Dark Intrigue - Victory Brewing Company
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Ratings: 689 | Reviews: 294 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by Pahn:
4.1/5 rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
750ml bottle into Duvel tulip. Bottled November 19, 2010.
Note: This beer is bourbon barrel aged Storm King Stout. I reviewed the base beer a few days ago. I didn't like it very much.
Appearance: Free pour yields a one inch tan head that dissipates slowly and lacelessly. Pours a slick black with red brown highlights. It's Storm King minus all the beautiful lacing.
Smell: Popping the cork fills the room with the smell of grapes and raspberries--what the hell? In the glass, there's mild bourbon and lots of hops. Quickly gets oakier, with some grape coming out with lots of oaky vanilla. Some fruity hops (pineapple-y) and dankness underneath, but very subdued (that these aromas survive both the barrel aging process and a year in my cellar tells me that Victory really hops the shit out of Storm King).
The smell eventually ends up as lots of oak, with some caramel and chocolate-covered raisin, and slight medicinal hops and booze.
Taste: First sip hits me with the same outrageous hop attack as in the base beer, but quickly rounded out by decadent chocolate and vanilla bourbon and oak. The richness is cut by maximal hop bitterness leading to a lingering oak-flavored finish. My first thoughts are "This is Storm King alright," and "This is really good." Subsequent sips are the same, but the oak and bourbon help to bring out some of the subtler malt flavors, and give nice vanilla and pastry-like notes of their own. Aftertaste has some heat, and occasionally the oakiness goes a little overboard, but even then works as a pleasant counterpoint to the hops.
This beer tastes like what it is: an egregiously unbalanced Russian Imperial Stout that's been aged in bourbon barrels. It turns out that the barrel aging rectifies the problems I had with the base beer.
The resulting liveliness you get from such ridiculous hopping and heavy oak influence is unlike the usual barrel aged beer; it's decadent, sure, but it's punchy and active. The strong bitterness and somewhat herbal hop flavor sort of lift up the vanilla oak flavors, and the smoothness of the oak brings out the scant-but-good malt depth of the base beer. Each sip has a nice complexity... it's not "everything all the time," it's a couple smooth vanilla and chocolate covered raisin notes here, a couple caramel and almond liqueur notes there, all held up by maximum IBUs and a strong oak flavor.
Tempted to go higher with the "Taste" score... if this were a barrel aged "black IPA / American dark ale" I would, but compared to things like Parabola, this is a 4.0. It's really good, but it's a full notch below top tier.
Mouthfeel: Full side of medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Heavy (but not "sharp") bitterness. Time and barrels have been good to the feel of this beer.
Overall: Great effort by Victory. This beer should be a real treat for fans of Storm King Stout (there's no question about what the base beer is here; it shines through brightly, not even close to being lost to the barrel influence), but it's also good for people like me who find the base beer a bit too hoppy and simplistic. It's a perfect use of barrel aging: the boldest aspects of the base beer have been reined in and balanced, and the oak flavors not only enrich but help showcase the underlying beer.
Serving type: bottle
10-11-2011 02:37:22 | More by Pahn
More User Reviews:
4.1/5 rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4
Bottled on Nov. 9, 2011
Ap - Fluffy, khaki head that comes back to life after a quick swirl.there is very minimal lace. Deep space black body.
Ar - Oak, dark chocolate, notes of bourbon. Vanilla cones through as it opens up.
T - Very similar to nose. It's very simple, yet complex. I think the flavors are all blended together. Roast/Char malty character is present, too.
M - Thick, viscous, near perfect for a stout!
O - Bitter, bourbon, oaky, chocolate bomb. A great RIS. This one just seems to have too much of a good thing for me. (Is that possible?)
Serving type: bottle
02-14-2014 15:31:11 | More by KVNBGRY
2.95/5 rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25
Thanks to Duff27 for the bottle. "Bottled On: Nov 10 2011." 750ml brown glass bottle with unbranded gold hood-and-wire cap over a branded cork and appealing label art served into a Guinness stem-goblet in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery and the fact that this is a bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King - a beer I dug.
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: No bubble show forms as it's poured.
Pours a 2.5 finger wide head of khaki-tan colour. Not the rich dark tan colour that I love in an imperial stout, but is still appealing. Nice creaminess and thickness. Smooth even consistency. Complexion could be softer. Uneven inconsistent lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is good - about 5 minutes.
Body colour is an opaque solid black. No floating yeast particles are visible. Appears overcarbonated judging by the abundant cola-esque bubbles crowding the underside of the goblet.
Overall, it's appealing, but unremarkable - especially for a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. I'd like it creamier, fuller, and darker. A better head would be helpful as well. I'm looking forward to trying it, but it's far from unique or special. There are no egregious flaws.
Sm: Dominant bourbon is the first thing I notice. It's aggressive without overwhelming the other notes. Light vanilla evokes neither true vanilla bean on the high end nor artificial vanillicin on the low end. Noticeable oak, but no toasty character or refined soaky wood notes. Obligatory dark malts and chocolate malts. Unfortunately, I'm not finding any roasted barley character, which is essential in a great imperial stout. Cocoa powder. Plenty of malty sweetness. A hint of insipid coffee. A very faint burnt character is detectable as well.
Certainly not a hoppy imperial stout. I don't get any yeast character or alcohol from the aroma. Frankly, it just isn't all that evocative; each note feels very shallow and surface. It's a bit reticent overall, but I'm optimistic given the base beer. It's a pleasant aroma of below average strength.
T: Hm. Unfortunately, the taste is as shallow as the aroma suggested. Very surface notes of dark malts and chocolate malts provide the body, with complementary notes of cocoa powder, light ash/burnt character, and some malty sweetness. The bourbon is well-integrated but fairly artificial; I wonder about the quality of the bourbon used. There are one-dimensional notes of artificial vanilla and reticent-as-hell oak (with no toasty or refined qualities).
Somehow though, there's no booziness or alcohol presence. I'm not finding any coffee either. There's also no yeast or hop character.
On the sweeter side overall, though the slight burnt character does curb that a bit.
It's damned simple. I'm a bit surprised; the base beer was pretty complex. Could age have muted the flavour profile? This beer lacks complexity, subtlety, nuance, and intricacy. It's balanced, sure, but there's not that much going on to balance. I wonder how this drank fresh. It's cohesive, but far from gestalt. I'm really disappointed. Painfully shallow for the style. Below average intensity of flavour. Average duration of flavour.
The key to a great bourbon barrel stout is using the bourbon notes to develop the natural nuances of the base beer. This is uncommon in that it isn't the bourbon overwhelming the base that is the issue, it's the fact that the base beer is nowhere to be found. This level of simplicity is staggering.
Mf: Chalky, with a strange muted presence on the palate. Smooth and wet. Too airy and light. It needs more body, weight, and thickness. Lacks punch. I feel like the texture doesn't fully facilitate each note from the flavour profile. Where's the oomph, victory? Sure, it's not boozy or hot, but an imperial stout needs to be more bold and assertive. It's a clean mouthfeel with no yeasty sediment, gushed quality, or harshness, but it comes off weak. Almost Guinness-esque.
The texture does not complement the taste well.
Dr: I'll finish the bottle with relative ease. The mouthfeel enhances drinkability because it's so silky and light, but the beer loses power and presence as a trade-off. The mouthfeel and simplicity of this beer really hold it back. I prefer regular Storm King and can see why they retired this brew. I'd like to see Victory re-try a barrel aged Storm King in the future, preferably with a superior bourbon and more care regarding the mouthfeel. I wouldn't recommend this to friends, but I'm glad I got to try it. Thanks, Duff27!
Bottom line: Serious missed potential from Victory, Dark Intrigue fails to use bourbon barrel notes to develop or enhance the notes of the base beer, and really commits a faux pas with the light airy texture.
Serving type: bottle
12-21-2013 07:23:29 | More by kojevergas
Dark Intrigue from Victory Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 689 ratings.