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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

363 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 363
Hads: 2,666
rAvg: 4.46
pDev: 3.36%
Wants: 2,100
Gots: 731 | FT: 95
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 363 | Hads: 2,666
Photo of Brenden
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This big beer is pretty close to black. It looks quite similar to the original (sans the barrel, if you will), with the exception that the sandy head isn't quite as well structured. Still, it rises to about the same height and holds up pretty well, coming only a little short of having the original's staying power and lace.
This beer shows off how tasty it's going to be right off the nose. The bourbon is very nicely integrated, warm but not too hot or abrasive. The stout is already roasty, and good use of a bourbon barrel always seems to smooth it out as well as adding the vanilla and woods that are found in this beer. There was a bit of dark chocolate, plenty of dark fruit that doesn't come off too forcefully but lays under some char, and a certain nuttiness. Hops add just a bit to balance, a light leafy sort of addition. The chocolate notes almost go milky about midway.
This is very nearly as smooth as it gets. A sipper for sure, the brewers took great care to not let alcoholic heat thin it or add too much bite, the body's richness and thickness or its robust fullness to get too sickeningly heavy or slick, and the sweetness to overcome the balancing dry notes that keep it in check. This is one of the silkiest, most smoothly slowing brews I've yet had the pleasure to drink. (1,294 characters)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Jet black pour. Coffee colored head settles quickly. Minimal spotty lacing.

S: Fudge sauce, bitter dark chocolate, mocha. The barrel blends into this, creating scent profiles of chocolate/marshmallow candy and caramel chews. Whiffs of toasty oak and bourbon too. Some berry fruitiness rests underneath everything.

T: Rich mocha flavors and fudge sauce at the outset. Woody roast turns into more acrid flavors of French roast coffee. The barrel brings decadence as it melds with malt. Bourbon balls, walnut brownies, caramel chews and chocolate covered nougat come to the forefront. Quick flashes of figs and dates. Oak and some assertive bourbon toward the back. Bitter dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon on the finish.

M: Big and thick in body. Coating in the mouth, though not sticky or syrupy. It glides over the tongue with a satiny but chewy texture. Light carbonation. Warming alcohol.

O: Almost perfect. It's everything you could ever want in a bourbon barrel aged Imperial stout. It's such a delicious sipper in its own right that I fear any attempt at a pairing would only bring it down. Truly a stellar brew. (1,161 characters)

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very thick, oily looking dark brown and settles into the glass with a very dark brown body and a frothy, mocha colored head. Aroma is of rich caramel, sweet bourbon, oaky wood and big roasted malts. Flavor is big bitter roastiness up front with a dash of coffee, then it hits with a wave of sugary sweet bourbon, toasted oak and finished with some roastiness and caramel flavors. Definite waves of flavor with this one. This one is full bodied with medium-light carbonation and a slick oily feel. Up there with the great class of BB stouts, very nicely done. (566 characters)

Photo of MarcWP
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Copper wax Van Winkle. Joke.


Pours typical, black with no light coming through, small toasted almond colored head that leaves a tiny ring around the edge of the snifter.


Aroma is heavy bourbon, molasses, bitter dark bakers chocolate, fudge, brown sugar, and a definite date and fig fruitiness.


The taste brings heavy roast, bourbon, molasses, fudge, brown sugar, burnt fig, oak, vanilla extract, and bitter coffee. The flavor is pretty balanced between the roast, sweetness, fruitiness, and booziness of the bourbon. The finish lacks the complexity of the mid palate though.


Mouthfeel suffers a bit compared to the rest of the beer but is still good. More fullness would be awesome but the carbonation is spot on for the style. A medium mouthfeel when it should be at least a heavy side of medium.


Overall an excellent bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. Not at the level of some of the best I've had, but definitely on their heels. Will be interesting to see how it ages. (997 characters)

Photo of dogfishandi
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

huge thanks to lurchingbeast for this awesome extra!

pours out complete opaque motor oil black with a dark mocha colored head that rather quickly faded to a thin yet retentive ring. off a swirl, a little sticky lace, but more so some nice legs left on the glass.

big boozey bourbon attacks the nostrils, oaky, woody vanilla, burnt roasted malts, a little dark chocolate and dark fruits. more and more bourbon comes out as it warms.

wow, that first taste almost blew me away. awesome bourbon flavors, big vanilla, more so towards the finish, burnt, dark roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate, burnt marshmallows, dark chocolate cake. really some wonderful bourbon flavors in the finish, for me, thats when the magic really happens. there is such a wonderful marriage of flavors here that i dont even have words for.

creamy, low carb which is nice, big chewy mouthfeel. very warming. silky.

really a wonderful bourbon barrel aged stout. the regular plead the fifth was such a well done impy stout, so i had such high hopes for this and i was definatly not let down. ill definatly seek out more of this for the cellar if possible. great beer, loads of bourbon, still i dont think i can say its better than bourbon county, although extremely close. (1,248 characters)

Photo of philbe311
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Slight medium brown colored head quickly fades leaving just a thin collar around the glass... Slightly menacing black color... Minimal carbonation...

S - Lots of roasted malts... Vanilla... Smoke... Some dark chocolate... The scent of the bourbon barrel is present, but far from overpowering... It adds nicely to the overall aroma...

T - Fudgie brownies... Dark fruit... Roasted malts... A touch of smokiness... The bourbon continues to take prominence as this one warms a bit, but never overwhelms...

M - Full bodied... Thick... Slightly viscous... Subtle carbonation... Sleek... Silky smooth...

D - This one isn't for the timid or shy... A full bodied, full flavored, full throttled barrel aged stout... Lots of good things going on here... This one deserves a seat at the table of the best of the big time barrel aged stouts... (842 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Growler shared by Adam and Anna. Thanks!

Oily, viscous black with a small dark brown cap.

The aroma is great - rich dark malts backed by strong but well integrated bourbon barrel. Milk chocolate, fudge, caramel, slight mustiness from the barrel and a hint of tar from the dark malt. Some noticeable alcohol, but no harshness.

Flavors of dark chocolate fudge and scorched malt frolic alongside caramel and vanilla. The body is huge and oily with a low level of carbonation. Tarry, burnt malt lends some balance to an otherwise sweet finish. The lingering sweetness reminds me of Jack Daniels. Alcohol is surprisingly reigned-in, I'd never guess this was 14%.

Plead the 5th is already a great beer, and this is even better. Impressive stuff. (744 characters)

Photo of ThickNStout
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from IAmJacksHopTongue (thanks so much man!). The Julian dating on the neck has partially rubbed off but appears to be 3363, or 12/2/13. Served in a Clown Shoes snifter.

Pours oil black with a tiny eighth finger cap of tan head. Very little retention and no lace.

Sweet, inviting aromas of bourbon, vanilla, cocoa and caramel. Nice.

Taste follows the nose but so much better. Flavors of soft, sweet bourbon throughout with layers of dark chocolate, vanilla, roasty malts, oak, molasses, caramel and espresso. Terrific balance of bourbon and classic imperial stout. A slight tingle of alcohol but this goes down easily.

Creamy, medium full feel with low carbonation. Perhaps not quite as thick as I'd prefer but it settles on the tongue nicely. Aftertaste of soft bourbon and bittersweet dark chocolate.

I've enjoyed Plead the 5th before but nothing like this. The barrel aging really makes this beer come alive. An excellent treat that is worth seeking out. (979 characters)

Photo of Etan
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz 2011 bottle shared by ravot. Thanks!

A: Brownish black with a very dark brown head. Thick looking.

S: Huge vanilla, maple, chocolate. Creamy and richly aromatic.

T: Mild roast, chocolate, slight raisin, vanilla, caramel, solid oak, pleasant hit of booze in the finish.

M: Thick with a bit of carbonation.

O: Very, very good bourbon barrel stout. (355 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap, the 2009 vintage, 12ish%

Black with a dark brown head that has surprisingly poor retention or lacing, given the base beer. Still, this does look great, and has nice legs. The nose reminds me of dark lord. Big licorice and molasses mildly soy like even, with a big barrel character. Beautiful vanilla and oak with some tannins. Plenty of dark chocolate and dark caramel. Great nose, I almost want to give it a 5

The palate opens with a big boozy heat and plenty of bourbon working well with the chocolate and licorice. Plenty of malt and licorice bitterness as well. Thick chewy and boozy, this beer is sweet and hot on the finish with nice chocolate and vanilla. This is one of those few beers where the heat is well-incorporated in the flavor profile, mostly thanks to the huge body .Not as much soy on the palate, as the nose might suggest. A little overcarbonated, though, but that's personal preference. Letting it warm up and flatten out reveals how awesome this beer is. (986 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At the time of this review, this beer is the #7 top Russian Imperial Stout on the beeradvocate.com "Top Beers - Russian Imperial Stout" list. Another top 10 beer for me. A big thanks to Thorpe for letting me have some of this beer during our impromptu epic New Years Day tasting.

Beer served in a sniffer. Beer is black, oily, this dark brown head of small bubbles, low retention, falls back to halo the glass minimal lacing and low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet, chocolate, strong malt presence. The boubon come through strong. Mild oak. Smells like a big bourbon stout.

Beer is medium to big in body, malty sweet with a strong bourbon character. Fudge and chocolate with minimal roast. The sweetness carries through all the way to the end. The bourbon wins in this beer. So sweet, so oaky, vanilla, booze but without heat. I really liked it. (847 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike.

The beer is near black with a thin, beige cap. The aroma offers bourbon and roast, followed by alcohol, vanilla, oak, chocolate. Great flavor, with prominent bourbon throughout. Additional tastes of vanilla and chocolates. Moderately low carbonation, with a smooth, buttery feel. A bit of heat in the finish, but 14% abv feels pretty nice. Overall, very enjoyable. A top notch barrel-aged imperial stout. (446 characters)

Photo of hardy008
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2011

Pours dark black with a 1/4 inch mocha head which fades quickly. Has a very nice sweet aroma with chocolate, roasted malt, bourbon, raisins, figs, coconut, oak, and vanilla. Even though I can clearly smell the bourbon, it does not have a boozy smell to it.

Tastes as great as it smells. Sweet with chocolate, roasted malt, bourbon, raisins, figs, coconut, oak, and vanilla. Just like with the aroma, the taste is not boozy, even though I can taste the bourbon. This aged the perfect amount of time to turn out this nice.

For some reason, the Plead the 5th base beer tastes boozier than this version. I may need to buy some more of the base beer, and age for a couple of years to compare.

Medium to full bodied with light carbonation. Has a chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon aftertaste. This is a very well made beer. I'm very glad to have a few more bottles to drink. (883 characters)

Photo of Jared14
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to markgugs for this one. 2013 bottle.

Pours dark chocolate brown to black. Very little head generated. Fades to the sides quickly.

Smell is of cocoa nibs and bourbon. Not bad, not great.

Taste is amazing chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon booze notes. Mingle together very well.

Mouth feel was good when I poured it near 40 but as it warmed up the feel got thicker.

Overall beats KBS, BCBS, and scores a tad under Black Note for the past year vintages. Well done bottle. First of many from this brewery. (517 characters)

Photo of More_betterness
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Midnight black body topped with a one finger dark mocha head after a vigorous pour. The head recedes quickly to a small ring around the edge of the glass. Small spots of lacing and slight legs remain after a swirl.

S: Rich cocoa, marshmallow, and caramel upfront, followed by a hint of bourbon/vanilla that becomes more pronounced as it warms. Purely decadent, smells like an effing candy bar.

T: Milk chocolate, and vanilla and caramel notes from the bourbon are most prominent, and are layered with roasty malt and a slight tinge of alcohol. Delicious.

M: Medium/thick bodied and viscous with a moderate carbonation and a long lingering finish.

O: Damn this was on point. My first Dark Horse offering and Im impressed. Need more immediately. (755 characters)

Photo of Zach136
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pitch black with a large, very dark head.

Aroma/Flavor: Bourbon vanilla coffee cake takes over, but theres still a great balance swith smokey espresso, nutty and bakers chocolate notes from the base.

Mouthfeel: Luscious, full bodied, sticky. (255 characters)

Photo of Bobloblawlawblog11
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pour jet black, with a small brown/tan head. Smells like chocolate and bourbon. Can smell the bourbon presence. Taste is sweet, some dark fruit flavor as well as bourbon and chocolate. Mouthfeel is a bit thin compared to some other BA stouts. (242 characters)

Photo of jvillefan
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-Dark black. There was a small mocca colored head that did not stay or linger at all.

S-Very roasty malts with dark dark chocolate, coffee, and burnt aroma in the beginning. The alcohol and the bourbon cut through the initial aroma to finish off the smell.

T-The bourbon is in the beginning of this beer with the sweet caramel maltiness associated with it. The barley comes through afterward with the deep roast of coffee with very subtle chocolate flavors.

M-It has an average viscosity, which was a little unexpected for such a high alcohol beer. The alcohol is very sharp on the tongue and the carbonation is low.

O-Great beer, worth getting if you can buy it or trade something not too outstanding for it. I would put it on par with a lesser version of KBS. (766 characters)

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours completely opaque black, even on the pour with a finger of dense brown head. Retention is very good.

S: Molasses are most prevalent, but dark chocolate is close behind with light toffee in the background. Oak and bourbon are also there, but even further back.

T: Dark chocolate is now upfront with molasses and caramel close behind. I also get very well integrated bourbon way in the background. The flavors of this beer mix incredibly well. A bit too boozy, but not over the top and expected for the ABV.

M: The best part of this beer - extremely thick and creamy.

O: The integration of the flavors in this beer are phenomenal. The mouthfeel is also nearly perfect. I could use a bit more complexity and a bit more roast, but this beer is very, very good. (804 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to cmrillo for sharing this one after a ticking session at a local restaurant this evening! Thanks brother! Served from bottle into a Ommegang Three Philosophers chalice. Poured pitch black with a half finger brown head that subsided to a minimal amount very quickly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised roasted malt, sweet malt, brown sugar, dark fruit, wood, sweet alcohol, and vanilla. The flavor was of sweet malt, roasted malt, dark fruit, raisin, vanilla, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a heavy feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a very good brew. The aroma on this one was really quite nice and very complex. All of the right components for the style were present in this one. The barrel really did a nice number on this brew as the regular version was quite good, but this turned that up to 11. The flavor was very well balanced and inviting making it quite easy to drink despite the high ABV. This could definitely get you in A LOT of trouble if not careful. An absolute must try if you are a fan of beer. Really glad I finally got the chance to try this one myself! Thanks again Rillo! (1,181 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz gold-waxed bottle from the '13 bottling, poured into a Short's glass. Thanks Sam (theSamKuehn) for this bottle.

A- Pours a pitch black with a thin yet thick and creamy mocha head that recedes to a flat top. Subtle carbonation but nice consistency.

S- Dark chocolate, integrated bourbon, light roast, subtle vanilla/coconut, light figs, and some light integrated oak. Nice balance, all the flavors complement each other very well, fairly complex.

T- Dark chocolate with a hint of bitterness, lightly roasty espresso, very well integrated bourbon that adds a nice vanilla/coconut sweetness to the base, nice chocolaty oak finish with a touch of bitterness and booze. Nice balance, great use of bourbon barrels to add to the flavors of an already great base beer.

M- Silky smooth, creamy, fairly thick bodied, subtle carbonation perfect for the style, very little alcohol burn, just about perfect for a barrel-aged stout in my book.

O- I've had multiple vintages of BB Pt5 and it's among my favorite barrel-aged stouts. The base beer Pt5 is already a great beer and the barrels add a nice integrated presence adding to the complexity and flavor. From my experience I prefer this beer fresh as it's still incredibly drinkable and hasn't lost any of it's flavors. If you do want to age it a couple years it will still hold up with the best of them, except maybe lose a little bit of the base beer flavor. (1,409 characters)

Photo of peensteen
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Liam, 2012 bottle.

Nearly jet black, ring of tan head with no lace to speak of. Smell an incredible mix of bourbon, oak and roast, lots of vanilla and chocolate, a bit of coconut, coffee grinds and a bit of alcohol, similar to BCBS in the nose. Taste is bourbon and oak, coconut, vanilla, chocolate, fudge and a light sweetness, roasted malt with some dry coffee in the finish. Lightly carbonated, medium-full body. Incerdibly solid, up there with some of the better BA stouts, will actively seek out more of this stuff. (538 characters)

Photo of Treebs
4.44/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz waxed bottle served in a FW tulip. We did a side by side with the base beer.

A: Pours a jet black with a quick dissolving dark mocha head forming on the pour. A very thin ring is left over that leaves no lace, but there are some nice legs.

S: Really smooth and sweet bourbon up front. Chocolate, roasted malts and oak. Dark chocolate and raisins on the finish.

T: Bourbon up front like the nose, but again, it's very smooth and sweet. Just a touch of heat comes from it. Sweet caramel and oak barrel. Coffee like dark chocolate with a little bitterness to it. The finish is toffee and raisin.

M: Thick and heavy bodied. Creamy mouthfeel with a medium to low carbonation level.

O: The barrel aging really took this beer to another level with out sacrificing the complexities of the base beer. I'm glad it still retained the body that regular Plead the 5th carries. A must try. (887 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
4.43/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to injuredreserve for sharing!

Pours black as night, with a mocha finger of head.

Aroma has big oaky bourbon notes with a soft, silky chocolate note.

The taste is far more complex: chocolate, vanilla soaked oak, rich roasted coffee, with bourbon notes mixing and adding to the complexity, not overpowering things. Awesome.

Nice full bodied, creamy, chewy feel. Can't really complain.

Can't taste the alcohol, super drinkable. Lives up to the hype IMO. (465 characters)

Photo of MCain04
4.43/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This was the very first beer I traded for, 1 yr ago, just after the 4 elf party. I told myself I would age it for a year then drink it and compare it to the newest batch fresh. 12 oz bottle poured into a Half Acre snifter, served chilled to 40 and allowed to warm.

Appearance: Pours a deep deep dark brown akin to motor oil. Head is thin and dark tan with varying sizes of bubbles. Fades fairly quickly into rimming around the side of the glass.

Smell: Age has not made the barrel character fade away in the nose. Bourbon is present but a good amount of oaky, toffee, and vanilla. Chocolate and roasty malts similar to the base beer are present as well.

Taste: The bitter roasty chocolate base beer is forefront. Bourbon again is present but not strong. Vanilla and toffee add sweetness. A substantial amount of bitterness throughout. Remarkably not very boozy for 11%. Dark chocolate and cacao linger on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is low-medium, body is heavy and full, finish is sticky and dry. Not the ultimate in chewy mouthfeels but pretty close.

Overall, I really enjoy the base beer of plead the fifth, and while this is fantastic, I had imagined it might be just a little better. I am intrigued now to try this fresh and compare. I don't think this would benefit from further aging as it is very drinkable and far from hot. If anything, the barrel character might just be more subdued than I would appreciate, and thus perhaps it is better fresh. Regardless, a real treat to drink. (1,507 characters)

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 363 ratings.