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

139 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 139
Reviews: 24
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 7.32%
Wants: 80
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 139 | Reviews: 24 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Ctrauty
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of tom10101
3.5/5  rDev -19.9%

Photo of egrace84
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Dactrius
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of dc55110
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of sacrelicio
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -19.9%

Photo of Hopstout
5/5  rDev +14.4%

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.16/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

thanks to egrace84 for the bottle share!

poured into crooked stave tulip glass.

Appearance: black bodied beer with thinf brown cap that quickly drops to mo head.

Smell: Big spicy rye malts. Oak, vanilla, smoke, and cherries. Big notes of black licorice.

Taste: Rye whiskey upfront. Black licorice. vanilla and oak. Finishes with roasty / smokey notes and a lingering light char.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation. Smooth beer with a little bit of a booze burn.

Overall: This one is big on the rye malts and black licorice. I do really enjoy the charred aftertaste that just lingers on for a while. This is a solid BA American Barleywine that travels the path less ventured.

Photo of Duff27
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Ungertaker
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.59/5  rDev +5%
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.

Photo of Devi0us
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Schlais
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of MasterSki
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

Photo of herman77
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of LaCoursiere
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of siege06nd
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Rhettroactive
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

Photo of Samwhyz
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of ObiWanKushnobi
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of cofeeguru
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of ElfKicker
3/5  rDev -31.4%

Photo of jmarsh123
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Schlais for the bottle!

Pours dark brown almost black with a small beige head receding quickly. Legs down the glass. Good lacing and retention for the ABV.

Bitter Baker's chocolate, a little toffee and spicy rye whisky in the aroma. Doesn't smell overly boozy despite the ABV and the chocolate character is bold and welcome.

Strong dark chocolate is the first thing that comes through on the flavor. Very much the most bold flavor. Bits of toffee and some more spicy whisky come through near the end. Finishes with a distinct rye kick and a little warming booze. Present, but well integrated whisky.

Medium mouthfeel. Good carbonation perhaps a touch higher than I'm used to on the style, but it works well with the whisky.

Very nice surprise and glad I traded for one. Can stand toe to toe with many BA American Barleywines around.

Before The Dawn from Steel Toe Brewing
96 out of 100 based on 139 ratings.