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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

118 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 118
Reviews: 20
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 7.34%
Wants: 71
Gots: 38 | FT: 2
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
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Ratings: 118 | Reviews: 20 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

t0rin0, Feb 20, 2013
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

UCLABrewN84, Jul 05, 2014
Photo of GRG1313
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

GRG1313, Jul 04, 2014
Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

womencantsail, Aug 07, 2012
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

westcoastbeerlvr, Feb 25, 2014
Photo of largadeer
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

largadeer, Feb 25, 2014
Photo of MasterSki
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

MasterSki, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

feloniousmonk, Jan 25, 2013
Photo of oline73
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

oline73, Sep 08, 2014
Photo of mendvicdog
4/5  rDev -8.3%

mendvicdog, Apr 12, 2014
Photo of XmnwildX12
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

XmnwildX12, Dec 13, 2013
Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

InspectorBob, Jul 22, 2013
Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -8.3%

duceswild, Apr 08, 2014
Photo of mothman
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

mothman, Jul 27, 2012
Photo of ShanePB
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

ShanePB, May 31, 2014
Photo of johnnnniee
3.75/5  rDev -14%

johnnnniee, Aug 24, 2013
Photo of drummermattie02
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

drummermattie02, Jul 21, 2013
Photo of Rhettroactive
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Rhettroactive, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of KAF
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

KAF, Jul 20, 2014
Photo of thagr81us
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

thagr81us, Sep 04, 2012
Photo of Duff27
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Duff27, Feb 06, 2013
Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

maximum12, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of eawolff99
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

eawolff99, Jul 02, 2012
Photo of KarlHungus
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

KarlHungus, May 19, 2014
Photo of morimech
3.46/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.5

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.

morimech, Mar 30, 2014
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Before The Dawn from Steel Toe Brewing
96 out of 100 based on 118 ratings.