Class V Stout | Kern River Brewing Company

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Class V StoutClass V Stout
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Brewed by:
Kern River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
River rapids are rated by a numeral system. Class V is the most difficult level rapid that can be negotiated.

This non-traditional beer is an Oatmeal Stout, Milk Stout and an Imperial Stout all in one. With a complex flavor profile ranging from coffee to chocolate, the sweetness is complemented with Chinook and Cascade hops to produce an extraordinary finish. But at 8.5% ABV, don't let the smooth taste fool you; this beer is like the Kern at high water - "Not for the Timid".

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 524
Photo of RaulMondesi
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing Raul checks when a Stout is under 10% is that is it “coca cola esqe” - and here Class V is not. Woo doggy! So the texture of the beer is aite, and the taste? About as sexy as your kid’s third grade teacher - we’re talking not bad! Dry, roasty coffee and chocolate like a Kardashian at Starbucks. It’s not the best, but does the trick. Yep!

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Photo of superspak
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got as a gift from RaulMondesi. 22 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours opaque dark brown/black color with a 1-2 finger dense and rocky khaki head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Thick soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, toasted dark/brown bread, and nuttiness; with lighter notes of smoke, charcoal, vanilla, cream, toffee, molasses, dark fruit, citrus, pepper, pine, and roast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of black/roast/bready malts and light-moderate citrus/pine hop notes; with great strength. Taste of huge milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, toasted dark/brown bread, and nuttiness; with lighter notes of smoke, charcoal, vanilla, cream, toffee, molasses, dark fruit, citrus, pepper, pine, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate roast/char and pepper/piney/citrus peel hop bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, toasted dark/brown bread, nuttiness, smoke, char, citrus, pepper, pine, light molasses/dark fruit, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of black/roast/bready malts and light-moderate citrus/pine hop flavors; with an awesome roast/hop bitter/sweet balance; and zero acrid/astringent flavors after the finish. Lightly increasing dryness from hop/char bitterness. Medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky/bready, and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is fantastic. Zero warming alcohol for 8.5%. Overall this is an incredible imperial stout! All around fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of black/roast/bready malts and light-moderate citrus/pine hop flavors; very smooth and easy to drink with the mellowly bitter/drying finish. For an American style imperial stout, this does everything perfectly. Very rich and complex malts with supporting American C hops, without overwhelming the malt profile. A highly enjoyable offering, and spot on style example.

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Photo of Blackop555
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is black. Medium, thick, light brown had that fade slowly.

Smells roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, light fruity hops.

Taste dark chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee. Followed by earthy Hops and more roasted malt. Finish is dry with coffee linger. Medium body and creamy medium carbonation.

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Photo of maltznhopz
3.97/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured pitch black with a one finger tan head. The aroma was roasted malts and some coffee and chocolate mixed in. Goes down really smooth and creamy with a stong burnt coffee flavor up front then licorice and a light hop finish.

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Photo of VeganUndead
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A very impressive example of a stout that doesn't need adjuncts or barrel aging to be overall enjoyable. Roasty flavor, complexity, and a clean finish

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Photo of Reema
5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving type: 22 oz bottle into a snifter glass. It's a rainy Southern California day, seems like the perfect weather for this beer.

Pours a deep dark black color, slight crimson at the edges. Smell is of chocolate, coffee, slight roast, milk chocolate sweetness, along with a slight permeating hoppiness. Taste reflects the smell. Initial intense coffee and slight hoppiness lead into pleasant dark and milk chocolate flavors, finishes with a lingering sweetness and dark chocolate flavor. Feel is thick, viscous, slight carbonation to not make the beer flat. Fits perfectly with the heavier coffee, chocolate, and sweet flavors. Overall, this is an awesome beer with great flavors. Definite rebuy.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black pour, light brown head, 3/4" range, plenty of chocolate malt and alcohol on the nose.

Taste was dropping more chocolate, very good, the mix of lactose and oats provides for a very smooth mouthfeel. Thick, chewy. Isn't difficult to navigate like a Class V rapids. Real solid beer, no wonder they barrel aged this, feels perfect for such an endeavor.

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Photo of Josh012012
4.26/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This was around a year old. Tasted like am imperial oatmeal stout.. very roasty and smooth with a strong coffee presence. Even after a year there was a noticeable hop bite

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Photo of SammyJaxxxx
4.68/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a Bomber into my Yeti Stout glass (I Believe)
A: Pours a deep dark black with a finger or so of fluffy tan head. Great lacing
S - Coffee and chocoloate. There is a hint of the hops in the nose.
T - First sip is tons of chocolate. But the taste is very complex with chocolate, coffee and licorice. The burnt coffee is the taste that lingers.
M: This beer is chewy. It is thick and complex with a great mouthfeel.
O: When I think of Kern River I think of IPAs. However, this is an excellent Stout that just might change my impressions. An excellent stout that I would be glad to have again.

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Photo of jooler
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

There is little to no head. Smell is of a black ipa. Smells of dominate hops. Initial taste is grainy with a whole lot of coffee smacking you in the face. Not really any chocolate in there. It is kind of like modern times black house but more crisp

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Photo of pkalix
4.54/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

beautiful chocolate-y head on top of ultra-dark brown.
beautiful aroma of chocolate, coffee, sweet roasts...
taste follows the aroma with some added bitterness with the hops. so smooth and rich. it does taste like an oatmeal stout and a milk stout....

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Photo of Tdizzle
4.74/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Poured into a TeKu glass, Class V pours an opaque black with a frothy head of tan foam that sticks around for the duration of the beer. Webs of thick lacing cling to the glass with each sip.

S - Rich notes of sweet cocoa, medium roast, mild coffee, and star anise. A faint leafy hop presence lingers in the background. Some phenols from the high alcohol content surface as the beer warms. A classic imperial stout aroma.

T - The taste is very sweet at first, but a pronounced roasty character quickly balances it. Bitter-sweet cocoa and coffee are the prevalent flavors. A mild hop presence provides some nice leafy bitterness. The 8.5% ABV imparts noticeable heat on the lasting, roasty finish.

M - The texture is thick, rich, lush, and velvety smooth. Chewy and viscous as well, with just enough carbonation to prevent it from being overly heavy.

O - A quintessential imperial stout. Intensely rich flavors and aromas coupled with incredible drinkability. Seek this one out.

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Photo of Brolo75
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle poured into a Samuel Smith glass

A: Pitch black with a tan creamy head, no light coming through when held up, not a whole lot of carbonation, lots of lacing, looks really good.

A: Big coffee aromas, chocolate, picking up the hops, smells really good.

T: Coffee, chocolate, hop bitterness, roasted malts, taste really good. Very drinkable for 8.5% ABV. Warms really nice, the hop bitterness mellows out as it warms.

M: Creamy smooth mouthfeel.

O: I really like this stout, has a lot going on, coffee and chocolate aroma and flavors, creamy smooth mouthfeel, this would be world class if the hop bitterness was toned down, otherwise this is an outstanding Double Stout. If you love stouts, this is definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Motleydrunk56
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

22 oz Bomber.When you open this brew up the first thing you notice is the great smell of it.Solid ABV of 8.5 and the different flavors you taste,Just outstanding.Poured this into a 20 oz Firestone glass and let the party begin.Cranked up the Cars on the bose sounddock and we were in high gear.Good stout that I will revisit.Give it a try.Motley Drunk out.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%

pours very dark brown. head is frothy and coffee hued.

rich roasty aromas. a decent amount of bitter chocolate. mild vanilla notes that sometimes work their way into stouts.

tastes slick. a dry roast is the dominate flavor of this stout. a little bit of char in there too. acrid roast into the finish. cigar flavor too.

thick coating mouthfeel on a decent sized stout.

not too shabby. good stout. easy drinking for the ABV.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Cheers to Bilco for sharing this

Review from notes, 4/18/14

Appearance: Dark brown - pours with a large, fluffy, light tan head, leaves some nice sheets of lacing

Smell: Big chocolate, big malts, and some nice hops - chocolate malts, dark chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and some milk chocolate - lightly toasted, roasted malts - some citrus as well, and the hops interact well with the chocolate

Taste: Big chocolate, but not in excess - a variety of chocolate flavors, with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semisweet chocolate, cocoa, and Tootsie rolls - some lactose sweetness - burnt, roasty malts, as well as caramel malts - lightly sweet - finishes with some caramel, light sweetness, and roastiness

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body - very smooth, nicely carbonated - a big beer, but it's somewhat easy to drink, clean finish

Overall: Maybe not a V overall, but nice

Kern River makes some killer IPAs. And apparently they can make a stout, too. This was even more interesting than I had imagined, with some nice chocolate, roast, and burnt flavors.

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Photo of Dsimenson
3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured little-by-little from a 22 oz bottle into a 6 oz stemless goblet. Very dark, basic black, with milk chocolate and fair but not really clinging lacing. Aroma is dark roast malt, a little coffee and chocolate, and mild hops. Flavor is coffee, dark roasted malt, a bit of chocolate, and nicely balanced hops. Mouthfeel is medium full with fair carbonation, but not too much. Overall this is a very good to outstanding stout. Not my favorite, but a great one!

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Photo of GJ40
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 22oz bottle in my DFH snifter. Thanks surge1311!

A - Black with no light and a small but sturdy tan head. Clings to the glass nicely.

S - Hot chocolate and coffee notes.

T - Dark chocolate with roasted malt in the middle and a lingering bitterness from hops and roasted malt. Solid.

M - A moderate consistency. Could be thicker. Well behaved carbonation.

O - A solid and reliable IS.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a mocha head.

S: Dark bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt and coffee in the nose.

T: Holy shit. Bittersweet chocolate, Italian roast coffee, sweet roasted malt, milk chocolate. Delicious.

M: Full bodied and creamy smooth.

O: I want a barrel aged version of this… I ll leave it at that.

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Photo of aquazr1
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Imbibe. Had this many times on tap at KRBC but never posted a review. Pours black with a thick head. As you drink the beer it leaves a lot of lace down the glass. The smell and taste is that of cocoa with a hint of chocolate. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy. What I think makes this stout so good is the depth of flavors. That fact that it is a three way stout probably contributes to this. A very good stout that never disappoints.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight black. Head is a nice solid tan, creamy, and starts off massive and pillowy. Drops to a wispy cap with a decent super creamy collar. Some nice sheets of lacing leave splotches. Moderate carbonation on the pour. Not too viscous or light on the pour.

Smell: Sweet roasty chocolate. Lactose with a nice sweet caramel malt. Deeply roasted. Cocoa and milk chocolate. Slightly burnt edges. Coffee and a mild backing citrus. A bit of black licorice and some dark fruit. A lot going on, but not in an aggressive or intense way. Some oaty goodness.

Taste: It's cool to repeat sweet roasty chocolate right? Yup. Some bitter cocoa in the back coupled with a nice milk chocolate sweetness. Caramelized malts push some raw sugar and even some toffee. Slightly burnt. Oats and lactose. Dark fruit becomes more pronounced as it warms. Some plum. Decent hit of coffee throughout. Each sip hits a little different than the last. A bit of citrus and hop spiciness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body runs a bit thinner than I would expect given the depth of flavor. Moderate carbonation. Nice and smooth without really ending up creamy. Clean and drinkable.

Overall: Class IV. Promotion due soon.

Thank you for not doing too much here. Nice depth without being syrupy or overbearing. I'll definitely try to snag more bottles and see what fresh vs. age really does with this thing.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.99/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650ml bomber poured into tulip 29/5/13 cheers MasterSki and Sean9689 for sending the bottle

A dark cola with a two finger foam that has decent retention leaving a few partial rings of lace before falling to a thin film that still leaves random patches deep down the glass

S milk chocolate and coco powder mix well with some faint licorice, leafy hops, and a hint of coffee, I get a just a little prune as it warms

T the roasts a little darker then the nose and slightly more hops and earthy tones, coffees more like espresso and I get a little smoke and charred wood, the chocolate's darker in the mouth too, just a darker in general, straightforward but solid

M not the body I'd expect from and 8.5% impy but has enough bubbles to cream it up an bit and the booze is more or less invisible, dark roasted finish lingers and has a little fruit here and there

O well rounded brew with well concealed booze, about what I'd expect form a session stout but if you tried to session this you might encounter problems. considering the strength I'd like to have a little more intensity but I'm quite pleased with whats in my glass

My first Kern River brew and even though its pretty solid I had higher expectations then one could live up to. I'd drink this again but may make a conscious effort to take a little more time in doing so

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Photo of popery
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From notes, 3/10/11. Pours black with a hint of rosy brown refracting through the base of the glass. The head is a creamy mass of uneven tan bubbles. Lots of lacing. The aroma is black coffee, milk chocolate, roast and herbal/citric hops. The chocolate and coffee notes are dominant, and it reminds me of a good mocha more than anything. It tastes surprisingly sweet, which works nicely with the coffee and chocolate malt flavor. Hop bitterness quickly reins things in, and the finish is all bitter citrus and roast. Mouthfeel is creamier and chewier than I’d normally expect from an 8% abv beer.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.97/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

650 mL poured into a snifter. No bottle date.

Appearance - Pours with a nice mocha head. Nice surface foam and a great collar of chunky bubbles.

Smell - It's quite hoppy. Inordinately so. Almost green smelling. Oatmeal and chocolate behind it.

Taste - Really chocolatey. Still hoppy but much more balanced. Oatmeal is strong and gives it a nice body. Slightly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Excellent body. Medium carbonation. Bitterness and chocolate balance perfectly.

Overall - I was surprised by how good this was. Oatmeal is perfect and while the hops put off the nose, they make for an excellent stout.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #63 (Apr 2012):

LOOK: Towering tan head, Stout black

SMELL: Brown malt, sweet oats, floral, rose water, blackberries, spicy hops, cocoa powder

TASTE: Intensely creamy, mild coffee, brown sugar, sweetness, warming alcohol, sorghum, burnt raisins, tangy; charred finish

What we have here is a very different Imperial Stout. Highly drinkable and interesting, with a tangy dryness that keeps you coming back for more. Love the balance and the depth that opens up after each sip.

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Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 524 ratings