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
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
424
Ratings:
3,020
Avg:
4.48
pDev:
20.54%
 
 
Wants:
2,165
Gots:
851
For Trade:
116
User Reviews
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Reviews: 424 | Ratings: 3,020
Photo of PDXAmbassador
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma and flavor of dark baker's chocolate, booze, smoke, coffee, and oak. Distinct taste of black licorice too, which is really nice. A fairly rich stout, in the vein of Parabola and BCBS, but with a unique smokiness and more relaxed booziness, and boasting some of that licorice flavor you get from Expedition. Quite enjoyable.

But I should say that I'm a bit torn on how to rate it. First time I had it, I loved the unique smoke and licorice aspects. Subsequent tastings have left me non-plussed. Having had the 2013, 2014, and 2015 batches I've found the 2014 especially has an off-putting tuna fish aroma, related I would guess to perhaps the oxidization of smoked malts? All batches could use a bit more body, and maybe a bit more bourbon character. Still quite enjoyable, and so I suppose I enjoy it more than Parabola, but less than BCBS.

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Photo of brentk56
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Vintage 2012

Appearance: Pours pitch black, with some brownish highlights on the edge; the head lays a film on top of the liquid and then fades to a ringlet while leaving a nice pattern of lacing around the chalice

Smell: Dark fruit, licorice, dark chocolate, citrus and some oak; not picking up much in the way of Bourbon

Taste: The dark fruit (prune, primarily), licorice and dark chocolate flavors dominate the front end with some citrusy hops appearing, in the middle; the Bourbon appears, after the swallow, adding oak and vanilla; chops more wood into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, with low to moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: For what is currently #19 on the Top 250 list, I was expecting something a bit more than what I got; still, this beer is a solid Bourbon barrel RIS, just not an earth shatterer

Thanks, Tenchi221, for the opportunity

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle courtesy of a recent trade - thanks! Poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours an onyx, deep and pool like, viscous but at the same time oily and slick looking. A moderately vigorous pour yields a surprising amount of head for a barrel aged, 14.0% abv brew - about three quarters of a finger of foamy espresso with surprising retention sits atop the body, about as thick as the inky sludge it's sitting on top of. It ultimately fades in to a similarly thick, foamy ring and a few sparse wisps of surface bubbles, with the persistence of the former being somewhat of a mystery, as even direct exposure to light reveals no internal carbonation. Half a point off for the inability of this one to hold any modicum of lacing on the sides of the glass, but half a point only given the aforementioned factors weighing against this one's ability to do so.

Aroma: Rich, but still somewhat subdued. Smoke, roast, hints of fruit, and a very smooth barrel presence belies absolutely no hint of alcohol spice or heat, even as this one warms, which is a definite plus. There's an interesting juxtaposition here between a lot of light fruity notes - cherries, sour apple, almost bordering upon jolly rancher-ish notes at times - and the deep, velvety smokiness of the malts and (I presume) some hint of barrel char. The latter also obviously compliments the bourbon and other barrel notes, which suggest strong vanilla and hints of cinnamon, along with a persistent but very heavy and low-in-the-register woodiness.

Taste: A slightly different tasting -bal RIS than I expected, heavy on the extremes. What I mean is that, typically, -bal RISs are bourbon, chocolate, and coffee bombs; and, while this one has all three of those components, none of them really dominate, or are even that prevalent. This one is more about fruit notes at the top of the register, smoky, charred malts at the bottom, and flashes of intermittent barrel notes filling in the blanks. It's unique, a little different, and still pretty good. Deep espresso roast and fudge brownie notes are definitely still present, mind you, but they're balanced by a slew of raisins, figs, cherries, dates, and even berry notes - way high up in the mouth, in a way that leaves that tinge of acidity.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, but what is here is well-embedded, smooth, creamy, and works perfectly with the flavor components. The end result hits all the right notes.

Drinkability: Fantastic. A really solid beer, with a very interesting flavor profile, despite the 14.0% abv.

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Photo of tbdkev
4.14/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown, motor oil color with some tan lacing. The aroma leaves something to be desired. Although the normal constituents of bourbon are present on the nose (i.e. vanilla, oak, etc.). There's a faint "saltwater" aroma as well, which is a little disconcerting. The taste follows the standard bourbon profile, with big burned elements and a heavy alcohol warmth throughout. The mouthfeel is pleasant, although I wish it was slightly thicker. The finish leaves something to be desired, as the big flavors from the initial taste disappear rather quickly, leaving only the burn. A solid brew from Dark Horse, but I'm a little let down.

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Photo of Jimmeekrek
4.16/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

did a tasting with 4 other bourbon barrel aged stout, and unbelievably this took 5th.we had such high hopes for this beer, yet when drink against the other beers that night it tasted very average. I don't know if we got a bad bottle somehow, but nothing stood out about this beer.for the record the other four beers were bells black note, Great Lakes Bourbon Barrel blackout, 2012 KBS, and central waters 15.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.17/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black. Tan head holds for a couple minutes, then fades to a thin ring. Not much lace, but still good looking.

Lots of roasty malt. Oak and bourbon notes abound. Dark chocolate. A good amount of wood, without being overwhelming.

Roasty malt, nice bourbon character with some oaky tannins. Very minimal fruit. A hint of vanilla.

Medium body with a nice creamy feel. Some warming alcohol. Overall, very nice, but a bit hot.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12/29/2011

2011 batch. Snifter. Huge thanks to Ed for the bottle.

My pants were extremely tight at work today. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. Though, it's nothing I can't sort out over a barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout. Any lapse in advocacy may lead to depression and torpidity. I have much thinking to do, it may require efforts from a bomber of IPA as well.

A: The beer resembles motor oil as it flows forth from the glass when I gently tilt the bottle. The head strikes me as a mixture of russet and sepia. It lingers for half a minute before receding to a small collar of froth around the edges of the glass.

S: Caramel drizzled dark chocolate cake, brown sugar, and big oak notes. Vanilla is light and bourbon is dominant (in a good way). Roasted grains are evident, blending with milk chocolate and alcohol.

T: Liquid dark chocolate, rich and delicious, with a light molasses presence and an upper low earthy bitterness. There's a lot of booze in the flavor, but the taste manages to still be quite good. I get a shadow of caramel and a fair amount of oak with big fudge notes. Bourbon is well integrated. Roasted grains are restrained. Alcohol takes over in the late midpalate and dominates through the finish. It's a bit rough near the end, knocking this from a 4.5 to a 4 in the flavor.

M: Full in body with lower medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is silky, chewy, and sticky.

Overall: Enjoyable, but this is just a bit too boozy at this point. I'll bet this will be excellent in 6 months if it manages to avoid becoming infected like many other barrel aged strong ales. A pleasure to try.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.19/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep black with almost nothing as a head, kind dark cherry cola looking wisp to it. Aroma, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, all almost equally present, not domineering, nice.

Taste, wow, really smooth, more of the same elements from the nose keep their equitable place on the palate. Overall sweetness is up there, but never diabetes inducing stuff, really, this is a well balanced flavor profile for a huge beer, that doesn't knock you over the head with the alcohol.

This is one of those special beers. Plead the 5th is an already great base beer. Sometimes (Rasputin) you can throw a great base beer into a bourbon barrel, and it becomes less great. Not the case here. It isn't a pretty beer, and the first look and smell won't tip you off to how good this is, but drink it, you'll like it.

Thanks to largadeer for breaking this, and many other gems out at the Solar Eclipse party.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.19/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours a dark, oily black -- the color of motor oil that has been used several thousand miles past spec. A pinky finger of dark mocha head caps the beer; retention is short.

S: Vanilla, caramel / burnt sugar, fudge, bourbon, oak, molasses. The net effect here is reminiscent of early, keg-only Parabola. I shed a tear for the hoppy abomination the bottle form has become, and give praise that Dark Horse seems to have stumbled onto Firestone-Walker's formula.

T: As in the nose, the flavor captures a delicious blend of fudgy vanilla. Bourbon is somehow less prominent than the vanilla bean character, though it is by no means hidden. A touch of roast evokes earthy coffee, but this is a minor element; the beer clearly prefers the chocolate-dessert approach, and I'm not one to complain about that.

M: Chewy and oily, but not lingering or difficult to remove from the palate. In fact, it finishes relatively cleanly for something this big. And it hides the ABV quite well. I'm sure this is beyond 14% (isn't that what the base beer has?). My only complaint is that as it warms, it has a distinct solventy aftertaste, which in several bottles became unbearable at the proper serving temp.

O: I had this a few times out of the bottle and detected noticeable variation. Two bottles were outstanding; very fudgy and rich, with great bourbon integration. Others were a little cardboardy and solventy. I'm tweaking my score so that the overall grade is a rough average of the bottles I've had.

Incidentally, I compared this to early batches of Parabola, but it also reminds me of a chewier Silva Stout. Overall, this is a fantastic beer and needs more love.

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Photo of pagriley
4.19/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-visiting after being seriously underwhelmed the first time

L - pours almost jet black with a thin ring of mocha foam
S - Prominent bourbon on the nose with hints of coconut and chocolate
T - richer than I remember from last time with chocolate, hints of smoke and a ton of bourbon. Lots of ash on the finish - a bit too much black patent malt for my preference.
F - On the thinner side for the style. Wish this had more heft and chew to balance the astringent ash

Overall much better the 2nd time around, but still not quite what I would hope. Fresh is way better, but the ashy black malt on the finish is a bit jarring

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.19/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours black as night, as expected, with a small and chocolate brown head forming. The head is just a whisp of foam on the top of the beer, but it does leave a pretty good lace pattern.

S- Big and dark roasted malts hit the nose first, just like a good Russian imperial should. Next comes a bit of bourbon barrel spiciness. Oak and vanilla are the prominent barrel scents, with just a touch of the bourbon sneaking in. Towards the back end of the smell, it turns sweeter than most stouts, but then the dark malts return and leave you with traditional stout flavors on the nose.

T- Just like the smell, this beer starts with a bang of deep, dark malts. Slightly bitter dark chocolate and just a touch of coffee hit the tongue and lead you into the middle of the drink. The barrel spice moves in during the middle of the drink with a touch of vanilla and a bit of boozy bourbon. The barrel flavors mix in with the dark malts and form a fairly complex overall flavor. The beer leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste on the tongue after the drink is finished.

M- The alcohol is evident a little bit while sipping this beer, but it really shines in how smooth it is. Low carbonation levels and a thick and heavy flavor profile make this somewhat of a slow drink. On the whole, this is a silky smooth, thick, and heavy beer that goes down smooth for its weight.

Overall, this beer is very, very good. The great dark malts with chocolate and coffee interact with the bourbon barrel very well without overpowering the malts or becoming to aggressive to be enjoyed. I like this beer.

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Photo of mistakebythelake
4.2/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at a recent BA barrel aged tasting with some Cincy folks. Thanks for providing this gem!

Was impressed with the pitch black color and lacing that this growler pour revealed into my snifter. A beauty on the nose as well with a medium amount of bourbon touched off with some cocoa. The taste with the bourbon, chocolate and some vanilla characteristics from the oak really impressed me with the balance of this stout. The carbonation may have been a bit off due to the growler pour being the last out of the keg when filled, but still was a sludgy, creamy feel. I was surprised that it was around 14% as its drinkability was very high for me without the booziness some ba stouts can get.

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Photo of mgp2675
4.2/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank this after a regular Plead the 5th for comparison.

A- black, much thicker than Plead the 5th, minimal tan-colored head on it

S- very, very sweet...some chocolate and coffee at the end. As it warmed up though I got some vanilla out of it, but overall not the most impressive nose on this one

T- some initial bitterness with the first sip and then tons of vanilla, very smooth, aftertaste of dark chocolate. This tastes great, and you cannot sense the 14% ABV

M- honestly pretty perfect, just the right amount of thickness

O- great stout...top 5 for me and I've had a lot of them. One of the most impressive things was how much the barrel aging process changed the base beer. I thought Plead the 5th was way too sweet and not incredibly smooth, and this is the opposite of that. It tastes very similar to Parabola, just with a much different aroma. I've been a bit disappointed with a lot of BA stouts with hype like this one has, but this beer honestly is worth seeking out. Good stuff

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

12 oz bottle poured into my CBS snifter

A: Opaque dark, deep black with no light getting through this. 2 finger brown head which fades quickly into a thin collar and some wandering, appealing laces.

S: Smell is of dark chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla. Huge! A smooth smoky and nutty scent along with some dark fruits and a bit of alcohol follow.

T: Massive dark chocolate, sweet and roasted malts. Bourbon, vanilla very well blended to this malty profile. The upcoming booze brings dark fruits aroma. Finishes on nutty and resinous hops notes.

M: Full bodied, sweet, creamy, a bit chewy but not sticky. Not as warming as one could expect given the ABV. Easily drinkable. Just perfect!

O: A beautiful barrel aged stout. Smell and taste profiles are huge, massive. But this is so easy to drink, so good !

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

12oz bottle. Opaque dark brown hue, moderate, light brown foam. Bourbon, chocolate, oak, ripe banana, caramel, turbinado sugar, coconut and vanilla notes - nicely complex, yet drinkable. Full body and moderate carbonation.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.21/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Compared the '11 and '12 next to each other. Pour is jet black with a dark caramel head but not a lot even after a strong pour. Nose is a nice mix of bourbon and light chocolate cake. There are some chalky notes and a bit of booze in back. Taste is more woody, light bourbon. Chocolate notes, faintly chalky but less than the nose. Full bodied and soft, a hint slick with moderate carbonation. Taste gets a little sweet in back and some lingering roasted malts.
The '11 has a richer nose and less sweet in the flavor. More balanced but less bright so you sacrifice a little in flavor expression for balance and tightness. Both are very solid, I would prefer the '11 with the 2 years in it. Rate from the '11.

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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 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 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 joshuaseresse
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks goes out to erikkoppin for this bottle in a recent trade. 12oz bottle, served into a snifter:

A - Pours a deep black with a nice chocolate mocha head that dies into a nice foam ring around the edges. Murky clouds in the middle with other hints of foam. Lacing is there but doesn't stick around for too long.

S - Smells of fresh bourbon, wood, roast and some chocolate. Little bit of vanilla and tobacco leaf, leather and touches of espresso and mocha. Pretty decent smell, but could use a few years of age to be perfect. I'd rank this one a 4.25 but I'll round up since I have a feeling it will reach perfection in a few years.

T - A decent amount of charred oak, roasted coffee/espresso and smooth bourbon. Notes of chocolate, fudge and again, some tobacco leaf. Even though you can tell the bourbon is there, there is no heat to it. Mostly some bitter coffee notes and more of the above mentioned flavors. Even though I like it, I'm going to also score this a 4.25, and since I upped the smell, this one will be a 4.

M - A little bit of sweetness from the bourbon and chocolate flavors, but toward the end this thing starts to dry out the mouth. Again, no burn from the bourbon or ABV. The carbonation is smooth and creamy.

O - This is a pretty decent BA stout. I really enjoy the smell and taste, but the mouthfeel is slightly off putting. This is the first time I've had this brew, and while I like it now, I know that it'll be the bees knees in a few years. Thanks again Erik for the assist!

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Photo of xnicknj
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into snifter - thanks to erikkoppin

Pours a midnight black color with barely any head. Wisps of retention slink across the top, with a few spots of lacing on the glass.

A rich mix of vanilla and chocolate soaked in bourbon in the nose. A bit sweet with roasted dark malts and some softer tones of dark fruits. Softly charred oak, booze and really faint smoke.

Boozy vanilla bean up front with plenty of syrupy bourbon and softly charred oak. Dark chocolate, nuttiness and layers of roasted dark malts. Syrupy with a prolonging boozy warmth, followed by a light undertone of leather and very subtle smoke. Finishes sweet and boozy with vanilla.

Fuller medium body, milder carbonation, sticky and creamy on the tongue. I've had this one tap before and it was one of my favorite BA stouts ever, although the bottle doesn't quite recapture that moment for me. Definitely still a top notch offering, but the appearance and feel were slightly lacking.

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Photo of xICooRsYIx
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

Pours out very dark/deep brown with a nice mocha brown head that dissipates quite fast. Smells follows right into the taste with strong notes of chocolate and bourbon. Some coffee and a hint of tobacco in there as well. Roasted malts finish it off.

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Photo of aasher
4.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was courtesy of Lukafer, who gave it to me just to spread the love. Thanks Luke!

This beer pours a full bodied, black chocolate black with no head but a dark khaki lacing around the rim. The nose is very rich and roasty. T has some fudge brownie to it, LOADS of chocolate. That said, there isn't much bourbon at all. The flavors are really smooth and chocolaty. Again, loads of chocolate fudge and brownie. There is barely any bourbon at all and moderate roast. Great flavor on the chocolate standpoint, but disappointing in terms of barrel aged imperial stouts. This is the most palatable chocolate I've ever experienced in a beer. It is pretty light in body, compared to others of the style. I would describe it as a light medium. It does however increase drinkability. Overall this is a very nice beer, but doesn't show the bourbon you would expect. If I had to guess, I would say that this is oak aged or just aged regular Plead the 5th. All of that said, this beer was delicious.

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Photo of grub
4.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

sampled on tap at stub and herbs pre-darkness party, oct 22/2010.

pours inky black and opaque with a small layer of fine dark brown head. the head quickly drops to a ring around the glass and leaves only a few spots of lace.

aroma is good. bourbon and vanilla. bit of raw oak. coffee and espresso. whole wheat bread and biscuit. dark chocolate. bit of milk chocolate. earthy and woody.

taste is great. similar to the aroma, with more bittersweet and dark chocolate. just under medium bitterness level. espresso. hint of oxidaiton. the barrel is actually farily mellow, allowing the stout beneath to show through.

mouthfeel is good. medium-large body. medium-light carbonation level.

drinkability is good. nie balance. barrel is not all that assertive and works well.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I was drinking this from a 2/3s fill growler. Dont know if it affected anything. If someone wants to send me a bottle, i can re-review it :).

A-Dark black with zero head
S-very large bourbon upfront. Can pick up some chocolate and malt through the bourbon
T-Once past the bourbon, can pick up some malts and chocolate. somewhat oaky taste
M-Very smooth and no burning
D-Crazy Drinkable. Would not have guessed 14%. WOW

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Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse Brewing Company
4.48 out of 5 based on 3,020 ratings.
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