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Class V Stout - Kern River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

433 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 433
Reviews: 189
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 9.8%
Wants: 92
Gots: 67 | FT: 5
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:
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 added by: mcallister on 03-01-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 433 | Reviews: 189 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

On nitro-tap @ Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood. Served in a wide-mouth tulip.

Bistre, nearly opaque body with very slight auburn highlights that emerge when you are down to the dregs. Two steady fingers of dense beige steamed cream which doesn't recede at all. No visible "cascading" effect. Smooth cakey lacing drapes the sides and clings doggedly.

Light roast coffee, malt balls - a restrained aroma that remains so even as the beer warms. No off notes.

Coffee and cream, roast malt, with slight hints of licorice, white pepper, and pancake batter flavors. Mild hops add a slight earthiness and a low-level bitterness. Finishes bitter-sweet with a touch of cocoa butter.

Creamy, chewy, and rich, but not heavy. Very mild astringency.

Easy drinking middle-of-the-road stout here.

I could go for a boost in ABV, and while the flavors are good, they are a bit too mild for the style in my opinion...while not exactly a session ale, I'm not sure this warrants the "double" or "imperial" title.

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

A: poured a pitch black with a finger of tan head and good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: chocolate roasted malt aromas with hints of coffee and booze.I also got lactose type notes.

T: nice chocolate coffee flavors with roasted malts, booze and slight nutty notes

M: medium body with a good amount of carbonation and a little bitter finish.

D: definitely not the best double stout but a decent beer from kern river.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to overlord for this bottle.

A: Pours a near-black with an initially-large tan head. Settles down into a nice outer ring around the glass.

S: Dominated by chocolate and coffee, in that order, alongside a lighter presence of roasted malt.

T: An explosion compared to the nose. The chocolate, coffee, and roast are definitely there, as are molasses, brown sugar, and hints of vanilla. Extremely well done.

M: Medium body with good carbonation. A bit thinner than I'd like it to be.

D: Very nice. Intriguing flavors and fairly-low abv for the style. This was a nice treat and I'm very glad I got to try it. Thanks again, Mike.

Photo of billshmeinke
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into an oversized wine glass.

Pours jet black in color. Pretty hard pour yields a bubbly khaki one finger head. Takes a minute to reside to a layer of foam with most of the foam concentrated at the edge of the glass, some big bubbles. Nice lacing left behind.

Smells of chocolate and espresso. Some nutty scent in there is well (cashews/peanuts). A floral hops fragrance as well.

Taste follows smell with lots of chocolate and espresso and again this nutty flavor that reminds me of cashews, peanuts and almonds. A tiny bit of caramel in there. There is also nice floral hop bitterness to balance out the malts. Ends with a chocolate and smokey note.

Pretty full bodied. Medium carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

The 8.5% abv is utterly hidden. This double stout has everything you expect, and a hop presence that nicely balances the malt presence.

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

Aroma is comprised of floral cascade hops mixed with bittersweet chocolate and lightly roasted coffees. Syrupy black pour with a fingers worth of toffee colored head; sticky, scattered foam remains.

Tastes like an iced coffee with a couple of sugar packets. Noticeable coats the tongue, medium bodied and medium carbonated. Caramel sweetness with a balanced that is off and skewed towards the malt side, but not by much. Very light roasted character and the finish starts sweet, with some dialed down bitter lingering, but ends dry.

The beer could have benefited from some more roasty character and a touch more hop bitterness. Aroma is pleasant but a touch too delicate and restrained. Very drinkable but not assertive enough to do the style justice.

Photo of ShadesOfGray
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a tall snifter glass. Pours a dark black with a faint light shining through giving the appearance of a brownish hue...in the pour. Fills the glass dark black, but head is definitely lacking. Very little...basically no head at all. Just a couple frothy looking bubbles hit or miss around the rim. Leaves a couple bubbles of lace, so basically lacing isn't a factor at all either.

Aroma is pretty light, but mostly roasted coffee...and that's about it. Even though it's light, the coffee notes are pleasant.

Flavor is basically all coffee. Over-roasted coffee beans...Light to medium mouthfeel, low carbonation, finishes slightly dry with a hoppy bitterness. Overall, not a great stout...but definitely a drinkable and decent beer.

Photo of Ineedabeerhere
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for this one via the 666 BIF. From notes on 4.9.10.

Pours black, took a little work to coerce much of a head formation in my tulip. Spotty lace sticks around.

Smells of deep, quality coffee beans without being acrid. High quality, dark chocolate. The taste is much of the same, some burnt caramel sweetness. Very well balanced between malt sweetness and bitter roast. Medium bodied, but really silky smooth and coating despite not being too "big" of a beer (8.5% abv). Really excellent with a great finish, some roast lingers.

Nothing too distinct about this beer, it is just very well balanced and well made. I haven't had too many Kern River beers yet, but between this and the JO IPA, they seem to be doing some great things out there. I'd like to drink this again sometime.

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

Beer served in a tulip, beer is black and forms a thin brown head of tiny bubbles that breaks and gravitates toward the walls of the glass. Head leaves a lot of lacing.

The aroma is sweet and roasty with a hint of alcohol. Maybe some chocolate is in there as well.

Beer is slightly thinner than expect and has a nice sweetness and chocolate notes to it. Really nice. Second taste, the roast on this beer is overall mild and mostly shows up in the aftertaste, very smooth on the palate. I really like this stout. Top notch.

Photo of largadeer
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The better part of a bomber shared with Sandstone, I used the remaining 4 oz for ticking purposes. A hard pour leaves me with a near-lifeless midnight black body. This bottle appears to have some carbonation issues, though it's not completely flat. The aroma is excellent, rich dark chocolate and sweet espresso up front, with a light hoppiness taking backseat to the malt. It's chewy and viscous on the palate, initially sweet but more bitter and dry towards the finish. Dark chocolate is the dominant flavor, but it's balanced by a subtle earthiness, dark roasted coffee and a faint spicy hop presence. Pretty nice stuff, I'd love to try a fully carbonated bottle.

Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 433 ratings.