Night Stalker | Goose Island Beer Co.

744 Reviews
Night StalkerNight Stalker

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ClockworkOrange on 02-02-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 744 | Ratings: 1,820
Photo of beerman207
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Deep, dark black with a reddish hue to it

S-Chocolate in the nose, as well as alcohol, dark fruits, and some malt.

T-Very rich flavor - the expresso comes through as well as chocolate, and maybe even a bit of oak?

M-Very light bodied (could be due to the growler sitting a few days)

D- Fantastic beer that I'm happy to have sampled. Thanks to Bamadog for the hookup! I wouldn't mind having a good bit of this to have an extended sample. Even with the high ABV, I believe this is highly drinkable.

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Photo of kels
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bamadog happened to mention last night that Night Stalker was on tap at Party Source and Party Town. We immediately made an impromptu trip for a growler to split. Review is on a pour into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a very rich, super dark chocolate brown, really black, with a short, 1/2 finger tan head that retains decently with light rings of soft lacing following down the glass. The liquid is completely opaque.

Smell: Aroma isn't nearly as strong as expected. Light scent of milky, creamy chocolate and a fruity sweetness like chocolate covered cherries. Subtle roastiness from caramelized malts comes through with a hint of earthiness, somewhat like tobacco. The alcohol comes through in a slightly sharp sting in the aftertaste.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The taste is very full and robust, strong with roasted coffee, hot alcohol, slightly present citrus hops, chewy, almost syrupy malts and a distinct sugary sweetness that develops more over time as the beer warms. It is almost maple syrup-like. Feel is a bit of a contradiction - viscous yet bright, sticky yet smooth.

Drinkability: Lower for the style even. The sticky sweetness pairs with the alcohol heat to be a little overwhelming. As with the Bourbon County Stout, I'd probably prefer it with age. Too bad a growler won't work that way.

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Photo of beergirlblog
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap. The beer pours almost black, and had almost no head. It smells like chocolate, like a hot delicious cup of drinking chocolate, with roasted aromasand like a delcious fresh cooking caramel. The taste is an insanely delicious balance of dark chocolate, caramel, with roasted nut flavors, with a thick maltiness. Think of every dark, savory, deep flavor, and there's a hint of it in this beer. It feels thick and sweet in the mouth, like melted chocolate. I loved it. It was rich and fantastic. It'd be hard to drink a full pint of this, but I'd keep doing it just because it tastes so good.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to RoyMunson for this one.

Nice hiss as I opened the cap letting me know that the cabonation held up on this one in transit. It poured an opaque onyx color with a small coat of brown head that falls to a broken film after settling. The aroma brings notes of anise backed by a mild but detectable alcohol. There is a bit of fig fruityness and some chocolate notes in there as well, but both are married well with the anise. It is a little lighter on the nose than I anticipated. The flavor on the other hand is huge. The first to hit me is a spicy anise that moves to a chocolate-covered fig on swallowing the beer. The aftertaste brings espresso and almost a hint of cherry fruityness with a detectable bitterness on the sides and back of my tongue. This one is sweet, but not cloying. The alcohol is certainly apparent in the flavor, but it does not take away from the experience; instead it enhances the flavors in the brew. As I drink more of it, I'm finding some tropical fruit flavors (pineapple and coconut) right as I swallow the beer and lingering into the aftertaste. It is a very unique combination of flavors. The mouthfeel is thick, leaving a good residual coat in my mouth after swallowing the brew. The carbonation is minimal but present and suiting this beer very well. Overall, I am thrilled to have had a chance to try this brew. It is incredibly complex and I think I like this more than after resting in barrels. Drinkability is as expected for the style. I'm not going to sit down and kill the growler tonight, but I can probably make it through a few glasses for sure.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap in a chalice.

Appearance: A strong molasses / black color. A thick, tan, 3cm head, which leaves light lacing at beer level along with a nice collar.

Smell: A strong molasses smell, some dark fruits (dates, figs) present as well.

Taste: Bold molasses and fig taste. Vanilla, chocolate, and light espresso taste round out the creamy and syrupy malt. Some light hops at the end retain a creamy, dark fruit taste. Afterward a light bitterness rests on my tongue.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, with a nice level of carbonation.

Drinkability: A strong imperial stout, but it is a little bit syrupy to cause me to really fall in love.

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Photo of beertooth
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Goose Clybourn

I've had this beer a few times and I've been in a reviewing mood lately so here we go!

This beer is a black coffee color with a thin swirling layer of mocha head. It's making my mouth water.

The nose gives me a ton of brownie batter, milky coffee, booze, maybe cinnamon?

The first sip is a huge malty, chocolately, boozy blast. It's delicious! I'm still waiting for the hit of bourbon you get with BCS, but of course, it's not there. I'm getting some green banana and a ton of chocolate.

The mouthfeel is extremely creamy and smooth, like melted ice cream. Not as thick as Dark Lord, but not as thin as most impy stouts I've had. This is a great beer and it's only fault is probably the abv. It goes down so quickly and catches up to you really, really fast.

Good job Goose Island!

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thin tan head. Nose is seeming like a fruity thing at first but then it morphs to a slightly roasted tone. Then I get a tar thing as well. Flavor is thick and hearty. Lots and lots of malty body to it. Minor roasted tones. Yet that sweet malty stout character lingers in the back. I am leaving it out to warm up and see how it matures with a temperature climb. THe liquid body of this is extremely thick. I mean we're talking pretty viscous here. I have seen comments on how Dark Lord is quite thick and I am wondering how that bottle in my cabinet will compare to this. Carbonation is minimal, yet still slightly attacking on the mouth. Interesting. Definitely a sincere endeavor by Goose Island. Better than Bourbon County Stout? Hmmm. I would have to say no as of this moment. However this is an early draft version, so I am quite willing to try future bottlings in order to compare.

P.S. The booze really kicks in quick on this one.

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Photo of Deuane
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After not being able to make it to GI during Dark Lord weekend to have some in person I owe a big THANKS to fellow BA mcallister for hooking me up with a 16 oz flip top mini growler! Been saving this one for a night to sit down with and enjoy!

A-Deep, dark black with a medium dark, reddish tan head. This slowly reduces to a thin film that leaves spotty lace. A surprising amount of carbonation for a month plus old growler.

S-BIG chocolate blast initially with an impressive and complex melding of dark roast, espresso, dark fruit and molasses. A bit of hop spiciness creeps in as it warms up.

T-BOOM---my first impression--A dark chocolate and espresso covered beef jerky bar! Big flavour with tons of deep, dark notes. This is big, bold and oh so tasty! An impressive melding of rich flavours.

M-Full bodied, rich, smooth and luscious. This brew is almost chewable! Big, long lasting flavours and earthy, spicy bitterness.

D-I often think I will not like BIG stouts as much as I end up liking them! This is simply and outstanding brew! I really like BCS but I have to say as a stand alone RIS this is one impressive stout. In fact I like this more than BCS. One big, beefy, roasty, flavourful and GIANT tasting stout. Thanks for the opportunity mcallister!

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Photo of kirok1999
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at Goose Island and at a local bar.
Pours black and still as night. Just a hint of a small head but legs like glue. No carbonation is apparent.
Smells sweet and roasty. Lots of mild coffee and hints of chocolate and vanilla. Slight booziness.
Taste is a massive bomb of dark malt, lots of chocolate, vanilla, cream, bourbon and charcoal. Very complex. Not as much of a bomb as BCS, but you can definitely taste most of the same notes.
Just a bit thinner than BCS, rich and creamy. Nice to sip in a small amount or when paired with the right food...and good luck with that.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

32 oz growler, filled on Friday and capped on foam, into a red wine glass.

Pours opaque black, not a hint of brown even around the edges, with a thin dark brown, fluffy head that dies down fairly quickly.

Nose has lots of citric hops plowing through big notes of molasses and mocha, a bit boozy. Everything in this just works - so big and rich.

Taste is out of this world. Big thick chocolate and molasses notes, espresso, and a fantastic citrus note and noticeable hop bite and bitterness. One of the hoppiest stouts I've had, but the malt backbone just shrugs it off. It's like someone took a dark chocolate milkshake, threw in a shot of espresso, and then dry hopped it. Fantastic. Works best at cellar temp, interestingly - towards room temp the hop bitterness and acidity runs a bit rampant, trying to drown out the fantastic chocolate/molasses/espresso notes, though it does bring up some very interesting red fruit notes. Finish is long, rich, citric hops and loads of espresso. Booze is kept well in check for a beer this size.

Mouthfeel is the classic Bourbon County thickness - rich, viscous, and as close to motor oil as I've had. The hoppy acidity in there cuts it just a bit, but it's still so unbelievably smooth and rich, with just the lightest carbonation.

Drinkability is all relative in a beer this size, but I've positively flown through the first 16 ounces of my growler. The next 16 don't appear likely to last long. Deserving of the hype. Only beer that I've had that's anything like this is a Smuttynose Imperial Stout after about a year; this is very similar, but taking one notch further.

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Photo of notCreative
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I typically prefer a more balanced imperial stout, but I was impressed with this one.

Definitely on the malty side. Strong molasses, chocolate flavors.

Smell/Look were bombshell, exactly what you'd expect with an imperial stout.

Taste held up, despite drinking with full bodied cigar. Only gave it a 4/5 because I'm biased and prefer the more balanced stouts.

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Photo of infestaxion
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From my notes. I've had the pleasure of drinking this beer a couple of times. The first time was a growler that heliosphann split with me and Ryan and Woj from Short's. This time was at the BW3's in downtown Indianapolis. Thank you very much, Sam, for pouring this for us.

A - Black as night. It's not real thick but it's still nice. Tan head that fades before too long.

S - Malty. Not a whole lot going on here. A little bit of dark fruit. Some coffee. Smidge of vanilla.

T - Oh Holy Crap! That is good!(Yes, that's exactly what my notes said) Molasses and dark sugar stand out. The dry hopping acts as a beautiful balance. There's some black licorice in there and I believe that this is the first beer with a tobacco tastes that I've liked.

M - Good and thick in the feel. The finish is fantastic.

D - The alcohol isn't overpowering at all. Really smooth going down. I could drink it all night. Or at least until I fell over.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap into a snifter.

A - Jet black with a slim tan head that sticks to the side of the glass. A small hazy head lingers on top.

S - Milk chocolate, toffee, molasses, and a nice amount of booziness. Really easy to enjoy the nose on this one.

T - Sweet milk chocolate, rich coffee beans, and a nice bit of alcochol. The finish is rich and smooth, so easy to enjoy.

M - On the full side of medium, so rich and smooth. A small amount of carbonation, perfect for the style beer.

D - So easy to real hint of alcohol...very well hidden. I prefer this to the BCS easily. An awesome stout.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bavarian Lodge - Lisle, IL

Poured completely black into a 12oz snifter with a pleasant milk-chocolate colored head that left great, sticky lacing on the glass. Aromas were full - bold chocolate, roasted malts - boozy with hints of coffee. Tastes were up-front sweet milk chocolate, heavy roasted malt with hints of espresso. Alcohol is present, but warms the throat. Pleasant peppery hop bite on the finish to round things out. Mouth-feel is thick and coats the palate well. A dark chocolate taste lingers after the pepper finish displaying optimum balance. Great complexity and a very solid representation of an American Imperial Stout. One of the better ones I have had!

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Photo of mynie
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Clybourn pub at the exorbitant price of 10 bucks per snifter (that's more than a dollar an ounce, for all you math whizzes out there).

Nice pour. Not quite entirely opaque, but damn close. There was no room for a head, really, and kudos to the bartender for filling that little guy up to the rim

Smells like pleasant peat, cigar tobacco (the way tobacco smells, not tastes), dark chocolate syrup. As it warms up, a surprisingly strong hop profile comes into the fold; this smells almost as hoppy at Darkness.

Doesn't taste quite as complex as the aroma made me hope it would, but there's a still a whole lot of wonderful stuff going on here. Starts sweet and gradually gets bitter--raisins and dates, moving into a middle of chaw, dark chocolate, and dandelions, and finishing up on pleasantly harsh nodes of burnt malt and American hops. Nice--excellent, actually--but in all honesty I like it better when it's made mellow through bourbon aging.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at HopCat

A- Poured into snifter. Had a nice off tan quater inch head that went away pretty fast leaving nice lacing on the sides the entire drink. Black as night color which no light was going to go through. Good looking beer altogether.

S- Malts right from the get go which is to be expected. Hints of chocolate and some coffee is also detected along with hops which is interesting to me. Stouts to me don't really have a hop smell but this one does and I kind of like it.

T- Wow!!! This beer tastes amazing. Nice complex burnt malt upfront with a slight taste of chocolate. Coffee flavor comes through second with the hops finishing up this big beer before it goes down the throat. The alcohol is well hidden at first and once it warms up it seems to come out a little more.

M- Big chewy feel. Nice heavy beer that coats the palate with a nice malty overload that sticks around after you take a sip. Very good carbonation.

D- I wish this beer could be served all year long. I really liked this beer a lot and would drink a couple of snifters at a time if I could. Great beer from GI and its great to see this come out.

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Photo of DavidEddie
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black as high mileage used motor oil with a thick tan head. Aromas of rich dark chocolate, hops and a hint of booze. The tastes is HUGE! Tons of rich bitter sweet chocolate. Followed by hints of roasted coffee, dark malts, and dark fruits. Picked up a touch of smoke as well. Perfectly balanced out with a heavy dose of piney hops. Not too sweet or bitter, balanced just right. The mouth feel is thick, chewy, and creamy smooth. Nicely carbonated. Unbelievably way too drinkable for such a mammoth of a stout. I would consider this one ranks up there with all the other hype up stouts. Defiantly seek this out. Highly recommended!

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4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me first say I don't usually skip other reviews that I need to do to push a beer to the front, but this time it needed to be done. I had this on tap at BW3's in downtown Indy after a long day of inventory. Thanks to Sam for pulling this special pour for a few BA's.

Pours with the look of espresso, pure blackness with only a skim of chocolate brown head that stays that way as you drink. First thing I notice on the nose is a cordial cherry feel. With a light swirl you get some coffee and tobacco tones that all blend together well. A hint of Chocolate is there also. With first sip you realize there is a ton of flavors going on in this one. Chocolate syrup, Cough medicine(in a good way), tobacco and black cherries come through at first. The oak is very woodsy in this one with no bourbon at all. There is a nice hop feel that really develops well as the beer warms and you drink. It is rustic and really beautiful the way it balances the beer and adds character. Make sure you let this beer warm up considerably as it drinks much better and shows it true colors more towards room temperature. I started with this as a 4.5 in flavor but it was so dynamic and amazing after about 10 or 15 minutes of warming up that I had to give it a 5. Mouthfeel is almost electric and multi dimensional the way it beckons for the next sip. Super attractive drinkability, and well hidden alcohol for 11.5%. Lovely.

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Photo of rudylaw
4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ GI Clybourn

Disclaimer: I normally could give two shits about GI beers. I just don't care for them all that much. Then, I had BCS a few years back and while I loved it, it was too bourbony for me.

Now: I hear that this Night Stalker is the base for BCS minus the bourbon. Well, we have a free afternoon, why not go for some nachos and a pour of this?

The beer comes pitch black with a constant one finger mocha head that only shrinks once I take a sip. It smells like Homer's land of chocolate must smell like. Lots of roasted malts and campfire heated chocolate.

First sip is heavenly. It tastes like melted hershey's + carbonation + dark fruits with a coupling of cantaloupe of all things. Plenty of raisin and rum to boot. There are just enough hops included to finish dry (not as balanced as Darkness, but damn close). I can't believe how good this is... had two snifters, the latter paired with their decadent chocolate cake. Much sweeter than I was expecting. It's a thick and chewy stout... perfect.

I'm going to play the lotto now because I don't want to wake up from this dream.

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Photo of milwaukeeclassic
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had the Night Stalker each of the last three days at the Malthouse in Madison. I think this has become my new favorite stout.

Aroma is chocolaty malts and hops. There is the slightest amount of booziness, but it does not take away from the drinkability very much at all.

Tastes of sweet dark fruits and anise. This reminds me of a cross between some of the anise elements from the Abyss and the sweetness and hoppiness of Darkness. It isn't as sweet as Darkness and I think that is a good thing.

The long and short of it is that I will continue to drink the wonderful beer every day until the keg kicks and I would encourage tryng this beer if you have the chance.

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Photo of mcallister
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Black as night as should be from the name. Pours very still with some spritzy carbonation bubbles around the edge. Mocha colored head small yet retentive with light lacing.

Big thick malty aromas. Dark fudge and bitter bakers chocolate, leather, unmalted barley galore, a bit of a musty type smell that is offputting, some hop character, toffee, caramel and black fruits.

Monster of a beer. Very roasty and dense malts. Unmalted barley and that musty character from the aroma. Huge thick mouthfeel engulfing, creamy and obtrusive mouthfeel. Nice bitterness with huge chocolate and black fruits and a hint of caramel.

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Photo of cokes
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Virtually black, although the darkened pub did not allow for a detailed analysis of the color. It seemed very dark and very black and that's what I'll go with. The head was thin and mocha brown, while settling quickly, it endured a while as a skimming.
Pipe tobacco, fudge, latte, and electric wintergreen nose, with backing smoke, liquorice, and mango malts, and grapefruit, pepper, and herb hop componentns. Booze comes through bourbon-esque, mingling with the caramel-vanilla-cocont sweetness, but not in a barrel-aged (a la BCS) sort of way, here it is all in the booze acountrmont.
It enters the mouth barnstorming, and riotous. Fudge and pipe tobacco, and espresso, and caramel, and plums. The middle is rife with confectionous tropical notes, akin to a bag of gummi bears, with emphasis on pineapple-heavy fruit punch and cherry. Some banana bread notions pop up intermittently. It's much brighter than it is dark or roasty or smokey. These candied fruit traits mingle with the twitchy hops, hitting with spearmint, grapefruit, mango, herbs, pepper, and pine. Some Bourbon and aged dark rum booze notions creep in late, around the swallow, but add nuance and depth, not explicit heat.
Full bodied, lowly carbonated, but a lithe bead percolates upwards. This is grabby in sections and taut in others. It brawny, not flabby, and exactly what a huge stout should feel like.
This is, in every way, delicious. It's drinkable it the way that rapidly compromises one's sobriety. There is so much going on here, all of it working with- and against- itself, that it is nearly impossible to keep away from one's lips.
This rivals BCS in every way, and that not the sort of praise I throw around lightly. It is vastly different from GI's barreled version, yet still mirrors its intensity and kaleidoscopic array of flavors.
I would love to see this bottled, as this is more versatile than the Bourbon-drenched BCS (which is one my very-very short list of all time favs...proabably top three). And this is every bit as special.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Clybourn brewpub the day after Dark Lord Day 2009.

A: Pours a very, very dark brown; nearing black with a tiny head and some minimal lacing.

S: Lots of hops going on here; rivaled likely only by Bear Republic's Big Black Bear Stout in terms of the hops it has. Good, complex roasted malts character rounds everything out, but the hops are what's really surprising.

T: Roasted chocolate malts and dark fruit with a tiny bit of coffee. The hops then loom fairly large, creating an exceedingly-balanced stout.

M: Very full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation.

D: Very well-balanced and wonderfully drinkable. Glad to see this is already on GI's website and will hopefully be a standard yearly offering. Overall, a very solid counterpart to Bourbon County.

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Photo of iasanlee
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a creamy brown head that leaves great lacing. Aroma is spicy hops, coffee/chocolate, and molasses. Flavor is complex and unusual. Tobacco, coffee/dark chocolate, huge black pepper notes, pine. Finish is dry with a lasting astringency and bitterness. Full bodied with a mild creamy carbonation. I am happy to have tried this one, the complexity is great and very different from anything I have tried in the past. The incredible spiciness left my tongue numb.

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Photo of rhinos00
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at One-Eyed Jacks just outside of Dayton.

A- Pours a dark, fudge brown with two fingers width of mocha colored head. Throughout consumption the head was reduced to a cream colored ring that laced the glass quite nicely.

S- Almost like a marshmellow! Big vanilla notes with chocolate malts and hints of dark fruit throughout. Pretty complex.

T- For me the first half of the taste was spot on. Plenty of chocolate and roasted malts blended perfectly together. Some hints of vanilla and espresso. Midway through and on is where this beer sort of lost it for me. It just became over powered with this dark fruit sweetness that was more sweet than dark, if you sort of understand what I'm saying. Almost reminded me of Black Albert except not as clean in the taste. The sweet finish was just too dominant in this one.

M- Absolutely perfect. Had a nice creamy, frothy texture as it sat on the palate. Just fantastic.

D- For 11% the booze is not too overpowering. To me, the sweetness in this one really affects the overall drinkability. I was only able to manage one of these.

Overall, glad to have had this beer. Based on the mouthfeel and aroma this beer had huge potential. Just something about that last half of the taste with the overly sweet finish that ruined it for me.

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Night Stalker from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 1,820 ratings.
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