Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th | Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5thDark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels.

Added by MbpBugeye on 07-25-2010

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Reviews: 433 | Ratings: 3,088
Photo of SerialTicker
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

'14 Vintage bottle given to me unexpectedly by a craft beer enthusiast (Aaron <3). Haven't had this before because, for obvious reasons, I've never seen it anywhere. Heard great things, so I'm expecting great things. I wonder how this will be with 2-3 years on it (if you include how long it was in the barrel). Bbl #100.

Appearance: Aggressive-ish pour didn't do a whole lot at all for a head. Tiny tan ring on top of the beer, but that's it. In the glass, the beer looks black and viscous. Plays the part of a BBA'd imperial stout. (4.25/5)

Smell: In a word... mellow, I guess. Great aroma, but all a bit subdued. Maybe a preferred word would be balanced. I'm making it sound like a bummer. Nice bourbon, vanilla, and oak nose, with some coffee. There's a faint amount of booze as well, and quite a bit of sweetness. Right now, I think this may be past its prime just because its aroma is on the quiet side. I may also be crazy. Regardless, this stuff smells incredible. (4.75/5)

Taste/feel: Starts off with a rich roasted coffee flavor with a bit of chocolate until mid-sip where more depth/the barrel starts to come through and stay until the finish -- very pleasant and usual BBA'd flavors come in, like the barrel itself, bourbon, and vanilla. I get a little plain cake doughnut in there on the back end too, which is something I pick up occasionally in the style. The alcohol is exceptionally well-hidden, no doubt helped by the age on this bottle -- I don't taste or feel much alcohol at all. This is impressive to me just because I've yet to personally have a BBA'd imperial stout that was aged this long. The mouthfeel on this isn't ideal at first, but it's close. It goes in feeling a little thin with an unexpected fizz of carbonation, but as it sits on the tongue, it eventually starts to thicken and slicken (not a word, my apologies) up. Delicious as all hell. (4.75/5, 4.5/5)

The more I drink this, the more I believe the time to drink the '14 Vintage is NOW. There is no alcohol to really note, and the flavors are not going to randomly improve with more age. If you have any '14, drink it up or trade it up or give it up now so everybody is happy. This is truly a remarkable BBA'd stout. The way the age (presumably, given some reviews of fresher bottles) has mellowed this beer out has made it one hell of a delicious beer. I wish I had a lot more of this stuff, but I can't thank Aaron enough for this one bottle. If you have the opportunity to buy or trade for it, certainly do... just remember to not sit on your bottles for too long. Beer is meant for you to consume, not store in a shoe box in your bedroom.


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Photo of hardysf
4.55/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This pours like a thick black sludge. Pours with a nice head, that vanishes quickly. No hints of lacing. A bit of foam can be stirred up with a swish of the glass. The nose on this beer is quite good. Loads of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, wood, and some alcohol. Very pungent. The taste is of fudge and coffee. Big Chocolate bomb here. There are slight hints of vanilla and some oak, maybe some bark. Not overly sweet at all. Love the bitterness in this one. The finish is pretty thick and luscious, but could be a little more full. This is truly a great beer though. Do not drink this one below 45 degrees as the flavors and texture really come out as it gets closer to room temp.

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Photo of ragnar3
4.43/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage poured into a teku. Roasty, chocolate, bourbon and more coffee than anticipated in this one. The alcohol is more apparent than other BA stouts but was not overwhelming. Very enjoyable overall.

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Photo of Kraj30
4.28/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

had two 8oz drafts... i has very light bourbon smell... a little thing for my liking.. vanilla and bourbon are on the taste but it is not very strong.. like to have a bottle or older bottle because this was very young

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Photo of Marius
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

33 cl bottle, 2014 vintage, sipped early 2016. Pitch black pour, with a small espresso head that gives way to a thin lacing. Smells of maple syrup, vanilla, bourbon, milk chocolate, cocoa, barrel sourness, caramel fudge and roasted malts. The taste is sweet, bitter and a bit sour, with notes of sweet bourbon, dark cherries, vanilla, cocoa and dark chocolate. The alcohol is quite present, but not too annoying. Medium to full bodied, with a sticky sweet aftertaste.

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Photo of superspak
4.52/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, 2014 vintage bottling. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1 finger dense dark brown head with great retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of huge dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toffee, biscuit, nuttiness, bourbon, vanilla, toasted oak, light smoke/char, light licorice/raisin, and roast/toasted earthiness. Incredible aromas with fantastic balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of huge dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toffee, biscuit, nuttiness, bourbon, vanilla, toasted oak, light smoke/char, light licorice/raisin, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light roasted bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toffee, biscuit, nuttiness, bourbon, vanilla, toasted oak, light smoke/char, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with an awesome roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is incredible. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is a world class barrel aged imperial stout! All around incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the big ABV. The barrel integration and balance was absolutely spot on. There was no additional booziness or warming alcohol vs the base beer of similar age; and you still get plenty of the barrel flavor characteristics that aren’t overwhelming to the base stout at all. An insanely amazing offering.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Super black, like 2% head by volume. Aroma was blended well between bourbon, wood and vanilla. A little bit or roast.

Very smooth drinking experience. More sweet than the base version it seems. Very well balanced in every way. This beer keeps getting better it seems. Very well made big barrel aged stout, and in a convenient 12oz format too.

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.56/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

'15 version poured into a Duvel

Even for a barrel aged beer, I was a little disappointed in the amount of head produced with a hard pour straight down the middle. It still looks very nice otherwise. Dark and fairly viscous.

Smells incredible! Tons of milk chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, light coconut, roasted barley. Not really hot at all for a very fresh batch.

The flavor basically lives up to the expectations. It does drink a little hotter than it smelled, but not bad.Everything else is there. A bunch of bourbon character without being overpowering at all. Lots of oak and molasses.

I am really impressed with the body. It didn't seem to lose any of that fullness during the aging process.

This is one of the better barrel aged stouts out there which isn't a surprise because the base beer is so solid. Every bit as good as I expected

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Photo of stakem
3.98/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage, silver wax 12oz bottle poured into a tulip. The brew appears black with a mocha head that fades leaving string lace.

Aroma has a bit of meaty thing going on then bourbon, caramel and coconut. Some earth and char with plenty of booze.

This is a boozy tasting brew with roast, earth and a surprising amount of coconut. A little solvent then slight caramel and vanilla.

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. Pretty good stuff that has really not decreased in intensity for the 2 years it has been aging. I see what all the buzz is about now but if I had more bottles id likely age them even longer.

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Photo of dorianmarley
4.64/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance is rich black with no head but some lacing.

Nose is sweet and dusty, with toasted malt, dark chocolate, biscuit, oak.

Taste is luxurious. Chewy chocolate, nutty oak, buttered rum, cashew. Alcohol tingle throughout.

Mouthfeel is velvety. Light carbonation.

Overall, this is wonderful.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.51/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Quick review:
Inky to oily pour, head struggles to make appearance. Thin ring of brown head, swirl shows carbonation is present.
Initial nose banana cream pie, but cold beer. Chocolate/coconut/coffee nicely balanced but light in scent, mid-pour. Little more cocoa on a warm beer.

Taste is a nice balance of dark chocolate brownie, banilla, coffee powder. Rich flavors, blended well. Bourbon and wood come in late, as an accent. True stout flavors become more prominent on a warmer beer, but flavor lingers more as well.
Lighter beer the expected, and early on the flavors faded too fast. Warmth added some coating to the flavor, but also just a little chalkiness.

Really enjoyed this beer, including how it changed a little as it warmed. More true to a stout than say a BCBS, a little smoother but less bold than say a BBB. Not something to pass up, ever (as if it were that easy to find).

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Photo of BlushingMonk
4.81/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Stood in a long line to get this. Totally worth it. Pours deep black with a foamy tan head that disputes into brown sugar lace cookies. Deep and thick this oil black goodness smells of booze, sugar cookies, vanilla and cocoa. It tastes like a mouthful of awesome. Honestly, I dig this more than the BA stout from that other brewery in Grand Rapids. This is a winner. I'll stand in line for it again next year.

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Photo of TonyLuvsBeer
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Just popped a 2015 12 oz from the Annual 4 Elf party. Poured into my KBS snifter at around 60 degrees.

L: Pours a dark black with maybe a finger of foam...very little lacing.

S: Prevalent bourbon with fudge/chocolate

T: Excellent. Chocolate, fudge, and some bourbon - very balanced.

F: Good mouthfeel - not too heavy and not too light.

Very good brew - good job Dark Horse.

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Photo of JNPIII127
4.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

the beer pours a deep black color with a light tan head that is roughly two fingers high. the smell is of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. the flavor is smooth but not overly boozy. it hides the 11% abv very well. not as harsh as i would have thought given the high abv.

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Photo of macher0
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to sarro for the trade.

A. Near black, very very dark. Aggressive pour yielded a small, amber, fine bubble head that quickly dissipated. The result is a faint rim around a massive dark stout. Fairly thick.

S. A nice mix of dark roasted malts, coco, bourbon, and oak. Minor notes of dark chocolate, tobacco, molasses, and leather.

T. Very chocolate-e and bourbon-e. A nice balance between sweet and bitter. Noticeable, and very pleasant, bourbon-soaked oak.

M. Thick, sticky, full-bodied, and low carbonation.

O. A very well crafted BA stout. This deserves the high ranking. In a world of big dawg ba stouts, this holds it's own notching a coco forward, slightly bitter stout with a great bourbon barrel flavor.

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Photo of DaveBar
4.49/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got on trade from a friend. Thx Markus! Served at 12deg C in a chalice. 2014 vintage.

A- Opens well and pours a 1" high dark brown head that films out in around 2mins. The head is very airy and the brew nearly black. Might even be too dark to use as a welding glass!

S- Oodles of bourbon. Tons of heat even though it's only 11%.

T- Bourbon on bourbon. Did I say lots of bourbon? Aged for a perfect time in a barrel that must have had a nice seepage into it during the bourbon aging. You can sure tell when a company re-uses a barrel but this one is fresh from the first use barrel. Might be a touch overpowering which takes it down from perfect in the flavor department. Touch hot. This one needs to sit.

M- A touch watery.

O- Excellent brew. If I ever find it, it's bought be it draft, bottle, whatever. This is an excellent brew on the verge of being perfect. Looking forward to finding more out there but want to let it sit at least 3yrs from vintage date to get that heat down a bit and get the subtle coffee and chocolatiess out of the brew.

Food Pairing

This food pairing is actually a bit difficult. It's the reason you don't see a lot of reviews of hard liquor with food- it overpowers. With that being said, this brew went very well with....... Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Bourbon and chocolate pair well together and the cake with definitely move that cake up a level.


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Photo of HeartofMiami
3.63/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Smell and taste of cheap Bourbon dominates. Thin malt backbone and minimal carb doesn't help. Bad bottle or maybe just not my taste even though I really like many BA Stouts

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Photo of Yourahoser
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Fantastic beer. Highlights are look - dark with chocolate colored head, feel - so creamy and smooth, taste - rich chocolate, warming bourbon, no bitterness. Smell is ok. Better than a more widely known BBA stout from state of Michigan.

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Photo of danh53
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with one finger brown head. Aroma is oak, chocolate, bourbon, caramel, and vanilla. Taste is chocolate with subtle dark fruits and good barrel character. Nice roast and slight anise to balance the chocolate and malt. Medium to full mouth feel with low carb. Very consistent mouth feel from start to finish.

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Photo of corby112
4.21/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black and opaque with a one finger beige head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Very good retention for style and ABV, taking a while to settle and lingering throughout the pour. Sporadic streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Nice barrel presence in the nose that's decently integrated into the base. Stronger oak/wood/toothpick than expected wih sweet, spicy bourbon silky vanilla and marshmallow. Not overly boozy however with complex barrel character not just a complete bourbon bomb. Sweet an roasted malts underneath with some robust coffee bean, oatmeal, dark chocolate and liquid smoke. Some dessert like sweetness with silkier, lighter chocolate, lactic cream, caramel, toffee and bakers chocolate. Pretty tame aroma but it's complex and well rounded.

Fuller end of medium body with a strong, boozy barrel character that's nicely integrated into the flavors of the base beer. Again, there's a strong charred oak/toothpick character along with prominent spicy bourbon and boozy heat dominating the flavor. Lots of spicy bourbon along with vanilla bean and mallow. A touch of cinnamon and spicy heat but not too hot or overbearing. Although there is plenty of alcohol flavor, the high ABV is relatively well masked. Underneath the strong barrel flavors, there is some robust, roasted dark malt notes with burnt sugar, coffee grinds and bitter dark chocolate complimenting the oak and spirit. Could use a bit more sweetness but this beer is nicely balanced and surprisingly easy to drink at 14%. The complexity of the barrel component adds depth of flavor making this beer very enjoyable.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.59/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark, viscous pour with a thin brown head that barely retains. The nose is rich and bourbony. I could smell this beer the moment the cap was removed. Bittersweet chocolate, toasted oak, bourbon, a little dark fruit, and some candy-like sweetness. Nice!

Full body with a rich bourbon-forward flavor and a nice silky feel. Lots of bittersweet chocolate and coffee with the bourbon coming on strong around mid-palate. Not much vanilla, as the heavy chocolate tends to mask some of the toasted oak. I do get some dark fruit near the finish and a little alcohol warmth as well. Some coffee and chocolate lingers behind.

I'm always amazed at how the top-of-the-line bourbon-barrel-aged stouts get so much bourbon flavor into their beers without making them boozy. Like all the best ones, this one drinks like a liqueur. It reminds me a lot of Bell's Black Note Stout, only with more chocolate in the profile. It's amazing stuff and I hope I am fortunate enough to get to try it again someday.

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Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
4.67/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Look - Black with a dark brown head that dissipates quickly.

Smell - Sweet; thick of bourbon and molasses with chocolate and dark malts present as well.

Taste - Not quite as intense on the bourbon as the nose was, surprisingly. The caramel taste melds with the bourbon to create a smooth, sweet, rich flavor that doesn't quite have the bite that bourbon would have on its own. Taste some oak, chocolate and tobacco (I am smoking an Oliva cigar with it which probably brings out that aspect).

Feel - Exactly what you want a good stout to feel like, thick, oily, but still smooth.

Overall - A very good BA stout (that pairs well with a medium body cigar!)

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Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.21/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This beer, while tasty, was horribly underwhelming. Thin in the mouth, decadent in the smell, my senses didn't know what to make of it. It would have been a 3.75 overall, but #datwaxdoe

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to WesMantooth for this bottle.

S - Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, light char.

T - Nice bitter chocolate from start to finish and the chocolate ends somewhat sweeter on the back end along with vanilla, bourbon, lots of complimentary oak tannin with a lingering bourbon oak/chocolate lingering finish.

M - Thick medium body, smooth velvet body, no carbonation on the tongue. ABV well hidden.

O - Awesome beer, hands down.

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Photo of timc100
3.85/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2014 bottle

Previously had the 12 and 13 at the 4 Elf party on draft and remembered them fondly, the review is for the 2014 bottle however.

Great looking oily stout, very dark. Aroma of bakers chocolate, burnt chocolate, charred oak, note of espresso. Palate follows suit - the bitter chocolate and roast take the first and only step. Maybe a bad bottle, but this was very one-note. I remember the 12 and 13 being fudge bourbon bombs and north of 4.5 rating wise. So it goes.

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Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse Brewing Company
4.48 out of 5 based on 3,088 ratings.
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