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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.

379 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 379
Hads: 2,741
Avg: 4.49
pDev: 7.8%
Wants: 2,130
Gots: 742 | FT: 100
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 379 | Hads: 2,741
Photo of neurobot01
4.26/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage into a Teku at cellar temp.

Look: so thick and dark, with a great light brown head.

Smell: bourbon, vanilla, tobacco, pecan pie.

Taste: bourbon, alcohol heat, vanilla, tobacco. Little roast or bitterness, some chocolate. No dark fruits, cherry, etc. Some bacon-like savory flavors.

Feel: medium, maybe a bit overcarbonated, a bit dry on the end.

Overall: not sure if it's the difference in vintage, age, or the barreling, but I liked the 2014 non-BA bottle I had a few nights ago a bit better than this. The barrel influence overwhelms some of the nuance I got from that. Still, good.

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Photo of nickd717
4.27/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Nanoslug for this one.

Pours black and relatively viscous with a one-finger tan head and thick lacing.

Great aroma, similar to the regular version with a decent bourbon and -bal hints. Dark chocolate, roast, molasses, and anise.

The flavor is rich and huge on the molasses, not unlike the regular version. Rich dark chocolate notes and a good bourbon-soaked wood presence.

Really thick and a little syrupy with very low carbonation.

Great beer. Glad I got to tick this. I love me some -bal aged RISes, and this is a great example.

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Photo of Phelps
4.27/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sent by seeswo in the Blind Beers BIF. The 12-ounce bottle was poured into my fantastic new Three Floyds snifter and reviewed blind.

Inky black, with a dark, fizzy, cinnamon-colored head.

The nose on this one is decidedly swee. Big showing from the underlying stout here, with notes of sugary chocolate, toast and sweet wort immediately noticeable. Below those is more of the fresh oak and smooth bourbon.

Flavor’s great. As the aroma suggested, there’s a big showing from the sweet, chocolatey malt. Cocoa nibs, toffee and a big hit of toasted coconuts play off a nice bourbon character. The liquor here is top-shelf. The flavor continues to improve as it warms, eventually getting to where there’s so much coconut and chocolate, it’s like drinking a liquified Almond Joy. With bourbon.

Carbonation is a notch under medium. The tiny bubbles massage the tongue as I move the thick, medium-full-bodied brew around. There’s even a nice tongue-coating action from the residual sugars. Alcohol seems a little bit bigger than is necessary, though.

A great flavor. Loving the toasted coconut notes, and the bourbon is very well-blended. A tasty, sweet, drinkable stout.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.27/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 8 oz snifter. 2011 vintage with silver wax.

A- pours a thick black with a 1 finger dark cola head. Small amoeba blotches remain on the glass.

S- huge vanilla aroma, marshmallow, chocolate, bourbon, some ashy roastiness.

T- bourbon, dark chocolate, oak, roasted dark malts, big coffee bitterness at the finish.

M- full body and medium carbonation. Rich and slick feel with a slight burn from the abv.

O- very good BA stout. From the regular version I guess I should expect the as hipness and dark chocolate. Just didn't have that amazing vanilla, chocolate, bourbon combo I love from bcbs.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
4.27/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottle from Jim M. Thanks! Poured into my LA Teku.

A: Pours in an inky, almost treacly manner to the glass. Fills up with a solid dark mocha head which fades quickly. Some carbonation bubbles are disturbing the surface of this black puddle. Legs are thick, thick, thick.

N: Hearty bourbon with a big chocolate and espresso background. Vanilla and caramel and oak. Coconut and more fudge. Brown sugar and some molasses. Big sweet sugars here. Some rye and oatmeal.

T: Very, very sweet. Bourbon appropriates the top level here and adds a sweet sting on top of a very pronounced sweet malt body. There’s a little bit of earth, pine and spice from what I assume are the hops and there’s some additional roast. This has some surprising balance, though it’s still a heavy confection. Does have a salty soy sauce aspect.

M: Super boozy, but it’s got a wonderfully filling mouthfeel. Other RIS’s should pay attention to this aspect, it’s the best I’ve had outside Apple Brandy Hunahpu’s.

O: I wish I had split this bottle because it’s absolutely going to sit in my stomach, but at the same time, I don’t think I’m going to get sick of it. This might get a few more points if it turned down the bourbon heat, but at the same time, it’s done an excellent job of making both the bourbon and the stout distinct, so what else can you want?

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Photo of Ratman197
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured a clear dark reddish brown with a small lingering brown head. Aromas of bourbon, oak, cocoa, light roastiness and light vanilla. Palate was medium bodied and smooth. Flavors of bourbon, oak, maple,light vanilla and light roastiness with a smooth lingering bourbon finish.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Local Option. Served in a snifter. The perfect nightcap for a Thursday night filled with drunkenness and debauchery.

A - Filled to the brim, so it's hard to get a handle on head volume/retention. Thick ring with a bit of film on top, and some spotty lacing as the beverage is consumed. Ominous black body.

S - A lot of dark roasted grain character, with an earthy and fairly mellow bourbon character. I'm not sure what barrels were used, but they certainly seem to be of high quality. This really needs to warm up, and even then it isn't the most aggressive nose.

T - The taste is quite excellent, with a hefty amount of dark roasted grain, caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and other sweet things. Again, the bourbon makes its presence known through barrel flavors and depth, rather than in-your-face harsh whiskey.

M - Shockingly little warmth for a 14% beast. Full body, with sufficient carbonation to keep it from getting too syrupy. Stick finish, with only light tannic character.

D - This was quite drinkable for the ridiculous ABV. I'm tempted to trek back to Local Option for another pour under more sober conditions. Also, kudos to Dark Horse for enhancing an already excellent beer with tasteful and well-integrated barrel-aging. They've also done a good job keeping the beer from thinning out too much or getting too astringent.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

the beer pours a jet black with a thin tan halo of tan head...rather ominous looking. the nose is slightly boozy, with intensely earthy chocolate/coffee, and bourbon vanilla. the taste is also intense with caramel upfront, burning booze, lingering milk chocolate and a touch of bitterness. the mouhfeel is definitely thick, full bodied and flavorful. The roasty lingering chocolate aftertaste has a subtle hint of bourbon, but blends well. This is a world class BBA stout that drinks super smooth...tasty

Round 2 updates - 2012 vintage consumed 07/2014
minimal head, masked booze when cold - but still big bourbon notes, silky smooth mouthfeel, a little more coconut than before. This beer has aged very well.

Round 3 - 2013 vintage consumed 07/2014
really similar experience -- went in it with higher expectations and feel as though the 2012 was a bit smoother. Surprisingly I get more oxidation from this beer than the 2012

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Photo of tewaris
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from a small sample, poured on tap, at Heritage Liquor's annual Beer Geek Christmas.

Pours pitch black with a dark brown bubbly collar. Tough to comment on retention and lacing but looks like a classic barrel aged stout. Excellent aroma, full of vanilla and chocolate notes with plenty of sweetness, but no harsh alcohol. Bourbon is certainly present, and dominates the aroma but only in good ways.

Taste is similar to aroma with bourbon shining, bringing a great oak-vanilla element to taste and enhancing the chocolate. Bittersweet with coffee like acidity that was absent in the nose, and seems a little over the top. Finishes clean and bitter. The body is a little thin for my liking and carbonation a tad higher. If this is actually 14% ABV, it drinks amazingly easy!

One of the best examples of Bourbon Barrel aged beers in the sense that Barrel aging has made an otherwise average RIS excellent! Do not pass it up if you ever get the chance to try it!

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Photo of ChadQuest
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Phineasgage is a gentlemen.

Pour is dense, opaque and inky. Black. Looks very nice.
The first thing that hits me on the aroma is the bourbon and how strong it is without getting fusel, that is really nice.
Flavor wise the bourbon is there but softer allowing more vanilla, chocolate, oak, and roast to come through. really awesome.
This one shows the barrels very nicely without coming out to much, really impressive, i really like it.
The mouthfeel is full, not as thick as BCS or Marshall Z, but a tick behind and nice.

Very good beer.

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Photo of Bferber
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

My impression of this was much different than many reviews, so here goes. 2014 vintage

L- not at all the motor oil many described, not even black. More of a deep brown, with a nice mocha head, pleasant appearance but no standout.

S- had a slightly metallic tinge at first when cold, but went away after warmed slightly. Bourbon present but very muted. Roasty, malty, dark fruits - maybe some raisin, and slightly vinous.

T- very similar to smell. Bourbon pretty muted, dark fruit is strongest secondary flavor to the malts.

F- mouthfeel is excellent. Low carb, pretty full mouthfeel. Creamy and smooth.

O - solid beer, really enjoyed mouthfeel. Was hoping for more of a bourbon barrel presence, but enjoyed the straightforward flavors without having much "adjunct" qualities of chocolate, coffee or vanilla that seems to be all the rage lately.

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Photo of HoppyKilaMonster
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle. 2013 Vintage
A- Pours near pitch black with a nice cream colored head.

S-Creamy bourbon. Nice vanilla undertones.

T-Bourbon up front, followed closely by oak, vanilla, and finally a slight alcoholic burn.

M-Smooth and creamy. A little high on the carbonation for a barrel aged stout.

O- A well done brew. Easy drinker, but that little alcohol kick at the end lets you know it is an 11% beast.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Eric who brought this to our tasting, poured into my Narke glass. Normally, I don't review a beer twice, but the difference of on tap vs bottle justifies it as if its an almost entirely different beer...Black pour with a light tan head, not there for long, ok lacing, but low on carbonation overall...The aroma is totally different, slightly weird. Its all creamy peanut butter with chocolate, actually its really awesome, but has me perplexed as on tap it was tons of vanilla and bourbon. A tad too rich for me, but its good...The taste gets us back on track, more oak, chocolate and bourbon come through, still missing the vanilla though. Finish is bitter, adds to keep the experience interesting. The alcohol is hidden well, creamy from start to finish.

This was good, but not as good as tap where I was blown away. Worth trying for sure, but get it on tap.

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Photo of zac16125
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a snifter
2011 vintage

A big thanks goes out to injuredreserve for sending this one over in a trade.

A: Pours black as night with less than a 1/2 finger sliver of dark mocha colored head, which quickly dissipates down to just a thin outer ring. Leaves a few patches of lacing.

S: Initially I get tons of dark fruit notes accompanied by an equally large bourbon presence. Also get milk chocolate, roasted malt, cherries. Wonderful.

T: Milk chocolate, bourbon, and roasted malt all explode onto the palate with the first sip. Its rather sweet, and noticeably bitter. Coffee, raw oak, bakers chocolate. Quite complex. Nice combination of sweetness and barrel notes, but I could do without the bitterness, which tends to be the flavor that lingers in the aftertaste at the finish of each sip.

M/D: Very smooth, appropraite carbonation, maybe a touch thin for the style. ABV is exceptionally well masked though, and drinkability is insane. Really cant believe this is 14%.

O: Overall, an excellent beer. Doesnt quite stack up with the best of the style, but certainly an enjoyable drink that I would drink again in a heartbeat. Highly recommend.

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Photo of eyeenjoybeer
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Batch; bottle poured into a Bell's tulip glass

Appearance: looks like old motor oil pouring into the glass and thin tan head forms and quickly dissipates.

Smell: light chocolate, faint toasted coconut, faint vanilla, and fairly pronounced bourbon notes.

Taste: Bourbon on the front end with a transition to chocolate milk then dark roastiness reminiscent of the base beer. Alcohol lingers at the very end....and then pure cocoa notes (interesting). This beer is incredibly smooth and drinkable. That all said, I don't find it to be very complex.

Mouthfeel: This could use just a touch more carbonation, but it is hardly to fault for it. This beer coats and chews like a chocolate milk. I love the velvety-ness.

Overall: I enjoy the hell out of this beer. I think that some time will cool the alcohol noted only at the end.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, 2011 vintage. Thanks for this one, Mark. (Compared side-by-side with regular version).

A: Pours black with a very thin dark chocolate head that quickly dispersed into a faint collar leaving wisps of lace.
S: Huge notes of sweet bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel and dark chocolate. I’m getting almost none of the roast and anise that I pick up in the regular version.
T: A huge improvement on the original. Rich and decadent flavors of buttery oak, chocolate fudge, sweet and sticky bourbon, raisins, caramel, and vanilla. The bourbon and oak and integrated very well and have seemed to smooth over all the rough edges of the original. I’m getting some peat in the original that isn’t found in the barrel version. Very smooth and rich.
M: Low but creamy carbonation, slight alcohol warmth, rich and smooth mouthfeel with a full body.
O: Side by side these two beers are like night and day. While the original is good, the flavor profile on the barrel aged one makes it taste like it doesn’t even have the same base beer. Well worth finding a bottle or two. Thanks again, HosP, for sending me a couple.

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Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottle, big thanks to Loweball 727!

Appearance: Black as Eddie Murphy with a small tan head that quickly recedes to the perimeter.

Smell: Oh yea! Barrel notes galore with vanilla, caramel, bourbon, dark fruit, dark chocolate, roasted malt sweetness. I'm even getting a bit of red wine character in there, nice.

Taste: Everything I like about normal Pt5, with barrel character to boot. I was almost afraid to drink this because I thought it would ruin the normal Pt5 for me. I don't even think I would say that this is better, it just adds another dimension with the barrel notes. I like both versions. What I like about this is that the bourbon character isn't overwhelming at all. Rather, it is evident but not overbearingly so and helps the other components to blend together with more unity.

Mouthfeel: This is a bit more viscous than the standard version of this brew. A little more stickiness is evident.

Overall: I love the non bb aged version of this so much, and this is a nice variation. Some of the malt sweetness I love in the fresh version of this beer is muted here, or it is perhaps this way because this is an '11 bottle. Either way, I like this, but until I try a fresh version of this, Fresh Pt5 wins out for me.

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Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

355ml bottle 14,0% Abv.
Served lightly chilled in an over sized wine glass.
2011 Vintage

Thanks to Lurchingbeast for this long time want.

Appearance: Plead the Fifth pours midnight black, with only the faintest hint of deep red visible along the edge of the glass. A rough pour yields a good sized mocha coloured head that lasts pretty well for a 14% barrel aged beer and leaves some good looking lacing as it recedes. A light swirl coats the glass in incredibly heavy, yellow tinted alcohol legs.

Smell: As expected, quality bourbon dominates the initial nose, with the base imperial stout notes becoming apparent as the beer warms. Warming also yields some nose tingling alcohol, but it stops just short of becoming bothersome.
Notes include: Bourbon, vanilla, toffee, sweet caramel, butterscotch, spicy oak, dark chocolate, cocoa, raisins, molasses and a little roasted malt.

Taste: Unexpectedly, the flavour is actually a little boozier than the nose, though still stops short of being unpleasant. Notes include: Caramelized brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, dark fruit, molasses, cocoa, a touch of coffee and a surprising amount of roasted malt. The finish is moderately bitter and lightly astringent.

Mouthfeel: Just shy of a full body, with a medium level of smooth carbonation. The finish is moderately bitter and surprisingly dry.

Overall: Plead the Fifth is certainly a delicious barrel aged imperial stout, but I don't think it quite lives up to the hype and I would choose KBS or Parabola above it. That said, I would still love to have this again and would be very interested to see how it is after another year or two in the bottle.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%

From notes on 3/25/14

4 once sample on the brewery tour. I've had regular Plead the 5th, so I was excited to try this one. I was not let down. You can tell it is Plead the 5th, just barrel aged. You get all the great chocolate flavors and roasted tastes with a nice addition of boozy bourbon. I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of cbeer88
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tasted blindly courtesy of Blind BIF #8. 12oz bottle poured into Delirium Tremens snifter…

Appearance: Inky black with a wispy tan head. Small amount of tan lacing.

Smell: Bourbon and roasted malts, a bit of coffee.

Taste: Bourbon bomb. Coffee, nutty, sweet, vanilla, chocolate, oak all there. Lot of heat coming off this guy from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick and full-bodied. Adequate carb.

Drinkability: A real sipper. Alcohol and heat are high.

Overall: Excellent bourbon stout, but could stand to get a bit of age for the heat to die down.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep black and opaque body. Two finger mocha colored head sits atop. The head recedes slowly. A substantial amount of lacing is left clinging to the walls of the glass.

Bourbon aroma is very prominent. Sweet bourbon aroma, rather soft boozieness. Big chocolate and caramel aromas meld seamlessly with the bourbon. Moderate roast and vanilla noted.

The flavor starts out bourbon heavy before a healthy dose of chocolate floods the palate. A rather assertive roasted malt flavor begins to emerge on the midpalate. The caramel flavor is much more subtle in the bottle version than on tap. Flavors are well integrates though not nearly as much as the tap version. A bit of heat on the back is noted but not obstructive.

Full bodied Imperial Stout. The carbonation levels are low and appropriate. Very silky, soft texture. The finish is long and enjoyable.

Reviewed from a bottle this time to compare the the tapped version. Unfortunately I do not know the age of the keg, the tap version does seem slightly smoother. Very drinkable Imperial Stout. Despite the heat the alcohol is hidden rather well. Impressive beer.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black with wisps of cocoa brown cream, this barrel aged stout kept a lace of thick foam for a head.

The aroma is absolutely decadent with strong milk chocolate and creamy vanilla but I catch some dried fruit. Touches of raisin and prune mix with the barrel and bourbon to finish a delightful nose.

The flavor is creamy, milky, with lactose-sweetness and vanilla. The bourbon is very present on the tongue as some of the oak and woodsy properties finish it off.

The feel is warm and creamy, a little thinner than anticipated, with a bit of bourbon tang.

This is strangely different than the regular Plead the Fifth as the barrel has truly transformed the flavors to a creamy, vanilla dessert beer.

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Photo of JoeyStats707
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 12 oz bottle in the latest de garde 3rd quarter party glass
Nice and dark, almost opaque, very little head
smell is rich sweet bourbon
tastes of milk chocolate and a dash of bourbon
Nice mouthfeel, could use a little more though.

Overall pretty dam good

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Photo of floridadrift
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

L: Even after a couple minutes, the mocha-colored head sticks to the sides
S: Chocolatey
T: great Imperial stout, no actual bourbon taste. Just the heat from it with chocolates and coffee on the first taste.
F: Milk-stoutish, very nice
O: A pretty great stout but falls very short of any live bourbon character. Tastes like it's all had some age.

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Photo of GJ40
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled from a 12oz bottle from 2013. Thanks surge1311!

A - Deep black with no light coming through and very little head. Looks like a glass of motor oil.

S - Bourbon, vanilla, oak and a hint of molasses. Gets better and better as it warms.

T - Lots of bourbon! It hits hard on the first sip but the palate adjusts quickly. It's got great depth and richness with a moderate bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is pretty apparent. This is a big bold beer.

M - Thick and creamy. The carbonation is there but very much in the background.

O - The bourbon might be a bit too dominant but it was still a special beer.

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Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 379 ratings.