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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)

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very good

131 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 131
Reviews: 60
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 10.82%
Wants: 20
Gots: 13 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: mrnobody on 12-05-2010)
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Ratings: 131 | Reviews: 60 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RedAleMan
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of hopsolutely
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Winter Beard version - which is a much nicer bottle than last year's, but not convinced the beer itself is as awesome as I remember from 2010.

Inky black with very little coffee-coloured head, no lacing. The bottle was well sealed with a loud pop when opening and there's lots of carbonation in the mouthfeel, but visually not as stunning as some.

Aroma of roasted chocolate malts with a faint fruit undertone, although I wouldn't have guessed which if it wasn't in the name. Really enjoy the flavour medley of sweet roasted malts followed by a lingering bitter finish. The cranberry is subtle, but definitely present. Likewise the alcohol content is dangerously well hidden...

Although my personal preference will always lean towards Muskoka's Mad Tom IPA, all in all think this is a decent Ontario representation of the style and it provides an excellent winter sipping treat.

Photo of heebes
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

Photo of peensteen
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

Photo of Stocean1
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A beautiful bottle poured into a pint glass. Massive three finger head (color of caramel) perched atop a near black body. The head is full of big bubbles and is well retained. The lacing is patchy, very nice.

The scent is burnt malt, dark chocolate, vanilla, with a hint of cranberries.

The Taste is malty chocolate up front with a vanilla note, alcohol but nice, cranberries peak out on the finish.

Medium body with a relatively creamy mouthfeel, little carbonation and a nice amount of bitterness.

Overall, anotherbrew that demonstrates muskoka's elevation to the upper tier of craft brewers, bravo.

Photo of Jeffo
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

Photo of mintjellie
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Black as night. Persistent cappucino-coloured head leaves behind some lace. Milk chocolate and dried fruit aroma. Nothing that will blow you back in terms of intensity, but it's noticeable and it's present. Good chocolate flavour with a zing of acidity and cranberry flavour coming across the midpalate and growing into the aftertaste. Cocoa and roast come in at the finish. This isn't the biggest beer around in terms of flavour, but it has a wonderful balance of sweet, sour, and bitter tastes. Reminds me of chocolate covered cranberries given to me last Christmas. Alcohol is well hidden. Feels a little bit thin in the mouth. Balanced, integrated flavours make this better than the sum of its parts.

Photo of DrJay
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL swing top. Bottle courtesy of northyorksammy. Thanks!
This beer is pretty black -- even holding it up to the light, there was nothing but the thinnest of brown edges. It sported a brown cap of very fine bubbles that stuck around for quite a while and left transient sheets of lace on the glass that receded between sips. Lots of dark and milk chocolate in the aroma, malt and cocoa, a hint of cranberries as it warmed but this was a background trait. There was a lot more cranberry in the flavour, almost equaling the chocolate. Bitterness was moderate and noticeable throughout. It reminded me a lot of a fruit and nut chocolate bar, but with some bitterness and roasty notes. Full bodied with nearly creamy carbonation, slight astringency. Decent texture overall. I quite enjoyed this. This would work nicely with dessert.

Photo of marty21
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A: Pours pitch black with 2 fingers worth of brown creamy foam. Settles to a thin cap and left a bit of lacing.

S: A bit of roasted malt with lots of dark chocolate and at times I get a quick scent of the cranberries with the chocolate. But I probably wouldn't notice it if this beer wasn't advertised with cherries. But the nose is primarily chocolate.

T: Roasted malt and chocolate up front and finishes with some sweet cherries. No taste of alcohol at all.

M: Light carbonation with a medium body. Very creamy mouthfeel.

O: I decided to buy this since it says best before March 31st and quickly review it. You get everything in the taste that it advertised on the bottle. It's a bit expensive but after drinking it I would say it was worth it.

Photo of eat
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opaque, black body with a thin cover of beige head and bubbly ring around the glass. Some lacing.

The nose shows lots of whole wheat bread, dusty chocolate, espresso, vanilla, minerals, something sour (cranberries?), toffee. Pretty nice smelling stuff.

Well-balanced and accessible flavour. A good amount of milk chocolate is joined by espresso, vanilla, light roasted malt and a subtle sour cranberry presence. I only wish there was a more intense flavour overall, though its lightness does add to drinkability. The extra alcohol isn't showing itself at all; very smooth stuff. Cocoa pairs with earthy hops to leave a slightly drying finish. Maybe it would be nice to taste some more cranberry, but under-doing is always better than overdoing it when it comes to fruit in beer. It is there, but it's pretty subtle.

Good medium body; slightly creamy even. Low carbonation. Nothing wrong with this.

I'd say this is a deliciously successful attempt at something more challenging than most Ontario brewers are attempting. Had I know this stuff would be this good I would have picked up a few more, even at the high price. Dangerously drinkable at 8% ABV. I'd definitely get more of this if I happen to see it again. One of the better Ontario brews I've had. This would be a great bottle to share but I'm having no problem getting through this on my own. Not sure why the best-before date is listed as March 31, 2011; you should be able to get at least a year out of this one. No sign of going bad two weeks before the deadline.

Photo of kjyost
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

Photo of biegaman
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As one might expect, Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is doubly dark and opaque, but underlined with a thin sliver of cranberry red. It's rare to see such healthy, full of life head form from a flip-top (especially one that doesn't make even a whimper on the pop). No complaints here though. The airy, bubbly receptacle that formed has now diminished to a thin but silky cream that has already begun marking its territory on the sides of the glass.

The nose has plenty of delicious (and strong) chocolate but not really much cranberry. (Then again, not even actual cranberries have much, if any, of a cranberry smell so what was I expecting?) Each sniff feels like a chocolatier is jamming a giant black, bitter block of cocoa up my nostrils which, contrary to how it might feel if actually done, is a wonderful sensation. *This* is a bittersweet symphony! And it's like music to my, err, nose.

The flavour is essentially as advertised. A bittersweet chocolate dashes across the palate alright, while the cranberry is awfully subtle - such that you likely wouldn't know of its presence if not informed - although a slightly bitter, dried fruit flavour does appear here and there on the palate. When I see 'chocolate' in the name I tend to judge the beer on one measure: its decadence. Though not exceedingly, I'd consider this pretty indulgent.

Right up to and including the flavour, this offering reminds me of one of my all-time favourite chocolate beers, Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Where it ultimately differs, in an unfavorably way, is the mouthfeel which begins not with a silky chocolate or even bitter cranberry note, but a bizarre twang that is one part metallic (iron-y), one part lactose-y. It doesn't go down as rich and decadent as it first comes across.

Muskoka deserves all the credit they get for this seasonal, and plenty of credit they didn't get. The Ontario market sorely lacks in dark beer, especially stouts and doubly especially rich and indulgent ones like this. Even at the hefty, but understandably warranted, price tag of $10 a pop, I enjoyed a number of bottles of this over Christmas break and it made a perfect accomplice to my holiday cheer and late night snacking. Easily recommended.

Photo of shamus
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice cocoa-coffee flavour. it pours with a reasonable head. Not too foamy. This is a better beer than i was expecting from Muskoka Cottage Brewery as in the past I have had some of their products that were not inviting me back. This does. A fine Winter time chocolate Stout.

Photo of tbeckett
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black. Two finger tan, really creamy head. Typical Imperial Stout appearance but not over the top good looking.

S - Tons of chocolate with that nice mild cranberry. Smells like chocolate covered cranberries. No booze. Some really faint coffee perhaps.

T - Coffee there more, chocolate has been tamed, and I get no cranberry. Bitter roastiness in the finish.

M - Mild carbonation and medium body. Seems like it needs more body, especially for something with so much chocolate emphasis.

D - Tasty stout but lacking in some respects. Body and Flavour are what hold this back, otherwhise a nice treat. Not overly sweet for something of this nature either. A good effort.

Photo of Antikythera
4.55/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Great stuff. Caramel-coloured head and sweet chocolaty aroma. Practicaly opaque in the glass even if it's held up to light. Most stouts that say 'chocolate' on the label don't smell or taste like chocolate to me. This one does. I'm not sure where the cranberry is -- it might just be adding a little fruitiness to the aroma. Even without it, this is great stuff. The flavour is sweet, chocolatey, and dark, and it feels creamy on the tongue. Not as candy-sweet as a proper sweet stout like Dragon, so it's more than just a dessert beer.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with an average size off-white foamy head with average retention and no lacing. Aroma of rich black chocolate with light cranberry and minimal sweetness level. Taste is quite enjoyable with notes of rich chocolates and cranberry with very subtle dry coffee notes. Chocolate notes are really smooth with great quality malt being used. Body is about average for style with good carbonation and no signs of alcohol. This brewery seems to amazed me more and more with another quality offering.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
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

Photo of GradyS1
3.43/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

Photo of kwjd
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Photo of andrenaline
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Was pretty excited to find this on the shelves at my local LCBO.

A - Pours dark, almost opaque, black with a ruby red and brown tint on the edges. Finger of nice mocha head which quickly settls leaving no real lacing.

S - Dark cocoa with tobacco and a smokey wooden finish. Some sweet fruit is also detectable, but is rather mild.

T - Chocolate comes through nicely and is complemented by some roasted coffee notes, sweet cranberries (though I found it more reminiscent of cherries) lingers on the finish with a touch of bitterness on the tongue.

M - A tad thin with only light bubbles filling the palette, finishes a tad dry, but is non-offensive.

D - Overall quite tasty and I found it a bit sweeter than Wild Rose's Cherry Porter offering. The higher ABV is well hidden and it offers a nice bouquet of chocolate and coffee malts with the sweet fruit on the finish. Well worth the price, IMO, or at least a try!

Photo of Sammy
3.48/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

Photo of MeisterBurger
3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

Photo of bryehn
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Absolutely gorgeous dark bottle with a snap top. Gold flecking on the label with full-colour imagery. Beer details, serving instructions and even a downloadable video that can be obtained by taking a picture of a code with your smartphone.

Pours very dark, almost black. There isn't much head on there aside from a nut brown collar.

There is a very deep chocolate aroma, like baker's chocolate doused in cocoa powder. There's a definite red berry tone in there, but it reminds me more of raspberry than cranberry.

Unsurprisingly, the chocolate flavours dominate the taste of the stout, though I also get bready or yeasty tones here. This brew is very bitter overall, with sweetness and red berry flavour coming through on the finish.

The Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout does a fantastic job of hiding its high ABV and I never get a "boozy" aroma or taste from it.

The mouthfeel has a bubbly freshness common to Muskoka Cottage Brewery products that transitions to a very smooth and thick-feeling creaminess.

This is a very drinkable beer that is a real treat worth looking forward to every year. It's kind of like drinking a black forest cake.

Photo of fostachild
3.45/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

Photo of ritzkiss
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout) from Muskoka Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 131 ratings.