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BREWtality - Espresso Black Bier - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
BREWtality - Espresso Black BierBREWtality - Espresso Black Bier

Educational use only; do not reuse.

54 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 54
Hads: 186
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 17.59%
Wants: 86
Gots: 30 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  9.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: AKBelgianBeast on 03-01-2009

Combining jet black color with incredibly smooth texture and decadent coffee flavor, BREWTALITY breaks the expectations of both rich espresso and dark beer to create a whole 'nuther beast. While brutal in alcoholic strength, this biggie beautifully showcases its roasted malt and coffee flavors without bringing on bitterness and bite. This is the first of two lagers in the series.

17 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 54 | Hads: 186
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to wethorseblanket for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and coffee. Taste is much the same with a really nice coffee flavor and a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is extremely tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a thin tan head that dissipated almost instantaneously, leaving only some wispy laces of bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate amounts of coffee and dark malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of coffee, dark malts and dark malts along with some hints of malty sweetness. No bitterness or roasted malts are present.
M: It feels a little more than medium-bodied and clean on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is a refreshing change of pace for lovers of coffee beers as it drinks smooth and has virtually no bitterness or roasted flavors. It also hides its alcohol rather well.

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Photo of brentk56
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a coal black color with a film of a head that leaves a few dots and dashes behind

Smell: Black bread, dark fruit and coffee

Taste: Roasty, but surprisingly sweet, up front, with a molasses, mint and a brown sugar character; coffee, black bread and dark fruit arrive in the middle but the sweetness returns, after the swallow, and continues into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: I was expecting something quite different when I saw this was listed as a Schwarzbier, but the sweetness here is just a bit overwhelming

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Photo of largadeer
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black and completely opaque with a thin cap of dark tan. Espresso on the nose - that's about it. No real malt to speak of, just intensely overpowering espresso. It's nicely expressed, however, and doesn't smell like a stale cup of coffee. The flavor is equally coffee-forward, but the base beer thankfully shines through a bit more. Chocolatey malt, light bittering hops and a touch of molasses shine past the punchy espresso flavor, though just barely. Bitter, semi-dry finish.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks a ton for the great gifts frank, we had a fun night with all of these for sure!

a wonderful dark pour yields a nice two inch head of tan that is reluctant to move anywhere as it sits on top and clings to the sides for its life. big look, almost stoutish.

aroma is huge coffee and roasted malts. you could smell this one a mile away. nice rich roasted coffee beans and a wonderfully well rounded, dark profile. flavor carried through just as well with enormous notes of coffee and peat, campfire like flavors fill in the finish and leave you looking for more.

overall a wonderful beer that straddles the lines of many styles. would not mind having another at all!

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Photo of womencantsail
3.48/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Bobby for sharing this.

A: The pour is a very dark brown color without much of a head.

S: Smells sort of like what you would expect. Very roasty with a fair amount of coffee and chocolate. There's a bit of acidity which I tend to find in a lot of schwarzbiers.

T: Nice and roasty with a decent amount of coffee flavor. There's a mild to moderate bitterness as well as some bittersweet chocolate flavors. A touch of molasses seems to be present as well.

M: The body is light to medium with a low to medium carbonation.

D: Not bad at all. A bit higher in alcohol than I was expecting, but at least it wasn't boozy.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to John for the bottle, and for scratching this one off my list!
#1 schwarzbier on BA as of this review.

Poured into a MS cervoise, an opaque obsidian color, with a tiny rim of dark brown around the edges. A full finger of rich mocha head receded to a thick ring and held there, leaving splotchy lacing on the glass. Sweet dark malts in the nose, coffee, light fruit esters, doughy, with a scent of lager yeast. In the taste, dark malts and coffee, roasty but smooth with a slight bitterness, unsweetened cocoa, uncooked dough, lager yeast, some neutral alcohol detracted from the taste a bit giving a sensation of oxidation, but it was still within tolerance, and faded a bit as the beer got closer to room temp. It is 9.7% after all, and there was some heat. The coffee wasn't overdone at all, which--based on other reviews--makes be think this bottle had some time to mellow out, though it did come out more as the beer warmed. Mouthfeel was nice, smooth, bordering on porter territory, medium body, moderate carbonation, dry finish. My only gripe was the higher alcohol that left a bit of an uncomfortable aftertaste, clashing with the roastiness, but again, this started to fade when the beer got closer to room temp, so I guess I shouldn't have refrigerated it that long. Good brew overall.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big roasted espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, toast, molasses, light char, licorice, raisin, light alcohol, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of big roasted espresso, dark/roasted malt, and light yeast ester notes; with great strength. Taste of big roasted espresso, dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, molasses, light char, raisin, light smoke, herbal, and roasted earthiness. Fair amount of roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark roasted espresso, dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, molasses, light char, raisin, light smoke, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of roasted espresso, dark/roasted malts, and light fruitiness; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a smooth and moderately creamy/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome coffee infused Baltic porter. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of espresso, dark/roasted malt, and light fruitiness; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another Brew Crew offering provided by akbeerfiend. Served in a Lost Abbey rastal teku.

A - Pours with a thin half-finger of tan foam that settles to a thin ring. Dark brown body that displays some transparency at the fringes.

S - Espresso, semi-sweet chocolate, molasses, raisins and dark fruits. Huge nose, and mostly intense espresso with the other flavors rounding things out. No obvious alcohol.

T - Espresso, semi-sweet chocolate, molasses, raisins and dark fruits. Tastes like it smells - not sure what else I can say here. Finishes quite bitter.

M - Medium, sticky body, with a faint hint of the 9.7% peeking through. Moderate carbonation and a slightly dry finish with some residual stickiness as well.

D - Probably not something of which I could drink a ton, but definitely quite enjoyable. Best coffee lager I've ever had, and highly flavorful albeit a touch monochromatic.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear very dark brown in color (approaching but not quite black) with minimal amounts of visible carbonation and some cola brown highlights. The beer has a minimal amount of light tan head that quickly reduces to a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of freshly brewed coffee with some lighter amounts of roasted malts.

T: Upfront there are light to moderate flavors of roasted malts with some moderate to strong amounts of freshly brewed coffee. Just a touch of malty sweetness. Moderate amounts of bitterness in the finish that lingers for a short amount of time.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: The alcohol is well hidden and this beer is easy to drink - definitely the best schwarzbier that I have ever had. Wonderful flavors and aromas of coffee.

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Photo of corby112
3.64/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with very faint mahogany edges when held to a light source. Half finger off-white head that quickly settles into a thin ring. Minimal spotty lacing left behind.

Slightly smokey, deeply roasted dark malt aroma with a robust gourmet coffee presence that's nicely integrated without obliterating every other characteristic of the beer. Some smoked meat and charcoal along with burnt toast, fresh espresso bean and bitter dark chocolate. There's also a subtle lactic presence along with some sweet desert-like bakers chocolate. Smells kind of like flour less chocolate cake.

On the lower end of medium body with tight carbonation and a bitter, deeply roasted espresso/coffee bean flavor that dominates the palate. Doesn't live up to the aroma with a light mouthfeel, a bit too much carbonation and slightly one dimensional flavor profile. Dry and bitter with a slightly burnt, acrid espresso flavor with hints of smoke, charcoal, barbecued meat and burnt toast. Under all of the roast, there is some nice coffee flavor and sweeter chocolate malt notes. The high ABV is well masked but it's still a bit too harsh and roasted/burnt tasting for my preference.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 received from the great trader from the north... AkBelgianBeast... Super cool Frank!! Poured into my shaped SA glass... some sort of snifter would have probably been a better idea.... I didn't look at the ABV before pouring, and just assumed a Schwarzbier with Coffee additions.

Fairly aggressive pour produced only about 1/2" of deep dark brown head... no cap... no lacing... no retention.. The EtOH and oils in the beans are probably keeping it down... The brew is pretty much all black... only hints of deep red/dark walnut show when the bottom of the glass is held to a bright light.

The nose is almost certainly the most "coffee forward" beer that I can remember... It's been a long time since I've had a straight espresso shot... but this smells like a super fresh cup with some dark DME thrown in to sweeten it up.

Flavor is not exactly what I was expecting ... a slightly less amount of coffee is present on the palate.. replaced by a little bit of dark maltiness that shows some minor fruitiness... Plenty of malty sweetness helps push the waves of flavor and makes it meld more than I was expecting. Very light carbonation and the residual sugars are making this a fairly thick yet smooth brew... I like it.... quite a bit... I'm glad I got to try it fairly fresh, because I would expect the coffee to die back a fair amount relatively quickly... No perceived alcohol at all.

I have no real complaints at all... Carbonation could probably be dialed up a notch... but all and all.. they knock the "coffee" beer genre out of the park.

Thanks again Frank... I am very much looking forward to trying the other brews in the cellar.


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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours a very dark mahogany brown that is opaque in the glass, with a half finger brown head that dissipates slowly to a thick ring around the glass. Aroma of quality coffee, toasted malt, dark chocolate and a hint of alchohol. Flavor is wow, rich latte coffee, toasted malt, chocolate and coffee liqueur, wonderfully integrated. Finishes with sweet coffee, light lactose, licorice and sweet dark malt. Creamy medium to heavy bodied. This is a beautifully made coffee ale, with great balance of flavors. The alcohol in the aroma is well covered in the taste, but this is warming and warm. If a great bartender made a mixed drink out of a well made light stout and a quality coffee liqueur, this is how I imagine it would turn out. This could be my favorite coffee beer I've ever had. Well done and recommended. Not available in Seattle, but bought this in southern California. (Most Midnight Sun is available here). Hope some fall off the truck on the way down next year. Beer distribution is so utterly weird.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark brown with brown highlights that had a half finger of tan head and left some frothy lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma was filled with espresso notes chocolate malts, roastiness, vanilla beans, and slight caramel notes. Like the nose the espresso character dominated the taste long with chocolate malts, caramel, and roasty accents. It also had grinded down coffee bean and vanilla bean notes mid palate. The brew was medium in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, chocolatey, slight astringent, roasty, creamy, and mild dry finish, it drank really good and was really tasty. It was one of my favorite from the brew crew series.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 2.1.13
Bottle picked up at the Brewpub in Anchorage

A - Pours a dark brown with a thin dark tan head that quickly moves to the edges.

S - Strong coffee and some roasted malts.

T - Sweet chocolate and lots of coffee. Good!

D - Mild carbonation with a surprisingly heavy body for a lager.

O - Coffee lager, yes please! Very smooth and tasty.

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Photo of rudzud
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received in a trade. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Poured a nice deep dark brown with a one finger mocha head that faded to leave thin clouding and a nice thick halo. Pretty nice.

S - Wow, this is pretty nice. Smells like an iced coffee almost. Lots of good rich espresso notes, light chocolate, and some light roasted malts.

T - Taste is delicious. Strong coffee notes, very good quality coffee. My only thing is that this is WAY too sweet for me. A super sweetened iced coffee. That said, its delicious, just not the way I like my coffee. Also, no alcohol whatsoever. Crazy.

M - Mouthfeel is good, very, very light carbonation. Really drinks like a sweet ice coffee. The booze will creep up on you though.

O - Overall this was a delicious beer. Excellent coffee notes just too sweet for my tastes. Still, well executed.

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Photo of glid02
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Grant - thanks!

Pours black with a one-finger light brown head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of robust espresso with dark malts serving as a backbone. Also present are hints of roasted malts.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Smooth roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by even smoother coffee flavors. The roastiness subsides midway through the sip, allowing the coffee flavors to shine even more and allowing room for hints of dark chocolate. The chocolate fades out quickly allowing dark malts and coffee to carry through to a moderately bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a smooth thickness with soft carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I had no problems finishing my glass and could easily have a few more.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer, it's one of the better coffee showcase beers out there as the other flavors augment rather than overpower. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.45/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared by Alex into a tulip...A dark brown beer with a light tan head that rises about a finger. Thin head and lacing...The aroma is SUPER strong coffee which is nice however there is a super strong undertone in there that almost makes me gag. I can't quite place if its nuts or super sweet chocolate but its unpleasant to me. The robust aroma is complex showing off coffee, molasses, cocoa nibs on steroids...The taste is like eating a coffee cake injected with esperro, chocolate and cocoa nibs. The coffee notes are nice but the rest is a strong mess, a nice bitter finish.

This has the makings of a good beer but there's something that I can't put my finger on that I don't like.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

nickd717 (RIP) shared this. Thanks, Tick!

Pouring black with a dense brown head with good retention and lacing, this is one good looking beer. The nose is wonderful - chocolate, roast and coffee, all excellently balanced. The coffee has a lot of depth to it with a nice richness. This translates to the palate as well, with the blend of chocolate, coffee and roast being quite harmonious. Quite unlike any other schwarzbier I've had, but still very good.Again, I can't stress enough how much depth there was to the coffee flavor. Rich, creamy with moderate bitterness and a nice dark chocolate finish, this beer is quite excellent. Medium in body with moderate carbonation, this is far out of the norm for the style, but an enjoyable beer, one that I drank multiple pours of.

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Photo of ccrida
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber strait from Jerermiah's private stash, for which I owe him a huge thanks! Poured into their tall pils glass, Brewtality is a dark brown tinged black with an off-white head that leaves scattered lace.

Smell is huge espresso and toffee, a touch of alcohol vapors. Robust and very enjoyable.

Taste is fantastic, wow. Loads of chocolate and caramel, with plenty espresso as well. Super rich, but smooth, with the alcohol fairly well hidden in the taste.

Mouthfeel is MSBC's typical super creaminess. A bit on the sticky, viscous side, but on the lighter side for the size.

Drinkability is very good, a great coffee beer. Split with my dad, we savored ever drop. My first strong dark larger, a true hybrid, with both great vision and execution. Really happy I got to try this, thanks again Jeremiah!

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Photo of AgentZero
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another MS beer shared by MasterSki.

A - Dark brown beer with a finger of brown head. Faded to a partial cap with some decent lacing on the sides.

S - Huge, almost knock-you-over, coffee aroma, which is really good. Nice roasty notes and chocolate. Really pretty interesting for a schwarzbier. Has a bit of that acid tone you would expect, doesn't really work with the coffee though.

T - Roasted coffee flavor with a little bit of molasses and some acidity. Has a lot of roast in there, finishes off with a bit of bitterness/acidity that isn't the greatest finish on the beer.

M - Soft carbonation, medium bodied, slightly astringent finish.

O - Solid beer, although it was kind of a srange combination. Not bad, I liked it, but didn't love it.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

was pleasantly surprised to hear the news that this recently retired beer was not only back in circulation, but on shelves locally!!! nabbed a bottle earlier today and had to give it a shot. enjoyed from my midnight sun glass.

a - brew poured a deep black with soft subtle even carbonation that swam to the surface continually creating an off tan almost building like a guiness tint to the beer near the surface. the brew boasted a cream colored head that hung out for a while looking like a dessert coffee. chunky lacing coats the glass.

s - i can smell this deliciousness from across the room. roasty coffee with a hint of cocoa powder and chocolate sweetness. the coffee smell is fantastic, really gourmet and fresh.

t - oh my god. this is amazing. big bold flavors. uber fresh gourmet coffee with the perfect amount of roast and creaminess and chocolate. really just fantastic.

m - although the flavor is INSANELY good, the mouth jumps out at me first. it is phenomenally creamy. rich and full bodied.

o - overall, i'm pretty blown away by this beer. i had no expectations coming into this just that it was newly out of retirement and appeared locally from one of the better breweries to recently hit new york. this is quite a surprise and really an out of this world beer. i WILL be picking up additional bottles of this.

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Photo of gford217
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Ira for this bomber, poured into a tulip.

This one comes out of the bottles dark brown but looks pretty close to black in the glass. The head is big and tan, receding fairly quickly and leaving decent lacing.

The aroma is massive with the roasted espresso dominating from start to finish. There are hints of sweet malts in the background, but honestly it's all about the espresso.

The taste dials back the espresso just a bit. It's still there but there is a lot more sweetness than the aroma would suggest. Plenty of sweet malts forming a backbone with some chocolate sweetness and even a bit of molasses in the finish balancing the espresso bitterness.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of things for the style and thick on the palate with soft carbonation just coating the mouth completely.

Honestly, this one really blew me away, though my love of coffee in beer probably contributed a good bit. It's certainly the most original and probably the best schwarzbier I've had. Just another great beer from Midnight Sun and I'm really excited about the new series.

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Photo of Rutager
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours dark brown, close to black in the glass and topped with half a finger of light brown head.

Smell. Big coffee for sure, some sweet caramel and dark roasty malts, molasses, and a bit of chocolate and fruit.

Taste. Big sweet dark malts and coffee, some dark fruit and molasses again. Quite like the nose.

Mouthfeel. Fairly full bodied and a touch sticky on the lips, low+ carbonation.

Overall. Super solid stuff here. Maybe a touch sweet for me, but a very well made beer.

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Photo of Gmann
2.78/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep brown color with a minimal beige head that settled into a light ring.

The aroma is sweet with some caramel notes with a very light hint of coffee. I dunno I am just not picking up much from this one.

The taste is of a brown bread malt with a faint kiss of coffee. I pick up a strong presence of dark fruit; raisin and plum. Perhaps some fig as well. There is some caramel sweetness and some milk sugars. There is a subtle tart cherry flavor. Me thinks this brew did not hold up well on its trip from Alaska. There is a little bit of a roast flavor but it is quickly over-taken by the dark fruit flavor.

Moderate feel with spritzy carbonation; good for the style. Sweet for the style but does have some roasty bitterness.

Man, what happened to this brew. Very much not like an "espresso black beer". It doesn't taste funky except for the dark fruit flavors. I am hoping this is a bad bottle.

April 5, 2014 update

I stand by my review. Not much if any coffee flavor. The beer itself is good but I don't get much coffee at all, thus my grade.

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BREWtality - Espresso Black Bier from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.