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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

128 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 128
Reviews: 21
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 7.09%
Wants: 75
Gots: 39 | 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: 128 | Reviews: 21 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

feloniousmonk, Jan 25, 2013
Photo of Devi0us
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Devi0us, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of Schlais
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Schlais, Jan 08, 2013
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.

MasterSki, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of herman77
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

herman77, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of LaCoursiere
4.5/5  rDev +3%

LaCoursiere, Dec 15, 2012
Photo of siege06nd
4.5/5  rDev +3%

siege06nd, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of Rhettroactive
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Rhettroactive, Dec 08, 2012
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.

maximum12, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of Samwhyz
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Samwhyz, Nov 04, 2012
Photo of ObiWanKushnobi
4.5/5  rDev +3%

ObiWanKushnobi, Oct 29, 2012
Photo of cofeeguru
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

cofeeguru, Oct 07, 2012
Photo of ElfKicker
3/5  rDev -31.4%

ElfKicker, Oct 06, 2012
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.

jmarsh123, Sep 25, 2012
Photo of Powderhornphil
4.01/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a brown ring around the very edge. About a half finger head. When the head settles it looks like an oil slick.

Aroma is dark fruits, molassis, caramel.

Tastes of charred fruits. Caramel, brown sugars. Lots of the deep fruit notes of a barley wine. Bitter charred stout notes.

Medium mouthfeel. Big sticky sweet finish.

Overall nice beer. Not as hot as I would have thought.

Powderhornphil, Sep 15, 2012
Photo of Cyclone8
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Cyclone8, Sep 12, 2012
Photo of thagr81us
4.43/5  rDev +1.4%
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 jodan
4/5  rDev -8.5%

jodan, Sep 04, 2012
Photo of brooklynbrews
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

brooklynbrews, Aug 28, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -10.8%
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 3Hops
4/5  rDev -8.5%

3Hops, Aug 02, 2012
Photo of Mealhouse
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Mealhouse, Jul 27, 2012
Photo of mothman
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
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 Khazadum
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Khazadum, Jul 14, 2012
Photo of tewaris
4.1/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks black, duh.

Dark and chocolaty aroma with with a good presence of barleywine fruitiness. Tastes big and somewhat boozy with a finishing roast and you can tell that it started its life as a stout (if the rumors are true).

However, there's plenty of toffee sweetness and dates/figs notes that make it a barleywine alright. Much lower barrel presence than their first one (Lunker) but delicious nonetheless.

I am comparing it to a 2+ years old Nightstalker because that's what this is reminding me of. The mouthfeel could have been better. Overall it is very good and I might have rated it higher had there not been a pour of MOAS on the side to keep things in perspective.

tewaris, Jul 06, 2012
Before The Dawn from Steel Toe Brewing
96 out of 100 based on 128 ratings.