Dubious Black Chocolate Stout - North Peak Brewing Company

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Dubious Black Chocolate StoutDubious Black Chocolate Stout

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138 Ratings
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Ratings: 138
Reviews: 41
rAvg: 3.49
pDev: 15.47%
Wants: 2
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
North Peak Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Stout |  5.30% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: dorianmarley on 12-16-2011

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 138 | Reviews: 41
Reviews by GRPunk:
Photo of GRPunk
3.58/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated DEC1411, poured into a Duvel tulip.

A- A 2-finger, dense, dark brown head developes after a vigorous pour. Body is near jet through the middle with dark brown edges. Think I saw a hint of sediment during the pour. Head settles into about 1-finger and leaves good spots on the glass.

S- Mix of traditional roasty malts and dark chocolate. Though, there really isn't any more chocolate aroma than I get in many other stouts. An odd berry-like sweetness hit me at one point, causing a little concern.

T- Very roasty. Dark chocolate is present, though not as much as I'd expect from a "black chocolate stout.". A solid American stout, nonetheless. Does drink quite robust for the moderate ABV.

M- Moderate carbonation, medium feel. Dryish finish. Well within what I expect of a stout.

O- A solid, flavorful stout. I could drink a few in a single sitting. That said, the "chocolate" was a bit of a let-down. When a beer is advertised as a chocolate stout, I expect the chocolate to be showcased, front and center. Just a bit too subtle, IMO.

More User Reviews:
Photo of simplejj81
3.75/5  rDev +7.4%

Good chocolate stout, not special. If i were in Traverse city again, I'd be happy to have it.

Photo of oberon
3.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chocolate brown with a thin quick to fade tan colored head atop.Chocolate and dark fruit aromas mainly with mild roast.Chocolate and roasted flavors some dark fruit underneath,some earthiness in the finish.Eh it's ok but pretty standard,not anything I would seek out again.

Photo of warnerry
3.86/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 12/6/11

A - Pours black with two fingers of brown head. Nice retention and lots of lacing.

S - Mostly bitter chocolate and roasted malt, with small amounts of milk chocolate, coffee and hops.

T - Taste is pretty similar to smell, with a huge amount of bitter chocolate and more hops in the taste the the aroma. Roasted malts and coffee near the finish, which is dry and bitter.

M - Mouthfeel is on the light side of medium. Finish is very dry and bitter.

O - A good stout that is quite bitter. A fuller mouthfeel would bump this up a notch.

Photo of frenchblood21
3.16/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into Chimay goblet.

Appearance- Pitch black with a finger of dark tan head. More head than expected from a gentle pour.

Smell- Chocolate and malt in that order. Not too complex. Just smells like an average stout.

Taste- Nothing stands out besides the chocolate. A bit hoppier then other stouts I've had in this category.

Mouthfeel- Way too thin for a chocolate stout. It seems like the consistency is far off.

Overall- I could not recommend getting a whole 6 pack of this beer. I could, however, suggest getting a single bottle just to say you've had/reviewed it.

Photo of Brenden
3.65/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dubious is a deep black beer with a good-sized thick, creamy brown head that's left behind in part by way of thick patches of lacing.
The nose is heavy on roasty malt with a big, robust barley backbone over notes of coffee. It's not outright chocolatey, but the chocolate is there.
In the flavor is the same huge roastiness, but it leads to an astringent edge. Cocoa nib is ghostly (pretty much overrun by the flat-out roastiness and the resulting flaw) with some coffee grounds. It finishes with a tinge of fruity tanginess.
The feel starts out robust with a good thickness to it. It's not particularly big or bold, but it holds its own for a time before going just a little spritzy.

Photo of Sammy
3.08/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Fresh bottle from Champagne Cellars. I didn't like it because of astringency and dryness. A muddling of chocolate, coffee, a little cherry and bitterness. Sorry did not work and mostly drain poured. But so promising! Nice black bodied. Chocolate and oil in the nose.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.13/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Found this review from over a year ago.

Appearance - Big mocha head on a jet black body.  Darker than many heavier stouts.  Looks like Guinness.  Decent retention but not a bit of lacing sticks to the glass.

Smell - Dark roasted malt aroma.  Bitter chocolate. Very bitter aroma, really.  Not a hint of sweetness. No idea how I managed to smell bitterness when I wrote this review.

Taste - Dark bitter chocolate again.  Very one-note. Chocolate and an intense bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Pretty thin for a stout.  Easy drinking in that respect. Pretty high in carbonation too, but that bitterness is too much.

Overall - Simple flavor, but it's a nice flavor.  The bitterness kills it though.  Drinkable, I guess.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, bottled on December 6th, 2011. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with an inch frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. Aroma is milk and bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt, coffee and some light citrusy hops. The taste is the same as the aroma, but the bittersweet chocolate and roasty flavors are stronger compared to the others. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and has a decent amount of carbonation. I think this is a good overall brew, and at just 5.3% ABV it wouldn't be hard to finish a 6-pack of this! If this wasn't a seasonal brew, I could see this being a regular purchase for me. It's always nice to find a new good, easy drinking beer that's relatively low in alcohol.

Photo of vrbulldog22
3.95/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a small caramel head.
Aroma is coffee, sweet malt, milk chocolate.
Taste is pretty similar to smell, but you get a bit of hop presence too.
It's pretty carbonated for a stout, but still smooth & creamy. Pretty light for a stout.
Overall very enjoyable.

Photo of buschbeer
3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It pours virtually black. An easy pour got me half a glass of mocha colored head.

S - I get some faint roasted malt. The focus seems to be on coffee and milk chocolate.

T - The taste is pretty mellow. Once again the roasted malt is faint. I get some coffee and bakers chocolate. I get a slight sense of bitter coffee on the aftertaste.

M - Medium to full

O - It reminds me of my attempts at homebrewing a stout. It is not terrible, but it certainly does not stand out in this style.

Photo of StoutHunter
3.22/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I picked up a bottle of North Peak's Dubious Black Chocolate Stout last week for $1.89 at The Lager Mill. I am a big fan of North Peak but I am not completely sold on the idea that they can make a great dark beer, so I am very interested to see what side of the spectrum this beer falls on, so lets see how it goes. Bottled December 14th 2011. Poured from a stubby brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- I am not really feeling the pink color on the label but it does help it stick out and the little graphic of the squirrel or beaver looks OK. It poured a nice very dark brown color that was pretty much black and it didn't let any light come through, it had a finger and a half of tan head that quickly died down to a thin ring and a lump in the middle. This is a good looking stout.

S- The aroma starts off with a good amount of dark roasted malts that have medium amount of sweetness and impart a nice dark chocolate, black coffee, and roasted aroma. I don't pick up any hops in the aroma which dosen't really happen with North Peak beers. This beer had a nice roasty and chocolaty aroma that I enjoyed.

T- This beer tastes like a toned down version of the aroma. It starts of with a good amount of dark roasted malts that have a low amount of medium sweetness and impart a pretty dominate roasty and slight charred flavor along with some chocolate and coffee. The finish had a medium amount of charred bitterness and it had a roasty and grainy aftertaste. The roasted and charred malts seem to dominate that taste and I wish much more chocolate and a little more coffee came though in the flavor. This beer tastes similar to Detroit Brewing Company's Saunders Chocolate Stout.

M- Smooth, slightly creamy, on the light side of being medium bodied and it had a high amount of prickly carbonation. This beer needed to be a little thicker and it needs the carbonation to be toned down to medium, the carbonation was a little to prickly for this style.

Overall I liked this beer but I thought it was a slightly above average version of an American Stout. It did have some chocolaty flavors but the roast and charred flavors seemed to overpower it, if you put the word chocolate on your bottle then it should have a pretty prominent chocolate taste and this beer didn't seem to have that. This beer had good drinkability, it went down pretty smooth and had some nice stout flavors, so I could probably go for another one, but that would be enough. What I liked most about this beer was the aroma, it had a pretty nice aroma where the chocolate stuck out nicely and it was pretty balanced. What I liked least about this beer was the lack of chocolate in the flavor and the mouthfeel, it needed more chocolate in the flavor to live up to it's name and it needed to be slightly thicker with less carbonation. I might purchase this beer again, but with all the chocolate stouts on the market this one really doesn't stick out that much. This beer is worth giving a try but it doesn't have that extra chocolate flavor to put it over the edge. This beer had some nice stout flavors but really didn't come through on the chocolate, and that's what makes this beer slightly above average, with some work this could be a pretty good beer. This is a better attempt at a stout then Darkangel, but there is still many improvements to be made, an OK American Stout, I'm still waiting for North Peak to make a great dark beer since that got the hoppy beers on lock.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.3/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter.

4.0 A: I sucked at pouring this and was way too overaggressive. Three fingers of creamy light brown head. Retention is average to good and a good bit of irregular lacing is left.

4.0 S: Fairly dry with a earthy, dusty graininess. Soft, mild roastiness. Pleasant chocolate and coffee additions. Simple and straightforward, but quite nice.

3.0 T: Taste is a lot like the nose, except the proportions are off and the result isn't as harmonious. In addition, there's a discernable acrid bitterness. Good amount of yeastiness in this as well, which I wish was gone. Not too bad, average.

3.0 M: Lighter medium body. Perhaps a touch too much carbonation. A bit chewy. Could use some creaminess.

3.0 D: Not a bad brew, but it's not very exciting once you get past the nose and actually drink it.

Photo of ne0m00re
3.27/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Live review of a 12 oz bottle of batch on 12/06/11.
A: Opaque black, decent tan head, good lacing.
S: Roasted malts, cocoa powder, a murky yeast character, and thin molasses.
T: Cocoa powder, brighter strawberry finish with cinnamon or brown sugar, with more murky yeast character.
M: Thin with a sort of creamy character, the carbonation is thinner and the stout finishes dry and crisp.
O: Decent stout with an interesting chocolate character.

Photo of samie85
3.15/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours an opaque black color with a dark brown, one and a half finger head.

S-Big cocoa notes with some vanilla with some roasted malt hints.

T-Heavy roasted and dark chocolate notes with a crisp, dark, roasted notes.

M-Slightly creamy with a light medium body with pretty heavy carbonation.

D-I really think this would be a really solid beer if it wasn't for the level of carbonation; it really kind of ruins the beer for me.

Photo of t420o
2.38/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

North Peak Dubious

A- pour yields a 1 finger mocha colored head receding quick. Beer is black in color. Lacing is minimal. 3

S- some good roast and bakers chocolate on the nose. Some cocoa and caramel as well. 3.75

T- subpar. A real letdown from the nose. Very subdued in flavor, which doesn't let the chocolate or malt shine. Sad. Almost a mineral water taste as well. Not pleasing. 2

M- light body and over carbonated. 2

O- a poor stout. I would not recommend it, especially at the absurd price of $18/6-pack. 1.5


Photo of woodychandler
3.68/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Once more, a bottle as part of my attempt to reduce the inventory. My thanks to my college buddy, David A., for sending me some Michigan beers.

From the bottle: "Brewed up North"; "Ale Brewed with Chocolate".

A stubby bottle! Holy Misspent Youth, Batman! I can't tell you how many stubbies we put away in our teens, but it was substantial. Also, for you budding anarchists, when building a Molotov Cocktail, a stubby bottle works better than a larger one.

I employed a gentle pour as I was concerned that there was a slight amount of lees in the bottle and I did not want to disturb their slumber. I still got a finger of foamy, deep-brown head with moderate retention. Color was a deep, dark brown allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose smelled like they had melted a Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate bar and poured it into my glass. I miss my Pops (father), who loved dark chocolate. My Mom-Za was into bizarre candy, like pastel pecans and licorice and soft chewy things. I personally eschew sweets, going for tangy, salty, bitter and like flavors. The mouthfeel was very fizzy, not really full but more efferevscent, and the taste was bittersweet chocolate. I wished that Pops was around to see what he would think of this, but it would be up his alley, no doubt. Finish was semi-dry with a mix of smoke and chocolate on the tongue. One was plenty for me, but if this is your bag, have at it.

Photo of weizenbob
3.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This 12 ounce stubby bottle was purchased at Shop-N-Save in Ludington, MI ($9.99/6-pack). The bottling date indicates that this was packaged on December 14, 2011. I do enjoy the stubby bottles and label designs of the North Peak line of beers, if not always the beer itself. This particular bottle was poured into a Samuel Smith tulip-shaped imperial pint glass. It is difficult to pour from the stubby bottle without it glugging uncontrollably, but they are nice for decanting sans yeast, of which there is much at the bottom of the bottle.

The pour manifests two fingers of mocha colored head that dissipates rather quickly, settling as a thin lace of foam over the beer. It is a very dark beer. Stout should be black, and this one does not disappoint. Close examination reveals a good amount of carbonic activity behind the glass wall. I would love for some better head retention on this beer, but as is it looks pleasant.

The aroma is a dead ringer for Pacman yeast. If smelled blindly I would have guessed beyond a doubt that this was a stout from the Rogue stable. Strike one. Beyond that there is a noticeable chocolaty presence as well as an alcoholic heat that is stronger than the 5.3% ABV on the label would imply. There is a mild tropical fruit aroma and the faint essence of Elmer's glue. It's really not as bad as it sounds.

Luckily the flavor of this stout is an improvement over the aroma. All of the right flavors are in there, just not in the correct balance. Yes, there is a fair amount of chocolate malt, as evidenced by the Hershey's Syrup-ish essence on the tongue. However, it tastes as though this stout has overdosed on black patent malt. The dominant malt flavor is roasty and bitter. Yes this is a 50 IBU stout so some bitterness should be expected. But this is not hop bitterness; this is excessive patent malt bitterness. If burnt beer with strong residual sweetness is your thing, this is the stout for you. Personally, I don't think it's bad; but I would like to have tasted a little less charcoal, even if it came at the expense of having a lighter colored beer.

The mouthfeel is where this beer excels. It is creamy and full-bodied, yet there is a moderately high level of carbonation that makes this beer dance on the tongue. That makes this beer a meal in itself; but if paired with food, the assertive character of this stout would go well with cheese-based soups or milder cuisine like broiled whitefish.

Dubious is a pretty fitting name for this confusing stout. It has the look and feel of something special, but tastes too awkward to be truly great. For its caliber, the price is not bad; and 5.3% ABV isn't going to put you under the table. I see this as a viable option if nothing better is available. But let's face it, any establishment savvy enough to carry North Peak (save for their brewpub) is probably going to have something better around.


The Two-Schlitz Scale: (reference my profile for an explanation)
I don't really give a Schlitz for this tolerable, though uninspiring stout.

Photo of ThePaleRider
3.36/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Got as a trade extra.

Nothing crazy going on here, but for the abv this packs a pretty big flavor. Really strong chocolate and dark grains. Not sure what a 6 pack of this runs, but I'd buy it.

Photo of Spider889
3.56/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

North Peak continues to throw more and more new beers into Ohio. Since some of their stuff is pretty solid I welcome the new additions.

A - Poured into a snifter. A tall toffee colored head is easy to produce, which receded from 2.5 fingers down to less than one, but then stuck around for a while. Nice thick sticky lacing. this all sits atop a very dense black beer.

S - Roasty, sweet, and rich. I definitely get the aroma of chocolate along with coffee, char, and a little bit of toasted marshmallow as well. Between the malt and hops Dubious is bitter enough to mellow out the sweetness and make this a nicely balanced beer.

T - Roast grows beyond the scope that the aroma foretold. Coffee flavors are really nice, as is the bitterness. Chocolate is there in the form is super dark cacao - the type that is so dark it is bitter rather than sweet. The bottle just states, "Ale brewed with chocolate," so I cannot say for sure what or how it is added to the beer, but my guess is cocoa nibs.

M - Full bodied for a beer so low in abv, though it definitely has a feel that is markedly thinner than the beer appears. Sticky yet powdery finish/aftertaste. Over time the char and bitterness grew somewhat beyond appreciable, and I was wishing for slightly more sweetness. I think this beer could easily be dialed into something really desirable.

O - What a surprisingly fun beer to sip on. It grew less desirable as I pushed through the glass, so I reiterate that this should see a bit of tweaking. There's something special hidden in this beer.

Photo of dorianmarley
3.63/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is complete blackness. Head is chocolate brown that fades, but leaves a nice pancake on top. Lacing is extremely sticky.

Nose is dark chocolate, milk chocolate, sweet malt, almond, light hops, and vanilla extract.

Taste is very decadent. The malt is richly roasted, and the chocolate is more subtle than the smell suggested. The hops are very light.

Mouthfeel is much lighter than expected. It is creamy, but goes down easily. It could have used either more smoothness or more carbonation. It needs more substance to carry the flavor.

Overall, it is a stout that is not especially bold, but nicely roasted.

Photo of Tone
4.01/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of chocolate, sweet malt, slight roasted malt, hint of alcohol, oatmeal, and hint of wheat. Fits the style of an American Stout. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of chocolate, slight hops, hint of alcohol, hint of chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Overall, good body, blend, and complexity.

Photo of Keffa
3.94/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First review in a long, long time. Stubby bottle poured into an Ephemere tulip.

A: By far and away the best American stout I've ever seen in glass. A somewhat rousing pour fills the tulip with a head that takes up the whole glass and literally takes 5 minutes to settle enough to pour the rest of the bottle. Once the whole bottle is in, the head is still half the glass. It settles (again, after about 5 minutes) into a 1/2" thick full cap that leaves copious lacing everywhere on the glass. Color is pitch black with the head being a dark tan. Fantastic.

S: Deep roast, bittersweet chocolate, earthy hop, coffee, toast notes. Nice, but very heavily handed on the roast aroma kinda puts me off a bit.

T: Wow, not what I was expecting at all. The roast is much more mellow in the taste than in the aroma. Mainly focuses on the bittersweet chocolate, a light coffee and roast behind that. Very lightly bready and toast. Earthy hop comes through again, although it's subtle.

M: On the full side of medium, if that makes sense. Not quite chewy thick as an Imperial stout, but not as thin as some of the American stouts I've had. Coating on the palate. Nicely carbonated, almost creamy in texture. Finishes dry.

O: Very nice stout, easy drinking, low ABV, good flavor, and looks great. If you want a beer to show off how good it looks, I'd wager you won't easily find one that looks better.

Photo of superspak
3.58/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 12/19/2013. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, caramel, toast, dark bread, herbal, light char, and herbal/roasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance of dark/roasted malt, cocoa, and light earthy hop notes; with decent strength. Taste of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, toast, dark bread, herbal, light char, and herbal/roasted earthiness. Light earthy herbal/roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, roast, coffee, toast, dark bread, herbal, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice balance and robustness of dark/roasted malt , chocolate, and moderate herbal hop flavors; with decent complexity and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, creamy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very solid chocolate stout. Good balance and robustness of dark/roasted malt, chocolate, and herbal hop flavors; and very smooth to drink. A pleasantly enjoyable offering.

Photo of Hoptometrist
4.14/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from the bottle into a nonic glass

A- Poured black with a giant fluffy mocha head with lots of chunky lace.

S- Rich chocolate mousse upon opening, mostly a faint mineral aroma though

T- First thing I taste is some surprising smokiness, very roasty notes, bitter chocolate, all blends together nicely. Mineral presence in the taste.

M- Very smooth and creamy, pretty chewy, finishes dry

O- A very easy drinking and flavorful stout with a wonderful creamy mouthfeel. I am very impressed with this beer from North Peak.

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Dubious Black Chocolate Stout from North Peak Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 138 ratings.