Dark Knight | Barley John's Brew Pub

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Dark KnightDark Knight
185 Ratings
Dark KnightDark Knight

Brewed by:
Barley John's Brew Pub
Minnesota, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bighuge on 07-17-2003

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 185 |  Reviews: 89
Reviews by zeledonia:
Photo of zeledonia
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewpub. Listed as Dark Knight Returns, ABV unknown. Tasted 9 January 2013.

Pours black, thick and viscous; brown at the edges. Poured to the brim, leaving just a bit of room for medium-tan head. Good lacing.

Smell is a near-perfect barrel-aged beer. Velvety smooth soft whiskey, with no bite. Backed by sweet dark malts - molasses, a bit of smoked wood. Great integration of the bourbon and beer aromas.

Taste is sweet, and heavy on the bourbon. Smooth, but it's more divided here than in the smell, more obvious that it's a mix of beer and barrel, rather than one smooth operation. That leaves it a little sharper than the smell. Prunes and tobacco. Slightly woody. Drifts into more pronounced bourbon in the back-end, where it's at its least good.

Feel is big, thick, and chewy, almost fudgy. But just enough carbonation to cut the heaviness.

A darn impressive beer. The first barrel-aged baltic porter I've had, but it far surpasses many barrel-aged imperial stouts. Smooth, rich, and flavorful, with great barrel integration. Yum.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of ricke
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Dark Knight (Returns) version.

Short version:
Bourbon disguised as beer.

Slightly longer version:
A: Pitch black, basically now head. The liquid doesn't look very viscous, rather thin actually.

S: Massive bourbon notes take the lead, notes of vanilla, coffee and cocoa. Lots of well integrated alcohol. The malts struggle to get through, but the bourbon rules supreme in this one.

T: Bourbon and hot alcohol basically attacks the mouth in wave after wave. Really powerful and rich. Big notes of vanilla and oak. After a few sips, more nuances of somewhat sweet dark fruits, cocoa and dark chocolate manages to come through. The malty backbone is present but restrained. The finish has a decent bitterness to it with lots of warming alcohol and, what do you know, more bourbon notes.

M: Medium body, not as big as one would perhaps believe. Smooth and elegant texture. Mild carbonation.

D: What a beer! Nine times out of ten I would prefer the bourbon notes to be more restrained than they are in this one, but for some reason I think this one manages to pull such a bold character of. Although the beer is completely dominated by bourbon, it's still rather complex (wouldn't dare to call it balanced though). It's also important to note that you can really tell that it's an imperial porter rather than an imperial stout; it doesn't have the big body, nor the massive roasted malt character of an imperial stout. And I think this plays an important part in the success of the beer, since a bigger body, stickier texture and bigger roasted flavors would probably be to much with all the bourbon. With the porter backbone, it actually manages to come out as almost easy to drink.

 1,689 characters

Photo of Schlais
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of skybluewater
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I debated whether or not to review or even try this one, because my pallete isn't all that sophisticated and as such I probably missed a bunch of things that make this beer unique, but I thought, what the heck, I'll probably never see it again, and you only live once.

I don't know why I decided to try Dark Knight tonight, or even try to find Barley John's (it's quite out of my way, and I generally don't get over to that area of town), given the nasty roads. But it's that whole "you only live once" thing...

This one pours into a rather small snifter a dark brown/black color. Now, I'm not really a fan of bourbon (which is why I wanted to try it of course ;-), and my first taste was a bourbon punch to the face. The mouthfeel seems a bit thin as well. It's not really all that alcoholic tasting, but I do notice a burning in my tummy, which is nice (If they bottled this, I'd be drinking it this weekend, when it's 40 below). As the beer warms, the bourbon flavor mellows, and the mouthfeel gets creamier. All in all, it's quite tasty, even for someone who doesn't like bourbon.

Honestly, this beer may be a bit mature for me. It's nothing like I've ever tasted before, and as time goes on, I may come to like these kinds of beers. But I'm glad I tried it, if only to expand my horizons.

 1,303 characters

Photo of warnerry
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of MNMike
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of warmbier804
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of MattyG85
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours midnight black. Moderate amount of bubbles and a slight finger of tan head that quickly settles into a thin creamy patch.

Smell: A rich and roasty dark malt driven aroma with a scent of bourbon, chocolate, and coffee. Good barrel scent of bourbon whiskey with vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malt with a scent of dark chocolate, coffee, toast, biscuit, smoke, grains, nuts, caramel, and toffee with yeast. Sweet scent of molasses. Dark fruit hints of raisin, cherry, and prune. Also some hints of anise, tobacco, and leather. A really good rich aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a very rich and roasty dark malt driven taste with notes of bourbon, chocolate, and coffee. Big barrel presence with notes of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malt with notes of bitter dark chocolate, coffee, toast, smoke, biscuit, toffee, caramel, grains, and nuts with some yeast. Sweet taste of burnt molasses. Dark fruit undertones of raisin, prune, and cherry. Some notes of anise, leather, and tobacco. A really good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, creamy, syrupy, and slick. Moderate alcohol heat.

Overall: A very good Barrel Aged Imperial Porter. Good blend of bourbon and dark malt notes with some nice subtle dark fruit.

 1,356 characters

Photo of ADR
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub...

Dark and opaque, thin spidery head with simple string lace. Heavy malts mark an aroma that only hints at what's to come. Husky carob flavors, almost chocolate but not, backed by a dried fig fruitiness. Impressive mutating flavors, switches emphasis to a more highly bittered roastiness on later sips. Substantial alcohol is decently well-hidden. In another switch, by the end of the glass (and its only a small snifter), there's a distinct sense of Oreo cookies and cream with some spiced pear up the nasal cavities. This brew is quite layered and impressive.

 587 characters

Photo of striker2160
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of roostor07
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

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

Tar black with ripples of brown on top.
Nose of burnt hazelnuts and oak, completing a molten fudge caramel brownie.
Begins sweet, with dark raisin and plum notes, then it turns forcefully chocolately. Traces of liquorice and maple syrup, and a nod towards roastedness. Vanilla creeps in, preludes the rich bourbon finale, with toasted oak, caramelly hazelnut booze sweetness everywhere.
Robust of feel and thickness, this is a fabulous rendition.

Rosie who?

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Photo of Sammy
4.09/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on-tap at the brewpub. This is a refermented Dark Knight, and uses $250 bourbon bottles' casks. Wine colour, virtually no head. Above-average mouthfeel. Complex bourbon lavours, a bit of oak, a sipper Great aroma from the quality bourbon. Served too cold,so much better as it warmed.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I've been a fan of Barley Johns for several years now but as an out of towner I never had a chance to taste Dark Knight until now.

Served in a 5 oz wine glass
A - Dark and mysterious, black with small tan head and much lacing. Tight foamy sticks to the side of the glass.
S - Almost no nose, just a bit of bourbon.
T - The bourbon is upfront with hints of dark fruit, caramel and vanilla.
F - Clearly a sipping beer with a definite alcohol burn on the throat. Very creamy.
O - Outstanding beer!

And now it's available in cans! Still fantastic!

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to Jeff for this one. I've been wanting to try this beer for years! 16oz. can into a Surly teku. Shared with schen9303.

Nose is roast, booze, molasses, chocolate and smoke. Aromatic and rich if a little boozy. Beer opens booze, sweet soy sauce and chocolate and molasses. There's a smokiness that floats in the background, leaving a gap between it and the chocolate and dark fruit flavors up front. Middle has a touch of roast and some baker's chocolate. Finishes boozy with more chocolate and rich molasses. Body is medium with moderate to low carbonation. Real smooth and drinkable. This doesn't feel like 12% even though it tastes like it.

A real well balanced and carefully crafted beer. Good balance and complexity. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of Cooper
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of tempest
3.68/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2006, 13.5%

I had the fortune of trying this the day after drinking Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout which provided a nice comparison for another bourbon barrel-aged beer. The Dark Knight is heavier on the booze with the alcohol present in the aroma and flavor while bourbon dominates the flavors. In the taste, a little cocoa and coffee back up the liquor, but I think the BCS is much more balanced by comparison. This is still a great beer and a wonderful sipper, but I'd recommend The Dark Knight Returns, which has a great deal less bourbon, over the original.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL wide mouth mason jar poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body. Medium khaki head. Thin collar. Leggy.

Smell - Sharp whiskey aroma. Wood. Roasted malt. Smells a little like rye whiskey. I take that back. I get a lot more corn from the whiskey now.

Taste - Great whiskey flavor up front. Roasted malt up front. Pushes towards fudge and chocolate. Nice dark chocolate flavor in the back end.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Kinda boozy.

Overall - This has a great whiskey flavor. The grain character of the whiskey actually comes through really nicely.

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Photo of bditty187
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tiny snifter, 5-ounces.

Absolute black, opaque. It was served with a tiny beige head; the retention was fair as it faded to a foamy collar, sparse in the middle. The appearance is impressive. Great color and all but the small serving glass seems to up the ante. For such a high abv beer I am impressed with the subsequent lacing, it was spotty but fairly widespread. The nose starts off with Jim Beam-like aromas with hints of cheap whiskey (possibly Old Crow), raw alcohol notes as well. Actually the nose seems like bourbon soaked mocha-chocolate coffee. The roasty coffee aromas are way in the back and just not loud enough. Regardless this bouquet is still very inviting. The potency is solid. The palate has its raw moments, they are not overwhelming, and the alcohol flavors add plenty of depth as does aging this beer in bourdon barrels. I get a lot of Jim Beam-like flavors. Awesome. The porter aspects are too secondary and mostly hidden. The chocolate, coffee notes are too weak. I am surprised that this beer is not very sweet and it is actually very dry. Quite flavorful! The finish is warm and alcoholic, bourbon, faint hints of charred wood. This is a lovely beer, something to sip and savor. I am impressed at how easy going this big, complex beer is. The mouthfeel is good but ordinary; honestly I wish it were chewier. It is a little fuller than medium, low but natural carbonation. Very good stuff here, I’m glad I got the chance to try it.

 1,474 characters

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

Photo of morimech
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good bourbon bomb. Served in a small chalice with one finger of head that held on for a little while. Just light sticky lacing is left on the glass. Aroma of bourbon, vanilla, oak, and alcohol. The effects of the bourbon barrel dominate the aroma and flavor. The flavor consists of bourbon and vanilla. Overall it is quite sweet and hot. The body is not as large as I would of liked with this type of flavor profile. Gentle carbonation and soft texture. This is a beer for bourbon lovers.

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Photo of GRG1313
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of drowland
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Great Taste of the Midwest. Pitch black pour with a small brown head that fades quickly. Awesome aroma of bourbon, vanilla, oak, and more. Amazing flavor of wood, chocolate, coconut, and lingering roast coffee. Awesome flavors and perfect balance. Stellar.

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Photo of Vicirus
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BOLTZ7555
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared with Sparky27...never thought I’d get a chance to try this...THANKS ERIC!!! This one packs a Mike Tyson-like uppercut...will knock you on your ass if you aren’t paying attention!!! Not a sliver of light is able to escape this black-hole colored beer. A diminutive burnt caramel head builds but quickly recedes. Aroma is brown sugar, heavy bourbon, dark fruit, molasses and vanilla. Heavily charred oak, bitter chocolate, and aggressive bourbon flavor. Warms the belly and numbs the mind. A truly great beer.

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Dark Knight from Barley John's Brew Pub
Beer rating: 4.36 out of 5 with 185 ratings