DuClaw Brewing Company

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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #1,045
Ranked #2,699
4.14 | pDev: 10.39%
DuClaw Brewing Company
Maryland, United States
Notes: A full-bodied, Single Barrel Bourbon-aged Imperial Stout with rich aromas of espresso and dark chocolate, and smooth roasted malt flavor. Aged for 6 months inside charred Kentucky white oak bourbon barrels to add the natural vanilla and caramelized sugar flavors of the bourbon soaked wood to the beer. Each bottle run is drawn from a single barrel, making each batch a unique drinking experience. ABV from 10.5% to 11.5%.
Reviews: 89 | Ratings: 484
Photo of StartedwithSAM
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Poured at 50° F into a grand snifter.

Appearance: This imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels pours quickly and appears black with dark brown edges when held up to natural light. There is a 1 to ½ finger of head with sparse lacing.

Smell: At 50° F the nose is bourbon forward and sweet. As it warms, the bourbon retreats yielding to a more Belgian sweetness and very subtle roasted malt.

Taste: Again at approximately 50° F it is bourbon forward, with a subtle sweetness of raisins or dates. As it warms the only characteristics of the imperial stout to emerge is the recognizable cocoa. The cocoa finishes and lingers a bit on the palate.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth. This has a much thinner feel than I prefer for an imperial stout, I don’t get the feel good coating that I anticipate but it doesn’t take away from the beer itself.

Overall: So far DuClaw’s beers have been hit or miss with me. Many of their offerings have been too sweet which, to me, is not my preference. I love my stouts to be bold, smoky and peaty. I have had a few Belgian-style imperial stouts and this would fit the style as one. I was just disappointed that they didn’t try to move out of their comfort zone of sweetness and try something bolder with more roasts. That being said this would be something I could pick up and store for the holidays as a winter warmer.


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Photo of akorsak
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On cask at Al's. With chocolate and jalapenos.

A: The stout is pitch black, an eggshell white head blanketing the top. Not much in the way of lacing.

S: The bourbon barrel is present, not intense though, more of a blended stout/barrel combination. Plenty of chocolate but the jalapenos are nowhere to be found. The result is chocolate on top of light bourbon, plenty of sweetness without a balancing bite.

T: Again, the chocolate and stout elements, along with the barrel, stand out at the expense of the jalapeno. The chocolate is very sweet and milky, standing out against the roasted malt base. The bourbon barrel, a blend I'm thinking, adds a bit of wood and vanilla but not the normal blast of bourbon. I keep looking for the peppers but just can't coax them out of the chocolate morass.

M: A good drink even without the jalapenos - chocolate is liquid and sweet, at home within the sweetness of the barrel. The stout side is strong but not forboding.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to IrishColonial for this bottle...

A: Pours a deep syrupy black with brown hues around the edges. There is minimal head as it pours and absolutely no lacing as it drinks. Tons of legs to this beer though. It stain the glass with every sip.

S: The nose is dark chocolate, sweet plums, raisins, brown sugar and booze. The boozy heat isn't huge, but this beer is definitely sweet.

T: Right away I'm hit with massive sweetness. Caramel, raisins, plums, chocolate, a touch of burnt toast. It gets a little funk in the middle, and the finish is a mix of sweet and bitter with some alcohol burn.

M: Full bodied beer. It's sweet and bold right away and the flavors linger on the palate for quite some time.

O: I'm not a huge fan of this beer. It's too sweet for my liking, too fruit forward, and the alcohol is noticeable. I'm happy to have tried this, but won't seek it out in the future.

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Photo of larryi86
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle, bottled 9/19/11 from barrel 8, poured into a tulip
9% ABV according to the bottle

A- Black with a small tan head that fade quickly.

S- Sweet chocolate, caramel malts, vanilla, touch of bourbon, really not get much barrel, but it still smells great.

T- A sweet mess. Chocolate, sugar, roasted malts, oak, vanilla, hot bourbon finish, would like more oak, bourbon, or just something bitter to balance the sweetness. I feel that this is lacking balance and way too sweet. As I am trying this more the flavor is seeming more balanced, but still too sweet.

M- Smooth, full body.

O- I feel this was worth the money to try and I will pick up another bottle, but I will be aging it for at least 1 year, probably more like 2 or 3, just to see if balance will come with age. There are parts that remind me of other great barrel aged stout I have had, but the balance is really not there right now.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BigSexy410 for sharing this bottle last weekend. Served in a Cigar City snifter.

Pours near-black with a thin mocha head and not much in the way of lacing. The nose carries some good notes of chocolate and malt, though the bourbon is a bit heavy. Everything melds together much better in the flavor. Full body with good carbonation and a nice chewiness. Another impressive brew from DuClaw.

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap at Max's during BBW 2013 (from notes, 10/23/13).

A: Pitch black with ok lacing.

S: Malts with a slightly sweet roast.

T: Sweet. Dark and roasty. Dark tasting with a lot of malt. Boozy but not actually hot.

M: Smooth.

O: Ok, stout and probably much better with some age on it. This version might not taste better than the more expensive versions but you get more bang for your buck.

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Photo of stakem
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cask offering with jalapeno and chocolate. Served in a nonic via the hand pump at Als of Hampden. The brew appears a rich black color with a creamy finger of mocha colored head. A full wall of lace sticks to the glass.

The nose is heavy on roast and chocolate. A hint of sweetness almost like vanilla pokes its way through with a mild tingle of alcohol and a bit of earthy to mineral inclusion.

The taste is super roasty and bitter. Jalapeno makes itself known with some mild spice across the back of the throat that increases with each sip. Along with the jalapeno is some earthen element almost more like black pepper. A mild alcohol bite helps to push forward the flavor of the jalapeno. Once warm a little bit more of chocolate and vanilla sweetness becomes evident.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation from the cask delivery. As more sips are taken, it gets more spicy but the alcohol is very well hidden. Quite a pleasant inclusion of spice, it wasnt overdone in a way that distracted from the base. I would drink this again.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a very dark brown color. The khaki-colored head, while short at less than a finger high, has pretty decent retention and good creaminess. Minimal lacing is left behind.

S: Wow, this smells great. The first whiffs bring a ton of chocolate, only to develop stronger notes of bourbon, cream, and vanilla when allowed to open up. When it opens up even further, it gains a touch of dark fruits, along with some banana. I don't even miss the low oak presence, because this has a fantastic and complex dessert-y aroma.

T: Okay, NOW the oak is coming through strongly on the opening flavors. This is ridiculously bourbon-forward, almost to the point of excess. The first few sips really lack balance, but it becomes more harmonious as it warms up. Some pleasant chocolate and vanilla characteristics develop near the finish, before the alcohol bite envelop said finish strongly. On the plus side, the booze helps to give this some palpable nuance between its roast, chocolate, cream, and vanilla flavors. I wish it was slightly sweeter (to cover the alcohol better), but thanks to its complexity, I am warming up to this the more I sip.

M: It has a pair of characteristics I like in an imperial stout: it's initially creamy, yet dries nicely on the finish. I also like how the barrels didn't overly thin the body out. There is a harsh tannic bite post-swallow that could be cut down some, though. Carbonation is slightly high for the style, which means it's still rather low.

O: If the rest of the beer had lived up to the aroma, it could have been a local, readily available Parabola killer. Still, there is more than a passing resemblance to the Firestone Walker stalwart - it brings both the bourbon and the stout nicely, it's complex, but it's also rather abrasive. Honestly, in a blind taste test, I'd have trouble telling the two apart. I'd definitely buy another bottle of this to age a year.

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Photo of chilly460
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - The body is pitch black as expected, no head detected, just a thin tan ring of bubbles in the glass.

S - Pretty full aroma, get tons of vanilla, dark roast, leather, maybe a touch of oak. Surprised that the bourbon wasn't really there.

T - Sweetness of this beer is immediately apparent, first is the deep caramel and vanilla flavor. Some alcohol warmth, but can't say I really detected the bourbon. A bit of dark roast coffee, with chocolate as well.

M - Full, thick, chewy...right on point.

O - Nice "monster" of a stout that I'd want from this bottle. Reminded me of BCBS, not as good, but same types of flavors.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a blackish body with one finger tan head on top of a rather oaky, woody aroma, touch of bourbon I guess. Had some dark chocolate and caramel malt as well, maybe even toffee but not that much coffee at all. Smooth, the barrels help smooth things out, almost chewey but more cream, good balacnce between chocolate, real sweet vanilla, caramel, toffee, and those dry, roasted coffee malts. Hints of dark fruits like figs/raisins. Minor carbonation aids into a slightly crisp, dry finish. A stout that packs a little bit of a punch but is not too heavy or muddled.

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Photo of Omnium
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Dommys pizza
A. Brown black with a finger of tan head very little lacing.
S. Roch bourbon and roasted malt, sweet caramel, toffee, black cherry.
T. Dark and rich malt, dark fruit, bourbon, coffee, dark chocolate.
M. Thick and clingy velvety texture.
O. Pretty solid bba beer.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/15/12 notes. Thanks to BigSexy410 for sharing this one, been wanting to try it.

a - Pours a dark mahogany brown color with one inch of tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bourbon, roasted malts, chocolate, burnt malts, and light vanilla.

t - Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, roasted malts, chocolate, caramel malts, toffee, sugar, oak, light alcohol. More vanilla in the taste than the nose; a step up for me.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Smooth and creamy and not too hot.

o - Overall I thought this was a really good beer from DuClaw; i think after the Oak Aged Black Jack this is their second best beer that I've had. I thought the taste was really nice and balanced. Would definitely like to have it again.

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Photo of _RL_
4/5  rDev -3.4%

On nitro at pizza boy. Pours black with little head. Not as flavorful as a typical bb stout but still good, although not great. Hints of bourbon that are quite nice but not much from the underlying stout - I would take Ten Fidy or regular Pt5th over this. A decent beer, but below what I would expect from a quality bb stout.

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Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.
A - Black, looks like coffee, small head that dies off quickly.
S - Smell of vanilla, alcohol and raisins.
T - Flavor is alcohol forward with dark fruit, almost licorice. The vanilla comes out as the beers warms.
M - Thick and chewy.
O - A good solid bourbon barrel aged Stout. Definitely improves when warmer.

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Photo of Chaney
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Barrel no. 3 of 20; Barrel date - 3/11/2011; Date out of barrel - 9/19/2011. Thanks for this cool piece of info DuClaw!

BA says that this is 10.5%, but the bottle says 9%.

I poured this into my Cigar City snifter.

A: Whoa.... I was talken aback by how fast that head died down. Now, there is nothing there. The extremely black brew was extremely black in its extreme blackliness.

S: I got some buttery bourbon upfront, along with a bit of artificially-flavored grape melted popsicle.

T: Many have complained about the sweetness of this one, but I personally dig sweet barrel-aged brews. It help cut through the bourbon IMO. I got a good bit of heat also. There was absolutely NO dark chocolate, coffee, or soy sauce component to this at all. I have a feeling that if it weren't for the barrel-aging, this might taste like an overly sweet "Storm King."

M: Like most BA brews, this one wasn't creamy, nor was it meant to be. It lays on the palate like a fine port wine with a bourbon backbone. No lacing, of course.

O: I dug this, and I have a feeling that this is the model of a brew that would benefit from extended cellaring.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: Date in Barrel 03/28/2014, Date out of Barrel 10/01/2014

A: Pours an opaque yet still clear jet black in color with moderate amounts of fine visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and faint dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that reduces to a medium thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of boozy bourbon, vanilla, and oak over the top of moderate aromas of roasted dark malts, bittersweet chocolate, and dark fruits (prune, fig, and raisin).

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of roasted dark malts with a light to moderate amount of dark fruit sweetness (prune, fig, and raisin). That is followed by strong flavors of boozy, bourbon, vanilla, and oak from the barrel aging as well as a moderate flavor of bittersweet chocolate. Light to moderate amount of roasty bitterness which does not linger in the finish but the lingering flavor is bourbon.

M: Just shy of full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Moderate amounts of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: Enjoyable but pretty boozy, definitely a slow sipper but it matched well with my breakfast for dinner tonight (blueberry granola pancakes, sausage, and cinnamon baked apples).

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Photo of oberon
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Put in barrel 3/28/14 taken out of barrel 10/01/2014.Pours ink black with a creamy deep beige head that leaves an almost full ring of lace as it settles into a frothy mass.Vanilla/bourbon in the nose along with alcohol soaked dark fruit,and mild roast.Bourbon is big in the nose along with brown sugar and dark fruit,a hint of lactic-like sourness is there as well.Odd in the fact I don't get alot of roast or coffee but I like the fruit and the bourbon components.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Barrel 2 of 20.

The beer is opaque and near black with a towering beige head that lingers for several minutes, plastering the glass with sticky lacing as it recedes.

The aroma brings big scents of bourbon, detectable from a few feet away. Secondary smells include chocolate, oak, roast.

A bit of vanilla emerges in the flavor, and perhaps a touch of coconut. However, this beer is all about the chocolate and bourbon. Nicely done, and on the verge of attaining the next flavor score. A bit sweet, but I had no problem finishing the bottle solo.

Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. Lingering flavors of sweet, roasted malt and a bit of booze.

Overall, a nice offering from a local brewery. There seems to be some deviation in the various batches. I look forward to revisiting this beer, and perhaps sampling a different batch.

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Photo of ckollias
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Pours a dark black hue with a thick dark brown 2-finger head that quickly dissipates and leaves a wispy lace.

S: Strong malty aroma with a big bourbon scent with hints of chocolate and coffee in the background.

T: Dark sweet flavor with a roasted malt bitter bourbon backbone. Strong chocolate and coffee overtones and finishes a little on the dry side.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Excellent imperial stout. Enjoyed this with some of my home-brewing friends and we all agreed it was something we would grab again.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, my bottle says 11.5% abv, and 1 out of 15 barrels. 9/21/12 out of barrel.

appears jet black, nice 1/2" thick tan colored head. decent retention. smell is boozy bourbon and oak flavors. caramel, vanilla, roast, toasted marshmallow. taste is good balance of roasty dark malt, slight bitter cocoa and coffee, with whiskey alcohol burn, lingering. medium boy and carbonation level. could be thicker, but does coat the tongue.
overall - pretty good. if you're a bourbon drinker, seek it out.

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Photo of thain709
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In talking with a representative, he mentioned that each keg/batch will be different in aroma and flavor.

A - The body is pitch black, almost motor oil-esque...there was no head, but only a small, solid, tan ring...a few patches of lacing could be found though

S - There is a huge sweetness to the nose that blends together bourbon and's hard to find anything else, but the aroma is rather intoxicating

T - Again, a huge sweet presence...for me the sweetness never becomes cloying...rather it helps in the flavor profile and lets the bourbon escape ever so slightly...the bourbon is present throughout but again, never overpowering...the vanilla cuts down its intensity and also adds flavor...towards the finish roasted chocolate comes out along with some sweet, dark this has a chance to warm a char finish becomes noticeable

M - Full bodied...this one is thick, smooth, and becomes thicker as it has a chance to warm...a warming bourbon sensation follows with a hint of chocolate and a slight char

O - I was very happy with this big beer from sounds like each batch will be different and they will be blending this with other big beers down the road...given the intensity and alcohol level, this one is a sipper...but you will be rewarded as it has a chance to warm

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Photo of Steffano
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received a bottle as an extra last year, felt the weather was right to open. Nice but mellow coffee aroma, taste is straightforward bourbon-barrel, hint of vanilla, flavors dominated by chocolate, coffee, a little vanilla, and some anise. Pleasantly surprised by this, compares very favorably to stone's imperial russian stout (not sure what the price or availibilty on this one) Incredibly drinkable for the abv, only downside is the thin mouthfeel. Otherwise, very much recommended, well done Duclaw!

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Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice barrel aged stout but was lacking a little bit in the mouth feel as well as the barrel notes… The nose I was getting off of it excited me for the taste which was a little bit lacking but still extremely tasty overall!

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The beer is an obscure tar black. The beer also has a slick appearance. The head is off tan but quickly dissipates and does not gather much strength even with a hard pour. However, the beer does leave a ring around the inside of the glass. The beer smells strongly of vanilla and oak with a roasted malt smell that supplements the dominant smells. The taste is very similar to the smells. Vanilla and oak dominate the taste with roasted malts complementing the dominant flavors. However, the hops make an appearance in the aftertaste as well as a bit of malts. The mouthfeel is heavy bodied and thick.However, the thickness feels somewhat velvety and not like syrup. Overall ,this is a pretty good beer and worth getting.

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Photo of CHickman
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Lark, pours pitch black with a small tan head that faded average time and left decent spotty lacing. Head did not have the legs I expected from a barrel aged stout.

Smells of dark chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, fresh coffee grinds, cocoa powder, vanilla, faint piney hops, bourbon and some oaky notes. The chocolate really dominates and helps mask the ABV.

Tastes like it smells but with a lot more chocolate and bitter dark coffee, then some roasted grains, peat moss, chocolate syrup and burnt wood. The ashy char notes works well with the chocolate sweetness and let the complexities tie it all together quite well. This brew repeats the same profile as the nose with a lot of chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, coffee grinds, cocoa powder, vanilla, faint piney hops, bourbon and some oaky notes. The bourbon is an accent in this case but helps keep this smooth and true to the style. A real fine brew that's easier to drink than it should be at 11.5% ABV.

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Retribution from DuClaw Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 484 ratings