Zonker Stout
Snake River Brewing Company & Brewpub

Zonker StoutZonker Stout
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Snake River Brewing Company & Brewpub
Wyoming, United States
Foreign / Export Stout
Ranked #2
Ranked #3,552
4.18 | pDev: 8.61%
Jan 26, 2023
Dec 26, 2001
Zonker StoutZonker Stout
Notes: A rich, well-balanced foreign style stout with a huge amount of roasted barley as well as chocolate, black, and caramel malts. The intense roast character is the main attribute of this black colored beer. The alcohol content is 6.0%. Zonker has been recognized time and again as one of the top foregin style stouts.
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Reviewed by JerzDevl2000 from New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
This was another beer that I picked up at the Whole Foods in Jackson, Wyoming when I was out that way not too long ago. Don’t have this style much but when you come across something this highly rated, it’s worth a go!

Indeed, this lived up to its lofty rating a land description as this was dark, varied, and well-balanced. Plenty of mocha head topped the liquid out although the spotty lacing left behind should have been more extensive. That was the only underwhelming aspect of this brew as the roasted, rough nose was enough to draw me in. Lots of barley and dark chocolate in it as the taste contained hints of milk chocolate, raisin, currant, and licorice. Nuanced, varied, and a bit mysterious, this was dark without being burnt, full-flavored without being rich, and full bodied without being strong. Certainly, that was no easy feat!

The carbonation was light as the flavors lingered and this was nicely roasted without being thin or sweet like espresso and coffee. I wouldn’t change the amount of alcohol in this as it was spot on, and the aftertaste was neither dry nor overtly strong. No date was written anywhere as it was a treat to see a map of the Snake River on the can once I peeled the label off. This held up well and was a clear-cut winner for it’s style as it deserved it’s rating on here. Indeed, I was glad to put this river through my liver!
Jan 26, 2023
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Reviewed by mpruden from Ohio

4.73/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
Poured from a 12-oz can into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Very dark brown, nearly black, with a dark tan head so large that it required the beer to be poured in two stages; the head lingered long and left plenty of lacing.

Nose: Dark roast, chocolate, mixed with sweet

Mouthfeel: Wonderfully thick

Attack: Follows the nose; remarkable balance of dark roast bitter, chocolate, and coffee

Finish: Continues the attack, slight hop bitterness.

This is the ur-craft beer for me — the one that was my real introduction to craft beer many years ago, at the brewery in Jackson, Wyoming. It’s still one of my favorite beers ever — I’m ashamed that I’m just now getting around to rating it — and I bring home multiple sixes of it each summer vacation after we backpack in the Wyoming mountains. I’m not going to pretend to be unbiased; still, other reviewers seem to agree it deserves a very high rating.
Dec 17, 2022
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Reviewed by MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
12oz can. Unreadable stamp on can bottom for canning date.
Black colored body, with thin mahogany back lit edge. One finger of dark tan head. Left lacing on non-drinking side of the glass.
Aroma of dark roasted malts which express caramel, toffee, and molasses. Some chocolate and minor coffee notes.
Taste is slightly sweet with a later bit of bitterness. Dark roasted malts exude cocoa, coffee, and caramel/molasses. Avoids char, is still very dark in flavors. Has a touch of dark fruit hops.
Medium mouth feel. Silky texture. Very dry finish. Leaves some numbness on the tongue. Very good carbonation.
Classic stout that does the job with malts and no added adjuncts.
Dec 14, 2022
Rated: 4 by bpfrush from Wisconsin

Aug 12, 2022
Rated: 4.25 by Samnem from Georgia

Jul 28, 2022
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Reviewed by StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
cant believe i have not rated this one until now, one of their classics and one of the best straight up stouts in the region, absolutely famous for a reason, no frills, old school extraordinarily well crafted, somehow still flies under the radar. black and shiny and frothy from the tap, looks gorgeously refined and silky, good body but not overly viscous for what it is. the nose is earthy and dry, no attempt at too much middle malt richness, dark chocolate, an almost irish thing to the yeast, some toasted breadiness, fresh ground coffee, and minerals, just a little alcohol, more at temperature, maybe oats or dark wheat in the mash here too, more nuance than most on the grain side without any real sweetness. the flavor has some charcoal character, an almost oak aged decadence and smoothness, but is yet still dry. more coffee, dark chocolate, light raisin, and mocha character, along with a silky texture than hangs around just long enough on the swallow and isnt quite neutral on the ferment, right on. subtle almost rye spice to this too, just a little more going on than in most of these, but all real subtle. they really dont make beer like this anymore, nowadays this would have vanilla and milk sugar in it, be 9% abv, and be bastardized beyond recognition. credit to snake river for a world class beer and for not feeling the need to make it trendy. if you built it they will come. it doesnt get much better than this in the style. i would love to try the nitro edition...
Jul 19, 2022
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Reviewed by WunderLlama from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Can poured into a Smog City snifter

In the year 2000 and again in 2001 they were named “Small Brewery of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.

Ranked #2 for Stout foreign/ export on BA

Brewers Notes: A rich, well-balanced foreign style stout with a huge amount of roasted barley as well as chocolate, black, and caramel malts. The intense roast character is the main attribute of this black colored beer. The alcohol content is 6.0%. Zonker has been recognized time and again as one of the top foregin style stouts.handcrafted in Jackson hole , Wyoming. Named for a big fly to attract big fish, Zonker is a rich and roasty foreign style stout, crafted for those among us with the biggest personalities. Anchored in a silky chocolate and caramel malt finish, this black colored beer has been recognized time and time again as one if the worlds best stouts

Dark brown cola liquid capped by a massive , three finger creamy brown foam top. Spotty lacings and good retention , settles to a fluffy one finger layer after five minutes

Aroma is roast malts, chocolate, coffee

Taste is roast malts, smooth with no char, chocolate notes, hint of coffee

Smooth flavorful mouthfeel

Great beer, recommended, worth seeking out. Put this river thru your liver
Jun 05, 2022
Rated: 3.96 by shreead from Michigan

May 24, 2022
Rated: 4.59 by DannyBoy15347 from Missouri

Jan 09, 2022
Rated: 3.5 by rare_bird from Michigan

Aug 08, 2021
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Reviewed by jkblr from Indiana

4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
12oz can stamped 03/02/21 poured into a tulip pint glass at fridge temp 6% ABV. The beer pours dense, black in color with generous and lasting mocha colored head. The head recedes slowly to a one inch cap and leaves a web of lacing covering the glass. The aroma is mild featuring dark cocoa & slight ash with a nutty, earthy undertone. The taste is more dark chocolate with a caramel balance not found in the aroma. Mild bitterness. The mouthfeel is silky & medium bodied with less than medium carbonation and a mostly dry finish. Overall, excellent. This is a superb example of a disappearing style. Export stouts, done well, offer the character of the imperials with much better drinkability. Would definitely acquire and drink again.
May 29, 2021
Rated: 4.84 by BMBCLT from South Carolina

Mar 20, 2021
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Reviewed by Jugs_McGhee from Colorado

4.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
CAN: 12 fl oz pull-tab with an understated label. Nabbed as part of a sixer from a Total Wine & More in Colorado - I think for $9.99 USD plus tax?

"Export Style Stout." Currently ranked #1 on the top Stout - Foreign / Export list with a 93 overall score.

6% ABV.

Served cold into an oversized pint nonic snifter hybrid glass thingamajigger (I don't know what to call this glassware but it's fancy).

APPEARANCE: Pours a gorgeous gilded tan head replete with loads of creamy softness. Robust...its starting ~6-7cm head height sticks around for a good 8 minutes or so, and rich thick lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head slowly recedes. Body colour is a true to style opaque black. No yeast/lees are visible within.

Looks as an export stout ought to. I guess the head could be still more gilded and could have more of an imperial stout-like golden sheen to better effect, if we're really picking nits. I see nothing wrong with this appearance and it looks rather good.

AROMA: Roasted barley is immediately obvious, buoyed by chocolate malt, dark malt sweetness, and burnt sugars. Hints of something from the licorice/fennel/aniseed family of herbs...I guess fennel. Burnt blackstrap molasses. Buried scintillae of caramelized sugars.

Seems perfectly attenuated for the style, with a big roasty bitterness balanced by specialty chocolate malts. Seems like a carafa-driven export stout that's impeccably balanced judging by the aroma.

I don't get any coffee-like aromatics, dark fruit, vanilla/vanillin, or actual chocolate (i.e. the chocolate aroma is solely chocolate malt-derived).

Aromatic intensity is average.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Big, roasty, and dry, with a nice undertone of burnt sugars and earthy fennel-like spice. No hop flavours are obvious...maybe some preservative-only herbal hop varietals. Chocolate malt joins with its dark malt backbone to give it some balancing sweetness without usurping the roast at the beer's heart. And the roast is lovely...this beer is chock full of carafa goodness, pleasing the roasted barley lover in all of us.

Has a subtle dryness and coarseness that helps coax out depth of flavour from the carafa/roasted barley without detracting from the gooeyness on the back end that complements the smooth chocolate flavours. Rich without tasting too sweet; robust without being too boozy or harsh. A flirtation with silky softness towards the back end helps surface a brief hint of fudge and chocolate syrup before the roast banishes that sweetness back under its depths.

Carbonation is perfect. Medium to full-bodied, which is apt for the style and this beer's flavour profile.

OVERALL: This is an impeccably balanced export stout with no flaws and few shortcomings...I will say the subtle coffee-like flavour carafa tends to impart is absent here to its slight detriment, and I can't help but imagine some vanillin or vanilla bean flavours would liven it up. But while I can imagine it better with subtle tweaks, I can't find any faults or flaws; it's tremendously well brewed.

Rivals Guinness' export stouts, which is no small feat in my book.

A- (4.13) / EXCELLENT

12/14/20 12 fl oz can:

Roasty with chocolate undertones. Boasts impressive depth of flavour. Balanced.

God, I love a nice roasty stout in the winter.

Nov 29, 2020
Rated: 4.19 by odenbr12 from New Jersey

Nov 21, 2020
Rated: 4.77 by CO-Bloom from Colorado

Sep 21, 2020
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Reviewed by woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.96/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
Today marks my first day off in a week, following six (6) ten & a-half (10.5)-hour days! I just started a job as a sorter in the post office & we are busy, busy, busy. I am tired, tired, tired, but getting used to the pace, the hours & the pay! 8=) The start of today will be Stout Sunday before switching to something else. For me, too many Stouts are as binding as cheese for some people. 8=p

From the CAN: "WY drink anything else? [Ha!]"; "GABF Gold Medal"; "Zonker Export Style Stout"; "World Beer Cup Gold"; "Named for a highly effective fishing fly, Zonker is a rich, well-balanced foreign-style stout formulated with a huge amount of roasted barley as well as chocolate, black, and caramel malts. The intense roast character is the main attribute of this black-colored beer. A six-time medalist at the Great American Beer Festival (tm) and a four-time medalist at the World Beer Cup (tm), Zonker has been recognized time and again as one of the world's best stouts."

Oooh. I wish that I had transcribed the preceding before my Crack! of the vent, followed by an inverted Glug. I wanted a pseudo-cascade, which I got, but I should have treated it like the bloody Stanley Cup & worn white gloves & treated it reverentially, instead of as a cheap tart. It may be some residual bitterness over Linda Lou, a Wyomingite, who threw me over a quarter-century ago, eh? It performed admirably, forming two-plus fingers of dense, foamy, rocky, deep-brown head with very good retention. Color was coal Black/Opaque (SRM = 44) & as to light penetration? It sent out a bouncer to keep watch! 8=O Nose was beautiful - charcoal smoke; anise; treacle; toffee; coffee; dried dark fruits, such as raisins & prunes; burnt tobacco - think a smoked Maduro cigar. Mmm.

I used to love Macanudo Maduros until I developed adult-onset asthma. Mmm, they were slow-burning & more flavorful than so many others. Try one, if you CAN.

Mouthfeel was dense & thick, more like a R-hook into the tongue. POW! 8=O The taste was like a cut 'n' paste of this site's Style Guide - " a very pronounced roasted character", "roasted grain and malt flavor with a coffee, chocolate, or lightly burnt grain character, although without a sharp bite". 8=O Holy Picture Perfect, Batman! No wonder all of the awards. Finish was "[m]oderately dry" & I was left wondering how I have not had this before. This was an outstanding Foreign Stout!

I am heavy on all-5s, despite the site's dictum to have them be a rarity. Fair dinkum. I didn't like the bouncer's glare & the feckin tongue punch put me off. Howzat? YMMV.
Jun 07, 2020
Rated: 4.16 by Limazulu from Idaho

May 20, 2020
Rated: 4.1 by smi69 from New York

Apr 17, 2020
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Reviewed by jzlyo from Iowa

3.94/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Aroma is coffee, dark/roasted malts and slightly burnt. The flavor is roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, a hint dark fruit and a slightly acidic/somewhat smooth finish.
Apr 03, 2020
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Reviewed by eppCOS from Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
L - Fantastic foam, head, and some minor lacing on this "between dry Irish and export Stout" stout.
S - Roast, chocolate, burnt grains, smells like an Irish breakfast on a foggy morning.
T - Where it truly stands out against other light stouts - it tastes like something, none of that dry, chalky foamy dry Irish effect, and ALMOST as rich as a bigger export stout (Guinness/Cumbre's Malpais). A great 'tweener Stout for the undecided.
F - Great carbonation, enough hops to not be dull or too malty, just great palate impression. Full taste and fizz.
O - One of THE best American Stouts on the market today, period. End of discussion. Get it, try it, trade for it. Good stuff!
Mar 25, 2020
Rated: 4.47 by Connybumbum from Colorado

Feb 16, 2020
Rated: 4.23 by ju53o8nyg9 from Colorado

Feb 06, 2020
Rated: 3.89 by BoozerBrad from Texas

Jan 31, 2020
Rated: 4.41 by Wisconsin_IPA_Lover from Wisconsin

Jan 19, 2020
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Reviewed by beergoot from Colorado

4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Inky black body topped with a thick, rocky and sticky light tan head; sheets and rings of foam cling to the glass. Excellent roasted grain aroma; baker's chocolate. Nice rich chocolatey flavor; cocoa; well-rounded bitterness; not too sweet. Heavy, oily body; smooth and slick; great residual sugar heft.

This a a delicious, straightforward stout, nothing pretentious or gimmicky. Beautiful eye appeal and outstanding mouthfeel with a deep and balanced taste.
Jan 03, 2020
Rated: 4 by McBraniel from Virginia

Dec 29, 2019
Photo of Darkmagus82
Reviewed by Darkmagus82 from Texas

4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Poured from a bottle into a pint glass
Appearance – The beer pours a deep brown, nearly black color with a one finger head of tan foam. The head fades very fast, leaving a little bit of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.
Smell – The aroma of the brew is massive of a roasted coffee bean smell mixed with cocoa and a touch of molasses. Along with these smells come a tiny bit of charred toast and a hint of vanilla crème.
Taste – The taste begins with a rather strong dark roasted malt flavor mixed with a god showing of a coffee flavor. Upfront there is also a light chocolate taste, with the chocolate adding a touch of sweetness along with a caramel taste. As the taste advances the chocolate becomes drier in nature and takes on a more baking chocolate like flavor. All the while the caramel fades some as well being replaced by some light char tastes. With the transitions of flavors that occur during the taste profile, one is left with a rather dark roasty coffee flavor to liner on the tongue.
Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is one the average to slightly thicker side with a carbonation level that is rather average to slightly lower. For the dark coffee flavors of the brew the feel is well done and makes of a nice medium for the dark roasty tastes to be well appreciated.
Overall – Dark, coffee, and somewhat on the drier side. A rather nice foreign stout.
Oct 20, 2019
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Reviewed by hoptheology from California

4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5
12 oz can poured into Tallgrass globe snifter.

My first Snake River beer experience.

Deep, luscious, dark liquid spews forth forming a mirror-finish body and a tall creamy beige cap of 2 fingers. Sparse broken lacing up the sides remains as the head diminishes to 1/2 finger.

Aroma is of deeply dark roasted malts, piney hop, ashtray, espresso, and some faint semi-sweet chocolate.

Flavor brings deep, dark roasted flavors, intensely bitter and very burnt. Yet there's a nice molasses-meets-chocolate sweetness that balances the ashen assault to a palatable and tasty level. Slight grassy espresso. The flavor mirrors the Russian Imperial Stout style with a little extra ash.

Feel is carbonated foremost, and then slick/oily, and then roasty/dry. Pretty killer stuff.

Overall, best in its class. For an Export Stout without any barrel or adjuncts this beer is simply incredible. It reminds me of bells expedition at half the ABV. For the style, it's a 5 all day long. Best stout I've found on shelves under 10% ABV. Absolutely does not get better than this in its class. To the point where if I'm on the west side of the Dakotas, I will make the trip into Wyoming just to buy this beer. Incredible recipe, incredible execution, artisan brewing. Nice work guys.
Oct 17, 2019
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Reviewed by Tucquan from Pennsylvania

4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Had this on 2019-10-06 near Pittsburgh, PA from a 12oz canned on 2019-07-31

A - Opaque dark brown with a 2-finger light brown head and great lace

S - Chocolate espresso latte. Medium roasted grain. Sweet and inviting

T - Dark chocolate, roasted grain with some char, earthy spice, lactose. Balancing, roasted bitterness.

M - Medium body and light carbonation. Creamy at first but finishes dry with some acerbic/acid bite.

O - Tons of flavor packed into this 6% brew. Quite impressive and an exemplary example of an Export Stout. I can see why it won quite a few medals at GABF over the years
Oct 06, 2019
Rated: 4 by brandoneast from Texas

Aug 05, 2019
Rated: 4 by notchucknorris from California

Jun 29, 2019
Rated: 3.96 by Sayb from Arizona

Jun 28, 2019
Rated: 4.33 by Spaceman_Jer from Colorado

Jun 20, 2019
Rated: 4.67 by Dalbeast from Wyoming

May 11, 2019
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Reviewed by Oh_Dark_Star from Washington

4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
A great stout that I can only compare to Fremont - Dark Star, Eight & Sand - Short & Stout, and Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel - Péché Mortel, the tops of the non-barrel aged stouts!
Apr 21, 2019
Rated: 4.18 by NastyNorseman from New York

Apr 15, 2019
Rated: 3.88 by chitownfanatic21 from Wyoming

Apr 12, 2019
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Reviewed by Sprowt20 from New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
The roasty nose brings to mind coffee and thick stout. In the mouth, a tingle from the carbonation accompanies notes of chocolate and dark malts. Swallowing it, a mild hop build gives it adaquate bitter to keep you coming back. Overall, a fantastically interesting, savory stout.
Mar 20, 2019
Rated: 4.17 by NeoClassicist from New York

Feb 18, 2019
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Rated by DFM from Illinois

5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
The best Foreign Stout by the best small craft brewery in the USA!
Jan 22, 2019
Zonker Stout from Snake River Brewing Company & Brewpub
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 549 ratings