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 Phyl21ca
2.64/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Hand bottle courtesy of Stine: Poured a pitch-black color porter with a small dirty brown foamy head. Aroma of bourbon is quite overpowering with some sweet malt notes also noticeable. Taste is overpowered by bourbon and I had a hard time picking-up other flavour. Body is quite full with alcohol from the barrel really coming out. I was a bit surprised as I was not expecting so much bourbon to come out in such fashion and I am probably not the biggest bourbon fan around.

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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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Photo of aaronhanson
2.83/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Very dark, not much foam

S - Smelled a lot like bourbon, not bad.

T - Tasted like bourbon mixed with Guinness, and not in a good way. I had high hopes for this beer and it just didn't work.

M - Weirdly fizzy in my mouth.

D - It was hard to get through 5.5 ounces.

Overall I'm sad that this wasn't better. I had such high hopes.

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Photo of mothman
3.17/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2011- Heaven Hill Barrel Aged - Original review scored 4.42

Pours a light ring of tan head. Color is a dark ruby amber hued brown. It is nearing black.

Aroma: Rich oak and bourbon, dark chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, dried cherries, and a light roast. Reminds me of a boozy BCS. The bourbon shows a lot, but in a pleasant way.

Taste: Huge dark chocolate profile followed by some roasted malts. Then a wave of bourbon hits with some oak and vanilla. It finishes with dark fruits and a coffee roast.

Mouthfeel: Warming, smooth and roasted. Full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends dry and roasted with a bit of heat. As it warms the bourbon shows even more.

Overall, a really nice beer. The barrels show nicely. I can see some people being overwhelmed by the bourbon and the abv, but I really enjoyed it. The bourbon flavors are delicious. It is very drinkable, but I am trying hard to make my small glass last.
2016 vintage out of the can. 45th Parallel Distillery Barrel Aged.

Over-roasted, peaty, and char, and burnt. Lots of oak and whiskey. This is clearly a different beer and no where near as good as the original. It is decent, but the old vintages brewed at the brewpub were on a never level.

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Photo of HoppyMcStout
3.23/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I had this on tap at BJs in May while visiting a friend. I didn't know what I was in for! It was served in a small glass (maybe 8 oz. or so?) and was as DARK as DARK could be. Smelled great and looked the part. What I couldn't get past was the strong alcohol flavor - seemed a lot more than the advertised 13.5%! I have had beer with high ABVs but the bartender may as well have put a shot of bourbon in this one! Apparently some people rave about it, so it's worth a try...

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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 tempest
3.68/5  rDev -14.8%
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 brdc
3.82/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had it on tap at their place this Friday, poured into a kind of snifter with a long stem.

It has obviously not been retired, although I was told it was a barleywine by the waitress.
Near pitch black, some glimmering dark red accents on the side, little to no head.
Aroma is somewhere in between a barleywine and a porter; liquorice, lots of noticeable alcohol, some chocolate, coffee, molasses.
Not full bodied as I expected, by close. Oily at times, and hot, with lots of noticeable alcohol. Liquorice again, and at times even a bourbon hint, although it is likely just the alcohol. Coffee and chocolate, some molasses.
A good brew, but a bit too hot for my full enjoyment.

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Photo of Chaz
3.82/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black (deep crimson when held up to direct sunlight) with a wisp of creamy head and nary a trace of oily lace. Vanilla-cream liqueur, bananas and just a hint of burnt oak cask on the nose . . . malty goodness abounds and frightens the little childrens and girly-men. My initial impression is that this is a liqueur . . . we sampled it side-by-side with the Dark Knight and back-to-back they are indeed the palate killin' crime-stoppers the name implies, roundin' up the cheap macro/adjunct baddies and puttin' 'em to bed for the night.

Sweet . . . but not without a couple fist-fulls of character: licorice notes, a trace of the oak from the cask, a touch of hop bitterness (it's gotta be tough to balance this one at it's alcohol level - 13% this time around) and a hint of the grain bill of Old 8 Porter. The bourbon character from the barrel is fairly mute and indistinct at first but presents itself more fully in its phenolic character towards the end of the palate. Yeast character is surprisingly evident and yet adds to the flavor profile, almost spicy here (the fellow I was with seemed to think it was like a hefe-weiss mixed with the old eight porter, some bananas, and a ton of booze . . . sounds like a Tiki drink I've had!)

Mouthfeel is indeed silky smooth, but carbonation is more apparent here than in the Dark Knight, which gave the impression of a hand-pull.

Oh yeah: the alcohol, while well-hidden, is VERY warming.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.92/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks goes to Chris (spycow) for this one! Poured into Bruery tulip.

A - Pours black, minimal head, some bubbles here and there, no lace or retention.

S - Big booze, molasses, dark fruits, burnt sugars. Lots of booze, and at 12%, it's not surprising.

T - Booze, booze, and more alcohol. Dark fruits, oak, slightly sweet/big booze finish.

M - Full body, rich, light carbonation, creamy finish.

O - Very hot and needs some more time before really hitting its prime, in terms of taste. It would be nice to age this one for a while, but it's hard to do considering the vessel and how fast it goes. Good, but not outstanding.

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Photo of skybluewater
4/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

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

From Barley John's website:
"...This double fermented porter was aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for exactly 1 year. Historically the strength has clocked in at 13-14% abv - this batch has not yet been tested. Huge roasted barley presence with a bourbon and oak finish."

A - Served in a 5.5oz wine/globe glass. Arrived with a very thin tan head. It was the color of used motor oil with a bit of light coming through the edges with a ruby red tint. A thin collar remained as I drank. Minimal Lacing.

S - Roasted and smoke malts. Kind of smelled like slightly burnt caramel rolls thrown in a BBQ smoker for a while. Faint sweet fruits, cocoa and coffee notes were also in there.

T - There sweetness up front; dark fruit fig and raisin as well as caramel and toffee. There are anise/licorice notes in the middle. There are roasted and slightly smokey notes in the finish with a hint of coffee. All of these flavors are backed by the strong bourbon booze; leathery, oaky and spicy.

M - Heavy, slick and smooth. There is not much carbonation and it's not chewy. Lots of alcohol warmth with a bit of a dry finish. Excellent.

O/D A bit heavy on the booze. It didn't bother me as I love bourbon, but I feel like it probably did mask some of the other characteristics. I would think that a year or two in the cellar and this would be outstanding.

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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 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 kkipple
4.07/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A fellow BA member was generous enough to send me a growler straight from the source of this rare gem. This is the 2006 version, aged in Pappy Van Winkle casks. As far as I can tell, "Dark Knight Returns" is a different brew, or at least aged in different wood.

As my friends lined up to get their pours, I grinned and swirled the flat, black-brown sludge in the growler. It oozed forth into our waiting glasses, menacing and still. A low, subtle head sat atop the leggy, thick beer and waited for our eager lips...

The nose was big, real big. Dense, lush, burnt malts reached out and pinched my nose, followed by a heavy, slick bourbon wave and more than a hint of oxidization and soy. Pungent and nearly overwhelming booze is both a delight and a curse. Coffee swirls in the nose, but is nearly lost. Enough! I raise my glass to my lips...

... and my tongue is shocked by an exceedingly sweet, boozy beer. Dark sugars dominate and roll on, leaving my palate with dates, chocolate, coffee and bitter roasted grain. The whiskey is much subdued from the nose, it is deceptive and cunning. This is a huge beer. Quite delightful and heavy; a fine nightcap and one of the highlights of our evening.

The downside is, with a beer this big it's rare to get carbonation, never mind in a growler shipped halfway across America. This is rather flat, but is heavy and slick enough that you hardly care. The 13.5% advertised ABV really weighs this brew down, and the finish is long, long, roast and woody bourbon. A touch of alcohol burn reminds you to be careful when drinking this -- of course, we all wished we had more.

As expected, this is too rich and boozy to consume much of, but heavens is it lovely to try. Recommended... Dark Knight may not be as complex and scintillating as Dark Lord, but fans of whiskey and Imperial Stouts should put this on their shortlist.

Big props to Todd1 for hooking up some thirsty South Carolina beer geeks!

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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 Sammy
4.09/5  rDev -5.3%
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 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 Crosling
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Smells of tiramusu cake soaked in light bourbon, covered with chocolate sauce and decorated with toffee, cherries and coconut flakes, with a side of sliced apple and red wine. Near opaque black color. Initially vinous, like sweet dark fruits and red wine, whichs then falls into a roasty blast of malt, with chocolate and roast. Grapes and bourbon on the finish, with light vanilla and coconut, although not as profound as I usually prefer in a bourbon beer. Soft texture, seemingly better when served at the brewpub. A really enjoyable, unique beer.

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Photo of mcallister
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hand bottle from a trade. Pours a oily, viscous black color. Almost like sludge it may have even splashed on the pour. Poured with no head at all and no signs of carbonation.

I'm curious as to if this is really a Bourbon County Stout with the lable just taken off:)? Sweet vanilla laced oak, toasty and full of bourbon. Boozy and complex, cascading layers of wood, dark fruit, more wood, and sweet bourbon notes. Black cherry and black berry with a mollasses aroma. Dark chocolate covered fudge as well. An amazing aroma to say the least.

Huge amounts of residual sugar in this brew. Slightly cloying and sticky. Very oily viscous mouthfeel just as it poured in the glass. Only a thimble of carbonation, not sure if this is a culprit of the hand bottle. Very sweet concentrated vanilla flavors. Bourbony with a stomach turning type alcohol or it could be from the overly sweet elixir. However the beer is very good and desserty. Dark chocolatey ver dark fruits and brown sugar/mollasses. Creme freche. Thin and oily, and too sweet to drink many of.

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Photo of KAF
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at Barley Johns and again at the Autumn Brew Review. Very dark/black in pour. Overpowering bourbon and oakish aroma with some dark fruit as well. Slightly sweet prune or molasses with a heavy bourbon overtone and the alcohol is noticable.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.14/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Hand bottled, not sure if from a growler or at the brewery. Black as the depths of outer space. A very thin tan head disappears immediately.

Big bourbon barrel aroma, oak, vanilla, and alcohol. A few dark fruits in the background. Hints of chocolate and roasty malt finish things out in the nose.

Very boozy and warming. Good amount of oak character, but not quite overdone. Very sweet, almost cloying. A bit thin in the body for such a beast. Nicy roasty component. Some fruit as it warms. Ends up pretty nice.

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Photo of Deuane
4.17/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Certainly NOT retired....the 2006 vintage on tap at the brewery, 3/21/08, weighed in at 13.5%

A-Deep, dark black with faint dark brown highlights. A thin tan ring edged the glass leaving spotty lace.

S-WHOA! A big ole giant bourbon attack. This is some strong stuff. At least there is no question that this was bourbon-barreled aged.

T-Huge bourbon notes with a bit of bitter roasted malt poking thru. Alcohol warmth in the finish.

M-Heavy and full of body. Very round and smooth. A very delectable brew to roll around in the mouth.

D-Great--but you better like your bourbon son! This brew is so BIG that it could put a halt on drinking too many of them. A true sipper thru and thru.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.17/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing, Jeff.

A: Pours a super dark brown, almost black, with a thin dark brown film of a head.
S: The bourbon definitely dominates but I can pick out scents of sweet raisins and caramel or molasses along with light oak and vanilla.
T: Bourbon, dark fruits, sweet caramel, molasses and chocolate, with a few hints of vanillay oak and roasted malt.
M: Big full body, super booze and thick mouthfeel, soft carbonation.
O: A powerful bourbon filled sipper that I enjoyed and would have no problem drinking again. Thanks again, Jeff.

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Photo of tewaris
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"This double fermented porter was aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for exactly 1 year. Historically the strength has clocked in at 13-14% abv - this batch has not yet been tested. Huge roasted barley presence with a bourbon and oak finish. Served in 5.5oz pours."

5.5 oz, served in a wine glass, I think. It was dark outside so I cannot really comment on the finer details of the color that seems very dark brown to me. The beers looks very smooth and inky, with a tiny ring for head. Swirling forces some bubbles but mostly legs. This is a heavy hitter!

Vanilla, dark fruit, coconut, and massive bourbon in the aroma. This one is not very "coating" on the palate and relatively thin for a beer of its size. Quite bitter tasting, or shall I say not as sweet as I expected?

Mostly vanilla, oak (bourbon), hints of dark fruit, and massive roast. Strong on alcohol taste and very dry finishing because of roast and alcohol. A great marriage of roast and booze, this one feels like sipping Scotch, but with roast and extra bitterness.

Harsh at times, but enjoyable nonetheless. Every element of this monster is tainted by booze AND it's working as far as I am concerned! This is the thinnest and most dry barrel aged "dark" beer that I have had, and I am liking it. Recommended.

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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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