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Kentucky Dark Star - Fremont Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Kentucky Dark StarKentucky Dark Star

Educational use only; do not reuse.

85 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 85
Hads: 405
Avg: 4.31
pDev: 19.03%
Wants: 404
Gots: 134 | FT: 19
Brewed by:
Fremont Brewing Company visit their website
Washington, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: barleywinefiend on 05-12-2012

Our Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in 15 year old single use Kentucky Bourbon Barrels. The roasted and chocolate malts complement the smooth oats to bring you a stout delight wrapped in the gentle embrace of Bourbon Barrel aged warmth. A touch of sweetness dances in balance with the hops to finish with a wave and then she’s gone.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 85 | Hads: 405
Photo of Arbitrator
3.05/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Chilled bottle into a glass. Thanks, Jason.

A: Pours a black body with a short-lived brown head. No lacing.

S: The booze from the barrel shines through; vanilla, bourbon, some caramel, oak. Some roast. The aroma feels a bit weak. I was hoping for nuances of dark fruits, possibly some oxidation... None of that.

T: The bourbon barrel complements the base beer; vanilla, bourbon, and oak are in balance (with the latter appearing near the finish). The base beer is kind of weak and unresolved; I pick up roast with some chocolate.

M: Medium-bodied or thinner, which is disappointing. There's a smoothness on the finish that reminds me of an oatmeal stout [EDIT: I found out this was brewed with oats. Duh]. No heat.

O: I had a long argument with largadeer about this. We opened it next to some other barrel-aged stouts that receive relatively little acclaim (Marble Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, BA Peche Mortel, Older Viscosity), and it didn't hold up next to any of them. Chris argued that this was "average -- a B," to which I nearly lost my shit and clocked him one. Average means a C. Anyway, this is above average, but in a world with the above, as well as BA Hunahpu's, Black Tuesday, Eclipse, KBS, CBS, BCBS, BA Speedway, Parabola, Berzerker, BA Dark Lord, Churchill's Finest Hour, and more, I can't put this near the top tier. It's obviously barrel-aged from the nose and taste, but both are lacking in complexity and the mouthfeel is thin. There are no obvious flaws, but it's not a standout, either.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.3/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2012 edition split with steepH2O...I always enjoy when Chris and I can drink beers together. It just doesn't happen enough. Thanks for stopping by!

Well, this is one of the most pleasant waxed bottles I've ever had the chance to encounter. One swift swipe and it peels away like undergarments on prom.

Looks like a stout. The tannish-cinnamon head is a nice looker before she settles into the depths. A bit of spatter as residue, but not much.

Smells like the brownest of the brown liquors...so tempting! Whats that...you want me to drink you? But I'm in the middle of a trial. Excuse me...Hello David, I'm really tempted!

The taste and mouthfeel are a letdown. Up front is the Dr. Pepper vibe followed followed by some nice chocolate cake notes. Bourbon imparts a light vanilla and the oats provide a smoothness in body. However, the body is so thin and light that the bourbon just seems to sit atop the fray rather than meld into the base. The finish is actually watery. All the potential here just sort of falls off a cliff at the finish.

For all the promise I thought this beer held....I really enjoy a good oatmeal stout and I really appreciate quality barrel aging...this is just sort of a miss. Too much carbonation, too little integration, and just not enough body to carry this through. In a crowded field I'm actually surprised how high the reviews are for this beer. A real letdown considering the beauty of B-Bomb.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.53/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes from a tasting on 8/15. thanks to BeerWorld for bringing this one out.

a - deep dark with a thin off tan grey head that leaves a ring around the surface. swirling the brew brings it back to life.

s - nice roase. some oats. some barrel.

t - very malty. roasty. some powdered chocolate. some bourbon notes. oaty but not rich and thick like i would hope.

m - a bit thin for an oatmeal stout. the barrel seems to work in some thinness?

o - pretty nice. nothing crazy. glad to try it. good, but not great. surprising to see it is an oatmeal stout as it is a bit thin. perhaps i would dig this more in a different setting, but adjacent to the monster brews i'm consuming this evening, this one seems a bit thin and lacking, but still enjoyable. just doesn't seem to deserve the rave reviews it is getting (in my opinion). glad to try it, but not something i'd seek out. it wasn't all that popular at the tasting in general as many people were offering up their pour to others who enjoyed it more. definitely not a crowd fav.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.59/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one had been on my list for quite a while before Doops pulled it out along side an awesomely impressive 2012 Bourbon Abominable a few weeks back. Cheers for the killer Fremont night dude!

From a bomber into a snifter
Vintage: 2012
Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in 15yr old Kentucky bourbon barrels

APPEARANCE: Pours out transparent brown and yields a 1½ finger, medium looking, creamy tan head with good retention. Clear black body with medium levels of carbonation evident. Head fades to a creamy foam cap with a stream of carbonation to the top. A half wisp remains until the end leaving touches of lacing. Too transparent for the style, but the head was nice, averaging it out.

SMELL: Roasted malts, pure, dark chocolate, and some nice oat aromas for sure. Mild bourbon with vanilla, sweet cream, a hint of coconut and some milk chocolate. Mild bourbon, but the bouquet from the barrel is quite enticing.

TASTE: Roasted flavors and cocoa powder up front, though a little mild initially. Oats and chocolate through the middle into the swallow. A medium but lingering aftertaste with more barrel notes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, sweet cream and coconut flavors. Some roasted notes and dark chocolate from the base beer meshes well with the barrel flavors in the finish. This is very nicely balanced, though not as bold as hoped perhaps.

PALATE: Medium body and very creamy smooth on the palate. Slightly higher levels of carbonation and somewhat light on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes a touch dry. No heat. A little lighter perhaps, but velvety creamy smooth for sure. Lovely oat notes.

OVERALL: Though not quite as impressive a beer as the 2012 Abominable, this was a solid and enjoyable oatmeal stout. Listed at 9.5%, but it feels and drinks more like a 6% beer. As such, I'd like to see slightly bolder flavors and a thicker, heavier feel for top marks here. That said, I found this very enjoyable and would gladly drink it regularly if it was available to me. Really well balanced and velvety smooth; a very easy drinking bourbon barrel stout. Thanks again for sharing Doops!

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Photo of largadeer
3.69/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, Jason. Dark blackened amber body with a finger of lasting froth. Looks pretty legit. Ton of whiskey on the nose, along with some spiciness, oak and vanilla. Tastes strongly of bourbon, caramel and vanilla; the barrel is pretty dominant here. It's somewhat thin on the palate, but not offensively so. The finish is sweet with a touch of drying oak. This is pretty good, but nothing particularly special.

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Photo of Brandywine
3.71/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Poured a fingers worth of a mocha brown head. Pitch black with thick alcohol legs and tight lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, roasted notes, bourbon, caramelized brown sugar, vanilla bean, subtle booze but definitely not unpleasant. There's a smokiness as well.

Taste: Tip of the tongue is bourbon that rolls into semi-sweet chocolatea and smokey notes with some sweetness. End of the to tongue is oats rolled in chocolate and milk cream. There's a richer but more mild flavor to Kentucky darkstar now that it's been aged. There's subtle vanilla that gets mixed in with the other flavors. No booze on the the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium.

Overall: While still a great beer I don't think cellaring has helped this one. It's picked up a creamy sweetness but the awesome smoke and roasted notes have mellowed a lot. The beer is also much too thin for its style.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage, consumed July, 2014.

Dark brown-black pour, with a dark tan head that displayed good retention and laced the glass upon swirling. In the nose, roast and toast, dark malts and oak, notes of vanilla, coconut, coffee, with a decent bourbon heat. I thought this was a pretty standard bourbon stout, tastewise, decent dark roasty malts and coffee, bourbon-soaked oak and neutral alcohol, lighter notes of char and vanilla. Medium body, somewhat thinner than I'd expect for the style. But still good overall. Not great, but good.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.76/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Not quite black. Khaki collar and some faint wisps.

Smell - Bourbon. Really raw bourbon flavor. Even some of the corn aroma you get from bourbon. Some coffee malt, but otherwise it's mostly barrel.

Taste - Like the smell, it's mostly bourbon. Some roasted malt comes out as a coffee flavor, too. As much bourbon as there is, there isn't a ton of heat to it.

Mouthfeel - A little light. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Bourbon dominates this one. Way too strong compared to the stout. Had this next to Elijah Craih 20 Eclipse and Event Horizon. It was my least favorite of the three.

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Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Barely tolerated 22oz bottle poured into chalice. Poured black, no light came through, even when I put a flashlight behind it. The beer had just the faintest wisp of head with zero retention or lacing.

In the nose the bourbon dominated, which is generally a warning sign for me, with the nice base brew being relatively hidden. However, on the tongue the beer shows up nicely and the bourbon complements, not competes with, the beer. The gentle roast and chocolate notes offer a nice counter-point to the beer and bourbon flavors. The alcohol wasn't apparent.

The body was a bit thin for my expectations in this style, I want a big stout to be almost chewy. Drinkabilty depends on your taste for the style, if you like big, almost boozy stouts you'll like this beer. If you like a booze bomb of a brew you'll be mildly disappointed. Overall a very nice beer and another fine job from the crew at Fremont. A must try if can, and good luck finding some.

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Photo of claaark13
3.91/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Cory, this was poured from a bottle at cellar temp into a Hill Farmstead tulip.

A - Pours an opaque black with a thin head. Sticks alright, but overall looks pretty good considering that the lacing maintains itself so well.

S - Tons of oak upfront. Dark malts in the background after trying really hard to get past the oak, a little chocolate.

T - Bready chocolate, dryness from the oak starts to blend, sugary roasted malt, smooth finish that leaves a lot of sweet oak lingering. Barrel is a little too dominating, but it is overall still well balanced.

M - Fairly light.

O - I'll admit that the flavor is very good considering that this is a BA Oatmeal Stout. Actually, it has got to be the best of it's style, which is why I'm comfortable bumping up the overall.

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Photo of n2185
3.92/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: pours black with half a finger of light brown head that fades into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: roasted malts with sweet chocolate, vanilla, oak, and smooth bourbon. There are also notes of caramel, burnt sugar, and toffee.

T: roasted malts, semi-sweet chocolate, burnt sugar, oak, toffee, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon. It finishes a little boozy and sweet.

M: thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is lively rather than creamy.

O: a pretty solid bbal stout overall. I'd like a bit more from the stout and a bit freamier body, but it's still quite enjoyable.

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Photo of corby112
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Brouwers Cafe in Seattle, WA.

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a two finger mocha head that slowly settles into a thick lasting ring. Spotty lacing left behind.

Beautiful bourbon aroma with a nicely integrated barrel character that doesn't overpower the other notes.  Hints of toasted oak, vanilla and coconut along with spicy bourbon, dark chocolate, coffee bean, oatmeal and toast.

Chewy full body with a strong barrel presence that dominates the roasted malt notes lingering into a spicy, boozy finish.  Lots of spicy bourbon along with dry oak and subtle vanilla.  Not as smooth or well balanced as I expected based on the nose.  The malts become more evident as it warns with hints of silky dark chocolate, burnt toast and oatmeal.  Lots of bourbon and pretty dry/roasted to the point where it's almost acrid.  Abv is pretty evident with lots of boozy sweetness and warmth in the finish.  A bit harsh but still tasty.

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Photo of brentk56
4.04/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 bottling

Appearance: Pours an espresso brown color with a rather modest head that quickly fades to a ringlet though it leaves a nice lacing pattern behind

Smell: German chocolate cake with caramel icing and some oats in the background; quite a whiff of the Bourbon barrel, as well

Taste: Caramel and chocolate, up front, with building flavors of coconut, vanilla and Bourbon, in the middle, heralding the arrival of some astringent alcohol, as well; hops appear, adding a bitter balance, after the swallow, though the finish is filled with chocolate and Bourbon tones

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with low to moderate carbonation and some warmth in the gullet

Overall: As others have noted, this beer is a bit thin in the mouthfeel and lacks some complexity; still, it is a joy to drink and I am glad I was able to find a bottle when I was in Seattle last summer

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.04/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Brandon for sharing this.
The beer pours a dark black with almost no head and no residual coating inside glass. The nose is very boozy, but the alcohol itself is well masked. It's very sweet with big notes of vanilla, coconut and chocolate. The taste is chocolatey with smooth buttery bourbon caramel and a lingering woodiness. The beer has a lighter body than expected, but is still very smooth and decadent. Worth trying for sure.

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Photo of sleuthdog
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Huge thank you to tut2528 for opening this!
Poured into Founders Bolt Cutter glass

Pour: A dark brown to more so black color with absolutely no head formation. A calm beer with decent alcohol legs.

Smell: A bit of bourbon smell with dark chocolate, molasses and some roastiness. I guess I can reach for some of the oats.

Taste: I am getting smoke and char with bourbon and vanilla. Oak and bourbon though dominate. Some alcohol burn but oh so mild.

Mouthfeel: This is where this beer shines. A creamy palate coating silkiness creates a pleasant feel.

Overall: I have heard mixed reviews on this and can see why. It is enjoyable but actually not worth the hype to me.

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Photo of jeonseh
4.07/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter

A - Dark chocolate brown. Very opaque with a reflective body. Small mocha colored head that only sits on the side

S - The whiskey makes itself known in the one as it hits you upfront. There is slight oak and the roasted malt that you'd expect in an oatmeal stout. I also get a slight vanilla / maple in the back

T - Light roasted malts up front. Slight whiskey kick with vanilla and oak hit in the middle. The finish is slight dark chocolate, roasted malt and whiskey, which gives it a slight roasted and boozy kick

MF - Light body with a slight syrupy sweetness. Finish is slightly astringent from the roasted malt and bourbon

O - Solid beer with a lot of flavor for an oatmeal stout. However, since this is an oatmeal stout, it's a bit lighter than I'd like it to be and lighter in flavor than some of the great beers out there

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Photo of brystmar
4.07/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Josh!

Pretty pour, dark body, plenty of tan head, leaves sticky bubbles on my glass. Smell starts off kinda boring but develops into a potent, complex aroma. Caramel and toffee atop the roasty bourbon, barely oxidized at all, really nice.

Conversely, the taste begins with a promising flavor profile that fades into mediocrity as it warns. Initially chock full of bittersweet dark chocolate, though this seems to die out as the bourbon takes its place. Can still taste the oatmeal; doesn't seem to be doing its job though. Body is somewhat chewy and smooth but surprisingly lacks the body expected from an oatmeal stout.

A good stout, not great.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.1/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to sonicalligator for sending this my way. I asked for Fremont and he delivered! Pours jet black into a tulip. There is a very small amount of bubbles forming a tiny head.

The aroma is full of sweet rich chocolate. There is some vanilla. This is enticing.

The taste has a lot of chocolate and molasses. The finish has a mild hint of wood and vanilla. This is mostly sweet, without a ton of hop bitterness.

The carbonation on this is very soft that makes for a nice smooth drinking brew. I like this one a lot. This has none of the harshness that some barrel aged stouts bring. It may lack some of the complexity too, but it still has a broad enough range of flavors for my liking.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
4.12/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle courtesy of NWer. Thanks!

A: Heavy pour yields pure black body and thin lacing. Decent legs.

N: Extremely chocolately. Very nice bourbon flavoring on the nose. Fudge, fudge, and more fudge. Some espresso. Little bit of oatmeal.

T: Lots of dark chocolate, espresso, and a well integrated bourbon presence. Little bit of caramel and vanilla and coconut. The oatmeal’s here, and only a slight alcohol burn. This is very well integrated.

M: Medium feel and somewhat heavy. About right for a BA Oatmeal Stout.

O: Impressive effort from Fremont Brewing. Highly drinkable, but don’t age, in my opinion. There's not enough body for to stretch this one out too long.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.14/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Kevin for cracking his bottle! Kentucky Dark Star is definitely dark, but it's far from the darkest stout I've seen, as there are still some deep shades of brown that can be found inside of this brew. The tan head wastes no time settling to a thin, little collar around the edges. Definitely a powerful looking brew, but maybe not as omnipotent as its namesake.

Slick milk chocolate, light coffee and warming bourbon notes, like the hardened version of a Kahlua and Creme that your mother makes when she's had a long day. Light vanilla in the back-end, everything is very smooth and sweet here, without being sickeningly so. The bourbon works to keep everything tame without setting your nostrils on fire, and it does an admirable job.

Like the aroma, the taste is almost equally as smooth. It's never hot, but the bourbon certainly does a warming job on your throat and belly. There's also a good amount of oak that gets introduced to your taste buds with each and every sip. Sweet, milky, creamy cocoa nibs, smooth oatmeal notes in the finish, and a lasting, savory hint of earth and chocolate cake.

Kentucky Dark Star is a surprisingly decadent and borderline desert-like beer. With the name, the bottle, and the stigma, you might be expecting a huge bourbon bomb; a boozy and overly powerful beast, when really, you've got a smooth and warming, delicate desert… Something to slowly sip after a big meal. The oats make for a nice mouth feel, smooth, creamy, fitting.

I was pretty pleasantly surprised by this one. Not something I would be able to have all the time (or much of, for that matter) as the delicacy and sweetness does tend to build over time and take a mild toll on the palate, but the 8-ish oz I had were great, and certainly a nice treat. Not as brash as you may think, this beer is actually quite elegant.

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Photo of Duff27
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big three finger deep mocha colored head. Dark brown body.

Big time oak sniffs, hidden cocoa.

Chocolate initially. Sharp/sweeter bourbon notes in the second act. Oak is there but not as prominent as it is in the nose. Would guess the ABV a dash higher than stated.

Creamy mouthfeel, smooth. Lower end of carbonation.

Favorites of KDS were the nose and the mouthfeel, the sharp booze notes I could do without. Thanks to ford0626 for the trade!

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Photo of Joshpu
4.19/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 Release. Poured from the bomber to a snifter.

A: Poured black, what head was there was tan.

S: Mostly bourbon, vanilla. Big oak and dark fruit/chocolate, oatmeal.

T: The taste follows the nose well, except there is a sweeter dark chocolate/fudge on the taste. Oatmeal. Almost a caramel sweetness as it warms. Some coffee in some sips as well.

M: Light to medium bodied. Pretty light and easy to drink. Sticky mouth feel.

Overall a good stout. Very easy to drink and pleasant. I like stouts with a thicker body but it's a nice change. This is like a better version of Velvet Merkin.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.19/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 vintage. Tulip glass.

A: Pours shiny black, with a ring of light brown head.

S: Kind of a strong, nutty cocoa, straight bourbon underneath, a little vanilla and smoke/char and coconut.

T: Chocolate, sweet and tasty bourbon which doesn't quite meld with the base, cola, and a little char and brown sugar.

M: Meduim-full, creamy body and medium-light carbonation.

O: Pretty good. Strikes a nice balance between the thicker BA stouts and the thinner ones (thick BCBS vs. KBS). The bourbon doesn't integrate as well as it could, though. Pretty drinkable, the alcohol is not noticeable at all.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to cmrillo for sharing this one during the One Year Anniversary of My Wreck Tasting! Served from bottle into a Crooked Stave ‘Crooked Line’ tulip. Poured pitch black with a half finger tan head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, vanilla, wood, roasted malt, and dark chocolate. The flavor was of sweet malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted malt, wood, and milk chocolate. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The flavor on this one was really quite nice and complex. The sweetness from the milk chocolate and vanilla mixed extremely well with the dark chocolate and roasted malt going on. This made this one quite easy to drink and was a crowd pleaser for the most part. The aroma wasn’t quite on par with the flavor but was definitely no slouch. If you are lucky enough to have one of these make sure that you try it, if you don’t what are you waiting for? You won’t regret it.

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Photo of PacNWDad
4.21/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On draft at Fremont Brewery. Great color - a dark mahogany, opaque. Tiny amount of khaki head. Dense lace that settles back quickly. Toffee, coffee, roasted malt, a hint of clove. Starts sweet, then some sourness from the barrel and a bit of bitterness from the hops. Very complex, with some warmth from the alcohol. Full body, rich, but not cloying. Lightly carbonated, with a long finish. An excellent beer that will only get better with time based on the high ABV.

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Kentucky Dark Star from Fremont Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 85 ratings.