Class V Stout | Kern River Brewing Company

196 Reviews
Class V StoutClass V Stout

Brewed by:
Kern River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / 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".

Added by mcallister on 03-01-2007

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 196 | Ratings: 503
Photo of yeahnatenelson
2.83/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Nice extra by Patchmaster. Thanks, Pal.

Appearance -- Pours a dark brown hue with a voluminous khaki head. Looks a bit thin on the pour.

Smell -- Quite hoppy with notes of citrus and pine boughs, roast malts, and residual sweetness. Very hop-forward, more akin to a American Black Ale or whatever those things are called these days.

Taste -- Again, surprisingly hoppy with a muddled fresh pine and citrus flavor. Roast flavors take a back seat, or at least get covered by the hoppiness. Residual sweetness (lactose?) adds an odd extra element that doesn't quite mesh with the hoppiness. Lingering flavor of bitter roast malt and hops.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-bodied with milder carbonation. The carbonation would've been more manageable if it were fuller in body.

Overall -- Not blown away. Certainly nice, no obvious flaws, but there's nothing exciting me about this beer. Your mileage may well vary.

 902 characters

Photo of artdob
2.99/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Tan head. Dark but not coal black as some Imperial Stouts Full of suds on the sides of the glass.

S: Aroma is yeasty. Eucalyptus notes. Chocolate esters emerge after sitting in the glass for a few finites

T: Very roasty malt flavor with burnt molasses and woodiness. Less chocolate , fruitiness, and sweetness that I've found common in Imperials. Bitter hoppiness.

M: Good carbonation - full bodied, somewhat creamy texture with a dry finish.

D: Decent stout considering the mix of styles advertised by Kern (Imperial, Oatmeal, Milk stouts all in one). With so many rich contenders in the field however, don't know that I'd revisit this one.

 651 characters

Photo of Brabander
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was a very disapointing beer. The bottle was traded with schuey1010. I had high hopes for this beer but it was not what i hoped for.

This is no stout by far, no smell, no taste which brings you on a higher stout level. The alcohol is not very high and with some more alcohol the deepness of this beer would have been better.

 330 characters

Photo of biglite351
3.03/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - mild red-brown around the edges. Very little foam which was disappointing.

S - some coffee smell, but like the foam, just not enough.

T - smooth to start with very mild chocolate and coffee, but a bit of hop or bitterness in the middle. There is am odd, familiar flavor in there that I can not place. Not bad, but not belonging in a stout.

M - nice coating of the mouth, but other than that you get no e,yes feelings.

D - drinkable, but too many better tasting and better feeling brews out there.

 504 characters

Photo of Trilogy31
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a duvel tulip at 55 degrees. Black with tinge of chesnut at the rim. Two fingers of khaki colored head that dissipated slowly and left nice lacing. Nose smells of darked roasted malt, with maybe a touch of peaty smoke and some piney hop notes as well. Taste is very similarm to the nose without offering much else besides a glimpse of bakers chocolate on the finish as well as ending with an unpleasant astringency. It had a nice silky mouthfeel as being its major plus for me, i am thinking maybe i will try my other bottles a bit colder and 3-4 months of age.

Decent imperial stout, but nothing special and not something i would revisit.

 666 characters

Photo of kbutler1
3.12/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle. Opens with a slight hiss and then pours a WAY over carbonated brown color with a tan head. Infected? Doesn’t taste infected but the carb level is out of control. Medium roast coffee note and dark chocolate. Light/medium mouthfeel. Slight sweet start with dark roast and dark fruit. Nice flavor but the carbonation level is way too much.

 346 characters

Photo of BeerTruth
3.15/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz. bomber poured into a nonic. No freshness dating anywhere to be found.

Pours a cola black with a quick one finger light khaki colored head that dies down to almost nothing. Bits of lacing on the sides here and there, but not much overall. Aroma consists of roasted barley, burnt coffee grinds, and dark chocolate. Some dirty earthy hops and smokey malts in the nose as well. Taste begins with bitter hops and burnt malts which seems to linger forever. Pine, charred wood, and alcohol on the tongue as well. The aggressive hops really get in the way of the true malt flavors a double stout should have. A medium body with a far from smooth feel and a strong sting left on the tongue. Seriously lacking the creaminess I crave from this style. This beer could use more balance for sure. Average beer all around.

 815 characters

Photo of Philousa
3.21/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 3.25

Imbibed at Gourmet Haus for Kern River tap takeover, 2/11/13.

Pour an inky black with two fingers khaki colored head clinging to the pilsner glass it was served in. This settles quickly, but carbonation is considerable for a double stout, as a quick swirl will show. The aroma is mostly bakery's chocolate and dark malts, making me think of a dark bread such as pumpernickel. The taste is dominated by the dark malts, bringing to mind bakers chocolate and dark roasted coffee. There is some bitterness, but its mild and fleeting. The finish is very dry, to the point o being chalky when coupled with the aforementioned chocolate. Feel is slightly watery for the style. I really like lots of aspects about this beer, but the chalkiness really gets to me by the end of the glass.

 779 characters

Photo of hoppymcgee
3.26/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Gorefiendus for this bottle. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Trois Pistoles goblet.

A: Dark brown/black with a small "tight bubble" head that diminishes to a film over the top. Good lacing.

S: A wheaty and yeasty chocolate aroma. I do not get any hop presence whatsoever.

T: Some chocolate, acrid coffee at best, and no hop presence whatsoever. I get a sort of artificial taste that's lacking direction.

M: Brings a little more life to this beer. Good carbonation level and smooth from start to finish.

D: ABV-wise this is good but the acrid coffee and artificial flavor bring the drinkability down.

Overall, this beer lack oomph and is kind of lifeless. A mediocre, everyday stout.

 700 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
3.28/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Generously shared by chswimmer during ramnuts' visit. Thanks Craig.

A: Pours a dark brown body with a half-finger of light tan head. Retention is decent for the style, and the remaining collar on the beer leaves some lace during my initial sips.

S: Quite a nice nose, but nothing screams "imperial" at me. If you had told me this was a straight-up stout (possibly an oatmeal stout), I would have believed it. Roasted grain, with a mild lactic / milk twang (or possibly anise). Chocolate. Some hops are noticed, adding kind of a pine aroma.

T: Cocoa powder, milk sweetness, and roasted grain. Definitely a touch of anise, possibly some nuts. Caramel. It's a solid stout flavor, not particularly complex or outstanding, but quite tasty. There is some lingering bitterness that I'm guessing is the hops I smelled, but I can't really taste the pine flavor here.

M: Light-medium bodied. It's not too dry. Quite tasty. I don't think it has the heft or flavor to justify the ABV; I'd expect something with substantially higher complexity for something over 8%. This is actually less flavorful than the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (again, I was making this comparison in my head before I realized it wasn't a regular oatmeal stout).

D: A solid, tasty beer. Nothing to go gaga over. A good value.

 1,324 characters

Photo of portia99
3.31/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle picked up on a recent trip to San Diego poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a deep, dark near black color. Four huge fingers of fluffy, milkshake-like foam rises above the beer...excellent staying power - really hangs on for several minutes, slowly bubbling away leaving behind a completely covered glass with frothy lace.

S - Lots of dark roasted malts up front. Chocolately, grainy, some dark fruit. Lots of fermentation esters. Very mild coffee hints. Grassy hops on the fringes, not much for hop bitterness. Smells good, but not really impressive.

T - Chocolatey, combination of milk and dark chocolates. Lots of hops, bitterness, grassiness. Roasty and earthy grains, dark fruity, estery. Can't place it exactly, but something is missing here...not really something wrong, but just not very satisfying flavor. Just ok for me.

M - Thick, creamy, frothy...quite full bodied, but soft on the tongue. Carbonation is a bit low probably giving more creamy feeling to this. This is really thick, almost like sipping on half & half in consistency...c'mon, we've all done that at some time.

O - Overall, just an ok imperial stout for me. Appearance is great and mouth feel is just behind that. However the aroma is lacking in intensity and complexity and the flavor is just, well, ho-hum. Had high expectations for this one, but was let down a bit.

 1,363 characters

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.38/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to Scalene for this one via Light Whale BIF 2. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Darkness snifter.

A: Standard pour yields a massive, quickly rising, frothy, powdery, 2.5 finger light mocha colored head with incredible retention. Beer is a bit thin but presents as an appropriate opaque black. Lacing is thick and layered with very good cling. Nice looking beer but points off for a head that is a bit over the top for the style.

S: Nose is heavy with liquorice and roasted malt. Some sprinkling of cocoa powder, milk chocolate, lactose and a slight espresso bean sourness. Pleasant but not overly aromatic or enticing.

T: Opens lactose, milk chocolate, and liquorice. Some dark fruit gummies towards the middle with a cocoa powder graininess. More liquorice and some espresso and roasted malt bitterness towards the end. Finish is roasted malt and a touch of booziness with a smoky coffee aftertaste. Pleasant but not extraordinary.

M: Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Smooth and light in the mouth and goes down with a prickle and a slight bit of heat. Finish is rather muted with a faint, slightly lingering aftertaste. Nice and oily in the mouth but a bit thin.

O: A good effort by Kern River overall, Class V stout is attractive and flavorful but a bit thin for its style. At the same time though, the body lends well to the feel and drinkability. Worth a try.

 1,390 characters

Photo of jmarsh123
3.45/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep chocolate brown with a finger of tan head. Decent head retention.

Smells of bitter chocolate, roasted malts and coffee.

Taste falls a bit short. Some more stone fruit comes through and much sweeter than the smell would indicate. The coffee and chocolate come through, but an almost rum cake flavor invades.

Pretty silky and oily with lowish carbonation.

Not horrible, but not to the standard of other Kern River offerings I've had. The sweetness can get overwhelming at times.

 493 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.48/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from a nitro-tap into a 12 ounce glass in low altitude Orange, California. Reviewed from notes. I didn't know what to expect.

A: Pours a two finger head of good cream lacing, nice thickness, and good retention. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Coffee, caramel, nuts, and cream. A moderately strong aroma - and a nice one.

T: Milk, cream, chocolate, and light coffee. Very nicely balanced and built. I quite fancy it. Very pleasant and flavorful.

Mf: Smooth, creamy, and wet. Suits the flavours of the body.

Dr: Very drinkable and of pretty good quality. A lovely nitro-tap stout. Decently priced. It hides its ABV very well. Give her a spin if you're a stout lover like me.

 686 characters

Photo of joe1510
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz Bomber

Another big "thank you" goes out to BitterBill with the Kern River hookup, thanks Bill! Class V is a devilishly dark concoction with a beige head that rises to one finger in height. The head eventually falls to a thick collar and skim coat leaving behind some thin lacing.

The nose is different than I expected. Coffee grounds and a splash of Hershey's chocolate syrup are the first things that come to mind. A touch of roastiness comes along with some lactic sweetness coming along stealth-like. The aromas all come together well, unfortunately they all seem to be on the weak side.

The flavor follows the same lines as the nose. Spent coffee grounds and chocolate syrup roll over the tongue from the get go. Very faint nuttiness hits mid palate with the lactic sweetness following closely. Again, the flavors feel slightly watered down, especially considering the nature of these flavors. With all that said, this is a tasty sipper.

The mouthfeel shows the same weakness as both the nose and flavor, it just seems a little watered down. The body is medium and has a touch of fizziness on the swallow. If the carbonation wasn't so lofty the body would be more appropriate.

This is a solid beer and although the mouthfeel doesn't fit like it should it does help this beer go down easily.

Kern River brews some insanely good beer. Class V is the weakest of their offerings I have had yet and it's still a damn fine brew that I would pick up on occasion if available here. Thanks for the bottle, Bill!

 1,522 characters

Photo of Gosox8787
3.56/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 22 oz. bomber bottle poured into a Bruery tulip glass. Served this one at cellar temperature. Review copied from tasting notes I took last night.

Appearance: Dark brown to black in color. A surprisingly expansive two to three finger head, that is light brown in color. I'm a bit surprised how light the head is to be honest. Good retention and plenty of carbonation.

Aroma: Big roasted coffee and coffee beans with some milk chocolate upfront. Spots of light caramel as well. Subdued but balanced.

Taste: More, big coffee and espresso notes in the taste. Almost drinks like it was brewed with coffee. Light cocoa and caramel notes interpaly as well. Touches of smoke and roast. The alcohol is hidden very well. This even feels a bit one dimensional to me.

Mouthfeel: Really thin for the style. Carbonation is spot on, but the lack of body is surprising.

Overall, a nice stout with some really nice coffee flavor. However, I am finding that I really want a bit more depth and complexity. I get a ton of coffee, a touch of secondary cocoa/caramel and not a whole lot else. I probably won't go out of my way to get again.

 1,137 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.57/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from 4/2011 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark red brown, nearly black. Thin head and light lacing. Aroma of dark and roasted malts, hint of coffee. Medium dark roasted malts, coffee, chocolate. Light to medium bodied. Lightly bitter finish with pleasant dark malt aftertaste. A pleasant, light bodied, but not outstanding stout.

 360 characters

Photo of vacax
3.58/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Looks black with an adequate tan head. Dissipates, leaving a thin carpeting on top. Some alcohol legs. Smells of Tootsie Roll, roasted barley, light bit of fruitiness, some sugar and oats. Nice, roasty, not overly complex.

First of all, expect a double stout and by no means an "huge" imperial stout. A nice blend of chocolate malts, some slightly tropical fruitiness, with a roasty, slightly smokey balance. In the end a bit sweet, but Kern River again reveals their talents in making strong but not in-your-face brews that are delicately balanced. Full bodied, but not slippery, smooth medium carbonation. A nice American Stout, a touch sweet, but full of classic American flavors. Kern River is a great brewery to introduce someone into craft beer with their traditional, good interpretation of American styles like this.

 825 characters

Photo of NickMunford
3.58/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a very dark opaque brown, almost black. Has a nice cascading, thick and frothy light cappuccino head, which has good retention. While the head starts out thick and frothy, as it dissipates, it coalesces into larger bubbles, which makes it look thinner. Has good lacing.

S: Smells of roasted coffee with a light hops presence.

T: Tastes of coffee & dark chocolate. Hops is present in the finish, along with mild alcohol flavor. The dark roasted malts balance out the hops well, although, I don't think the hops need to be there.

M: Has a good velvety mouthfeel with decent carbonation. There is a bit of bitter aftertaste.

D: This is a fairly drinkable stout, but to reiterate, I think hops hurts this one a bit. The light hops flavor and bitter aftertaste are a little out of place.

 835 characters

Photo of drummermattie02
3.58/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into DFH snifter. And I feel that I have to start by saying, I don't understand this beer.

Pours almost opaque with a big tan head, although haze is evident despite the darkness. Head has good retention and leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell is odd, not bad, but a lot of really fresh malts, almost cereal-like.

Taste has a lot of chocolate milk going on, none of which was present in the smell. A bit of alcohol in the finish, but well-masked by the malts.

Good thick, but balanced, feel. Overall a pretty interesting imperial stout, can't quite figure out what's going on, and definitely can't think of a similar beer. Just need to try this one again probably.

 669 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.6/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep brown/black with just a hint of reddish highlights into a large wine glass. A half inch of mocha head is a bit difficult to wrangle but does keep once gathered, thus yielding a fair share of lace.

Light grated chocolate and a bit of coffee on the nose. Touch of alcohol is present but subtle. Big roasted malt nose with very light hops once the foam has settled. Overall a bit subdued but good.

Flavor follows with chocolate malts and a full sweetness that keeps the ABV at bay. Fairly rich and creamy with a moderate body that gets a bit heavy at times, some rich chocolate cherry coming forth. Overall a bit rich and straightforward, not pushing any boundaries yet not showing any flaws either. Decent but simple.

 730 characters

Photo of birchstick
3.61/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a nice black color with a large chocolaty head

S - milk chocolates, touches of burnt coffee, and a lot of cascade, citrus hops...very mild smell to it

T - this beer starts off with sweet chocolates that are are complemented by a more subtle burnt malt / coffee flavor. The malts, however, are pushed aside by the barrage of citrus hops, which cuts into the malt flavors. Not uberly complex, but what is there is good. I was expecting a little more from a double / imperial stout in the flavor category, but it's still an above average tasting stout.

M - full, smooth, and a little slick...nice mouth feel to it

D - this is a decent stout. Like I said earlier, I was hoping for a little more from its imperial categorization, but it was still good. Big props to MaxStout for sending this California treat my way.

 825 characters

Photo of alcstradamus
3.63/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Another generous extra from a huge trade with Solomon420. Reviewed from notes.

Pours black with a full finger of creamy head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is dark malts and a pungent hoppiness that is extremely unique. Hints of caramel and dark chocolate and flowers.

The taste is mostly coffee bean...there are wood-like notes as well as some very bitter chocolate. The mouthfeel is medium/full with lots of soft carbonation. I found this to be an enjoyable stout but not one that stands out.

 496 characters

Photo of TheJollyHop
3.63/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma is comprised of floral cascade hops mixed with bittersweet chocolate and lightly roasted coffees. Syrupy black pour with a fingers worth of toffee colored head; sticky, scattered foam remains.

Tastes like an iced coffee with a couple of sugar packets. Noticeable coats the tongue, medium bodied and medium carbonated. Caramel sweetness with a balanced that is off and skewed towards the malt side, but not by much. Very light roasted character and the finish starts sweet, with some dialed down bitter lingering, but ends dry.

The beer could have benefited from some more roasty character and a touch more hop bitterness. Aroma is pleasant but a touch too delicate and restrained. Very drinkable but not assertive enough to do the style justice.

 753 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got bottles of this from tkunkel and womencantsail. Thanks, guys! I drank one at a tasting last month and this is the second bottle.

In my snifter, this beer is black with brown highlights. A thin light brown head is present, receding to a disk and then a ring, leaving a little lace. Solid stuff. The nose is great, with a nice blend between roast (that's almost toasted bread-like), cocoa, a mild milky and caramel sweetness with an underlying pine-like hop character. As it warms up, the pine character really grows. It also does bring out a little licorice.

This bottle is probably fresher than the last one I had because it is surprisingly hoppy. Opening with a firm hop bitterness, moderately pine-like with a blend of unsweetened cocoa, some caramel. The mid-palate is moderately juicy, with the pine hops really coming through. Now, I'm not opposed to hoppy stouts, but something doesn't really feel right. The malt flavor seems to be taking a back seat to the hops right now, and it doesn't seem like it has the legs as is. A little caramel, a little cocoa, moderate roast with no grainy bitterness, this is decent stuff. Hoppy on the finish with a mild pine-like resin character, there's some cocoa and not enough charred grain for my palate. Medium in body with moderate carbonation, this does feel a little watery in the mid-palate. Decently drinkable, the flavor doesn't match up the ABV, but it's still something I'd like to try again, hopefully with a little age on it, especially to allow the subtle malt character to come through more. Solid stuff.

 1,570 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
4.05 out of 5 based on 503 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.