Darkest Hour - Anchorage Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Darkest HourDarkest Hour

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

210 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 210
Reviews: 40
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 64
Gots: 40 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Anchorage Brewing Company visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Ale brewed with Summit hops. Triple fermented: First with a Belgian yeast, second in Pinot Noir and rye whiskey barrels. And finally in the bottle with a wine yeast for natural carbonation.

40 IBU

(Beer added by: lakersfan16 on 06-02-2013)
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Ratings: 210 | Reviews: 40 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by LambicPentameter:
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.66/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed as out of a brown 750 mL bottle marked with the information, Batch #1 March 2013. Poured into a Boulevard Smokestack tulip glass.

Appearance - Aggressive pour yields a frothy but fleeting mocha-tan head that slinks back into the liquid after a little while, leaving a rim of foam around the edges of the glass. Body is almost pitch black, but reveals highlights of garnet and pomegranate seed red when held in front of the light. An enchanting looking beer, though it could use some better head retention and lacing, but I suppose that's to be expected from a 13% BA imperial stout.

Smell - Very hot with boozy notes from the rye barrel-aged portion. Belgian yeast gives the typically roasty smell a floral depth, like nectar. Still, the elements of coffee and cacao are still present. I also get characteristics of rich, decadent port wine and dark fruits. Unfortunately, the booze is a little unbalanced for my taste, but it's an incredibly unique smelling brew. Almost like brandy.

Taste - Unbelievable. I'm not even sure where to start, the flavor is so deep and complex. Definite characteristics of pinot noir and grape must, some dark spiciness with a hint of oak from the rye barrels, and a pleasant sweetness of molasses and caramelized sugar. I love the fact that the wine elements are clearly present, but blend in nicely to the overall darker, sweeter elements from the stout to highlight darker fruits like figs, dates and currants. The acidity provides a good counterpoint to the heavier, more cloying components.

Mouthfeel - Thick and viscous, with a heavy body. Carbonation is moderate-to-heavy; in spite of the lack of retention, a gentle swirl coaxes out fizz and foaming pretty easily.

Overall - As a end-of-the-night sipper, this might be one of the best beers I've ever had. I'm sure it would be fabulous with a dessert, but it's also sufficient enough to be its own dessert. I will definitely have to make a point to get more bottles of this, partly because it's amazing, but also to age it and see how that wine yeast changes the characteristics of the beer over time. Anchorage continues to use its King Midas touch to crank out fantastic beers.

More User Reviews:
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Paccamacca for the extra!

poured into Tulip glass.

Appearance: light to medium black bodied beer with 2 fingers of frothy medium tan head. Spotty lace on the glass. Head drops down to a thin ring around the glass.

Smell: Lots of chocolate, oak, rye and red wine notes are very noticable and pleasant.

Taste: Milk chocolate and lots of it. Rye and red wine notes with wet oak. Light notes of dark fruits. Hint of earthy hop that blends effortlessly with all the other flavors in this beer. Fantastic balance and complexity. This is the thing that I love about Anchorage beers is that they are so balanced even though there is sooo much going on with the layers and layers of complexity found in this beer!

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Alcohol is very well hidden. Its still a sipper too.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer more than I expected. I havent had an Anchorage beer that wasnt awesome yet to date. Recommended.

Photo of BEERchitect
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I worry about Belgian stouts and the friction that's caused by the highly roast character and the acidic puckering that, in tandem accelerates each flavor and throws them both way out of balance. But because its "Anchorage" at the helm, I've got to feel confident that they'll pull it off well. Right?

Upon the pour, the ale foregoes its exuberant Belgian character and sides mightily with traditional Imperial Stout. Its rich black body slowly releases a creamy and delicately frothy mocha foam that dissolves back into the glass, but a gentle swirl rejuvenates its dense frothy character. Light on lace, the ale shows how it struggles with its immense body beneath.

Sour on the nose, the scent of tart cherries, burnt fruit, grape must all lead the way. A slow rise of chocolate, toast, and coffee eventually support the sour tinge but remains in the backdrop of aroma.

But to taste, the flavors erupt! Stout everywhere- the fudgey chocolates, smooth espresso, walnut, and overall robust roast taste is balanced superbly with burnt caramel and toffee. -and that's just the start. Upon these firm dessert-like underpinnings spring the savory notes of sherry wine, savory near-balsamic notes, a meaty element and some light salt to bring the flavor to live. Vinous acidity plays on the finish with pino noir and oak spices for a semi-clean closure of earth and rum.

Full bodied, yet nowhere near the level that's expected from a 13% beer. The malts hide its strength well and without over-sweetening the beer. The wine and whisky heat never exaggerate the tone- the smooth warmth weaves into the ale like fine tawny port wines will.

Darkest Hour turned into darkest minutes for the few who shared this bottle. Its simply irresistible to leave the glass alone for much time at all as those savory and robust notes strike the perfect balance and invites a return to the glass much quicker than at 13% beer should.

Photo of Kuaff
4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Woooaaahhh... woah. That's what I thought to myself when I saw the unfamiliar bottle with the beautiful owl on it, and also what I thought when I later took my first sip... at cellar temperature from a snifter. I have a lot to say about this one.

It's appearance is pretty darn dark, almost a totally opaque black. There's just a tiny bit of auburn transparency around the edges of the glass. I can see tiny bubbles against the wall of the glass, rising up to the head, which brings me to what I love most about this stout's appearance. The head is a two fingers-deep, mocha-colored mass of super-fine, dense and creamy foam that looks as smooth as silk. AND it has INCREDIBLE retention despite the 13% ABV and extensive barrel aging. It gets progressively smoother-looking over time until it actually resembles cream very closely.

The first thing I have to say about the smell is that it hits me with one of the best chocolate aromas I've ever been tempted with, either by a beer or dessert. This is the most crucial part of an imperial stout's smell for me, so I LOVE that about it. But there's more. Much more. Rich milk chocolate, raisins, vanilla, bourbon, whisky-soaked leather, and a bit of red wine all float up into my scent receptors.

As I taste this beer, I'm faithfully treated to everything the aroma promised. Sweet milk chocolate is in the taste, along with the bourbon and vanilla. A tart wine character from the pinot noir barrel aging is very noticeable and adds another enjoyable complexity, and Belgian yeast imparts the distinct, yeasty sweetness of Belgian strong dark ales. Early in the finish, I get the bitterness of coffee and dark chocolate to accompany an awesome roasty aftertaste that I'd describe as burnt leather. I think I pick up on a bit of the rye at very end of the extraordinarily long finish too.

Being 13% ABV, I feel I must describe in detail the effects of the alcohol. Its wrath is only felt AFTER it slides down my throat. Seductively subdued carbonation baits me into taking big sips, each one of which feels totally smooth and innocent on my palate... until I swallow and am given a hot lashing by the alcohol for daring to even THINK that this beer is as unrefined and "drinkable" as lesser beers. The pleasure was well worth paying the punishment.

The mouthfeel is sticky and fairly thick, like most excellent imperial stouts. It kind of has the same feel of wine.

What's so marvelous about this specimen is how it was created by use of such interesting, expiramental brewing techniques and treated with such an astonishing array of barrel aging... and that I can then distinguish and fully enjoy the unique qualities contributed by each technique. Darkest Hour is nothing less than a phenominal triumph of the imagination. And you BETTER set aside more than just ONE hour if you're confronting a bottle of this all alone... or you WILL experience your darkest hour.

Photo of bobhits
4.94/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I think it's offical folks. Anchorage is now one of the 5 best brewers in America. These guys are just out of this world.

Pours opaque black with bubbles rising from the bottom to produce a thin but dark head. Thick body with legs for days when swirled in the glass. Lovely.

A distinct acid aroma comes off the glass, perhaps some cherry nature to it. This is followed by sugary malts with an almost perfect blend of espresso and molasses seeming to become milder and more toffee or caramel like. There's definitely a belgian yeast character giving complex aromas but so well blending no one comes out.

Sour fruits perfectly blended into a toffee, coffee, caramel, milk chocolate, and dark fruited explosion. I can't even put this one to words folks. They throw everything you can imagine from a stout and a belgian at me and then added in whiskey barrels that give off distinctive vanilla and oak and then wine barrels giving new levels of fruit flavors I've never had in a stout. This might be "darkest Hour" but it seems in the darkest to also be simply the best hour. If only I could control myself and sip this for a full hour.

Creamy and thick yet not overly thick to where it's a struggle to drink. The perfect creamy mouth feel of this is amazing beyond words. A light bit of alcohol perhaps the only flaw this beer has it just barely noticed.

I'm truly at a loss here. This is simply one of the best beers I've ever had in my entire life. It is beyond words. It is beyond what I can explain in a review. This is up there with bourbon county stout. Pay day, I think I'm buying every bottle I can find and if I have to drive 3 hours, so be it. Unbelievable.

Photo of SuqMadique
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of sabitu
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of EastBay_Nick
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of williamjbauer
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of chinchill
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber at RBWG-2014 in Asheville.

Deep dark red-brown with a decent head.

Boozy with prunes, dark bread, raisins. Excellent sweet/bitter balance.

Full body with perfect carbonation.

Lasting aftertaste with dark roasted grains eventually coming to the fore.

Outstanding

Photo of Brenden
4.41/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown and almost fudgy in appearance, this thick brew looks the part of a big stout. It grows a khaki-colored head about a finger in height. Retention is on the better side of moderate, as is a mingling of patching and spotting.
Stout characteristics make themselves known in the aroma, more than the Belgian yeast. Otherwise it's got a great balance of tart and sour, Michigan cherry style, with a light sweetness both fruity and almost creamy in nature. Rye whiskey and Pinot, seemingly experimental and potentially disastrous, marry impressively well, and I'm loving the dry/sweet interplay. Roast and light cocoa notes mingle well, as does a sort of toastiness, making this a complete, balanced, and well-rounded beer full of depth and flavor. The taste adds an excellently well-toned acidity/vinegar element and brings the unity of malts, sourness, tartness and sweetness into accord exceptionally well. There's little notice of this beer's huge ABV, but it sure does warm nicely.
Stout big and rich, this full-bodied beauty is thick and creamy. Dryness from the rye whiskey, wine and the oak they're in balances out the overall feel. Creamy smooth and warm, this is a seemingly winter-appropriate bee that I'd drink any time, as it's also somehow refreshing, likely due to the light acidity.

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Sammy
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of cjgator3
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of StoutItOutLoud
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body with a decent khaki head. Thick collar. A few islands.

Smell - Rich chocolate, some whiskey, and then the red wine barrel comes through in the end. Gives it a vinous character.

Taste - Chocolate and coffee up front. Vanilla. The red wine comes through with the vinous character. Whiskey comes back in the finish but the lingering flavor is wine.

Mouthfeel - Medium high carbonation. A little boozy.

Overall - The wine barrel needs some time to die down, I think, but this could be really good with some agem

Photo of flayedandskinned
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2013 Vintage
Poured into a standard tulip glass.

Appearance: (4)
Pours an absolutely, viscous impenetrable black with only a mere wisp of a dark knaki that almost recedes as quickly as it forms. The high alcohol content(13%), coupled with the extensive aging in both Pinot Noir and Rittenhouse Rye whiskey barrels, definitely kills any hope of a head. Plenty of alcohol legs.

Aroma: (4.5)
Huge notes of sweet, overripe plums, dark cherries, figs, rich molasses, dark chocolate and dried tobacco leaves. Massive barrel character; The whiskey barrel definitely dominates aroma; cascading notes of vanilla, bourbon and light coconut . There is a vinous leather character imparted by the Pinot barrel. Some alcohol phenols come out more and more as the beer warms.

Taste: (4)
As soon as the beer enters your mouth, you're hit with peppery, spicy black cherries from the Pinot barrel. Soon to follow the Pinot character, is some sweet plum and general dark, fruitiness from the Belgian yeast that the stout was fermented with. Rich, dark chocolate malt quickly follows the fruity yeast character. The stout finishes very dry with more lingering impressions of black cherries, plums and chocolate. Big bourbon barrel notes at the tail end of the finish; vanilla, faint charred oak, light tannins and a resounding booziness as the beer warms. For being 13% ABV, the alcohol is fairly well hidden.

Mouthfeel: (3.5)
Thick, viscous with very soft carbonation and an oily, drying alcohol presence.

Overall: (4)
An extremely unique take on a barrel aged stout; Both the Pinot Noir and Rye Whiskey barrels are showcased very well, the bourbon dominates the nose, and the tail end of the finish, whereas the Pinot dominates the initial flavor and the back end of the aroma. Very interesting stuff. I do find myself wishing that the base beer had more of a roasted malt backbone to help counteract the sweetness of the stout, as the beer does get pretty cloying as it warms. Stronger carbonation would also help in this matter. I think this beer will greatly benefit with some more age on it. This is one stout keep buried in the closet for a while; to let the carbonation build up and let the diverse flavors round themselves out a bit. I recommend this beer to anybody who is looking for a new flavor experience on their palate. Good, but young beer; still has some aging to do.

Photo of Bunuelian
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of awdturboiv
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Magery
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of bluejacket74
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml caged and corked bottle. Batch #1, bottled March 2013. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch and a half tan head that stuck around for a while. There's a decent amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like roasted malt, red wine/grapes, whiskey, chocolate, and a bit of licorice. The brew tastes like roasted malt, chocolate, red wine, whiskey, dark fruit, licorice, molasses, caramel, and some coffee and wood. I think it's tasty! Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's coating and chewy with moderate carbonation. The 13% ABV is well hidden. I liked this brew a lot, I think it's definitely worth trying. I know I'd like to get another bottle of this in the future, it's one of the better beers I've had recently. $17.99 a bottle.

Photo of Rutager
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of rjp217
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

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Darkest Hour from Anchorage Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 210 ratings.