffee and a feast of chocolate cake. There ya go.

This tastes like chocolate, and chocolate isn't even used! Class V beats most chocolate labeled beers at their own game with a big flavor reminiscent of Dutch chocolate. Cocoa comes around, a hint of coffee rooastings (especially in the aftertaste), and a tiny squirt of the hops. The alcohol is disguised, and it drinks more like a beer with 6.5% ABV, not 8.5%. One chink in the armor though it that it feels more like a 6.5er, with a medium body and good smoothness. One imperial pint down, no problem.

Kern River amazes again, and this is the most amazing one I've tired so far. It's also one of the best stouts I've tasted. Fun to drink without all that palate fatigue from larger stouts. Highly, highly recommended.

Photo of hoppymcgee
3.25/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Gorefiendus for this bottle. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Trois Pistoles goblet.

A: Dark brown/black with a small "tight bubble" head that diminishes to a film over the top. Good lacing.

S: A wheaty and yeasty chocolate aroma. I do not get any hop presence whatsoever.

T: Some chocolate, acrid coffee at best, and no hop presence whatsoever. I get a sort of artificial taste that's lacking direction.

M: Brings a little more life to this beer. Good carbonation level and smooth from start to finish.

D: ABV-wise this is good but the acrid coffee and artificial flavor bring the drinkability down.

Overall, this beer lack oomph and is kind of lifeless. A mediocre, everyday stout.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Generously shared by chswimmer during ramnuts' visit. Thanks Craig.

A: Pours a dark brown body with a half-finger of light tan head. Retention is decent for the style, and the remaining collar on the beer leaves some lace during my initial sips.

S: Quite a nice nose, but nothing screams "imperial" at me. If you had told me this was a straight-up stout (possibly an oatmeal stout), I would have believed it. Roasted grain, with a mild lactic / milk twang (or possibly anise). Chocolate. Some hops are noticed, adding kind of a pine aroma.

T: Cocoa powder, milk sweetness, and roasted grain. Definitely a touch of anise, possibly some nuts. Caramel. It's a solid stout flavor, not particularly complex or outstanding, but quite tasty. There is some lingering bitterness that I'm guessing is the hops I smelled, but I can't really taste the pine flavor here.

M: Light-medium bodied. It's not too dry. Quite tasty. I don't think it has the heft or flavor to justify the ABV; I'd expect something with substantially higher complexity for something over 8%. This is actually less flavorful than the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (again, I was making this comparison in my head before I realized it wasn't a regular oatmeal stout).

D: A solid, tasty beer. Nothing to go gaga over. A good value.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black forest cake with wee glimmers of sepia along the bottom edges and a thick slice of caramel nougat colored cream occupying the upper fourth of the pint glass. Remarkable persistence, continued good looks during the descent, and a lovely array of sticky lace are highlights.

The aroma is incredibly aromatic and features the olfactory wonders of roasted-chocolate malt above all else. Bittersweet chocolate and black coffee are in the foreground, while citrus zesty hops (Chinook and Cascade) are in the background. Very good things are expected.

Kern River Class V Stout is a hoppier than usual American double stout (although right in line with many West Coast versions) that drinks lower than the 8.5% ABV would suggest. Unless the alcohol hits with monster truck force in a few more ounces, I'd have guessed no more than 7.0%.

Most malt lovers will probably complain about too much citrus juicy hop flavor intruding on the roasted coffee bean (espresso) and dark chocolate goodness that beer of this style usually delivers. And they would have a point, since malt power and depth of flavor is a little lacking. Hopheads, however, should be mighty pleased.

Mouthfeel is the biggest reason why CVS seems more like 1.5x stout rather than double stout. It isn't as meaty as it should be, and the carbonation is too subtle besides. More barley and better bubbles would have allowed an increase in each of the final three scores.

Kern River Just Outstanding IPA is incredible beer that fits my preferred American IPA profile to a 'T'. Class V Stout isn't that good, but it's still damn fine ale that is a malt infusion away from being amazing. Recommended if you love the lupulins.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.63/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got bottles of this from tkunkel and womencantsail. Thanks, guys! I drank one at a tasting last month and this is the second bottle.

In my snifter, this beer is black with brown highlights. A thin light brown head is present, receding to a disk and then a ring, leaving a little lace. Solid stuff. The nose is great, with a nice blend between roast (that's almost toasted bread-like), cocoa, a mild milky and caramel sweetness with an underlying pine-like hop character. As it warms up, the pine character really grows. It also does bring out a little licorice.

This bottle is probably fresher than the last one I had because it is surprisingly hoppy. Opening with a firm hop bitterness, moderately pine-like with a blend of unsweetened cocoa, some caramel. The mid-palate is moderately juicy, with the pine hops really coming through. Now, I'm not opposed to hoppy stouts, but something doesn't really feel right. The malt flavor seems to be taking a back seat to the hops right now, and it doesn't seem like it has the legs as is. A little caramel, a little cocoa, moderate roast with no grainy bitterness, this is decent stuff. Hoppy on the finish with a mild pine-like resin character, there's some cocoa and not enough charred grain for my palate. Medium in body with moderate carbonation, this does feel a little watery in the mid-palate. Decently drinkable, the flavor doesn't match up the ABV, but it's still something I'd like to try again, hopefully with a little age on it, especially to allow the subtle malt character to come through more. Solid stuff.

Photo of callmemickey
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black body. Nice two to three centimeter khaki head. Good retention and nice sheet like lacing.

S: Bittersweet chocolate, caramel, roasted malts, and just a hint of roasted coffee.

T: Mirrors the nose to a T. The bittersweet chocolate and caramel provide a touch of sweetness which balances out the roasted malts out nicely. Not overly complex, but quite tasty.

M: Full bodied with a nice gentle carbonation that keeps the beer smoothly flowing across the tongue. Nice lingering finish with a bit of sweetness and some bitterness.

D: A very nice beer. There are just so many amazing stouts on the market that its tough to put this closer to the top.

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

Appearance - Pours into my SA Perfect Pint glass with a rather opaque dark chocolate color that allows literally no light to pass through, even near the edges. About a finger of mocha colored head is achieved that quickly dissipates leaving moderate lacing.

Smell - Roasted malts, cocoa, dark chocolate, vanilla, and slight coffee.

Taste - Rather creamy with taste similar to the nose. Chocolate, not quite as bitter as expecting, dark roasted malts, cocoa, and coffee. Again, not as bitter as I was expecting. Well balanced.

Mouthfeel - Lighter than I would have expected. Still a "creamy" nature to it, however, not as thick as would have thought. Ends a bit dry (bitterness).

Drinkability - Pretty quaffable for an imperial stout at 8.5%. I don't taste the alcohol at all nor any warming. This is a pretty good stout and as stated, easy to drink, no thanks to the lighter body of the beer. Not bad at all and I would have pegged this at a 5-6% stout had I not read the alcoholic content. This is going GREAT with some slightly sour raspberries. A damn good after dinner treat.

Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 442 ratings.