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System Of A Stout - Beachwood BBQ & Brewing

Not Rated.
System Of A StoutSystem Of A Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

34 Reviews
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Reviews: 34
Hads: 237
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 22.14%
Wants: 182
Gots: 57 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.30% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Halcyondays on 07-07-2012

System of a Stout [Imperial Armenian Coffee Stout ] - An imperial stout infused with all the traditional ingredients of a savory cup of Armenian coffee: cardamom, molasses, coffee (of course), and brandy. In the kettle, the beer is lightly dosed with green cardamom for exotic spice notes. Molasses adds a richness that seamlessly blends in. The finished beer was then aged for several days on masterfully roasted coffee from Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa. The beer was then aged for several weeks on Armenian brandy-soaked oak chips for yet another dimension of flavors and aromas. Take your time & enjoy this endlessly complex & nuanced beer.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 34 | Hads: 237
Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.38/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark as midnight with basically no light making its way through. 1/2 finger tan head lays still atop the dark waters.

S- Coffee forward. Caramel and faint cocoa. Some cake-like notes

T- Coffee again with lots of roasted character opens things up. Then a healthy dose of mint comes through....mint? It is very odd. Maybe the cardamom. No brandy to speak of. Not sure what the idea of the brandy soaked wood chips was about.

M- Full body and rich. Tingling feel. Dry and bitter.

O- Hmm. Not what I expected. Odd mix of coffee and mint/citrus that really seams to clash. No oak, no brand...no thanks. Quite disappointed I traded a Sump for this.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.62/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Picked this one up after hearing the hype. Haven't been real impressed with Beachwood's offerings - bottled or draught - and their bottles are so direly overpriced. This one ran me $19.00 USD. 11.2% ABV according to my bottle. I like the artsy minimalist label art. Batch number 1/264. 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with waxed-over pressure cap acquired at a local SoCal beer store and served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given its reputation. "System of a Stout. Imperial Coffee Stout. Stout Aged on Oak with Coffee and Spices added." Reviewed as an imperial stout because it clearly identifies as such - but not necessarily a Russian Imperial Stout.

Served cold, straight from the fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger wide head of lovely mocha tan colour. Wonderful creaminess and frothiness. Supple. The smooth, soft complexion is damn appealing. Even consistent lacing as the head slowly recedes. And recede slowly it does; it takes a good 8-9 minutes to fully reduce. Head is magnificent for the style.

Body colour is a very dark solid brown-black; by no means a jet black. Opaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Looking well above average for the style overall. Special. No overt flaws are obvious. Really looking forward to trying this one.

Sm: Damned impressive coffee notes - including masterful roast, espresso, cream, and rich coffee beans.

I have no idea what the hell "cardamom" is, so I'm going to google it. Done. Nope, still no idea what the hell that would smell like.

Some other pleasant notes complement the dominant coffee, like dark malts, roasted barley, chocolate malt, and light hazelnut. Balanced and intriguing. I'm quite excited to try this.

I look for oak, brandy, molasses, and actual chocolate, but find none. If they really wanted oak/brandy notes, they should have gone for barrels not chips - especially when they're charging $19.00 for it.

Overall, it's a very well executed aroma of above average strength. Good for the style.

No yeast character, hop character, or alcohol is detectable.

T: Earthy creamy coffee notes dominate, with some pleasant roasty character surfacing more towards the climax. Some earthy coffee character as well, with sprinkles of coffee bitterness. The body has your usual dark malts and chocolate malt, which fill it out nicely without intruding. I like the cream up front. Fleeting hints of vague hazelnut. Not getting any real oak or brandy; the oak aging here is insubstantial - that's disappointing. Buried roasted barley; I'm just glad roasted barley is present at all. Some caramel. A kiss of powdered truffle. Luckily there are no anise, licorice, or vinous notes here. I'm also glad that there's just a brief whispery hint of dark fruit; any more and it'd be annoying, but the subtle touch of plum is the most artful touch in the beer - and that's saying a lot given the quality of the coffee notes. A hint of vanilla. Flavour duration is average for the style, but pronounced in general. Flavour intensity is slightly below average for the style, but it's a balanced well-executed imperial stout that sees no need to delve into the harsh overwhelming flavours heavy-handedly delivered by inferior beers in the style. Good complexity overall, if a bit wanting compared to great imperial stouts. I quite like this one; Beachwood has pleasantly surprised me.

No hop character or yeast character comes through. It's not a hot or boozy beer either.

Mf: Chewy, sticky, smooth, and wet. Lightly silky. Creamy. Good presence on the palate. Slight overcarbonation. Good thickness and nice full body. Unrefreshing. Not oily, harsh, gushed, astringent, acrid, or scratchy.

Dr: Quite drinkable for the ABV, but still best treated as a sipper. It's a good example of an imperial stout, but I don't think I'd buy it again at its ridiculous price point. I mean The Abyss is a good ~33+% cheaper than this, and it's definitely superior. In any case, I'd recommend to friends if they can find it cheaply on draught. It's definitely worth trying once, and I applaud the execution of coffee notes here. Looks like I'll be giving Beachwood more of my money for their house beers after all.

Constructively, I'd like to see aging in actual oak barrels; let's dispense with the half-assed oak chips. "Anything that's worth doing - is worth doing right." A bit more roasted barley would be a nice addition. And real chocolate would do it well. I could see rich cacao complementing the flavour profile quite nicely.


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Photo of Davepoolesque
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%

Really loving the coffee aspect of this beer. I'm leaning towards not liking the spices in this. WHAT ARE THEY AND WHY ARE THEY THERE! Medium thickness, big bitterness. Personally, I feel this brew is overrated. Glad I got to try it, but I'm good trying it once. It should really be categorized as a Christmas spiced beer.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.86/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Big thank you to Vince I believe...batch 1

Loads of spice...cinnamon, cardamom, and booze. My wife says the smell gives her heartburn.

Big beer....coffee is huge and roasty, spices plunder the palate, alcohol burn lingers a good long while. Finish is a touch acrid and burnt which may also be due in part to the molasses. Strong bold flavors, some vegetal pepper notes, tarry fade....large.

Interesting beer for sure...brandy is faint and I wish it were a large role. Chips provide a woody feel along the palate. Fun try, unique beer, and good...but not quite where I had set my expectations when I had this as a top want. Regradless, thrilled to have had the opportunity.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4/5  rDev -6.8%

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body. Medium khaki head. Thin collar.

Smell - Coffee. Spicy. Kinda roasty.

Taste - Very spicy. Like cinnamon? Incredibly strong coffee. Roasty coffee. Very intense. Some bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated. Medium body.

Overall - It's one-dimensional, but very tasty.

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Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beachwood continues to please and this is no exception. Batch 1 and Batch 2 tasted side by side. There were differences of opinion. Score here is for Batch #1 - more creamy, chocolaty and rich all around. Batch #2 is very similiar but lacks some of the complexities and nuances.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to beachstrength49 for the bottle. Split with angrybabboon.

Appearance: Straight black with a small dark tan head. OK retention drops the head to a small collar with no lacing. Minimal carbonation with a nice thick and creamy poor. Solid.

Smell: A lot going on with this thing. Nice roasted malts with a very slight burnt edge. Brandy is upfront and then some. Oak adds a nice element. Vague dark fruit in there. Oh, and did I mention the crazy amounts of coffee? Roasted beans, fresh brewed espresso, and spent grinds. It's loaded. Cardamom is evident as well. It's complex, but it's all upfront and fades rather quickly. Sweet cooked sugars. Almost like bleach with the combo of coffee, cardamom, and the like. Licorice. A touch of musty sock and some solid cocoa and chocolate notes.

Taste: Slight bite of alcohol over a solid roasted thing. Coffee and more coffee. Coffee beans and slightly old espresso. Some licorice and then the brandy kicks in. Layers of alcohol intrinsic and external. Some nice backing oak with a touch of char. Caramel, toffee, tons of molasses, I was beginning to wonder where it was. Cardamom lingers on the tongue dropping a unique spiciness. Sweet brandy. Cocoa and chocolate, it's all there. Assertive with a nice depth and complexity. Plum and a touch of oatmeal cookie.

Mouthfeel: Full and smooth. A bit slick up front with a minimal, but not negligible carbonation. Lingers and sits around for a good bit.

Overall: Wakeupputonalittlemakeupdrinkabeerandwin.

This is a bit nuts. A lot of things and they're all good. This is a net win in the long run.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


On tap at Toronado for Beachwood Brewing's one year anniversary.

A: Black and impenetrable with an inch of brown froth. Good retention and lots of scattered lacing.

S: Rich dark chocolate blends with earth, cardamom, molasses, and a little brown sugar. Coffee is big and bold. There's a firm nutty profile with pronounced roasted malt characteristics. Restrained dark fruit presence with faint oak and a whisper of brandy. 

T: Bittersweet dark chocolate with a potent earthy coffee character that pervades all aspects of the flavor. Lightly nutty with molasses and a touch of brown sugar. Firm roasted malt profile and moderate bitterness. Bold, full flavored, and bearing a striking resemblance to a good cup of coffee. There's a lot going on here.

M: Full body with medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is chewy, sticky, and smooth.

Overall: A complex, intense, and delicious beer. Seek this out if you're a coffee lover.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%

A-Black in the glass, one finger off white/tan head that leaves some lacing

S-Starts with chocolate, coffee, oak, this sweet cinnamon flavor.

T-Strong coffee flavor, then lots of chocolate and cinnamon, nice oak rounding out the beer.

M-Medium to heavy, with nice carbonation.

O-A good beer, the coffee wasn't as present as I was expecting, the sweet cinnamon flavor came through more for me.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.21/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this

Consumed 10/3/13

Appearance: Dark, dark brown - pours with a medium size, light tan head - eventually fades to a borderline nonexistent cap, doesn't leave much lacing

Smell: Simply put, there is a lot going on here - loads of chocolate, molasses, spice, coffee, and dark fruit - burnt chocolate malts and some sweet chocolate syrup - coffee grounds - some decidedly exotic spices - definitely interesting

Taste: Coffee, chocolate, molasses, and some exotic intrigue - dark malts, roasty with some burnt - chocolate malts, dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, baker's chocolate - rich, dark coffee flavor - molasses and some burnt caramel, dark sugars - some pretty obvious alcohol flavor, not exactly hot, more of a brandy flavor - some wood, too - very, very complex

Mouthfeel: More or less a full body, creamy, low carbonation, nice finish

Overall: A great beer to... Wake up! Grab a brush and put on a little makeup!

This is rather complex. That is a phrase that I don't get to write as much as I used to. But this is truly unique. Definitely worth a try, definitely worth seeking out. I suppose I also need to try Armenian Coffee.

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Photo of lsummers
4.21/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Tony's Darts Away, pitch black with a great frothy tan lacing, sticks to your ribs! ... And the glass.

Smells straight up like coffee and chocolate with roasted oats. Hints of a sweet molasas.

Taste initially hits you with coffee but it's not overpowering and is blended quite nicely with the bitter dark chocolate and sweet molasses with some finishing roasty characters. The bitterness isn't overwhelming but hits more towards the backend.

It feels like it has some nice carbonation and it really helps hide the high abv, it's a warming beer but not boozy.

Overall I'm pretty impressed, I'm not a daily coffee drinker but I loved the stong coffee notes. This is definitely a special beer.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle (2013)

Thanks for sending this my way, SubpoenaDeuces!

Black on black with a small foaming ring of tight brown bubbles. Leaves the glass oily and spotted on the way down.

Impressive and expressive freshly ground coffee aroma. This would perhaps be overwhelming for someone not a big fan of earthy, roasty, strong, acidic coffee, but I'm a big fan. Bring it on. Complemented by definite oak and an interesting spice (most likely, the added cardamom, but I wouldn't have said that blind). An earthy, roasty, expressive, coffee powerhouse.

Fairly bitter initially, but layers of bold ground coffee, oak, and earthy, interesting spice notes come together extremely well. I didn't pick up much spirit (brandy, in this case)--more of just a barrel presence. Full of flavor with the coffee leading the way. The blend/nuance could be a touch better, but this is very tasty.

Nearly full in body with low carbonation. Doesn't suffer from the prickly/acidic mouthfeel found in Perennial's Barrel-aged Sump, for example.

Fantastic. Excited for Beachwood's releases moving forward.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

delicious beer here, trying to capture unique eastern europe coffee flavors, with cardamom and molasses, both of which are really noticeable in the flavor of the beer without being overdone, a tough feat to accomplish with some pretty tricky ingredients. matte finished black colored brew with high brown tones in the light and a milky off white head with brown rings as it slowly sips. the nose on it is awesome, heavy heavy day old coffee, with bitter barley roast and a dry earthy yeast character. cardamom is slight at first, but develops a lot with temperature. molasses sweetness is more evident in the taste, right up front, but this beer has very little sweetness to round it out, and ends up dry and bitter from the coffee, but with out the usually accompanying acidity from the coffee. nice subtle herbal cardamom peppered in, in exactly the right proportion. alcohol is a bit much when it warms up, but it fits with the coffee in this context. a very nice take on the style here, finally something different from a big coffee stout! thanks to crazybeerlady for sharing this unique beer!

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Photo of Beervana
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours nearly black with a very thin tan head. Nose is quite unique; cocoa, lactose, cardamom, vanilla, and a slight boozy sweetness, reminds me a little of horchata. Taste is a little more traditional with milk chocolate and delicate roast coffee leading the way, a bit of a cardamom/cinnamon spice character in the background, there's definitely a roasty bitterness present but it seems to fade as the beer warms. Not much sign of that 11% ABV here. Feel is smooth but drying, little carbonation.

Overall, this is a tough beer to pin down and rate, there's a definite complexity but the final product almost seems a bit muddled. Obviously the beer is still very tasty, just not quite mind-blowing.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood II,

A: Pours black with a medium brown head, soft lace.

S: Aroma isn't great at first, but as it warms it really comes around. Coffee and dark chocolate for sure, cardamom, lots of spice, and a hint of hops. Fragrant and distinct.

T: Great coffee flavour. Dark chocolate and spice predominately. Lots of complexity. I've never had Armenian coffee, but this is a combination of flavours I like a lot.

M: Full-bodied, rich and creamy. Nice soothing long aftertaste.

O: A very good big stout, unique flavours. A fun beer to try for sure.

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Photo of Getalegup
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark, dark brown with brown fringes. Not much foam then fades to thin lacing on the edges. It smells of sweet choco late and coffee. Taste is the same but I guess the cardamon and brandy soaked wood chips add just a little something extra. Medium viscosity and very smooth. Really solid coffee stout. Recommended.

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Photo of raynmoon
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very nice beer. The nose and mouthfeel is where this one excels. Black with a brown head, nice lacing, and smells, of faint coffee and cinnamon. Nothing overbearing. The flavor follows suit, but not quite as luscious as one would imagine. Still overall a very nice beer.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Batch 2, blue wax
The beer pours an opaque black (dark brown in the light) topped by a foamy tan head that provides some mild lacing before fading...the blue wax is a pain to remove, as always. The nose had big cardamom spiciness and coffee upfront followed by a warming caramel sweetness and hint of alcohol. The taste is also relatively spiced, but it's in perfect harmony with the chocolatey malt sweetness and slight bitterness provided by the Armenian coffee and hops. The mouthfeel is medium-heavy bodied, sweet (not cloying), with masked booze, a biting, spicy bitterness that lingers, sufficient carbonation, and great drinkability. This beer is thoroughly enjoyable and has the perfect coffee/spice profile to compliment for the rich stout base.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber of this from ScottO. Very happy to finally give this one a shot. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter
Batch 2
Blue Wax
Released May 2014

APPEARANCE: A transparent black pour yields a three finger, medium looking, creamy, tan head with very good retention. Black body with higher levels of carbonation for the style. Head slowly fades to a full foam cap leaving some creamy lacing down the sides of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains with some nice lacing clinging the whole way down.

SMELL: Lots of coffee, sweet cream, vanilla, dark chocolate, molasses, and roasted malt aromas. Mostly roasted coffee beans and sweet cream, with obvious qualities from the cardamom as well. Very little oak, but the coffee and cardamom might be stealing the show here.

TASTE: Very coffee forward. Definite roasted coffee and espresso beans up front, with sweet cream and vanilla flavors at the swallow. Big, bold and persistent aftertaste of bitter and burnt coffee, sweet cream, vanilla, dark bitter chocolate, roasted malts and a touch of molasses as well. Sweet creamy flavors from the cardamom for sure, and some vanilla from the oak barrels. Heavy on the sweet cream, cardamom and bitter coffee beans. Really delicious. Actually tastes like morning coffee.

PALATE: Medium body and a touch higher carbonation. Creamy enough on the palate, goes down fine and finishes a touch mouth-coating. A bit of a scratch as the swallow, but no heat. Bitterness lingers.

OVERALL: Really good. Really, really good. The oak barrels are restrained in favor of the coffee and cardamom, though the vanilla sweetness is probably accented by the oak barrels as well. This beer works great and is very easy drinking. Would love to drink more of this stuff. Thanks again ScottO. Excellent stuff.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Being a System of a Down fan and coffee beer fan, this was a no brainer.

Appearance: inky black, dark brown half finger head, no lace.

Aroma: coffee, coffee, coffee, oak, char, vanilla, roast, chocolate.

Taste: strong bitter coffee, rich coffee, chocolate, roast, woody char.

Mouthfeel: pleasantly creamy, thick and full bodied.

Overall: the most coffee intense aroma I've experienced. As it warms, the flavors get a bit harsher than they start, but all in all, its fantastic and a coffee lovers creamy dream.

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Photo of Domvan
4.46/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle I think, this was a nice rich stout with a perfect balance of coffee richness/bitterness. Not overpowering coffee, that I usually prefer. Was a well done and balanced coffee stout, I will seek this out again for sure.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.47/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap for Beachwood's 1st Anniversary (7/7/12).

A: Pours black with a 1/2-inch tan head which lasts long and leaves stalactite lace.

N: Fresh roasted coffee, spices and brandy intermingle and play very well together.

T: Complex layers of roasty espresso, green cardamom, woody oak, sweet molasses and brandy. Unreal. The interplay between the coffee and spice and sweet brandy is amazing.

M: Rich, full bodied and moderate carbonation. Slightly oily and roasted bitterness on the finish.

O: Well Mr. Shrago, you nailed this. Considering how elaborate this was to brew, thanks for making such a fantastic offering. Congratulations on the 1st year and look forward to what comes next.

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Photo of IKR
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 Vintage

Appearance: Very dark brown bordering on black with a fairly small dark beige head that slowly faded. A dark beige ring sticks around for a while.

Smell: Mild brandy, fairly strong coffee notes, roasted malt aromas, and some brown sugar aromas. Nice nose.

Taste: Mild brandy, fairly strong coffee notes (good quality coffee), roasted malt note, some mild tannic oak notes, some mild brown sugar notes, and mild hop notes. The coffee notes are upfront but well integrated. Alcohol is well restrained for the listed ABV

Mouth-feel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Nice mouth-feel on this one.

Overall: A good RIS, and at this time, my favorite coffee stout. I am a coffee snob and addict and this one works for me. The taste profile isn't all coffee and has several other tasty elements. Got to love it when a brewery in your hometown keeps kicking out good beers.

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice black color with a tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. Smells of coffee, oak and cardamom come through heavily. Nicely spiced. The taste leaves a bitter coffee flavor on the aftertaste and a nice buzz of spice on the tongue. Love the balance that exhibits. Smooth mouthfeel once it warms up a bit. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Hootie159
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a centimeter light to medium brown head. Dissipates, but sticks around the edges. Coffee and the cardamom smell great. Natural pairing. Imparts some intense flavor into the taste before the roasted coffee rolls in. Molasses helps balance the spicing with some sweetness. Oak chips impart a hint of smokiness. Very smooth with light carbonation aided by the brandy. The spicing gives it some bite if left on the tongue.

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System Of A Stout from Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
93 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.