Class V Stout | Kern River Brewing Company

505 Ratings
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

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Ratings: 505 |  Reviews: 196
Photo of pmarlowe
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tulip glass.

A: Pours dark coffee brown with two and a half fingers of dense, fluffy, light khaki/cream-colored head, which dissolves very slowly leaving a pretty lacing on the glass.

S: Roasted malt and dry wood (not oak), big fresh smell, opening up into soft cream and vanilla

T: Dark roast coffee and roasted malt, some burnt notes, woody, and some vanilla, finishing with smooth dark chocolate. Nice.

M: Very light carbonation and rich with full body. Quite hefty. Would be well served with more carbonation.

O: Solid, but could be better. I like that it's not one dimensional. Good everyday stout.

The Class X (bba version) was a little better, and the Class V on cask with cocoa nibs and vanilla was quite an improvement on this.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look: Black as night with a beautiful 1 inch head and great retention with some nice lacing

Smell: Great roasted coffee and chocolate on the nose

Taste: Large amounts of roasted malt in the foreground that masks a lot of the other flavors of the beer. There are you typical coffee and chocolate notes but they are a bit muted by the roasted malt and ash notes

Mouthfeel: Full body and mild carbonation and maybe a touch dry

Overall: Real good beer and for $4.99 a bomber it's a great

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Photo of soughtbygod
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours dark black like most stouts but it has good head retention, nice 2 to 3 finger head. the smell is of vanilla and oak maybe some smoke. the thing i love most about this beer is that it drinks very well 40 to 55 degrees all the way through releasing different flavors and depths of complexity. probably one of my favorite stouts. the mouthfeel is smooth a little thin for a stout but i suppose that is why this is so drinkable. awesome beer.

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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.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, shared at WLV Pig Roast.

A - Pours a darker brown color, tan frothy head, spotty lacing, thin cap.

S - Nice level of roast, chocolate, slight sugary sweetness, slight expresso bean note in there as well. Really enjoy the roast and light sweetness here, very solid.

T - Roast, dark chocolate, coffee, slight burnt sugars. Not quite as big as I'm used to my Imperial Stouts, but the roast and dark chocolate notes are really enjoyable. The alcohol is barley noticeable, if at all.

M - Medium to full (perhaps a bit too thin), good carbonation, smooth, creamy finish.

O - An excellent Imperial Stout that was so easy to drink. Had a couple of pours from the bottle and I think it was a hit with everyone. I have one bottle left that I will open soon, as good as it is drinking now. Recommend.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Black colored beer with a tan head that faded to a solid ring.

S - Chocolate, roast, a bit of coffee. It's a decently roasted smelling stout that I find appealing.

T - A lot of good flavors. Chocolate, some coffee, roast, bit of molasses are all in there. A good amount of flavor for the 8.5%. I'd like to see them pump it up a little more and throw it into a Rye barrel.

M - Medium bodied, carbonated, slightly thin.

O - Good stout, another quality beer by Kern. Only real complaint was the mouthfeel, if they could thicken it up a bit it'd be great.

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Photo of UnknownKoger
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought from Whole Foods and poured into a tulip. I'm familiar with a few Kern River beers, so I now it's going to be good.

Pour is good. Well carbonated. Appearance is dark with a slight hint of brown. Looks like coffee. Thin head quickly dissolves.

Smell gives away hints of coffee, semi-sweet chocolate. It tastes fantastic. This is definitely not your average imperial stout (reading that it's a blend of oatmeal and milk stouts makes more sense). The taste is mildly sweet. The chinook and cascade hops linger in the background to balance out the maltiness. The chocolate is there. Very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is great due to the carbonation. This is an easy drinking beer, even though the bottle warns it's not for the timid.

Overall, this is a fantastic brew from KRBC. I would absolutely buy this again.

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Photo of jeff1973
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Bruery tulip. Got from Farmer's Harvest (Huntington Beach, CA) for $4.89.

A - Black, opaque. Tan head leaves really good lacing.

S - Roasted malt, bitter chocolate, earthy, slight bit of cherries.

T - Smooooth!!! I know that is not a taste, but it is the first thing I noticed. Cherry Kool-aid (not sweet though and in a good way), bitter chocolate, then a nice bitter roasted malt and dries out nicely (I am assuming from the good amout of hops). Well balanced.

M - Medium carbonation. Medium low body. Creates a very smooth beer.

D - Medium high and dangerously so! Goes down way too easy for a 8.5%ABV beer.

Great beer. Great taste. Great drinkability. Great price!! My new "go to" stout.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.36/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Sideswipe I think...
Served in pint glasses at a byob Thai place I like.

This is a tasty stout. It really works well. The coffee and cocoa notes come through with a good roasty malt base holding things together. There is an interesting apricoty citrus hop quality on the back end. The beer is pretty light, which makes it slightly easier to drink.
This drinks quite nicely; the flavor is well-balanced and delicious.
The beer is dark, brown with red hues. Three fingers of awesome thick head. Nice retention.
Very nice beer.

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Photo of iadler
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a chalice

A- Pours a deep brown with a reddish hue. A two finger mocha head slowly dissipates leaving some webs of lacing behind

S- Baking chocolate, roasted malt, faint espresso beans. Simple but a very pleasant aroma.

T- Follows the aroma with baking chocolate, roasted malt and coffee. No sign of the hops, but this bottle is 8+ months old.

M- Low to medium carbonation and medium body. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel that finishes dry a bit bitter with chocolate and coffee beans. The 8.5% warms the throat, but is masked fairly well.

O- There wasn't anything that made this stand out, but it was a very well executed beer that was very smooth and easy to drink. First non-IPA I've from Kern and they continue to impress me.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: Class V Stout is a molasses coffee black color with a creamy tan head. A little bit of lace is left and the head relaxes to a ring as the glass progresses.

Smell: Lots of dark chocolate and chocolate malt. Roasted malt comes in right behind. Very good, but very simple.

Taste: The flavor follows the nose. Tons of dark chocolate and chocolate malt. This creates a complexity in the chocolate flavor. Sweet, bitter, and smooth. A little bit of coffee comes in at the end.

Mouthfeel: A little bit of booze on the tongue. Mostly sticky and sweet, but there is an evening bitterness toward the end of each sip. Full bodied with tightly wound creamy carbonation.

Overall: The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I really enjoyed this.

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Photo of bashiba
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep dark mahagony brrown with a lingering off white head.

The smell is ver full, rich chocolate and roasted barley goodness a little bit of sweet alcohol coming through.

Nice depth of flavor, a big hit of smoked dark malts with layers of sweet dark friuts comingg through, with some alcohol sweetness, has a some nice anise and light minty notes in the finish.

The mouthfeel is thick and oily with very low carbonation.

Very nice imperial stout, good compexity.

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Photo of billab914
3.86/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into my Stone IRS glass. It poured black in color with a foamy, tan head filling the top two inches of the glass. Very nice head retention and lacing on the glass as I drank it.

The aroma has a smooth, milk chocolaty flavor to it. I get a little bit of a citrusy hoppiness out of it as well. It's pretty reserved on the bitter, roastiness in the aroma considering how much of that comes through in the taste.

I get a lot of bitter-sweet and dark chocolate coming through in the taste. I get some roasty, slightly burnt, bitter coffee like flavors coming out more towards the finish. Some hoppiness is noticeable as well. Pretty taste and flavorful stout overall.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being a little above average. Overall it was a pretty tasty and flavorful beer. I really liked the roasty, bitter chocolate flavors it brought. Very drinkable imperial stout overall.

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Photo of IdrinkGas
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with a couple fingers of head. Not much retention. A little swirl refreshes the head nicely.

Sweet chocolate malts, lactose, oat & roasted grains.

I get bakers chocolate then some dark fruit followed by cocoa powder and some hops in the finish.

Not as viscous as most other Imperial Stouts and carbonation was a little light.

Overall its a solid stout.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 22 ounce bomber from barfdiggs; thanks Ward! Into a Deschutes tulip glass...

A dark brown, nearly black body with mahogany hues near the edges of the stream that leaps forth out of the neck of the bottle. The tulip glass helps it develop two finger’s worth of light beige head that dissipates to a ring and patches of bubbles over the course of a minute. It leaves a small amount of wet lacing in its wake. The first scent is briefly of roasted malts and grain, but a sweet, sugary scent soon takes over that is reminiscent of organic honey. Not expected, but interesting and welcomed. Dark fruits are also evoked in the middle of the nose, and it finishes with some mocha and coffee notes. The taste begins with a thin, sugary, honey sensation before the thick, roasted coffee ground tasted rushes in and takes over. These, along with traces of chocolate dominate the middle of the taste, but it finishes on the lighter side with some fruity, almost citrusy esters. Seems a bit odd for the "imperial" style, but is a refreshing take on it none-the-less. Mouth is very smooth throughout, with slightly less than average carbonation, but a decently dry finish that keeps you coming back for more. I was happy it didn't leave a sticky, resin-like layer in the mouth as the sugars in the nose had led me to believe was possible. Overall, an interesting, medium to light (dare I say) bodied stout that is certainly worth a try if you have the chance.

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Photo of MrVonzipper
4.88/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pitch black color with no penetrable light. Large, dense foamy tan head with excellent retention and lacing.

Nice mocha, coffee, rich roasted malt and faint bourbon notes on the nose.

Flavors are great and robust with excellent balance. Nice mocha and dark chocolate, coffee and deep dark malt notes.

Full bodied but not heavy at all. Very nice. Just a touch dry. Med-high carbonation but a nice creamy carbonation.

Overall, Just a perfect imperial stout especially for the value. IMO this and Stone IRS are absolutely the best overall stouts around especially for the price. Excellent from nose to flavor and mouth. Bright and robust. Better that many big special released imperials I've had.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bottle.

A - Pours a very liquid dark brown color that highlights some amber colored edges. THe head is about 1 inch tall and it is a light tan color. It is quite dense and recedes at a slightly quicker pace than other stouts. There is some slight sticky lacing on the sides of the glass.

S - Very grainy stout. Tons of bready notes and toasty malt grain. There is some slight caramel notes as well initially. There is some mild milk chocolate notes with some powdery notes present. There is also some nice oat character to it.

T & M - The taste starts off surprisingly light. There is some nice toasted and roasted malt notes that then have some slight coffee notes. There is also some nice powder chocolate notes. There is some oats present int he flavor which make it a bit more fluffy and less viscous. The flavor has some nice slight caramel before some big hop character comes in a subdues the sweetness. Good brew but I don't need the hops that bad. The mouthfeel is nice and medium-full with some nice carbonation to it.

O - Good brew. Not my favorite stout. It is a bit too hoppy and not malty enough. Still its pretty good. With some slight vanilla hints as it warms as well.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.82/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Thanks to Dobby for this.

4.0 A: Black color. Nearly three fingers of frothy light brown head. Retention is decent and lots of non-uniform lacing is left.

4.5 S: Pleasant aroma going on here. This isn't a huge, bold imperial stout, but rather a sleek and seductive, more drinkable brew. Good amount of chocolate foremost with coffee lingering in the background. Mild roastiness and moderate caramel. Then come the hops. This is hopped at a well above average rate. The contribution is somewhere between citrusy and floral. Everything fits together quite nicely.

3.5 T: The chocolate is back and again in ample proportions. Unfortunately so are the hops. I've never been a fan of hoppy stouts or black IPAs and this is no different. However, I will admit that this beer incorporates the dark malts and hops better than most. Ever so light coffee with lots of caramel. Too much hop bitterness. Citrusy and earthy hop flavor. Not bad for what it is, but still not very pleasing.

4.0 M: Medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Good creaminess for the body and ABV. Smooth with a hop flavor aftertaste.

3.5 D: I really wish I could try this beer without the excessive hops. The chocolate flavor in this is really nice and without the hops I could have enjoyed the hell out of this. Oh well, so it goes.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Port Brewing pint glass...

A - Pours a deep brown/black with a two finger light brown forthy head. Head retention isn't the best, but there is lots of sexy lacing to be had...

S - Dark roasted malts, chocolate, and some sweet malts...

T - Milk chocolate, coffee, and some sweet toffee. Not as roasty as nose led on, but there are still some roasted malts to be tatsted. Lingering chocolate covers most of the hop presence in the finish, but there are some mild hoppy notes to be tasted. This one is rich and smooth. Abv is very well hidden...

M - A little thin for the style, but still has a rich and creamy feel. On the higher end of medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation...

O - A little light on the mouthfeel, and abv is a little low for the style, but for the price this is a solid brew. Definitely something I will be revisiting in the near future...


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Photo of seamunkie
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: nice very dark brown with a thick one and a half fingers plus of tan head dissipated to to a thin film with wonderful lacing on the inside of my delirium tremens tulip.

S: smells of coffee and chocolate light vanilla like notes plus notes of dark bitter malts and some alcohol is notable

T: flavorful early notes of smooth chocolate and fleeting vanilla followed by roasty flavors accompanied by a slight booziness and coffee flavors

M: smooth and and easy with pleasant carbonation

O: very enjoyable with a flavor big enough to be interesting and not overwhelming.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 06/25/11 notes. Bottle shared by nmann08; thanks Nate. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into my Bruery tulip.

a - Pours a murky, very dark brown color, with one finger of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, light citrus hops, and floral hops. More hops than I was expecting.

t - Tastes of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, citrus hops, floral hops, and nuts. A lot more citrus than the nose, and pretty hoppy for a stout.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Nice creamy body.

o - Overall a nice, hoppy stout; a lot more hops than I was expecting. Lots of roasted and chocolate notes mixing with citrus. Would have it again.

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Photo of biegaman
4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

If you have something that needs hiding, I can promise no one will spot it behind a glass of Class V Stout; the beer has an unwaveringly black colour and staunch, enduring opacity. Plus its head is thick and lathery enough to conceal pretty much anything. The lacing it leaves sparkles, despite the fact that the foam itself is of a wickedly dark brown tone.

Undisturbed, the bouquet seems a little unexciting, but swirl that sucker around a bit and there turns out to be plenty of black forest cake and coffee dessert to go around. Enough chocolate brownie character surfaces to assume the maltiness overpowers the alcohol, although it definitely has the voltage to set it apart as a *double* stout.

Decadent, dark notes of chocolate, coffee and roasted malts are cut with a spritz of citrus, but no leafy, spicy or floral notes factor in. Still, those hops really lighten the load; like a quality cheesecake, it's the kind of thing that would cause calorie-counters to faint, but it's astonishingly light and easy to down considering how sinfully rich its flavours are.

Class V Stout has the flavour of dark chocolate without the bitterness, the taste of coffee without the bean astringency, a pleasantly fruity hoppiness without any acidity and the character of a double stout without the alcohol presence. It is full and decadent in the mouth, like a big slice of black forest cake. Guinness drinkers should feel downright cheated.

A lot of American brewers won't bother with double/imperial stouts anymore unless they're jacked-up to a ridiculously high gravity and aged in a barrel. They need us to keep drinking the cool-aid for their products to keep selling; Kern River reminds us that stouts that are just stouts can be every bit as gratifying. This is a simple yet tremendously enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Cavery
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared with Klym on a sweet Sunday afternoon.

Poured into a Stone Nonic.

A: Octopus ink with some micro bubble foam latching onto the glass. A solid 1 1/2 finger head collapses to reveal flanges of vertical lacing. A thin filmy head remains as the beer warms. A promising series of aesthetics!

S: smells of light coffee creamers and vanilla extract. There's an ambiguous seasoning, bay leaf? Nutmeg and dark tree barks come to mind.

T: Wham! Delicate dark chocolate brownie frosting cracks to reveal the mealy oat body, Soy creamer keeps the theme of low glycemic-index beer going. It's really not so sweet at all, a shadow of dark bitterness ventures into the realm of savory. cloves with maybe some peppercorns? Very interesting! A subtle and refined offering.

M: Such a soft mouth-feel. It is satin in the mouth, featuring some of the tiniest bubbles tickling the tongue. Just a precious sensation to match the anti-sweet theme.

O: All in all really good, but how is this not an oatmeal stout? I need to grab the bottle. Very good but what in the heck, quite a bit of a curve ball. For the sake of authenticity I need to re-evaluate this. My head is spinning with confusion.

Edit- This must be an imperial oatmeal stout, I maintained my original review with that in mind. The imperial/double Stout label threw off my initial review.

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Photo of Klym
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared yet again with Cavery. Poured into a stone nonic.

A: This is about as dark a brown as you can get without being truly black, and even not calling it black is more of an intuitive judgment than it is a clear discernment. Very frothy head with brown-sugar colored bubbles.

S: Lots of chocolate and oatmeal in the nose. There's a tinge of sourness like a near-rotten milk, but it's not as offputting as one would expect.

T: Plenty of milk chocolate, oatmeal, roasted nuts with an aftertaste like a burnt steak crust. Chocolate really dominates this for me, one of the most accentuated chocolate tastes I've had in any type of stout, and the roasted nut taste is full, multi-layered and delicious. Very solid taste, straight-forward.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and frothy which is right as I think it should be. I have no qualms with it but also feel hesitant to say it couldn't be improved.

O: A solid,delicious beer but lacks complexity in flavor and smell. I could see this being a go-to beer for someone but I can't imagine it hitting the top of many seasoned peoples' lists.

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Photo of sendsilk
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle reviewed from notes.

Nice dark pour looks and smells good. Taste reminds me more of a porter. Actually, it tastes VERY much like Jose Marti Porter which I love. The mouthfeel is a little weak for a dark stout for me. I would drink this again but expect it to be a little lighter on the flavor and mouthfeel Sort of bordering on a milk stout.

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Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Company
4.05 out of 5 based on 505 ratings.
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