Dark Knight | Barley John's Brew Pub

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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

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Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 168
Photo of KarlHungus
4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an visibly oily opaque black color. The head is small, and recedes into nothing which is expected from a barrel aged beer. The aroma is of oak, vanilla, bourbon, and alcohol. There are faint hints of roasted malt and cocoa, but the whiskey and barrel dominate. The taste is much the same: barrel, bourbon and alcohol. I get almost no porter characteristics in the mouth. I will note that the alcohol, while distinctly present, is well enough integrated into the beer that it isn't off putting, which I consider quite a compliment to Barley John's. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a creamy texture. The carbonation is a touch high for the style though. Overall, this is a very barrel forward version of a BA stout/porter which, to me, makes it one dimensional. However, it does that dimension quite well. For those who love barrel forward beers this is one to seek out. Those who prefer to still taste the base beer after its been in a barrel might want to pass.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Photo of gatornation
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a tan/black cherry head soapy lacing on glass. Roasted malt and bourbon smells some dark fruits, nice roasted coffee . Taste follows nose superb roasted coffee and lush bourbon with malts and vanilla. Moth feel is silky smooth its a porter and so good. Love that this was canned this year, a superb BA Porter, Top Tier.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.6/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured rich black with khaki head that didn't last long. Scent was dark roast coffee, bourbon and oak. Flavor was very complex with notes of dried fruit, cofffee, vanilla, burnt oak and very heavy bourbon. One of the heaviest on the bourbon beers I've had. My only knock is the thin mouthfeel, but I guess it's a porter so I expect that. World class beer.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.56/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a wide-mouthed growler.
Thanks to Pushkinwow for sharing!

Pours black, viscous with a thin brown head. It has a big aroma and makes me think of a decedent brownie sundea: rich chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee. On the palate, all the chocolate and sweet roasted grains come through with flavors of vanilla, bourbon and coffee. Thick mouthfeel, but still very drinkable. An outstanding beer!

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.27/5  rDev -1.2%
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 spacecake9
4.57/5  rDev +5.8%
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 maximum12
3.5/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried this at a festival, two different times, & just didn't quite get it. Third time's a charm? Mini five ounce pour of a 2010 keg evidently found in the basement corner of Barley John's.

Pour is surprisingly lively, with a nice dark-colored afro. Nose is barrel-heavy with huge malt sweetness & chocolate. Not bad.

Dark Knight's taste is a step down, just like most of the movies. The primary component seems to be raw lighter fluid, which I always get from this brew. Behind the Zippo is sugar soaked black fruits, hard vanilla, & enough booze to kill a small Clydesdale. Oh, & bourbon, did I mention the bourbon? Like taking shots of Jim Beam with a bit of porter mixed in. Five ounces? Yes, that's enough, thanks.

First & second impression confirmed. This is a pretty good beer, but really nothing special in my mouth. Glad I got that one nailed down.

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Photo of hopazoid
5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I bought a growler back in January and took a chance at transferring it into 750ml bottles. Surprisingly it held up very well. Poured just like it did from the tap.

Dark brown in color.
Nice bourbon chocolate aroma.
Taste of heavy bourbon, oak, caramel and chocolate.
Velvety smooth mouth feel.
Over all one of the best Baltic Porters around.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
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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Photo of josephwa
5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - frothy mocha head, dark brown color, good head retention.
S - bourbon, roast, chocolate, sugar, oak.
T - roasted malt, bourbon, strong whiskey after taste!
M - very bubbly, light medium body.
O - overall really tasty, almost tastes like half whiskey, half Baltic porter.

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Photo of stakem
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to FooFaa for bringing this growler to our gathering. Poured into a snifter, the brew appears black in color with a brown head sitting atop. Some spotty lace sticks to the glassware.

The aroma is toasted coconut mixed with a perfume-like amount of sticky sweet smelling vanilla. A bit of toasty oak barrel and alcohol emerge as it warms. Plenty of chocolate roasted grain inclusion to keep things interesting.

The taste is bitter coffee and chocolate grain flavoring. A rich fruity alcohol aspect blends midpalate before finishing with the previously described perfume vanilla and toasty coconut aspects. The overall flavor profile of this beer is like 5% beer and 95% barrel aging character.

Lighter to medium bodied with a smooth light level of carbonation. As preiously stated, this beer is pretty darn good with nothing bad or off about it (except for the unreasonably high price in my opinion.) My only gripe is that this beer's character is totally dominated by the barrel presence and doesnt leave much room for the beer's base to come through. If the opportunity presented itself i would certainly drink this again but not at $70+ a growler.

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Photo of orangesol
4.49/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to foofaa for sharing this growler with all of us.
The Dark Knight Returns.

A - Pours pitch black with a nice one finger tall tan head, dissipating down to a light film, leaving spotty streaks of lace down the sides of the glass.

S - Smells of warm bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate, molasses, toffee and caramel sweetness, oak and some dark roasted malt. Very well balanced all things considered, a truly lovely nose.

T - Starts off with the warm bourbon quickly giving way to a nice mix of sweetness; mainly chocolate, vanilla, molasses, toffee and caramel; oak and dark roasted malt. Finish is sweet with some dark roast and a mild booze burn, lingering long after the finish. Much like the nose it is really well balanced.

M - Big body with moderate carbonation. Smooth, roasty feel with a nice shot of warming bourbon at the end of each sip.

O - I really loved this one. As some of the other reviews have said it kind of smells and tastes like Bourbon County. It has everything I love in a bourbon barrel stout and yet it remains quite drinkable. I would love to have this one again in the future.

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Photo of Beerdregs
4.87/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the dark knight returns halloween bash.

A: Served in a small tulip glass. Poured a black, no light passing through with a half finger of espresso brown head.

S: Wonderful bourbon aroma with mingling of dark fruits, charred oak and chocolate. The aroma is letting me know there is a lot coming up on the taste.

T: Bourbon, chocolate, dried fruit and some mocha like sweetness that I haven't tasted before from a non-coffee stout. Sweet, but balanced perfectly between the bourbon and alc. burn.

M: Slick/oily mouthfeel with mild carbonation. Dries fairly quickly in the mouth as the alc. dissipates the flavors and aromas up into the nose.

O: This is an excellent big bourbon stout. Unsurprisingly Barley John's has another peerless beer in their line up. The only downside is the price at over 9 dollars for a small tulip! Was worth it though.

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

An absolutely fantastic beer, that presented dark as night, rich and thick. Had a fantastic bourbon aroma, that was slightly subdued. It was big and sweet, but not too big, and not as cloying as some of the sweeter stouts that are the trend now. It had a roastiness to it, and a serious roundness from the barrel. Clean finish, and delicious combination of malts on the palate.

Thanks for the hook up on the growler, Mike!

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Photo of drowland
4.68/5  rDev +8.3%
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 baconsausage
4.62/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 release
Pours a very dark brown with a minimal amour of tan carbonation. Smells is dripping with bourbon and chocolate. Taste is more of the same, with light carbonation. Smooth with a little dark fruit in the mix. Really good. Thanks liquor barrel!

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Photo of ottovon
4.04/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to phelps for sharing this at the last tasting.

A: pours out of the week old growler thick, dark, and with almost no head. the head that did pop up was brown.

S: tons of bourbon. there is vanilla and some oak. chocolate, molasses, toffee, and hints of smoke and coffee. there is a touch of sweetness, and a bit of soy sauce.

T: lots of bourbon. vanilla and oak. i get chocolate, toffee and it finishes quite bitter. there is a bit of smoke nd some soy. as it warms more dark fruit comes out with some raisin aromas.

M: thick and low carb.

O: this is a good beer. I assume it lost some carb in the growler.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Growler shared by Ross at Woodshop Classix. Thanks for the long time want.

A: Black and viscous with a fast fading head.

S: Fudge with huge vanilla and brown sugar notes. Bourbon is powerful and excellent. A moderate roasted malt presence accompanies oak and molasses.

T: Rich dark chocolate with oak and bourbon. Molasses is evident and there's a lot of booze. Malt is moderately roasted and there's some cocoa.

M: Full in body with upper moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is sticky and chewy.

Overall: A bit boozy in the flavor, but still excellent stuff. I don't understand why this is so expensive.

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Photo of Phelps
4.02/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the Barley John’s brewpub inside a 5.5-ounce wine glass. According to our server, this particular batch was aged in Heaven Hill barrels.

Murky, inky and thick like molasses, the beer’s a deep black-brown. There’s zero head, but I didn’t expect much when the server told me this was around 18 percent ABV. A stain from this would never come out.

I can smell the bourbon from a foot away. When I get closer, booze permeates the senses: deep, sweet butterscotch, cocoa nibs, molasses, vanilla, oak. Maybe some prunes, hints of anise and smoke way down below, but this is overpowered by bourbon. As it warms, I do get more cocoa.

Hot Damn! The underlying smoky porter comes through just enough in the flavor, lending bittersweet dark chocolate and hints of smoke to the still-powerful barrels. From those, I get oodles of bourbon, toffee, vanilla extract and molasses. It’s sweet, but there’s just enough bitterness to keep it from being cloying. When it reaches room temperature, I find marshmallow!

The server from earlier must be high — there’s no way this is above 16 percent ABV. I’d be inclined to say it’s under ten, it’s so well-hidden behind the mountains of flavor. The buttery medium-full body is a velvety delight, the carbonation is lightly prickly, and there’s zero harshness at the swallow. So smooth.

Dark Knight just gets better and better as I go through the glass, but there could be more balance and a better show of porter flavors. Tone back the bourbon just a bit and we're in business.

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Photo of seeswo
4.37/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2 pours enjoyed at the GTotMW.

Looks dark with a very light dark brown head. The nose is big roast and bourbon, cocoa, chocolate, oak. Yum. Smells really good. The taste is huge, roasty malts, sweet bourbon and maybe just a hint of booze. Really big beer that is somehow only slightly boozy in spite of its obvious size. Impressively put together. Creamy and smooth, lower carbonation. This is a pretty great beer that is unfortunately is a hard one to get. Not perfect, but very enjoyable.

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Photo of jera1350
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a 5 oz. piece of stemware. Pure black with a mere trace of bubbles as a ring around the glass. Not really any lacing.

Rich smell of molasses, toffee and bourbon. Sweet and boozy smelling.

The taste packs a big flavor punch. Not a lot of sweetness like I was expecting. Lightly so, with notes of molasses, vanilla and burnt toffee. Oh yeah, there is some bourbon too. Actually, there is a lot of oaky bourbon. A touch hot, but not overwhelmingly so. It's like drinking fresh Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Like it, Dark Knight would be even better after a couple years of aging.

Very dry with a slick feel. Full bodied for sure.

So glad I got to try this. This is one big brew. After five ounces, I was feeling it. According to the bartender, this could weigh in anywhere from 13% abv and up. I believe it. A very good beer that is worth a try for sure, but not worth the $70 a growler price tag in my opinion. That is unless you can split it up amongst several friends. Believe me, you will need to share this high octane beast.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 07/08/11 notes. HUGE thanks to Thorpe429 for saving me a few oz's of this; thanks a lot Mike! Poured into my Foothills taster glass.

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, with a few bubbles of dark tan head and moderate carbonation still evident. Looks pretty heavy and thick.

s - Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts, and dark fruits. Heavy bourbon in the nose, which I love. Smells pretty great.

t - Tastes of bourbon, dark fruits, chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and alcohol. Some heat in the taste, which brings it down a bit, but still very good.

m - Thick motor oil like full body and low carbonation. Creamy body and some definite heat, but not too bad considering abv.

o - Overall this is a great barrel aged porter. There is some definite heat to it, but the nose is fantastic. Would certainly love to have this one again some day.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.52/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Growler shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

The beer appears nearly black, with a small, mocha colored head that hangs out for a bit, leaving random traces of lacing on the glass. The aroma is fantastic, with delectable bourbon, oak, roast, and chocolate. The beer is so smooth and well balanced. Hints of brown sugar with a healthy malt, bourbon, and roast presence. Delicious! The beer is medium to full bodied and creamy. Silky smooth on the palate, with alcohol hidden extremely well. Carbonation is light, but present. Overall, an outstanding beer. Highly recommended.

Had several pours of a growler shared by Brad. Again, fantastic stuff. Would love to have this again.

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Photo of corby112
2.64/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Growler generously shared by ygtbsm. Thanks again Brad!

Pours a viscous dark brown that appears almost pitch black in the glass with a one finger mocha head that settles into a thin ring.  Spotty lacing left behind but this beer has amazing legs.  

Sweet boozy aroma with lots of dark malt, sweet bourbon, earthy oak, chocolate, toffee and oatmeal.  The malt aromas are evident but are overpowered by the strong bourbon character.  

Viscous body with lots of boozy heat and bourbon flavor.  Way too hot with lots of burning alcohol that overpowers the other flavors and tons of warmth/burning in the finish.  Underneath the strong barrel/spirit presence there is some chocolate, toffee and toast.  Way too much bourbon and alcohol sweetness resulting in a one dimensional beer that isn't very interesting.  Thick and viscous mouthfeel helps things a bit but there is no depth or complexity.

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Dark Knight from Barley John's Brew Pub
4.32 out of 5 based on 168 ratings.
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