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Class V Stout | Kern River Brewing Company

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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:
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Reviews: 196 | Ratings: 498
Photo of vacax
3.58/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

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Photo of corby112
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black color that's almost completely opaque with the slightest dark mahogany edges when held to a light source. Frothy two finger light beige head with good retention that slowly fades into a lasting cap. Sporadic splotches of lacing coats the glass.

Deep roasty malt aroma with hints of coffee, toffee, oatmeal, caramel, alcohol, burnt toast chocolate and a nice amount of hop bitterness.

Hop forward for an impy stout with a smooth creamy full body with a lot of roasty malt, silky chocolate notes, caramel notes, burnt toast, oatmeal, licorice, coffee, toffee and a pretty prominent hop presence that creates a slightly dry finish. The ABV is very well masked making this a pretty quaffable impy stout.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep cole color with a small tannish head. Nose was chocolate and coffee, roated malts too. Prtty straightforward. taste was smooth with a mix of coffee, chocolate and a roastiness from beginning to end. Well rounded stout for sure and really easy to drink.

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Photo of joe1510
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
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!

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Photo of ghostwalker
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, rich body with solid finger of tan head.

Nose is rich coffee and chocolate.

Serious flavor, coats well and has good body.

Mouthfeel is creamy and coating. Very nice, but with an acidic bite at the end.

Drinkability is very high. A nice brew.

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Photo of spointon
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this one from a 22oz brown bomber bottle into a shaker pint glass. Mucho thanks to the stellar BA dgb3 for sending this as an extra in a recent trade.

A= This stout poured a dark black-brown color with slight ruby highlights around the edges. At fridge temp the head poured 1/2" of dense dark tan that slowly settled to a thin cap (the second pour put up a slightly larger head). It left some streaks and spots of lace down my glass.

A= Smelled of rich dark sweetness, dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, and earthy hops. Alcohol was never really noticable.

T= Started off with sweet chewy malt and rich molasses up front followed by roasted coffee and dark chocolate bitterness. The hops stayed soft and earthy and never really took a lead role. Finished fairly sweet with a hint of alcohol emerging.

MF= Heavy body wth a slightly viscous and creamy feel. Carbonation was moderate but seemed lighter due to the density of this beer.

D= I was really impressed with this beer. As an extra in a trade, I was not expecting much but this was really top notch. I would gladly have a few of these in an evening!

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.67/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque darkness with better than a full finger foamy light brown head that resists fading. Notable bottle art. There is plenty of Belgian lacing in the wake of each mouthful. The smell is good too. Mildly roasted malt and that undeniable hint of that classic vanilla-black licorice molasses thing I sense in my favorite examples of this style. The mouth feel has that lightly carbonated texture with a tangy warmth and classic creaminess. Very very smooth, CREAMY, heavy yet not chewy, a touch of an oily coating character that sends the entire mouth into that involuntary lapping reaction...searching for MORE. Full flavored, dark chocolate, vanilla, heavy cream textures, molasses and licorice that finishes with a light roasted lingering complexity. At 8.5% ABV...this must be the 'diet' version of my favorite. An incredible drinker. Lighter than many in style without taking away from texture and flavor. This is one of the best Double Stouts i've ever had. My understand is that Team Kern River isn't charging an arm and a leg for it either. Many thanks to Solomon420 for this very generous extra!!!

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this as an extra in an exchange with Swimsum. Thanks Brent! Entirely unnecessary, but totally appreciated.

Split this one with Trevor (lynx1245). Poured into a couple of snifters.

Appearance: Pours out very dark and thick. A small, tight, brown, creamy head forms at the top of each snifter, amounting to about a half inch inch in height. Brown yeast flakes sit at the bottom each glass. No light passes through the body; absolutely opaque. Head soon decays to a creamy halo; leaves stringy, ring-like, lacing as it descends down the snifter.

Smell: Dark roast coffee - more like mocha, dark chocolate, roasted malt, molasses, and bitter earthy hops.

Taste: Roasted malt, espresso, cream, molasses, alcohol, and oily, piney hops (especially in the finish). Yum.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, warm, dry, full, and roasty. Medium carbonation. That's about as succinctly as I can put it. Very enjoyable.

Drinkability: A little harsh at times and definitely on the heavy side, but otherwise delicious. If you spot this, buy it.

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Photo of BeerTruth
3.15/5  rDev -22%
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.7/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours black with a firm off-tan head, good lacing and head retention.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans/espresso, rich.

T: Hops hit immediately, then a decadent dark chocolate comes in with a bitter espresso attack. Great hoppy finish and balanced sweetness overall. Chocolate cake in a glass to an extent, I loved it.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, rich, soft carbonation.

D: Kern River knocked it out of the park on this one, this beer is phenomenal, I'm am thoroughly impressed with the first two ales I've had from them, I must now go to Hi-Times as they are my only supplier of these guys.

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Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured dark, dark brown, maybe see-through black with red edges. Flat tan head, moderate lacing. Chocolate and burnt malt aroma. Claims Chinook and Cascade hops, but the aroma is more veggie than resin. Smooth, slick mouthfeel which compliments the smooth taste. Caramel and chocolate are dominant but it remains sweet rather than bitter. No soy sauce, nice. Again, I'n not feeling the hops, which is probably good. Kern River has something going here. Buttery coffee finish with a little cream. Liked it.

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Photo of Zorro
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear very dark brown colored ale with a tall brown head. This is the nearest thing to light proof you can see through.

Strong chocolate and patent malt, smells a bit like burned chocolate cake. Sweet smelling this is quite cake like in smell.

Starts out sweet and bitter with a strong charred malt taste. Sweet than it seems at first this is mostly char with hints of chocolate and caramel. Hops stay basically hidden here.

Full mouthfeel.

Do you like sweet and bitter beer with a lace of chocolate? The you will like this. I give this an OK+ rating.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased from Hi-Times Wines.

This pours from 22oz bottle a near pitch black with a 1 finger head of tan foam.

The smell is of roasted malt, some notes of chocolate and sweet malt, maybe a touch of coffee. It doesn't really have a big and bold nose so it takes quite a few whiffs to draw out what's there.

The taste is more assertive. I get notes of coffee, chocolate, light caramel malt for some sweetness, and some coffee and hop bitterness that comes out near and through the finish. The alcohol is noticeable as I get some warming during and after the swallow but it isn't overpowering by any stretch of the imagination.

Medium bodied, I'd say for the most part, bordering on full at times and at others..almost light(weird?), with a lightish amount of carbonation.

Drinkability? Doing slow sips is the ticket for this one but that can be said for most of the Impy Stouts out there so no big deal. This is a very good all around example of the style.

Oh and lacing is not a strong point but the head retention is above average.

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Photo of rallison
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasantly surprised by this one.

Nice tan head that leaves some lacing against a rich but not super thick black body.

Chocolate and light roast in the nose. This leads into a smooth, deceptively easy to drink imperial stout. Lots of soft chocolate, light roast, smooth coffee notes in the taste. Oats help to give this a luscious body. Not very complex, but very nice. I want to see more imperial stouts use some oats to soften the body like you see here. Light hop presence.

All in all, nicely done. Not amazing, but very pleasant and definitely something I would drink again.

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4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours with the darkness of chocolate syrup only slightly less thick setting pitch black in the glass. Head reaches nearly two fingers of milk chocolate brown with very solid staying power. Nose really gets the mouth watering with a nice mix of robust coco and soft smokey feel. That balance follows nicely into the taste with first sip. Toasty chocolaty tones are full and all over the tongue. ice dryness teams with hints of vanilla, nuttiness and creamy caramelized malts. Mouthfeel is thick and shows some malty thickness with ending dryness. Super drinkable, big, bold yet approachable. Realy hard to classify, somewhat dry stout, a bit of sweet stout, maybe even American double stout. Either way, very good stuff.

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Photo of PhiloPsych
4.57/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear (not hazy) cola brown/black in the bottle with a light, fluffy chocolate mousse head. Smell is classic stout--roasted malt, chocolate, sweet, good. Creamy mouthfeel and creamy taste, very nice. This is a good beer. This is the first beer from Kern River that I've tried, and it's a hit. There is a chocolate and blueberry finish that I really, really like. The aftertaste is real good, too. I've had some big stouts lately that are overdone in various ways--nothing is overdone here. A very well put together beer.

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Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to solomon for this brew in a trade. Cheers! Pours jet black and with a very thin head. Smells of malt & coffee. Taste is an enjoyable mix of roasted malt and coffee. Mouthfeel is very smooth. It takes a few sips to detect the etoh but it is in there. This is a very good American Stout.


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

Thanks to Solomon420 for sending this want of mine.

Pours a dark dark brown/black color with a very thin wispy head.

Smell is predominately coffee and more coffee, bit of a dark chocolate aroma is present along with a good amount of roasted malt.

Taste is like bitter coffee right off the bat and as an aftertaste as well, any chocolate presence is minimal in the taste, certainly a pretty good coffee stout, so just go in expecting coffee, coffee and coffee.

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Photo of Overlord
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Really reminds me of Great Divide's Yeti Stout.

Pours a dark brownish black with little to no off-white head. Smells roasty, with coffee and chocolate ... and roastiness.

Taste is primarily roasted malt, with a big hop kick that came out of nowhere. The chocolate is definitely muted, but it's there, along with bitter coffee and some sweet caramel/cocoa notes.

Surprisingly good. Thanks to Solomon for the extra, and I'll keep an eye out for this.

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Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to CentralCoastGuy for this one.

Served at cellar temp from a 22 oz bomber into a Boston lager glass.

First nose was a surprising hint of pilsner or other light grain, mixed with a bit of roastiness and some pungent hops.

Poured aggressively trying to build up some head, but didn't manage more than a 1/4" tan cap of fine bubbles which quickly dissipated. Left notable lacing all the way down the glass. Color is jet black and opaque, maybe a hint of dark chocolate brown at the edge.

As it warms up, chocolate, coffee and a touch of smoke layer with some west coast hops, but [too] subtle. No hint of alcohol in this one, and seems like a lot of the aroma got boiled off.

Flavor is chocolatey and sweet, reminding me of a strong milk stout. Also a hint of smoke or licorice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is slick, with somewhat thin body and modest carbonation. Moderately low bitterness. Well balanced.

Drinkability is good. I think it would do very well on a nitro tap. This went really well with dinner (hot dogs and spicy chips). Nice American stout from little Kern River Brewing, who claims their Class V Stout is not for the timid!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.67/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a black body with a thin, quickly dissipating off-white head.

Smell: Dark malt aroma with notes of chocolate, licorice, and roasted grains.

Taste: Dark maltiness with a high degree of roastiness and a solid semi-sweet chocolate flavor. Hint of licorice. Some earthy hop bitterness, but the roast really provides the balance to the medium sweetness. Touch of acidity. Dry finish with a lingering roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: While I wouldn't exactly say it's "the greatest beer I have ever tasted", it is quite a solid stout.

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Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
4.04 out of 5 based on 498 ratings.
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