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Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5thDark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,305 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,305
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 7.91%
Wants: 1,969
Gots: 604 | FT: 77
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MbpBugeye on 07-25-2010

Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,305 | Reviews: 335 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mjpolzin
4.1/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a 4 oz pour of this at Great Taste of the Midwest. Because I only got to have 4 ounces and because you try so many different beers at this festival, it is tough for me to give this the review it deserves but here it goes...

Bourbon seemed to be the dominant taste in this beer. It was overpowering but enough so that it did mask some of the other stout flavors I usually like to find. From reading some other reviews on this site, I am sure that if I had let this beer warm a bit some of the other flavors would have come out.

I am slowly starting to appreciate Dark Horse as I have started to have more of their beers. When comparing other big stouts that I had during the day at Great Taste, this was for sure one of the top 3.

Photo of claaark13
4.11/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Cam. Poured into a Founders snifter after being slightly chilled.

A - Pours black and a light-tan head forms. It soon disappears and leaves minimal lacing. Sticks to the glass alright. It looks extremely appealing.

S - Dark fruits with light amounts of vanilla and oak. Some fudge comes through as well.

T - Fudge quickly turns into into some oak and vanilla, some heat, then a dry vanilla finish. There is also a little bit of burn once the dryness begins to subside. The oak really makes itself present towards the end. The fudge/cocoa/chocolate is there, but really seems to take the back seat to the barrel. There is a little bit of sweetness, which helps create some balance.

M - Medium body with lower carbonation on the tongue. It does the job with the flavors.

O - The flavor seems a little heavy on dryness and virgin oak for me without providing as much caramel/vanilla as I would expect/prefer. I think if they could pull back the barrel just a little bit, it would surpass what I'd call similar beers. Or, if the barrel would be able to present more charred characteristics. I'd drink it again happily and would be interested to open one among similar beers to see how it stacks up.

7/1/12 Update - Dark fruits are showing up in the flavor, oak is still strong and the heat is faded. If you've been holding any of these for a while, you should really think about opening at least one of them soon. 5/4/4.5/4.5/4.25

Photo of mfavoino
4.11/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared between three friends and poured into a Surly tulip. Side by side with the base.

Appearance: Looks like thick motor oil with a nice mocha rim to it. A ring is left along the top of the glass.

Smell: Bourbon dominates the nose. Alcohol, oak, and a dark roasty aroma are the most prominent aromas beyond the initial bourbon.

Taste: Smooth bourbon is the first thing to touch my palate and has a huge flavor. Some roasted malt, sweet chocolate, and oak give it the complexity it needs. Booze warmth as it finishes.

Mouthfeel: Heavy mouthfeel, creamy, and boozy.

Overall: Very much different from the base beer, as the bourbon is strong. I honestly think I prefer the base in this case, but that is not to say that they took anything away from it with the BB version.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.12/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn snifter. 2012 vintage.

Appearance - Very think inky black pour with a small mocha head. Nothing left after a while. Just a thin collar and three measly and miniscule islands of foam.

Smell - The barrel is very nice, but the aroma of the beer is intense. Bourbon, tons of oak, and a nice hint of vanilla from the barrel. Sweet malts, licorice. Coffee and dark chocolate are afterthoughts compared to the barrel, booze, and sugars.

Taste - The base beer shines through the barrel, but it adds a nice layer. Bourbon is immediately apparent. Deep dark chocolate flavors and a sweet fruit layer. Oak is really intense in the back. Lingering oaky finish is too strong and just pegs it back from perfect.

Mouthfeel - It's heavy, boozy, and overly oaked. Low carbonation. A monster of a beer.

Overall - While this beer is spectacular, the barrel hasn't improved it. Intense oak creates an unpleasant aftertaste. That being said, I had this on tap and it was incredible. Batch to batch may vary. I certainly won't mind exploring different vintages of this.

Photo of PlinyBeMiney
4.12/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage received via trade w/ TheCherryMan, thanks!

Pours graciously with no apparent head until I force the last on the bottle straight down. Head is a crown of caramel bubbles which settle along the edges of my snifter. The smell is dark chocolate, coffee, burnt vanilla and a musty bourbon. Despite the variety of flavors, everything seems somewhat muted. I appreciate the aggressive (but well integrated) taste of bourbon in an aged stout, but that isn't the case here. I'm just a bit disappointed, and as it warms I get a bit more bourbon, though not as well integrated and a bit fusel. The taste is something I can appreciate. It's smooth and mellow. No alcohol burn, and a nice roastiness. Mouthfeel is silky but a tad thin. My bottle says its 11% despite the description saying it should be 14%. I attribute the thinness to this. This may have been a thicker beer, but this version is definitely a lot lighter on the tongue. Overall, I'm happy to try this. I am starting to realize rarity can elevate a beers score, but in this case the beer gets the job done and I am more than happy to enjoy it. Cheers.

Photo of Halfbrother83
4.12/5  rDev -9.5%

Photo of redblacks75
4.12/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Dark black, no lacing, very little head, and what color there is to the head is a mocha, tan.

S: Bourbon, & vanilla.

T: Vanilla, burnt sugar, anise, a slight oak taste which may be due to the dryness.

M: It's thinner than allot of stouts I have had before. A medium-low carbonation, with an extra dry finish.

O: The best Dark Horse offering I have had to date. If you are looking for a bourbon forward stout I recommend this. It is a worthwhile offering.

Photo of brentk56
4.13/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Vintage 2012

Appearance: Pours pitch black, with some brownish highlights on the edge; the head lays a film on top of the liquid and then fades to a ringlet while leaving a nice pattern of lacing around the chalice

Smell: Dark fruit, licorice, dark chocolate, citrus and some oak; not picking up much in the way of Bourbon

Taste: The dark fruit (prune, primarily), licorice and dark chocolate flavors dominate the front end with some citrusy hops appearing, in the middle; the Bourbon appears, after the swallow, adding oak and vanilla; chops more wood into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, with low to moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: For what is currently #19 on the Top 250 list, I was expecting something a bit more than what I got; still, this beer is a solid Bourbon barrel RIS, just not an earth shatterer

Thanks, Tenchi221, for the opportunity

Photo of CrellMoset
4.13/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle courtesy of a recent trade - thanks! Poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours an onyx, deep and pool like, viscous but at the same time oily and slick looking. A moderately vigorous pour yields a surprising amount of head for a barrel aged, 14.0% abv brew - about three quarters of a finger of foamy espresso with surprising retention sits atop the body, about as thick as the inky sludge it's sitting on top of. It ultimately fades in to a similarly thick, foamy ring and a few sparse wisps of surface bubbles, with the persistence of the former being somewhat of a mystery, as even direct exposure to light reveals no internal carbonation. Half a point off for the inability of this one to hold any modicum of lacing on the sides of the glass, but half a point only given the aforementioned factors weighing against this one's ability to do so.

Aroma: Rich, but still somewhat subdued. Smoke, roast, hints of fruit, and a very smooth barrel presence belies absolutely no hint of alcohol spice or heat, even as this one warms, which is a definite plus. There's an interesting juxtaposition here between a lot of light fruity notes - cherries, sour apple, almost bordering upon jolly rancher-ish notes at times - and the deep, velvety smokiness of the malts and (I presume) some hint of barrel char. The latter also obviously compliments the bourbon and other barrel notes, which suggest strong vanilla and hints of cinnamon, along with a persistent but very heavy and low-in-the-register woodiness.

Taste: A slightly different tasting -bal RIS than I expected, heavy on the extremes. What I mean is that, typically, -bal RISs are bourbon, chocolate, and coffee bombs; and, while this one has all three of those components, none of them really dominate, or are even that prevalent. This one is more about fruit notes at the top of the register, smoky, charred malts at the bottom, and flashes of intermittent barrel notes filling in the blanks. It's unique, a little different, and still pretty good. Deep espresso roast and fudge brownie notes are definitely still present, mind you, but they're balanced by a slew of raisins, figs, cherries, dates, and even berry notes - way high up in the mouth, in a way that leaves that tinge of acidity.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, but what is here is well-embedded, smooth, creamy, and works perfectly with the flavor components. The end result hits all the right notes.

Drinkability: Fantastic. A really solid beer, with a very interesting flavor profile, despite the 14.0% abv.

Photo of tbdkev
4.14/5  rDev -9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown, motor oil color with some tan lacing. The aroma leaves something to be desired. Although the normal constituents of bourbon are present on the nose (i.e. vanilla, oak, etc.). There's a faint "saltwater" aroma as well, which is a little disconcerting. The taste follows the standard bourbon profile, with big burned elements and a heavy alcohol warmth throughout. The mouthfeel is pleasant, although I wish it was slightly thicker. The finish leaves something to be desired, as the big flavors from the initial taste disappear rather quickly, leaving only the burn. A solid brew from Dark Horse, but I'm a little let down.

Photo of bnelson997
4.15/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of LakerLeith
4.16/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Jimmeekrek
4.16/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

did a tasting with 4 other bourbon barrel aged stout, and unbelievably this took 5th.we had such high hopes for this beer, yet when drink against the other beers that night it tasted very average. I don't know if we got a bad bottle somehow, but nothing stood out about this beer.for the record the other four beers were bells black note, Great Lakes Bourbon Barrel blackout, 2012 KBS, and central waters 15.

Photo of Bierguy5
4.17/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black. Tan head holds for a couple minutes, then fades to a thin ring. Not much lace, but still good looking.

Lots of roasty malt. Oak and bourbon notes abound. Dark chocolate. A good amount of wood, without being overwhelming.

Roasty malt, nice bourbon character with some oaky tannins. Very minimal fruit. A hint of vanilla.

Medium body with a nice creamy feel. Some warming alcohol. Overall, very nice, but a bit hot.

Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12/29/2011

2011 batch. Snifter. Huge thanks to Ed for the bottle.

My pants were extremely tight at work today. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. Though, it's nothing I can't sort out over a barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout. Any lapse in advocacy may lead to depression and torpidity. I have much thinking to do, it may require efforts from a bomber of IPA as well.

A: The beer resembles motor oil as it flows forth from the glass when I gently tilt the bottle. The head strikes me as a mixture of russet and sepia. It lingers for half a minute before receding to a small collar of froth around the edges of the glass.

S: Caramel drizzled dark chocolate cake, brown sugar, and big oak notes. Vanilla is light and bourbon is dominant (in a good way). Roasted grains are evident, blending with milk chocolate and alcohol.

T: Liquid dark chocolate, rich and delicious, with a light molasses presence and an upper low earthy bitterness. There's a lot of booze in the flavor, but the taste manages to still be quite good. I get a shadow of caramel and a fair amount of oak with big fudge notes. Bourbon is well integrated. Roasted grains are restrained. Alcohol takes over in the late midpalate and dominates through the finish. It's a bit rough near the end, knocking this from a 4.5 to a 4 in the flavor.

M: Full in body with lower medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is silky, chewy, and sticky.

Overall: Enjoyable, but this is just a bit too boozy at this point. I'll bet this will be excellent in 6 months if it manages to avoid becoming infected like many other barrel aged strong ales. A pleasure to try.

Photo of HawkeyePA
4.18/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep black with almost nothing as a head, kind dark cherry cola looking wisp to it. Aroma, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, all almost equally present, not domineering, nice.

Taste, wow, really smooth, more of the same elements from the nose keep their equitable place on the palate. Overall sweetness is up there, but never diabetes inducing stuff, really, this is a well balanced flavor profile for a huge beer, that doesn't knock you over the head with the alcohol.

This is one of those special beers. Plead the 5th is an already great base beer. Sometimes (Rasputin) you can throw a great base beer into a bourbon barrel, and it becomes less great. Not the case here. It isn't a pretty beer, and the first look and smell won't tip you off to how good this is, but drink it, you'll like it.

Thanks to largadeer for breaking this, and many other gems out at the Solar Eclipse party.

Photo of Bjorn2bWild
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Arbitrator
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours a dark, oily black -- the color of motor oil that has been used several thousand miles past spec. A pinky finger of dark mocha head caps the beer; retention is short.

S: Vanilla, caramel / burnt sugar, fudge, bourbon, oak, molasses. The net effect here is reminiscent of early, keg-only Parabola. I shed a tear for the hoppy abomination the bottle form has become, and give praise that Dark Horse seems to have stumbled onto Firestone-Walker's formula.

T: As in the nose, the flavor captures a delicious blend of fudgy vanilla. Bourbon is somehow less prominent than the vanilla bean character, though it is by no means hidden. A touch of roast evokes earthy coffee, but this is a minor element; the beer clearly prefers the chocolate-dessert approach, and I'm not one to complain about that.

M: Chewy and oily, but not lingering or difficult to remove from the palate. In fact, it finishes relatively cleanly for something this big. And it hides the ABV quite well. I'm sure this is beyond 14% (isn't that what the base beer has?). My only complaint is that as it warms, it has a distinct solventy aftertaste, which in several bottles became unbearable at the proper serving temp.

O: I had this a few times out of the bottle and detected noticeable variation. Two bottles were outstanding; very fudgy and rich, with great bourbon integration. Others were a little cardboardy and solventy. I'm tweaking my score so that the overall grade is a rough average of the bottles I've had.

Incidentally, I compared this to early batches of Parabola, but it also reminds me of a chewier Silva Stout. Overall, this is a fantastic beer and needs more love.

Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours black as night, as expected, with a small and chocolate brown head forming. The head is just a whisp of foam on the top of the beer, but it does leave a pretty good lace pattern.

S- Big and dark roasted malts hit the nose first, just like a good Russian imperial should. Next comes a bit of bourbon barrel spiciness. Oak and vanilla are the prominent barrel scents, with just a touch of the bourbon sneaking in. Towards the back end of the smell, it turns sweeter than most stouts, but then the dark malts return and leave you with traditional stout flavors on the nose.

T- Just like the smell, this beer starts with a bang of deep, dark malts. Slightly bitter dark chocolate and just a touch of coffee hit the tongue and lead you into the middle of the drink. The barrel spice moves in during the middle of the drink with a touch of vanilla and a bit of boozy bourbon. The barrel flavors mix in with the dark malts and form a fairly complex overall flavor. The beer leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste on the tongue after the drink is finished.

M- The alcohol is evident a little bit while sipping this beer, but it really shines in how smooth it is. Low carbonation levels and a thick and heavy flavor profile make this somewhat of a slow drink. On the whole, this is a silky smooth, thick, and heavy beer that goes down smooth for its weight.

Overall, this beer is very, very good. The great dark malts with chocolate and coffee interact with the bourbon barrel very well without overpowering the malts or becoming to aggressive to be enjoyed. I like this beer.

Photo of mistakebythelake
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at a recent BA barrel aged tasting with some Cincy folks. Thanks for providing this gem!

Was impressed with the pitch black color and lacing that this growler pour revealed into my snifter. A beauty on the nose as well with a medium amount of bourbon touched off with some cocoa. The taste with the bourbon, chocolate and some vanilla characteristics from the oak really impressed me with the balance of this stout. The carbonation may have been a bit off due to the growler pour being the last out of the keg when filled, but still was a sludgy, creamy feel. I was surprised that it was around 14% as its drinkability was very high for me without the booziness some ba stouts can get.

Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of mgp2675
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank this after a regular Plead the 5th for comparison.

A- black, much thicker than Plead the 5th, minimal tan-colored head on it

S- very, very sweet...some chocolate and coffee at the end. As it warmed up though I got some vanilla out of it, but overall not the most impressive nose on this one

T- some initial bitterness with the first sip and then tons of vanilla, very smooth, aftertaste of dark chocolate. This tastes great, and you cannot sense the 14% ABV

M- honestly pretty perfect, just the right amount of thickness

O- great stout...top 5 for me and I've had a lot of them. One of the most impressive things was how much the barrel aging process changed the base beer. I thought Plead the 5th was way too sweet and not incredibly smooth, and this is the opposite of that. It tastes very similar to Parabola, just with a much different aroma. I've been a bit disappointed with a lot of BA stouts with hype like this one has, but this beer honestly is worth seeking out. Good stuff

Photo of beerpirates
4.21/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into my CBS snifter

A: Opaque dark, deep black with no light getting through this. 2 finger brown head which fades quickly into a thin collar and some wandering, appealing laces.

S: Smell is of dark chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla. Huge! A smooth smoky and nutty scent along with some dark fruits and a bit of alcohol follow.

T: Massive dark chocolate, sweet and roasted malts. Bourbon, vanilla very well blended to this malty profile. The upcoming booze brings dark fruits aroma. Finishes on nutty and resinous hops notes.

M: Full bodied, sweet, creamy, a bit chewy but not sticky. Not as warming as one could expect given the ABV. Easily drinkable. Just perfect!

O: A beautiful barrel aged stout. Smell and taste profiles are huge, massive. But this is so easy to drink, so good !

Photo of cpetrone84
4.21/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Compared the '11 and '12 next to each other. Pour is jet black with a dark caramel head but not a lot even after a strong pour. Nose is a nice mix of bourbon and light chocolate cake. There are some chalky notes and a bit of booze in back. Taste is more woody, light bourbon. Chocolate notes, faintly chalky but less than the nose. Full bodied and soft, a hint slick with moderate carbonation. Taste gets a little sweet in back and some lingering roasted malts.
The '11 has a richer nose and less sweet in the flavor. More balanced but less bright so you sacrifice a little in flavor expression for balance and tightness. Both are very solid, I would prefer the '11 with the 2 years in it. Rate from the '11.

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,305 ratings.