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Zonker Stout | Snake River Brewing Company & Brewpub

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244 Reviews
Zonker StoutZonker Stout

Brewed by:
Snake River Brewing Company & Brewpub
Wyoming, United States

Style: Foreign / Export Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-26-2001

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Reviews: 244 | Ratings: 460
Photo of mattcrill
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Label notched with a "best by" October '05

Appearance: Pure black pour into the snifter with a tan foamy head. It dissolves and leaves a tan ring around the glass. Pretty much what you would expect a stout to look like. Nothing penetrates this bad boy.

Smell: Strong chocolate profile with just a touch of a vinous and alcohol character. It comes out in the form of some ripened dark fruit. It's very subtle though. The chocolate dominates the nose.

Taste: Strong bitter chocolate presence. A hint of some oak, vanilla, and some dry roasted nuts. Again, the chocolate malts dominate here. The dry chocolate profile is very well done here.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and crisp. Hedging towards over-carbonated but still on the good end of things.

Drinkability: A great stout for sure. Nice and roasty and can easily do a session with the lower ABV. Not sure I would agree with "outstanding" but I would highly recommend it. A classic example of an American Stout.

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Photo of FirstMan
4.07/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Knuckles picked this up for me in Montana along with a number of other delicious beers. Many thanks yet again for Knuckles and his 2005 beer safari.

Pours a very nice, deep dark brown - almost black from the squat bottle that I had. Overall the coloring was good, but I can't say that there was really anything to set it apart from other nice American Stouts that I've had. A coffee-colored head of tiny, round bubbles came up, but didn't linger quite as long as I had hoped.

Smell is wonderful on this one. Coffee, smoke, with a somewhat sharp woodiness to it. There's malt in there for sure, but the thing that gets me the most are the sharper elements in the nose.

Taste is good, but just a tiny bit disappointing after the nose. One thing I can say for sure is that this beer warms up well. My first sip didn't have the same kind of malty tones that my later ones did. Definitely there are notes of chocolate and smokey grains in there, but these are a little weak until the beer has had a chance to warm up.

The initial mouthfeel of this beer when it's cold may be its weakest point. It's almost too dry for me. I like an American stout to give you that creamy rich malty mouthfeel and this one didn't really get there until after it had warmed up a bit and then only a little.

If you like a dryer stout, this may not be a problem for you at all.

Overall this is a really good stout and one that I would have absolutely no problem drinking on a regular basis. I'd just make a point to let it sit for a few minutes before I started.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.3/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

came ina 12 oz brown short neck.
Very attractive looking dark, dark almost pitch black beer with purpleish toes, small very dark tan head good for the style.
Very strong and appealing aroma of dark unsweetned chocolate and sweet overripe black cherries.Cocoa powder and malted milk also
Weird after the great aroma I was expecting more, but what i got was a very sour , lactic tasting stout, with barelly a bit of chocolate flavour near the end and a very sweet aftertaste.
Mouthfeel was pretty mundane and too watery for the style.
I found this beer not very drinkable..a let down .
I hope this was just an odd bad bottle.

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Photo of Knuckles
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I moved to Bozeman, Montana back in December of 1995. Being a native Seattleite, this was my first exposure to real winter. It was a harsh introduction, as I quickly realized that there was no such thing as a "snow day" (of course, I didn't have a car, either, so that made life a little difficult as well). It was with great joy, then, when I dragged my frozen ass into Osco and picked myself up a six pack of Zonker to warm myself up (and, quite seriously, thaw out my ass). I've loved this stout ever since, and a decade's passing hasn't cooled my ardor. Come to me, sweet, sweet, Zonker. Knuckles misses you terribly.

Appearance: This may not be the Beer of the Sith that the Silver City Imperial Stout is, but it could pass for Palpatine's underpants of evil. Black, but not totally opaque. Slight hints of light brown/ruby around the edges if held up to the light, but the center of the glass is completely impenetrable, much like my wife.

Smell: This thing is so much more than I remember: oak, raisins, caramel and smoke. Pinot Noir? Syrah? Damn. Am I at the casino with my kids, or am I huffing beer? It's fantastic.

Taste: My initial reaction on drinking this beer is this: Wyoming! Fuck Yeah! Even though I don't care much for Wyoming itself (but by GOD do they have the nicest goddam rest stops I've ever had the pleasure to pee in), and Jackson, WY is about as representative of that state as Kenny G is of Washington. It's smoky, vinuous, raisiny and delicious. Stouts like this one just aren't fair to the other stouts of the world. I love you, Zonker Stout. You make me happy.

Mouthfeel: Again, if you could drink Salma Hayek's pants (and please god, let me try at least once!), this beer is the zymurgic equivalent. Understand, of course, that is is purely an idealized construct of what I envision Salma Hayek's pants to be in liquid form, and that I would drink them if covered with cat hair cigarette butts, and mold. But that's neither here nor there. This beer is one velvety smooth motherfucker, and strikes a perfect balance between malt character and malt body. A mouthfeel that belies its relatively low ABV. Yow.

Drinkability: Well, here I'm in a bit of a quandary. Not everyone can suck down stouts like I can, and this beer is only distributed as far as Montana (as far as I know). That said, I have downed so many cases of this spectacular beer that I'm going to rate it at a solid 4.5. Any stout that clocks in at a mere 5.8%, and tastes like a stout rather than an ill-named brown freaking ale needs to be supped as much as possible. Sadly, I only have one bottle left, squirreled away in my basement (ok, it's not IN my basement yet, but it's in my kitchen. Which is by my basement. Sort of. I'm working on it.).

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It was on the verge of being thick and black when poured with a little bit of tan foam and little lace clinging to the side of the glass. The smell of roasted malts dominated this brew. The sweet/tart taste of roasted malts was well balanced. A nice stout.

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Photo of kbub6f
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is very dark brown (black out of the bottle) with brown edges. It sports 1cm of still, thick, brown head. Swoops and small spots of lacing. Strong aroma of toffee and cocoa. Acres of chocolate. Chocolate and toffee in front, a little watery in the middle. Medium body. Bitter chocolate-cocoa powder at the end. A little fruity too. Almost smoky in the aftertaste, with a little veggie. Not bad. Quite full-flavored.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a medium deep brown head with excellent retention. Aroma of roasted malt with light sweet chocolate are easily detectable. Taste has a real creamy feel with a good dose of roasted malt and bitter hops. Lack a little something to make this truly great but still very enjoyable.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle. Pours out thick and black, with little head even with a hard pour. Roasted coffee and chocolate aroma. Big roasted flavor. High acidity. Bitter chocolate. This is a very flavorful stout. More hops than usual for this style of beer. Pretty drinkable for the style. While I enjoyed everything about this beer, nothing really blew me away. Still, this is definitely a stout worth looking into.

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Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brewery known for this product alone. I found it a competent stout compared to what I had before in the style, and just a better than average brew. Syrupy, some sourness, not watery but not a full mouthfeel either. Picked up at Lina's this week near Cleveland, expiry date March. Now, if this is the past March, because they seems to have a fresh stock of beers from everything else I have seen, it shouldn't be significant.

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Photo of alexgash
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown coffee with a tight, cocoa-brown head that lasts. Sweet, milk chocolate, molasses, rum, roasted coffee, and some earthy bitterness make up the nose. Yum. Taste starts with dark fruit and chocolatey sweetness. Roasted barley comes on strong, leading to a coffee bitter, well-hopped finish. Lingering roasty sweetness. A great stout, right up there with Shakespeare. Big bodied, full, creamy mouthfeel. Delicious.

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Photo of sweethome
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Jet black. Big sweet malts and plenty of roast on the nose. Choclate in there too. Dark tan head. A full mouthfeel of sweet malts. Soft feel. Hops present through the roast. The roast malts develop very well with chocolate flavors. The finish has a nutty taste, but very long roast flavors and plenty of hop bittering. A near perfect balance. Despite all the flavor, it still reatains a somewhat delicate mouthfeel.

A beer full of flavor. The last sip leaves you wanting another. SImply outstanding

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Photo of karengarys
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours like motor oil with 20,000 miles on it - just like a stout should. Few bubbles, which dissipate rather quickly. The foam ring laces the side of the glass.

Smell of coffee. Some chocolate, some "bitter".

Tastes quite coffee like, but hints of carmel and unsweetened chocolate come through, along with, to me, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is good, very creamy for a stout.

Decent body. Not thin.

The finish is very creamy, chocolatey, and at the very end some dry hops come along and clean the pallette, leaving the empty mouth with a clean fresh taste.

This is really good, I recommend it!

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Photo of Winter
3.13/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours black with a thick brown head. Cocoa, roasted grain and chocolate malt in the nose. Medium-bodied mouthfeel. Bland front opens up to a bitter-sweet middle of roasted malt and barley. But a hop bitterness dominates the finish. Unfortunately, the flavor turns sour. Overly carbonated right out of the bottle, it softened as the beer warmed a bit to room temperature. This is not a great stout. Drinkable, but not worth purchasing again.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
3.35/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brought back directly from the Jackson Hole. It poured out like motor oil! The head was suprisingly darker than I have noticed from other stouts. It was almost a deep brown. The smell was somewhat pleasing with caramel, buttery, choclate aroma. The taste was nice upfront, but the finish was a little out of balance. The bitter chocolate and roasted nut were a little too sharp for me. It seemed to me that this was a little to heavy for an all nighter. Good stout overall, but a little overrated in my mind.

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Photo of bditty187
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Imposing black hue, it poured from the bottle very heavy, I’ve seen thinner Imperial Stouts! No light could penetrate the liquid. Impressive. The head was russet in color and about one finger in height. Head retention was very good; it slowly faded to a soapy cap that lasted the entire consumption. Subsequent lacing was unorganized and patchy. It’s a great looking stout. The nose is inviting, big, bold blast of roast that encompasses coffee, hints of cocoa beans, char, oat and sugary sweetness. At the distant back is a hint of earthiness. Formidable potency, it is loud enough. I find the bouquet on this stout to be ideal for the style. I love it… mouthwatering good! Inviting. Close to perfection. The palate is not a let down. My word this brewery is topnotch, it makes me want to move to Wyoming. Okay, not quite. ;-) Anyway, the palate is simply lovely. Roasted malts are dry for a while, cocoa beans, in the middle a flash of hops materialize and offer some bitterness to counterpunch the astringency. There is just a hint of citrus juiciness. This plays very well with caramel hints and oat-like sweetness. The finish is coffee and char. Simply lovely stuff, this stout really impresses me. It is a great American Stout/Dry Stout, nothing more and nothing less. Great. Medium/medium-full in body with ticklish carbonation that produces a mouthfeel that is pleasant, it is just big enough and yet have finesse. Extremely drinkable! There is no flaws, no complaints. It is a terrific stout! Give me a steak. I really wish Snake River beer were sold in Nebraska because I’d buy their beer regularly. I purchased a 12-ounce bottle in Brookfield, WI. The next time I see this beer I am going to buying more. Recommended.

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Photo of mschofield
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown/black, topped with a one finger dark tan head. Leaves full thick sheets of lacing, great lacing.
Caramel and roasted malt aroma, earthy with plum and tea notes.
Caramel and roasted malt taste, earthy, milk or cream, dark chocolate.
Full and creamy body.
Very nice, almost an imperial stout.

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Photo of andyo
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What else can I say that hasn't been said from the other reviews? I had this on Labor Day almost on accident. I reached into my buddies cooler (in the dark) and pulled this beer out, as well as an Old Rasputin. Having had the Rasputin on several occasions, I opted for the Zonker Stout. I'm glad I did.

Jet black in appearance, with an earthy, chocolate nose. Upon first taste I was pleasantly surprised! This beer is fantastic! It's not that it is far too different from most stouts, it is just somewhat better. It seemed to me that all the best qualities of a stout were just magnified in this beer a bit- kicked up a notch! This beer resemebled milk chocolate flavors, with a faint nutty vanilla background. Nice espresso notes come through with a bit of hops in the finish. Very balanced, very good.

This beer could easily become a session stout for me. I will definately be visiting this one again.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pitch black dark all the way through after a rough pour forms a standard sized two finger width head dark tan in color that as it dwindles leaves behind fine even lacing. Aroma: Robust milk chocolate creamy edge with coffee accents what an excellent smelling brew with just a touch of hops to balance. Taste: Ideal stout, Wyoming has it good robust sweet chocolate slight coffee very creamy just rolls along the palate bringing an immediate smile to this imbiber's grill. Does a finish a tad on the dry side with just noticeable amounts of alcohol session stout, pick this one up by the case you won't be sorry. Mouthfeel: Full body creamy texture doesn't even attempt to sit heavy with me what a perfect mouthfeel with dead on carbonation, great stuff. Drinkability: Perfect I'm a believer in the things I heard of this stout all expectations of this rare brew have been met, thank you for being available in Cleveland.

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Photo of marcobrau
4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An opaque stout that pours with a nice bit of foam. The intense chocolate aroma is awesome. Starts smooth, almost milk chocolately, and get dry towards the finihs, which is laced with hop bitterness. The taste of chocolate lingers on the palate. I like how the hops are balanced with roasted and chocolate malt flavors. I also really like the dry finish. Could A little roasted coffee flavor wold be nice; otherwise an excellent stout and one I'm definitely going to have again. Unfortunately, this was my only bottle, picked up in Wisconsin at the Brennans market in Brookfield.

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Photo of moulefrite
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid pour-deep and dark with a fat, creamy and sticky cocoa brown head. Aromas hint of espresso crunch candy. The mouthfeel here is unctuous while still balanced with plenty of elegant zip. This is quite the flavor driven beverage! Features include: espresso cream, roasted and nicely bitter coffee bean, bitttersweet chocolate, and a trace of vanillan. This is a real pleasure to drink, and as I do I only want more-most certainly recommended.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the bottle pours a black liquid with no highlights. Nice thick tan head that stayed for a long time. Nice lace on the glass at the end. Smell is slightly chocolate, but not much else going on. Taste again was slightly chocolate, along with a malt that was so roasty, it almost seemed burnt, (not that this is a bad thing). Lots of hopr bitterness in this one, this is a well-hopped stout for sure. Dry finish. Full-bodied with the perfect amount of carbonation. This is exactly what the mouthfeel of a stout should be. Overall, this is an excellent stout. Very well hopped, but not overwhleming the deep roasted malt character. I will certainly look for this one again in the future.

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Photo of LarryKemp
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This stout poured a deep, so deep dark black that when held up to a light it didn't penetrate, black, The dark, tan head was abundant but not overabundant.

The chocolate malts takes charge of the nose. Or maybe it is the coffee. Or maybe it is the roasted. Nothing else but malt seemed to come through, even though they claim to have three hops- Columbus, East Kent, and Tettnang. The hops were flat overpowered.

If I said the malts came through in the nose, well that was nothing compared to the tongue. My, my the seven malts tore up the taste buds. The roasted malts jumped out in the lead but followed by the chocolate. The sweet finish was equisite.

If this stout has one weakness it is its mouthfeel . It is medium and slightly creamy. If it were more creamy, this might be the perfect stout.

This is one of the beers that I think could be used to define a stout. My I cannot say enough about this beer except, I think I will walk into the garage and get another out of the fridge.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Jet black with the slightest glimmer of light at the edges. Without a doubt, Zonker is the blackest non-Imperial stout that I've seen yet. The head is light-medium brown, pitting, rocky, relatively long-lived and leaves thin rings and small sheets of lace.

The nose is nice and strong, with plenty of roasted black malt and chocolate. Coffee is in there as well, but chocolate is more aggressive. So far, so good.

The flavor is absolutely wonderful. Coffee makes more of a statement on the palate and dark chocolate has come on like gangbusters. There's a pleasing background bitterness, but it isn't overdone as in some stouts.

This beer strikes the perfect balance between maltiness (major key) and hoppiness (minor key). The finish is long, with sweetness early and a bitter tightening late. The mouthfeel is impressively full and creamy, with no hint of heaviness.

Zonker Stout hits all the right notes. It's solid in all respects and is my new favorite stout. Too bad it isn't available in this state because I could drink this stuff all year round.

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Photo of merlin48
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pours a genuine motor oil pitch black. Cocoa head is short lived, fading into patchy lace down the pint tumbler. Aroma is complex and a delight to inhale. Bigtime notes of roasted coffee, lots of chocolates, cigars, fresh leather, and some vague citrus hops. Mouthfeel has moderate carbonation, is thick and rich, and has some mild hops bite. Taste echoes the nose, for the most part, but with additional smoke flavors, some black pepper, and a hint of sour citrus. Quite complex, yet very well balanced. Finishes dry and slightly on the bitter side, with a smoked coffee aftertaste. This is everything a fine Stout should be, and the distinct hops presence adds an exciting and pleasant twirl.

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Photo of marc77
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Utterly pitch black. Tall, dense, dogged bister head yields lace. Buttery cocoa and brown sugar sweetened medium roast coffee dominate the aroma. Secondary are dark caramel and molasses hints. Quite welcoming in nose. Paralleling the aroma, agreeably assertive mocha and cocoa butter notes are prevalent. Pronounced, mildly smoky roasted barley complements hop bitterness, transiently lending dryness. Sweetness resumes promptly in a powered, Nestle Quik like fashion. Trace citrusy hop undertone. Full bodied and dextrinous, with a creamy, low attenuation derived mouthfeel. Finishes with fleeting hints of burnt caramel, but otherwise with lingering mocha hints. A delicious stout that is rich in coffee and chocolate character, yet remains soft on the palate. Well balanced, superbly drinkable and highly recommended. Akin to a more subdued Bell's Kalamazoo.

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Zonker Stout from Snake River Brewing Company & Brewpub
4.17 out of 5 based on 460 ratings.
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