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Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout) - Muskoka Brewery

Not Rated.
Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

61 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 61
Hads: 141
Avg: 3.83
pDev: 16.71%
Wants: 24
Gots: 24 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Muskoka Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mrnobody on 12-05-2010

Our Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is rich and sturdy with roasted dark chocolate malts, real cocoa, 70% dark chocolate, and freshly harvested local cranberries. Pair that with a slightly higher alcohol content and you'll find yourself sharing this bottle of joy all winter long.

25 IBU
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 61 | Hads: 141
Photo of BasementBer
2.12/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 1 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Something went wrong muskoka. Maybe it froze in your beards but the bottle I got was syrup, literally.

A: Poured like cough syrup and formed plumes in the glass of water in oil. I figured 'ok, this is a really thick stout, so they must have it loaded with oils' I was right and it was barely drinkable.

S: Great smell, this was the best part of a corrupted bottle, but sadly one has to drink to capture the full aroma. Chocolate cocoa sweetness with hints of fruit.

T: It had the right ingredients to be a fine stout, the cocoa and bittersweet chocolate mixed well and the hints of fruit had a good middle and finish on the palate.

M: This was the worst part of it, image breaking an egg in your mouth and having the yolk roll all over your tongue and slither down your throat. This shouldn't happen.

O: If I wast intimidated by my local liquor store employees, I would get my money back. But instead im keeping the swing top bottle and putting better beer in it.

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Photo of IronDjinn
2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From a tall 750 ml brown flip-top bottle, has the name and new logo of Winter Beard on it, 2011 offering. Pours out an oily dark opaque black hue, very thin cola nimbus when held to direct light. Tall fizzy mocha head on the pour that settles quickly, however very active carbonation can be seen dancing across the surface.

Notes of coffee and dark cocoa on the nose, tartness from cranberries is subdued by the dark grains and come across a bit sweet. Hints of burnt malt and smoke.

The first few sips remind me of homebrew, especially on the finish--worty grains, and that tell-tale papery yeast character with a touch of detergent. That aside, it starts out with coffee and dry cocoa notes,punctuated with a hint of dark berries. Roasted malt on the aftertaste, aside from the homebrew tinge.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, texture is full yet slick, with a carbonation that starts out with a medium briskness yet dissipates over time.

Tough call on this one. Could be an off bottle, could be an off batch, or perhaps I'm just not as enthused by this particular Muskoka offering as some of the other reviewers. Considering the price tag on another bottle to sample I'm not in any huge rush to cross-reference this experience. Has potential, yet from my take either this double chocolate fruit stout could benefit from some tweaking, or some QC. Or it could have been an oxidized bottle....

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Photo of MaxwellSchaefer
2.9/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Appearance: Light head, little rention.

Smell: chocolate and coffee notes shine here with undertones of caramel. I was surprised not to detect any cranberry whatsoever.

Taste: Silky mouth feel, almost like crushed chalk without the taste. The carbonation was tough and very strong--maybe thats where the particulate mouthfeel came from. The taste was chocolatey with some burnt coffee notes--I still couldnt really taste the cranberry.

Overall: the beer kind of sparkles in the mouth but feels muddled. For a beer that calls itself a winter warmer it did make me feel kind of warm. Next time I'll grab something else.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.16/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Love the swing top bottle.

A vigorous pour leaves a tremendously lush cap of mocha head that lingers long on top of a not-quite-opaque inky black.

The aroma is a strong hit of Nesquik being stirred into warm milk with a mild hint of halitosis.

The taste is chocolate and weak coffee. A little tart in the finish which might be the result of the cranberries. If not then they don't contribute anything to the flavor, just the name. I would have never pegged this as an 8% beer as the alcohol is nonexistent. Not bad, but there's not a lot of depth or complexity here and the berry aspect is somewhat lacking, and there's not enough chocolate to warrant the double chocolate moniker in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side. Actually it's a lot on the thin side. Well carbonated though. It needs work, that's all I know.

This is certainly a good beer and suitable for the Ontario market in that it's good without really challenging the palate. But at that price point it's not good enough to get again.

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Photo of D-HopSupreme
3.31/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Deep black appearance with beige head. Scent is fairly heavy on chocolate and roasted malt, not getting much on cranberry. The taste is bitter, with a fairly nice coffee taste, though again no cranberries. The feel consists mainly of a deep coffee bitterness. All in all, an alright beer, though I'll stick with more traditional stouts.

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Photo of TerryW
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark walnut pour under a fairly substantial brown head. Looks good out of the bottle. The head is quickly disappeared, no lace.

Aroma is primarily chocolate, coffee, some fruit. Flavour is lots of chocolate. Coffee and malt as well. There is also the characteristic tart-sweetness of cranberries that really noticeably comes across as fruitiness. Makes it a little bit different from a typical stout. Gentle carbonation.

Tasty, but almost a novelty stout.

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Photo of GradyS1
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My girlfriend brought me back a bottle of this from her recent trip home. I had never heard of this brewery or beer befor. The flip top bottle is a nice addition

Pours a dark brown chocolate, comes out at a medium thickness with a half of finger head that subsides slowly.

There is a lot of chocolate. Dark coco chocolate, a small amount of malts, I pick up on a small amount of red fruit in the end, very small

Like the smell, there is a lot of chocolate to the taste. All the way through, from start to finish, the coco is strong in the finish. The malts help to balance it out a bit. I do not taste any cranberry at all though.

The amount of carbonation this has, goes nicely with the consistency of this beer. I personally like a stout a little thicker but this was well balanced.

This beer is definitely a double chocolate stout, no lacking in the chocolate on this one. I was a little disappointed that the cranberry did not come through as much, I think it would add a really great flavor twist to this.

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Photo of fostachild
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

picked up at an lcbo, best before march 2011. pours a very very dark colour with lots of light tan head.

smell had a little chocolate, smokey aroma but was pretty terrible in my opinion.

chocolate is present in the taste. well balanced and good carbonation. didn't really pick up on the cranberry too much. but respectable and drinkable brew.

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Photo of Sammy
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Bar Volo. Black body with whisp of brown head. Chocolate aromas, with the cranberry in the secondary. The taste is chocolate and roast, with cranberry in the secondary lending some tartness to the dry and sweetish chocolate.Drinkable but not tremendously drinkable.Slightly below average mouthfeel.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer is black with a moderately sized tan head. Head dissipates pretty quickly, a little bit of lacing.

Smell is faint, but nice. Cocoa and roasted malt. I don't get any cherry.

Taste is similar to the nose. Chocolate, a bit of bitterness, and some cherry flavour. Like the nose, it is a little thin but pretty good.

Full bodied, but feels a bit malted? Not sure how to describe, but an unusual feel. Good.

Overall, pretty good but not as good as I had hoped it might be. Not the flavour powerhouse that the name implies.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - classic tar black stout, thumb of head dissipated quickly and nosily, down to a thin covering
S - dominated by big chocolatey and roasty malt aromas, a mild sour aroma reminiscent of a porter
T - starts with dark roastiness and quickly moves to a sour bitter fruit flavour, strong cocoa, with a mild hint of graininess, this one is a bit of a riddle
M - a medium body more like a porter than a stout, sweet and sour with a light smoky and chaulky finish
O - this is a different brew, is has big chocolate and light fruitiness with the character of cranberries, not a great chocolate stout but big props for adding a unique twist

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Photo of spinrsx
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml Bottle

Appearance - Black/brown colour (with a hint of burgundy) with a small size fizzy light brown coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some fair lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for only a minute or two.

Smell - Chocolate, malts, coffee, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste chocolate mixed with malts and a roasted/toasted taste. There is also a coffee flavour mixed with some tart cranberry. It ends with a cranberry chocolate aftertaste.

Overall – Part of me wanted this beer to be a little more sweet, but I think it would make it less drinkable.. especially considering the size of the bottle. It's an interesting tasting beer, but not one I'd buy again.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this one from mrnobody and JohnnyBarman over the summer. Having two big bottles was great for sharing at the pool with the kiddies. Thanks guys!

From a 750 into a snifter.
Vintage: 2010

APPEARANCE: A dark pour yields a two finger, medium looking, light tan head with good retention. Black body, rather transparent, with higher levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a good, full foam cap, then eventually fades to a wisp on top. Carbonation decorating the wisp all over the place. A wisp and ring remain until the end and leave some decent lacing down the glass. Nice body and lacing, but rampant carbonation for the style.

SMELL: Roasted and smoky malts, cocoa powder and some definite cranberry notes. Dark chocolate and a touch of caramel, but cranberries outdo the chocolate a bit. Nice and medium in strength.

TASTE: Roasted malts and some cocoa powder up front. Medium strength flavors of cranberries and roasted goodness through the middle, leading into a cocoa and smoky dark chocolate finish. Aftertaste is bold and lingers very nicely, with smoky dark chocolate and a touch of faint, slightly tart cranberries. Much more balanced and the cranberries more restraint than the nose had indicated. Tasty and interesting stuff, though it could be a little bolder.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Only semi-creamy on the palate, goes down slightly prickly and finishes somewhat sticky. Average at best here.

OVERALL: Pretty good beer here. While the cranberries outplayed the chocolate and roasted base in the nose, the flavor profile balanced everything out very nicely. The flavors could be a little bigger perhaps, but nevertheless, this is an interesting and enjoyable brew for sure. Glad to have tried this one guys, and my mates enjoyed it as well. Thanks again for the bottles mrnobody and JohnnyBarman.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this on-tap at Cole's (Buffalo, NY).

A: Pours a nice rich and silky black. There is about one finger of dark mocha colored head. The foam settles nicely. There is only minimal head as it drinks.

S: This beer smells of roasted chocolate malt, caramel, and chocolate. It seems like a pretty typical imperial stout.

T: It starts out sweet with some really wonderful roasted notes. The chocolate in this beer is big and totally noticeable. There is a slight fruity tartness to this beer, which I assume is the cranberry, but I can't pick out that flavor specifically.

M: Full bodied beer. It's super smooth, silky, creamy, and it coats the palate. It's a really great mouthfeel.

O: This beer is interesting, but I think is falls short on smell and taste. I was intrigued, and now I know what's it like. It's a good beer, but it's not anything special.

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Photo of bobsy
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Attractive 750ml bottle.

Dark brown pour borders on black, but betrays itself at the edges of the glass. A light tan head briefly liners before dropping to a film and leaving a few spots of lace. Strong cocoa powder aroma mixes with chocolate malt to provide a tempting bouqet, that's only brought down by the occasional bad breath note. While the flavour lacks depth it is well done, with layers of cocoa and light coffee roast. Cranberries and alcohol are notable only by their absence. Medium body and mouthfeel is fine.

A decent effort. I'd probably beef up the body and add some more complexity to take things to the next level, but this is a darn solid beer and a nice step forward for Muskoka.

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Photo of peensteen
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Near jet black, big tan head, good retention and fairly lacey. Smell is of roasted malt and coffee, bakers chocolate, chocolate cake and fudge, not much in the way of cranberry but there were some forest fruit scents, lightly ashey/smokey. Taste is initially roasted malt and coffee followed by bittersweet chocolate, smokey charred flavours, cranberry is there in a lightly tart flavour toward the finish. Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, medium carbonation and medium body. Not bad but falls a little short for me, a little more body and more assertive flavours would be good here.

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Photo of kjyost
3.66/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled dated "Vintage 2010", neck marked BB March, 31 2011. Served around 8C, poured into a fluted stemmed beer glass. Served with (mistakenly) dinner

A: Tan to mocha head with a hint of red to the hue, that has next to retention, nor lacing. The beer though is inky black.

S: Smells like a thick chocolate milkshake or Hershey's chocolate syrup. While very enjoyable, the nose is entirely one dimensional. If you search through the aroma, maybe a hint of berry comes through.

T/M: A nice thick body that is quite sweet. Some heat comes through during some sip, leaving a lingering burn, that helps cut through the chocolate and syrupy sweetness. A solid body that hides the ABV quite well. A hint of berry also plays through on the palate.

D: I wish the advertised cranberry would have brought more fruit and tartness to the party. It does seem to some through at moments, but the chocolate is so dominant I wouldn't necessarily have picked it out if they hadn't told me to. A little too thick for my circumstances, so it was recapped and put back in the fridge.

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Photo of heebes
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with reddish hues. Fluffy beige head. Nose is roasted malts and dark chocolate and cranberries. Taste is similar with the cranberries coming through only slightly. Body is somewhat lacking against American stouts. Overall nice beer with a cool label "winter beard", may repurchase.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml pot-stopper bottle, love these new bottles that Muskoka is using. Pours a dark dark brew, just a thin line of mahogany around the edges. Two fingers of mocha head quickly recede to a thin foam and then to a fine collar.

Nose is dusty cocoa and some dark chocolate, hint of a sweeter caramel and touch of fruitiness.

Interesting offering. Loads of dusty cocoa and baker's chocolate, a real dry quality to the chocolate. A light roastiness adds further to this. The cranberry is subtle, a light bitterness and tastes more like dried cranberries, subtly integrated. A light sweetness, hides the ABV well but the body is thinner than I would choose for the weight. Quite dry and a little too one dimensional which by the end of the bottle starts to wear, could use some more weight and a more rounded body and character to suit the style and perhaps highlight the cranberry better.

I like the direction Muskoka is taking with these seasonal offerings, this and the harvest ale were both heads above their regular offerings. This is a solid offering.

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Photo of AussieAbroad
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750 mL 2012 Vintage corked bottle

A - Pours a pitch black with a half inch cream head. The head receded to a fine ring, with no lacing.

S - Dark, roasted chocolate malts upfront with an undertone of muted sweetness courtesy of the cranberries

T - Dark chocolate coats the palate with the cranberry notes lightly lingering on the finish. There is no sign of the 8% ABV.

M - Medium, creamy body with little carbonation and smooth, semi dry finish.

O - Reviewing this as I drank it, I found the 8% ABV stealthily crept up on me! The subtle, chocolately smoothness became warming, and satiating to the point of fullness. Everything about this brew is subtle, but very drinkable, and, as the name suggests, perfect for a chilly winter evening. While the early fall might not have been the best time to drink up, I'll definitely be searching out their 2013 offering.

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Photo of ZorPrime
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer was sent to me in a recent trade with Liam. Thanks and cheers.

The beer is dark black with a nice brown head on top of it. Nice looking. The aroma is dominated by dark chocolate with some cacao. Pretty simple in the aroma. Chocolate. The taste is similar. It's chocolate domination. Not bad, but it would gain if I was able to distinguish the cranberries. It is very big in the mouth. Voluptuous. I like it. This is a dessert in a bottle. A nice beer but I was expecting more complexities from an imperial stout. Try it out for yourself.

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Photo of souvenirs
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Who could resist a beer with a beard on the label? Not this guy.

A: As black as black can be, impenetrable to light, with two fingers of cocoa-coloured head that dissipate fairly quickly without leaving a whole lot behind in the way of lacing.
S: Dark roasted malts, cocoa, coffee. I can't pick up the cranberry.
T: Cocoa! It's a little bit like putting straight cocoa powder in your mouth, with a little bit of sweetness to balance out the bitterness.
F: Lighter body than I expected.

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Photo of kwjd
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was going to wait to try this on tap given the price at the LCBO, but figured I'd buy a bottle anyway. Pours an opaque brown colour with tan head that dissipates fairly quickly with hints of lacing. Smells of dark chocolate and roasted malt. Cranberry seems to come through more in the aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel. This doesn't taste like an imperial stout, so quite drinkable. Very nice, though won't be buying much at $10/bottle.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting notes from 12-30-10
Poured in to Duvel Tulip

A - Dark brown/black colour with one finger of light brown head. Neat swing-top bottle.

S - Dark roaste malts, bitter sweet chocolate and light coffee notes.

T - Very chocolaty, somewhat sweet with a nice overall roasted malt bill. No cranberries come through specifically but a nice bitterness/tartness is evident, which nicely rounds out the palate.

M - Medium body, slight chew, light

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Photo of leaddog
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Dark ebony with a thin mocha head. Head quickly dissipates.

Smell- Dark chocolate, cocoa, black cherry aromas.

Taste- Bittersweet chocolate flavour is predominate. The cranberry adds a pleasant tartness. Leaves a little smoky aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied that has a smooth and dry finish. Slight tingle is present.

Overall- A pleasant flavoured stout. This is my first offering from Muskoka and was pleased with how easy this one is to drink. This definitely is a dessert beer and certainly can't drink this year round. Needs a little work around the edges but besides that, a nice treat to have during the holidays!

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Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout) from Muskoka Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 61 ratings.