Short's Mystery Stout - Short's Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Short's Mystery StoutShort's Mystery Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

372 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 372
Reviews: 207
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 10.77%
Wants: 113
Gots: 43 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  10.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 05-24-2006

*12 oz. bottles released in 2009 are 10.8% abv. The original 750 ml bottles from first batch were 12.5% abv.

This beer demands respect and respect it will have. Imperial Oatmeal Stout with cocoa and molasses. It is very strong and possesses rare flavor combinations which can overload even the most experienced beer connoisseur.  Capture every bit of its warmth and wisdom, as it will demand all of your attention.
12.5% ABV
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 372 | Reviews: 207
Reviews by DMarlinJ:
More User Reviews:
Photo of TCHopCraver
3.57/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with a tinge of brown into a standard pint glass. Not much of a head to speak of, but what is there is a brownish-white color. Lacing is a mixture of small dots and thin curves. I can see some tiny, tan yeast bits hanging out on the bottom.

S: Has a very pleasant mixture of molasses, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and roasty coffee notes. Really digging into it, the molasses overpowers just a bit. It is a solid, mostly sweet aroma.

T: Starts with a pleasant sweetness with all of the descriptors that were pleasant in the aroma, and closes with a rather bitter, dark coffee and burnt toast taste. As with the smell, I do think the molasses overpowers the other flavors, and the bitterness of the finish detracts from the flavor a little bit. As time goes by, the bitterness makes itself more and more known to my palate.

M: Nice, but not quite as chewy as I would like. The bitterness of the finish takes away a little bit of the fullness of the feel. It is a challenging beer to the mouth, but a mostly rewarding one.

D: I do like the flavor of this beer, but the bitterness of the finish makes it less drinkable than others of its style that I have imbibed. If it had a slightly friendlier finish, I would definitely rate this higher.

Photo of Someguy1989
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Got a six pack during this one week when Shorts Brews are available in Boston. Poured into a Standard Pint glass.

A: Dark brown color, almost black. Has a yellowish brown head that dissipates quickly.

S: Very sweet in flavor, a lot of chocolate in the nose.

T: Sweet chocolate flavor followed by molasses and bitter hops. The flavor profile is good, it reminds me a lot of Indian Brown ale (a personal favorite), but its a little more sweet and as such the bitterness doesn't blend as well with the roasted characteristics.

M/D: Mouthfeel was average- very thin for this kind of beer. A slight bit of coating on the mouth but nothing near what I was expecting for an Oatmeal Stout. Drinkability was really good. I did a double take when I discovered how strong this beer is and then I realized just how funny I feel. Be careful with this one, its quite deceptive.

A very interesting beer, I'm really glad us Bay Staters got the chance to try it.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #53 (June 2011):

Head rises high, fluffy and attentive. How much darker can an Imperial Stout be? Chocolaty, boozy and roasty controlled chaos ... the nose is happy. Creamy thick body is nearly silky. Alcohol is polite enough to open the door for all of the other flavors first, and slowly comes in last with its warmth. Smoky roasted flavor meets a bold burnt-sugar sweetness, cocoa and a black currant fruitiness. Roasted flavors keep the sweetness from spilling over. Hops? Meek but there. Sweet burnt finish. Sipping material here. If you’re looking for something strong, dark and chocolaty, give this one a go.

Photo of schnjac
3.84/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown: almost black, with a minimal tan head. Moderate lacing is left on the glass. Strong roasty malts give rise to a smokey and mildly creamy coffee flavor. Moderately bitter aftertaste. Dry bitterness and very little carbonation in the mouthfeel. Nice creamy holiday stout

Photo of warnerry
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottles 2/9/11; consumed 4/11/12

A - Pours black with almost two fingers of brown head. Head is nice and pillowy and persists for awhile before fading to a collar. Some spotty lacing is left behind.

S - Cocoa, roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate and faint oats in the aroma. There is also some noticeable alcohol on the back end.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts with a bit of char and cocoa. A bit of smoke, some dark fruits, and a touch of bitterness on the finish.

M - Velvety smooth mouthfeel with a dry, bitter finish.

O - Tasty imperial stout. Definitely leans more toward the roasted/charred/bitter end, with very little sweetness.

Photo of Mora2000
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to TasteTester for sending this beer to me.

Pours dark brown to black with a beige head. The aroma is dark chocolate and roasted malts. The flavor is chocolate, roasted and burnt malts, coffee and some nice bitterness - although I am not sure if it is from hops or from the bitter chocolate. Very creamy mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation.

Photo of TKEbeerman
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Strait out of the bottle this looks like the start of a great stout. Dark and with a leather tan head, this brew looks better than many.

S: The aroma is a little lacking of some notes I'd like to hit. Molasses takes over. If you ever had a Russel Stover's dark box of chocolates (the one with the molasses chocolate), this brew smells like that.

T: The flavor is way too much molasses up front and on the back of the pallet. The molasses needs to tone down from 11 to about 8. Subtle hints of chocolate and alcohol accompany the molasses.

MF: Mouthfeel needs to cream up a little bit. I would love to see some more roasted or caramel malt to stiffen this body up, and to tone down the molasses.

Overall, if molasses is your thing, this is your beer. I did enjoy this stout, but probably wouldn't commit to a 4 or 6 pack.

Photo of rudylaw
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Another Short's want knocked out by eyebrews! 12oz bottle; snifter.

Pours blackest night with a very thin head.

Smell is boozy hot with oats, brown sugar, molasses and chocolate.

Taste is a sweeter, more intense, version of the smell. I get a hot chocolate/cocoa powder residue flavor. Toss in a bit of raisin and this is a pretty complex stout. I quite like this in spite of the high ABV. I think I will sit on my other bottles for a long while as this can only get better and more exceptional!

Photo of FrognutUnl
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Deep cola brown in color with a scant tan head. When I had it at the brew pub it was a bit more carbonated than this growler I have now, but it is almost a month old in the growler. The aroma hasn't changed a bit, big cocoa and roasted oats with hints of coffee, absolutely wonderful. The taste is the same as the nose. Not a whole lot of complexity, but still a damn tasty brew. Mouthfeel is a little thin due to the lack of carbonation, but again the growler has been in my fridge for quite awhile. Carbonation issue aside, this rates very high on the drinkability scale.

Photo of goast8127
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a traditional pint glass

The beer poured a dark brown color with a dark tan foam. The one
finger head trailed off nicely down the glass as I drank. The aroma
featured prominent indicators of oat and malt, and pronounced roasty
character. Those same attributes were present on the palate. The
maltiness was the most notable element and the beer finished with a
slight woody bitterness. It was served at a slightly colder than
optimal temperature. As a result, the taste and texture improved as it
warmed. It was surprisingly thick and full across the tongue. The
warming of the alcohol lingered a little, but not to unpleasant
degrees. I could probably enjoy several of these in a sitting.

Overall, the beer was very enjoyable. It's a good example of a solid
oatmeal stout and another quality effort by Short's.

Photo of pwoods
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. brown bottle shared by FtownThrowDown.

A: Basically pitch black. Short head with little retention but spotty lacing.

S: Not loads of roasty but plenty of dark fruits and dark dark caramel. Some licorice.

T/M: Much more roast in the flavor. Some more of the licorice. Some odd flavors in there but not off putting, pretty tasty. Not a ton of hops. Body is medium full with mild carbonation.

D: I wouldn't have guessed nearly 11%. Pretty drinkable.

Photo of biboergosum
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, labeled "Mystery Oatmeal Stout". Thanks to Roke87 for the hookup.

This beer pours a solid black, with slight cola edges, and one fat finger of tight foamy, creamy tan head, which exhibits stellar retention, eventually giving up some approaching storm cloud lace around the glass as it settles. It smells of lightly roasted malt, powdered beverage chocolate, bitter coffee, and a separate earthy sweetness. The taste is sweet toffee malt, strong bittersweet chocolate, mild day-old coffee, some earthy, floral honey, and mild sticky molasses. Not a whiff of booze, nor even a warming - wow. The carbonation is quite sedate, almost drowsy, the body medium-full in weight, deadly smooth, and somewhat creamy. It finishes still sweet and chocolaty, a subtle dryness that's more bitter leafy hop than alcohol keeping things in check.

One smooth-talkin', Barry White analogue of a big stout. The molasses and chocolate sure provide more bang for the buck than the oatmeal apparently does, but so what - it all goes down insanely easy for the purported strength, and in a nice dessert-like, coma-inducing manner.

Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great stout. Pours very dark brown, some white head. Decent attractive aroma, some of the cocoa, mollasses. Very tasty bittersweet chocolate. Light coffee. Above average mouthfeel. Very tasty and drinkable, smooth.Surprisingly high a.b.v. as not felt at all.

Photo of augustgarage
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to ShogoKwada for spreading the Short's! 2010 vintage? Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Bruery tulip.

Deep seal brown body, with a shade of chocolate in there as well. A lasting finger of fawn colored foam. Creamy waves of lacing, broken apart by a wave of tears.

Aromatics are subdued, but pure - roasted barley, chocolate malt, some toasted grain, and a touch of black-strap molasses and stewed figs. Alcohol suggests a liqueur of sorts - not estery or solventy though.

Cocoa nibs, brown sugar, and toasted oats on the palate. The complex bittersweet flavors from molasses and chocolate grow richer and dryer into the finish, which suggests very dark chocolate and a hint of black licorice. The oats tie everything together and lighten the profile overall. Hops are low to non-existent, though there may be a vague grassy flavor in there somewhere.

Potent without any barrel aging to ramp up the ABV further. Velvety, creamy, slightly oily, medium-full bodied, mouthfeel.

An excellent breakfast stout, with an unusual melding of chocolate and molasses. A nice alternative to Cup a Joe.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to J.R. for this one. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Blue Point snifter

A: Vigorous and drawn out pour barely yields an upwar cascading .5 finger coarse, chocolate colored head with poor retention. Beer is opaque black. Lacing is web-like with great stick and leaves a pattern all the way down the glass.

S: Nose is rubbing alcohol, coffee, licquorice, a slight chocolate, toffee, caramel, and molasses in the background. Extremely complex and pleasantly sweet but sadly, mostly covered up by the alcohol presence.

T: Sweet molasses and big, roasted coffee notes upfront surrounded by a sea of alcohol. This beer lets me know its 10.8% and I feel every little bit of it. Chocolate sweetness in the back along with an odd soy saucy saltiness. I've never had that before but it works... Alcohol takes over towards the end and persists till the finish, leaving a slightly sour burnt malt aftertaste that lingers a bit.

M: Medium bodied, carbonated, and a bit coarser than I would like. Slightly oily in the mouth but a bit too lively due to the carbonation. Finish is messy and lingers a touch.

D: Just slightly above average, there's no mystery going on in this stout... just alcohol and a ton of it. Great complexity but its so covered by the massive booziness that I can't experience the good parts. Perhaps this one needs a year or two to calm down, but as is, its worth a try, but probably best to wait and be patient.

Photo of prototypic
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to hoppymeal for this one.

Mystery Stout pours a very dark, mahogany brown color. It's damn close to opaque, but a few burgundy are highlights are noted at the edges. A mocha tan crown sits on top. It's lucky if it rises to a finger. Retention was short and lacing light.

The nose is a little weak and would benefit from more strength. Roasted and chocolate malts seem to be the centerpiece. The chocolate variety adds a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor. Black licorice and molasses come through loud and clear. Frankly, they seem to be a little too prominent in the mix for my taste. I'm getting a little coffe, but it's very light and subtle. Alcohol isnoticeable. I don't know the exact abv on this, but it doesn't quite smell 11% plus.

The flavor is interesting. It's not bad. Roasted and chocolate malts seem to present in equal parts. Bittersweet, dark chocolate seems to grow more and more pronounced throughout. The most interesting aspect of Mystery Stout is probably what I like the least. It's the strong black licorice and molasses flavors. They're not exactly mysterious, but area little too much for my taste. Coffee is subtle and light, but is a welcome flavor in the overall mix. Alcohol is noted, and runs a tad hot. It finishes chocolately, with the interesting licorice-molasses combo lingering.

Mystery Stout has a medium body that seems to grow thicker with warming. Carbonation seems light. Overall, it is smooth. Drinkability is rather average. The flavor's okay, but I'm not in love with it. It goes down rather easy for such a big beer, but there's no question it's big. Damn big. I'll finish this 12 oz. bottle, but it's taking some work.

Short's is a very intriguing brewery that really blazes its own trail. I like their beer, and always look forward to every opportunity I have to try more. Mystery Stout is definitely a novel effort. I like it alright, but can't say that I love it. There's just a little too much black licorice and molasses for me. Those flavors would work better if they were concentrated a little more. All in all, it's definitely worth a try. But, go for a single bottle.

Photo of mikey711
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Another great beer courtesy of eyebrews!

A: Dark imtimidating black which poured a fluffy mocha colored head that quickly faded

S: A bit like a chocolate chip cookie with some sweet milk chocolate and a nice hints of breadiness before transitioning into a roast bitter beast. I can definitely detect the molasses in this one as well.

T: Lots of roasted flavors like espresso, bitter chocolate. There is also a heavy amount of dark fruit and licorice present in the taste. The fruit is figgy. Very very agressively bitter with only a minor amount of sweetness. There are also some sherry notes and a hint of booziness. Very complex.

M: Slightly chalky but definitely thick and chewy. Surprisingly no booze is present but this is very thick and heavy

D: This would be a great bottle to share with someone else, even as a 12oz

Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from one of the 12oz bottles.

Pours black with a chocolate mousse head that sticks around for quite some time. This beer looks like a dessert.

Smells as advertised of oatmeal, molasses, and chocolate. I also pick op some maple, peanut, and espresso notes. I love the complexity and how everything fits in well together.

Sweet with chocolate and toasted oats in the front. Syrup and more chocolate give way to espresso and some mousse. There is a hint of lingering peanuts.

The feel is rich and velvety. Great body.

Overall, this was a real treat. This is an awesome desert beer and it seems that I like it mroe than most other reviewers.

Photo of nickd717
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle shared by bring - thanks, Barry!

Pours jet black as far as I can tell, with a one-finger tan head that fades to spotty foam.

Aroma is roasty with anise, molasses, and cocoa. Not sure what's so mysterious about this one - it smells like a good stout, not at all crazy and out there like other Short's beers tend to be.

Flavor is very nice with roasted malt, licorice, carob/cocoa, molasses, and some alcohol. Reminiscent of their Imperial Carob Stout, and to a lesser extent, their Black Licorice Lager. I sort of question the classification of this as an Imperial Stout, since 7.2% is hardly imperial in my book. As such, I'm pretty much reviewing this as a Stout.

Fairly full and smooth on the palate with just a small amount of booziness.

Good drinkability. Overall a very solid offering, on the higher end, definitely one of the hits from a brewery I consider to be very hit-or-miss.

Photo of mdvatab
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle (received in a trade w/ a Michigan BA) into a snifter.

Aroma: Sweet, malty, fruity goodness. I catch powdery cocoa sweetness, as well as fruity blueberry. Great start!

Appearance: Pitch black body. Light tan 2 finger head slowly settles to 1 finger. Decent lacing.

Flavor: Sweet blueberry, cocoa, and strong bitterness lingers at the end. The hoppy (and partially alcoholic) bitterness unfortunately does not blend very well with the malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium low, creamy carbonation. Slight warming sensation from alcohol.

Overall: Not a bad imperial stout. (I've definitely had worse!) A bit too much bitterness at the end, and I'm led to believe that this one might mellow a bit over time. It might just be a subjective dislike, as I've heard great things about Short's. Looking forward to trying my second bottle!

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Kate the Great snifter.

Appearance - Dark brown, not quite black. Good sized khaki head. Lacing and some wisps.

Smell - Well, there's a ton of molasses in here. I like it. Oatmeal is prominent too. Good thing the adjuncts work well with the aromas of the base stout, because they used a ton of it in here. Boozy.

Taste - Strong molasses flavor. Stronger than the oatmeal. Roasty malts give a bit of a coffee flavor in the end. Slightly bitter. As much of a chocolate bitter as hop. Strong lingering molasses finish.

Mouthfeel - On the boozy side. Not quite chewy, but medium-heavy. Thins out in the end leaving some booze and molasses.

Overall - Distinct phases to this beer. Oatmeal, molasses, coffee, and then molasses again. Interesting and tasty, but nothing I'd trade for again.

Photo of heliosphann
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle provided by my good friend from Ann Arbor. Served in a Pint Glass.

A: Pours black, but not quite completely since there's some brownish highlights. A very small amount of tan head fades very fast, leaving a nice ring around my glass. Lacing is pretty fine and leaves a slow cascade.

S: Sweet milk chocolate shines through right off the bat. Present also is some molasses, oatmeal and nuttiness.

T: Much of the characteristics of the smell are here. Big smooth, but somewhat bitter chocolate oatmeal flavors dominate. Sweet molasses and some roasted malts also are in the mix. The is a good amount of heat present and some bitterness lingers on the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied. Very creamy, thick and viscous. No doubt the oatmeal really helps in this category. Now this is how I like my stouts to be. Fantastic!

D: My 12oz went pretty fast. I'm waiting for a response from Joe Short, but I'm pretty sure this isn't 12.5% ABV. However, it is still pretty boozy at this point and with the bitterness, one is plenty for a night.

I've had the opportunity to have 2 different versions of Mystery Stout. Unfortunately not the original batch, but in April '09 several times I had a version of this stout that was only 7-8%. This beer is superior to that version (and supposedly closer to the original), but it's also a lot more boozier. I'm pretty sure 8-12 months in my cellar will do wonders with this beer and it will be significantly better.


Joe Short did get back to me. The 12oz bottled version of Mystery Stout is around 10.8%.

Photo of OddNotion
3.49/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split bottle poured into my Captain Lawrence stemmed glass.

Appearance: Pitch black, no light penetrates even when held up to the light. One and a half finger tan head that recedes to about a quarter finger.

Smell: Strong boozy smell with some roasty flavors behind it but really this smells like a booze bomb, a little nervous for the first sip.

Taste: Not as boozy as the nose (thank god). A lot of roastiness, I get a strong vegetable type flavor, kind of odd. Alcohol is present and warming but not overwhelming. Later on in the sip the roastiness gains a sweet flavor, not bad but nothing impressive.

Mouthfeel: Fine for the style, heavier bodied but could be thicker, nice carbonation but maybe slightly high.

Overall: Not bad but there are much better examples of the style. I was hoping for more of a chocolate presence.

Photo of Vonerichs
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Onyx black body with a copious amount of head for a stout, cinnamon in color.

Wow, this thing is loaded with chocolate. Not the artificial chocolate like Moka or other chocolate stouts of the like, but a genuine rich cocoa and molasses scents.

This shines in the flavor along with hints of vanilla. It's extremely sweet and a perfect dessert beer, as in having this for dessert, not with dessert. It almost becomes too much by the end of the beer.

Mouthfeel is sweet, rich, and creamy. Spot on.

Aside from Humalupalicious, this is easiliy the best beer I've had from Shorts. Plus, it's a monster with the abv and was a nice night capper. I'd recommend this one.

Photo of thagr81us
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Massive thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one with funkydelic and I at an impromptu tasting! 12 oz bottle! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller sampler wine glass. Poured a deep dark brown with a minimal slightly tan off-white head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, smoke, and dark fruit. The flavor was of roasted malt, smoke, maple syrup, and dark fruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The aroma did not do much to prepare me for the flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised when I did sample this one. The maple definitely makes itself known on the followthrough and was followed up by a nice fruity aspect as another surprise. The smoke in this one was also a nice touch. Definitely glad I got the chance to try this one as it is definitely worth seeking out.

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Short's Mystery Stout from Short's Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 372 ratings.