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 ahalloin
4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The infamous Dark Knight came at the end of the great day of trying local brews in the Twin Cities area.

The pour was absolutely pitch black with no where for light to go. The head was a dark tan and lingered well into the consumption. Just like Dark Lord and Darkness the beer clung to the sides as the glass was tipped creating a tint.

The aroma is unbelievable boozy. Dominated by bourbon, some roastiness of the underlying beer creeps through, but not much. It has the aromatic complexity of a big red wine, like a Meritage.

Taking a drink yields the booziest beer I have ever had. This should be considered a whole new drink! Bourbon beer or something... There is a distinctive burning alcohol in the nose giving way to a flavor of bourbon fermented dark fruits, like plum and raisin. The finish displays some bitter chocolate.

This beer isn't too far off from Sam Adams Triple bock actually with its booziness and dark fermented fruit flavor. There is perhaps more bitterness in the finish with the Dark Knight.

This one is special but isn't for everyone.

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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 beckje01
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Black color that is just still

S- Semi sweet nose, then some nice big whiskey notes.

T- Good whiskey start with the malt to back it up a good balance between malt and whiskey. It's a very tasty beer, but needs to be slightly warmer then it tends to be served.

M- Good thickness and some activity.

D- It's a sipper not doubt but it's wonderful. Just remember to let it warm up they tend to serve it a touch cold.

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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 khiasmus
4.22/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to kkipple for a second share in this rare brew.

Black. Very faint brown evident when held to the light.no head to speak of, but this could be from how long the growler has been stored. No legs or lacing, surprisingly.

Aroma is of heavy bourbon, dark malt syrup, oak, dark fruits. Very boozy, like a port. The smell is reminiscent of a leather shop, or an oak barrel, either that's just been fashioned, or that has been fermenting cherries and plums for years. Alcohol is very strong, and there's a hint of soy sauce along with the sherry and woody nuttiness.

Flavor is much like the nose. Alcohol dominates handily, and the nuances merge into one big sherryraisinoaksoysauce bomb. Finish is surpassingly alcoholic, bitter, sweet, and woody. A little grain bitterness comes in, but the alcohol overrides everything, like a fine bourbon.

Mouthfeel is not as chewy as one would expect on a beer of this flavor profile. A little oily, and ridiculously dry and warming in the finish.

It's not possible to drink a lot of this. It's so overwhelming, I daresay, that the only thing I can compare the drinkability to is Mikkeller Black. I wish I was able to have more, and fresh, so that I could have a proper impression of what the drinkability was supposed to be. As it is... this is a headache in a bottle. So boozy, sweet, bourbony, and oaky that it's impossible to judge this along the lines of most beers. I can say that it's excellent.

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Photo of Raymond69
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap before Darkness release. Listed @ 13.5 %. 6 oz serving.

Pours dark , coats glass. Small head , some lacing.

Aroma of whiskey , molasses , dark sugars , alcohol is apparent.

Initial harsh whiskey flavors eventually subsides to a smoky dark chocolate , bitter coffee , and maybe just a kiss of hops present.

Mouthfeel is thick , carbonation a little low , but to be expected.

Overall this was a nice treat I'd love to see bottled.

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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 mnstorm99
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

OK this one is a sipper.

Ordered it with an IPA so it could warm up a little and I could sip it from time to time. Nice Black pour, but no head to speak of, but it did leave a nice lacing down the glass. Aroma is dark malts, wiskey and oak. At first the taste is malty, I get a real nice chocolate flavor mixed with the whiskey and just a touch of bitterness from the hops. Smooth feel going down and warming, this is a very drinkable brew and would go nicely on a cool night out on my deck (or by the fire at BJ).

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.67/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Black. No light at all. Not even a little. Minimal mocha colored head.

S: Whiskey and then chocolate. The smell made me afraid to taste this beer. Really wonderful nose. Another beer I had that reminds me of this is the 30 year Old Dubh.

T: Starts off with oak and whiskey. Then it goes into a bitterness and finishes with a blast of chocolate. It also picked up some hints of coffee as it warmed.

M: Lighter than you would think. Probably still a heavy body but from the nose and the taste I wanted this to be tar.

D: Somehow really drinkable. The smell scares you but once you dive in it is a really nice treat. Awesome beer with an awesome name.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
4.69/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 vintage on tap at the brewery (7/7/2008)

Small light cocoa head on black.

The smell is fantastic. I think I could enjoy the smell forever. Bourbon. Nice warm vanilla. Chocolate...there is a spice or herb like smell in the background. There is so much going on in this beer. Taste adds roasted coffee, fruits, sweetness and a little bitter bit to the aromatic flavors. Baltic Porter that chews like a RIS. Outstanding mouthfeel.

At over 13%, this beer is smooth. 5 oz pour at a pub is enough. This sipper is smooth and complex...and rich.

If you have an opportunity...try this beer.

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

Pours black with a small dark tan head that quickly fades. Aroma hits immediately after pouring, huge sweet maltiness, dark fruits, leather and wood, a strong bourbony alcohol singes the nose. Taste follows with a rich sweet maltiness, strong vanilla notes, dark berry fruitiness, strong alcohol warmth in the finish is very large but on par for the size of the beer. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy, low in carbonation, but the carbonation that is there is creamy and adds to the fullness on the tongue. A bit of a bite from the alcohol at the back of the throat before it warms into the somewhat dry finish. Great beer, the barrel ageing comes thru very well, and though the alcohol is quite present it fits the size. Put this in a bottle and watch me go broke. Thank you to Eben!

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Photo of
4.68/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at the source, 1/15/08. Poured quite well for a retired beer...

Black as knight, opaque. Very small, cocoa brown head. Nice legs, no lacing.

Served very cold, so scent was quite restrained. Sweet, chocolate and dark fruits.

Taste was more sweet than bitter. Dark fuits. Some bitter chocolate. Vanilla and bourbon flavors. Almost port-like. Finished with a little bit of herbal bittering.

Very full body. Low carbonation. Sweet.

Fantastic, really gives the other heavy hitters a run for their money. Even though a baltic porter, would stand up well in a RIS tasting.

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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 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 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 DarkerTheBetter
4.63/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Definitely not retired, but this one said it weighted in at 13.5%.

This beer came dark as night in a small snifter. The head looked like something off of hot cocoa. When held to the light, it was still black. Dark as (k)Night, indeed.

Smells of a vanilla pudding with a sharp bourbon sting. Hidden beneath are dark chocolates and rye bread.

Tastes of roasted marshmallow and maple syrup, again with dark chocolate. A few cherries come through too but there’s an astringent alcohol that masks the sweetness. A sweet bourbon comes out too. In the finish, it takes a turn towards the dry with a bit of pineapple and pine hop, but mostly the dry woody pine. The adventure of flavors encountered and the order that they appear while sipping this makes for quite a beer.

I cannot believe how clean this one is. It’s light, but dense and syrupy. Fortunately and amazingly, a light carbonation bustles up whisking away the sticky leaving my mouth clean and dry. Well done!

A nice treat for sure.

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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 Jredner
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It’s nice when you get a whiff of a highly rated beer and know instantly it isn’t all hype. Rich milk and dark chocolate, blueberry, coffee, cream,fudge brownies, molasses, caramel and vanilla. The chocolate/fudge and coffee elements are strongest, but the blueberry fruity notes make a decent showing. There is a slightly dusty note in the tail end of the aroma. Quite varied and concentrated though. The body is deep black and holds a slowly diminishing thumb thick mocha head that compresses to nickel thickness. Slightly hot boozy notes in the first sip followed by burnt/bitter roast and coffee notes. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate, low sweetness dark fruits, very light bourbon notes. The mouthfeel is actually very porter-y despite the massive un-porter 13% abv. which you’d think might make it more an Imperial stout in thickness. The finish is vanilla, sweet cream, brown sugar and some more dark fruit notes this time lucious grape, raisin and prune. Doesn’t dissapoint. Great range. Seems to dip slightly in inteisity through the middle ranges, but the finish is very enjoyable and it drinks damn easy for a 13% abv beer.

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Photo of weeare138
4.69/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to hopdog for sharing this luscious nectar...
Appears a dark brown bordering black with a light tan head that quickly dissipates. Very mild spots of tan lace slip back into the collar.
Smell...OMFG. Cocoa, caramel, plums, black grapes, vanilla, light oak, & traces of bourbon that has been cooked in a rich, chocolate reduction.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas. Lots of vanilla, cocoa, plums...I wonder if this is coming from the bourbon barrel, or if they used the Westmalle yeast strain at some point of the fermentation. Either way, it's absolutely wonderful and a pleasure to drink.
Mouthfeel is viscous, very full bodied, along with an alcohol, boozy burn that is outweighed by the delicious flavors and stickiness of this concoction.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

While picking up a growler for hopdog, figured I'd sample this fine brew myself. Glad I did too. Into a snifter glass, pours a thick black mess of liquid and massive bubbles and head, lacing all over the place, loverly. The nose is one you could just hook up to your nose and sniff for hours on end, roasted malts and grains, thick, delicious. Tastes fantastic, richly malty, slightest hint from bourbon oak aging, wonderful. Full body, could almost call it thick and creamy, but the slightest tingle of carbonation, quite nice. Now i have to ask myself, why am I not buying a grolwer for myself? Oh ya. At $1 an ounce, that adds up and it ain't cheap, but for a treat every blue moon, there is nothing better.

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