1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Before The Dawn - Steel Toe Brewing

Not Rated.
Before The DawnBefore The Dawn

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

113 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 113
Reviews: 20
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 7.57%
Wants: 68
Gots: 39 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Steel Toe Brewing visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  13.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Black Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels. Before the Dawn is a fusion of a Barleywine and a Russian Imperial Stout. Layer upon layer of complex malt character is what makes this beer so special. Caramel and toffee give way to molasses, coco and roasted malt. This rich and warming beer underwent a lengthy aging process in bourbon barrels which lends a wonderful oak and vanilla character followed by moderate tannin in the finish.

(Beer added by: claaark13 on 06-28-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 113 | Reviews: 20 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
t0rin0

California

3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

02-20-2013 03:31:43 | More by t0rin0
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

4.23/5  rDev -3%

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at GRG1313's tasting.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, caramel, toffee, vanilla, bourbon, wood, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, caramel, toffee, vanilla, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with nice stout like qualities that work well with the barleywine characteristics.

07-05-2014 03:12:22 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of womencantsail
womencantsail

California

3.9/5  rDev -10.6%

The pour is very dark brown in color with a khaki head. A light roastiness followed by tons of whiskey, vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits. A really nice barrel aroma to this. A light oxidation on the palate, but really great barrel flavors. Whiskey, vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits. There’s a rather strong roasted malt note, and some spiciness of wood and rye.

08-07-2012 17:53:55 | More by womencantsail
Photo of GRG1313
GRG1313

California

4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

07-04-2014 21:51:15 | More by GRG1313
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
westcoastbeerlvr

California

4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

02-25-2014 06:22:08 | More by westcoastbeerlvr
Photo of largadeer
largadeer

California

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

02-25-2014 06:22:28 | More by largadeer
Photo of MasterSki
MasterSki

Ontario (Canada)

4.3/5  rDev -1.4%

Bottle from eawolff99. Served in a Russian River tulip.

A - Tan foam settles to a thin cap, thick collar, and spots of lace; impressive retention for a 13.7% beer. Body is near-black, which is unsurprising for a 'black' barleywine.

S - Massive rye whiskey and oak aroma, with a mix of roasted malts and caramel sweetness in the background. Vanilla presence increases substantially as the beer warms up, and the choice of rye imparts a nice mildly spicy character. A mix of stout and barleywine characteristics for sure, and while a tad boozy it's not offensive for the ABV.

T - The taste has a bit more subdued rye whiskey presence, with more of the base beer shining through. Starts off roasty and chocolate-heavy but transitions to sweeter barleywine flavors in the finish. The rye is certainly still there but integrates better, and the oak is dialed down a notch or two.

M - Smooth, full body, with sticky and chewy heft to it. Surprisingly creamy and low in oaky dryness considering how potent the aroma was. Well-hidden alcohol makes this a bit deceptive, and there isn't a ton of burn or warmth.

D - A very good beer of which I'd never heard, so kudos to eawolff99 for the recommendation on this one. Great complexity that clearly delivers all the flavor elements advertised from the description: Rye Whiskey Barrel-Aged Black Barleywine. Surprisingly mellow already, but should age quite well for a number of years. Deceptive stuff, which resulted in a lot of drunk folk; make sure you have a few friends on hand before opening this one.

12-31-2012 19:12:51 | More by MasterSki
Photo of feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.59/5  rDev +5.3%

Steel Toe Brewing Before the Dawn Barrel Aged Black Barley-wine Ale. Malt Beverage Aged in Rye Whisky Barrels. Brewed and Bottled by Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN. Zero vowels, consonants, or syllables of gobbledygook accompanying the legal label information.

Utter darkness, completely opaque, with a slight, slim head of cocoa-tinged foam.

Aroma: Whiskey hits first, and nothing but. They spell it "whisky", though, which probably means it's Canadian. Rich, large, and lovely. Vanilla, molasses, black cherry. Pepper and anise. These are all but associations, and just the tip, just the start, only what's popping out at me. A little char and roast roars up, too, lush malt is keeping up with the work of the barrel.

I get the name now, all of a sudden. "It's always darkest…" Damn, why did I not get that till now?

Taste: Thick, viscous, rich, and ridiculous. Huge whisky flavor, intense malt domination, not a whistle from hops, but the viscosity is terribly felt and the tastiness is monumental. All those flavors from aroma come back in spades on the tongue. We've got the char, the roast, the anise, the molasses, a whisper of espresso, and a big bite of chocolate. It's utterly indulgent, and abundantly rewarding. It's goddamned good, is what it is!

What else it is, is a hell of a nightcap. I wish they packaged this in little "nip" bottles, 6 ounces or so, so I can pop on off, and slowly consume as I slip into slumber. Once a night, for nights on end. That's the dream, anyway.

It's a great big, beautiful blend of flavors. The vanilla, anise, cocoa, whisky and molasses all popping out at different intervals, but all part of this wonderful stew.

I just noticed what else is missing from the label. Alcohol content is missing. I'm guessing it's 10-12%.

So huge, so vast, so long. But no "so, long", I'm not even halfway into the bottle. More fun to come. I'm going to slowly sip the night away, and lean back, reeling with the feeling, while Coltrane plays something deep, long and ponderous. Ah, that's the stuff.

Have you ever heard anyone say, "What's my favorite beer? The one in my glass right now." I think that was Michael Jackson. Sounds like him. This is my favorite beer right now. And maybe it will be even after I'm done drinking it. It's amazing. It's perfect. It rocks. Long may it wave.

01-25-2013 06:13:17 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of mendvicdog
mendvicdog

Maryland

4/5  rDev -8.3%

04-11-2014 23:12:11 | More by mendvicdog
Photo of XmnwildX12
XmnwildX12

Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

12-13-2013 02:58:35 | More by XmnwildX12
Photo of InspectorBob
InspectorBob

New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

07-22-2013 16:27:22 | More by InspectorBob
Photo of duceswild
duceswild

Maryland

4/5  rDev -8.3%

04-08-2014 03:29:16 | More by duceswild
Photo of mothman
mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.23/5  rDev -3%

Short review: reminds me of BCS

Light tan head. Color is black.

Aroma: a lot like BCS 

Taste: more BCS flavors but a little bit of coffee and roast

Mouthfeel: warming and smooth. Medium carbonation. Full bodied. Ends with a bit of roast and heat.

Overall, a really great beer. Really surprised with this one. Really reminds me of BCS.

07-27-2012 00:37:09 | More by mothman
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee

New Hampshire

3.75/5  rDev -14%

08-24-2013 21:49:44 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of drummermattie02
drummermattie02

Texas

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

07-21-2013 16:49:39 | More by drummermattie02
Photo of ShanePB
ShanePB

Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

05-31-2014 16:42:26 | More by ShanePB
Photo of Rhettroactive
Rhettroactive

District of Columbia

4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

12-08-2012 03:41:02 | More by Rhettroactive
Photo of KAF
KAF

Iowa

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

07-20-2014 03:45:29 | More by KAF
Photo of thagr81us
thagr81us

South Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +1.6%

Shared by caSSino during BRoss242’s send-off party before he moves! Will miss you man! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured black with a half finger light tan head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, and dark fruit. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted malt, caramel hop, and dark fruit. It had a heavy feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a fairly great brew. This was definitely the highlight of the tasting this evening as I was really wowed and shocked at what I found upon first investigation. Everything was really well balanced and all the flavors and aromas were spot-on for the style and with all the right intensity. I could have easy pounded a full bottle of this with no problem, but sharing is caring unfortunately. An absolute must try without a doubt as this was one of my biggest surprises of the year so far.

09-04-2012 11:30:35 | More by thagr81us
Photo of Duff27
Duff27

Illinois

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

02-06-2013 02:11:16 | More by Duff27
Photo of maximum12
maximum12

Minnesota

4.05/5  rDev -7.1%

Haven't sampled this since the day of the release when I popped bottle open to share with the homies in the Beer Bus. I liked it then; but the heat! Has it calmed? We shall see. 750 ML bottle split with my wife before a Breaking Bad episode.

Pour is dark December no stars black. Nose is rustic roast, vanilla, with a peck of vanilla from the whiskey.

Before the Dawn has a unique fingerprint. Wow. Tons of roast that's co-mingled with a Halloween bag full of toffee, which perhaps justifies the 'Black Barleywine' monicker. Touch of spice. Vanilla comes on like a divorced suburban housewife on the finish, along with a shot of bourbon & a bludgeon of alcholic wooziness. Creamy & sweet. Despite the booze, I'm at least three ounces ahead of my wife already. That can't be good. I have two flights of stairs to climb later.

Before is mellowing, like a glacier. I might be dead before the alcoholic canines fully disappear. Nonetheless, one more excellent beer out of Steel Toe, & I'm always looking forward to the next thing coming out of the tanks.

11-18-2012 03:23:11 | More by maximum12
Photo of KarlHungus
KarlHungus

Minnesota

4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

05-19-2014 01:53:32 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of eawolff99
eawolff99

Colorado

4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

07-02-2012 03:35:46 | More by eawolff99
Photo of morimech
morimech

Minnesota

3.46/5  rDev -20.6%

From the second release a day after picking it up at the brewery.

Dense, dark, thick black fluid with half a finger head that stuck around for good long time. The chocolate colored head settles to a thick cap. A lot of spotty lacing is left down the glass.

Bit of a weird aroma and not at all what I was expecting. Chocolate protein shake, wet lumber, vanilla, and lightly roasted malt. No significant sign of alcohol.

Not that whiskey forward but the barrel does play a significant flavor factor. I get more vanilla and woodsy flavor, then the whiskey. Some roasted malt with notes of chocolate and coffee. I could swear they put some lactose in this beer. Slight alcohol flavor and heat in the finish.

Thick and rich body. Very nicely carbonated gives a silky smooth, big beer feel.

I know the beer was originally brewed to be an imperial stout. I honestly do not know why they would go away from that style descriptor as it has better stout qualities, such as viscosity and luscious mouthfeel, than a lot of big stouts. I do not think barleywine when I drink this. The Bourbon barrel did not come through that well and this beer has some bizarre flavors for a barleywine or imperial stout. Huge letdown.

03-30-2014 21:30:18 | More by morimech
Photo of tom10101
tom10101

Quebec (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

05-19-2013 18:02:09 | More by tom10101
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Before The Dawn from Steel Toe Brewing
96 out of 100 based on 113 ratings.