Rail, La Spar
Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Style:
American Stout
ABV:
8.5%
Score:
86
Avg:
3.82 | pDev: 7.33%
Reviews:
10
Ratings:
43
From:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
 
Michigan, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  0
Gots
  10
SCORE
86
Very Good
Notes: A stout brewed with sarsaparilla root and vanilla beans.
Reviews: 10 | Ratings: 43 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Hayes86:
Photo of Hayes86
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

More User Reviews:
Photo of woodychandler
3.86/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Having just ended a massive horizontal with and from New Belgium, I need to reorient myself & get my bearings. I was recently at the FGBS where this just hit the shelves & they were kind enough to break a sixer into singles so that I could chip into my already-conducted Dark Horse horizontal. We were talking about it until it suddenly dawned on me that the name is a partial anagram of one of its principal adjunct ingredients & then we had a good laugh! Viva Dark Horse Nation!

From the bottle: "Stout brewed with Sarsaparilla Root and Vanilla Beans".

An absolutely fresh bottle + an Attic Treasures glass (expendable) = Pop! & pour. In other words, an aggro pour following the opening of the bottle. This is how the fun begins. As you long as you find the quick and uncontrollable rise of two fingers of foamy, deep-brown head above a rapid pseudo-cascade to be fun, you'll be in business. I found myself breaking out in a cold sweat until it suddenly stopped & the head seemed to off-gas in a big burp and fall to a skim on the surface. Color was jet-Black/Opaque (SRM = 44) & I have a feeling that it was the edge of a black hole as time seemed to slow down & stop. Oh, wait, I just need to change the battery in my watch. Don't' panic! Nose made me wonder about Sarsaparilla pop when I was a kid & whether it was artificially flavored. This was pungent with a licorice-anise bitterness, cut by a vanilla sweetness. This should be good! Mouthfeel was thick, full & creamy. Taste was an interesting admixture of anise sharpness smoothed out by a light vanilla sweetness. That said, this was one of those beers for which a little was going to go a long way. The Sarsaparilla Root, while a unique adjunct, was rather overwhelming. Finish was dry, mainly thanks to the spices. I kept thinking of the Guinness series of Antwerpen, West Indies & Foreign Extra as I was drinking this beer. If you really dig any/all of them, this will be your speed. For me, it was a mere detour. Onward!

 1,988 characters

Photo of Mitchster
4.26/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

$1.99 for a 12oz at BevCo. Brewed with sasparilla root and vanilla beans. 8.5% ABV.

Pours out to a limpid jet black despite a vigorous pour, minimal to absent very dark brown head, low carbonation. The nose is quite nice, tons of black walnut, chalk, smooth roast character, french roast, bitter chocolate. The mouthfeel is very very smooth, slick, oily, dense bodied. The taste is great. Lots of black walnut, malt forward, no astringency but plenty of roast, acidity is well restrained, plenty of herbal hops but moderate bitterness, supremely balanced. The sasparilla and vanilla are subtle notes in the background of a very well brewed stout. I wouldn't guess that it was brewed with them. Tasters are mentioning overwhelming root beer, but I'm not getting that AT ALL. Not your fathers root beer? Not even remotely close. That's a syrupy sugar bomb. This is a proper stout. It's more akin to their special reserve black beer or plead the 5th.

Dark horse are masters of the stout. This beer is even more evidence of that assertion. Wonderful. Go get some.

 1,079 characters

Photo of jzeilinger
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of 2beerdogs
3.54/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of rab53
3.15/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of chicagoish
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of szmnnl99
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of chinchill
3.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle with a bottling date of 22 January 2017.
Pours with a black body topped by a very weak beige head. Spotty lacing.
Aroma: fruit cake and black bread with vanilla.
Flavor: moderate in strength. Earthy dark roasted grains, with hops, dark bread, light smoke and coffee. Mildly bitter.

Overall: a robust, modestly distinctive stout. Improves and strengthens with warming. Well hidden alcohol.

 405 characters

Photo of tone77
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of smoke, chocolate, a touch of sarsaparilla. Taste is smokey, licorice, sarsaparilla, alcohol is well hidden. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an enjoyable beer.

 261 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of whatname
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of StoutHunter
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I got a bottle of Dark Horse's Rail La Spar for $2.09 at The Lager Mill. It's been a little while since I've had a new beer from Dark Horse and I'm interested to see what they can do with this one, so lets see how it goes. 2017 Vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks ok, it's a little weird and it's not the most eye catching. It poured a nice dark black color that didn't let any light come through and it had a fingers worth of creamy darker tan head that died down to a thin ring that eventually faded away and it left some spotty lacing behind. This is a good looking stout, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a slightly higher amount of medium sweetness and it's on the lighter side, it starts off with a sarsaparilla root being the first to show up, it's a little on the lighter side and it imparts an aroma that's a little similar to root beer and it's followed by the vanilla bean which is noticeable. Up next comes a little bit of a cola aroma that goes into the malts which imparts some dark malts, roasted malt, slightly charred and sweet malt aromas. Towards the end there's a little English ale yeast showing up with some marshmallow like sweetness showing up at the end. This beer had a decent aroma, but it was lighter than I was expecting and not nearly as bold as I thought it should be.

T- The taste seems to be similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness with the malts being the first to show up and they impart all the same malty aspects that they did in the aroma with more dark chocolate coming through this time. Up next comes the root which imparts more of herbal and slightly ginger like flavor and it's a lighter than it was in the aroma and it's followed by the vanilla which is also a little lighter than it was in the aroma. On the finish there's a higher amount of medium bitterness with some more sweetness and it has a vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted malt and charred malt aftertaste. This is a nice tasting Stout, but I don't feel like the special ingredients are showcased well.

M- A little smooth, velvety, a little rich, a little creamy, a little chewy, full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is pretty nice and it works well with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and it's a solid example of the style, it's not bad at all, but I just don't think it does a great job at living up to it's description. This beer had ok drinkability, one is enough for me, I don't think I would want more than that. What I like the most about this beer is the mouthfeel and appearance, they are both good and the highlights of this beer. What I like the least about this beer is the aroma and the fact that the key ingredients aren't showcased that well. I don't think I would buy this beer again, but I wouldn't turn one down and I can't say it's must try, but if you want a sweeter stout with a little bit of an herbal flavor than it's worth taking a chance on. All in all I liked this beer, but I didn't love it and I think with some work on the sweetness and getting those key flavors to shine through and this could be a pretty good beer. It's not a favorite Dark Horse beer and it's a little above average for the style. Solid job guys, but this one has the potential to be better.

 3,376 characters

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/22/2017. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, mint, caramel, toasted dark bread, herbal, wood, light licorice/smoke, and roast/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and vanilla/sarsaparilla root notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, mint, caramel, toasted dark bread, herbal, wood, light licorice/smoke, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, mint, caramel, toasted dark bread, herbal, wood, light licorice/smoke, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and vanilla/sarsaparilla root flavors; with a great roasted bitter/sweet balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Minimal roasted dryness. Light-medium carbonation and medium body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and slightly sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Thinner than expected for the ABV, but really silky/velvety on mouthfeel to make up for it. Zero warming alcohol for 8.5%. Overall this is a very nice spiced stout. All around nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and vanilla/sarsaparilla root flavors; very smooth and easy to drink for the ABV. A lot less roasty, charred, and drying than usual for their stouts, but it really helps showcase the spice flavors; while still remaining roasty enough to feel like a stout. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,799 characters

Photo of RAFH
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of vfgccp
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of deonreds
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Giggy
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of CreightonSM
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Zaphog
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Taphouse_Traveler
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of HardyA
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of DanGeo
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mcrawford
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Rail, La Spar from Dark Horse Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 43 ratings