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Huge Arker | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Huge ArkerHuge Arker

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bourbon Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout.

Added by chinchill on 01-29-2014

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Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 314
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Yard House in Northridge, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, wood, and huge bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast and wood bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty but super bourbon forward, especially in the taste.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

In comparison of all the arkers that I know, there are small ones, there are large ones, there are medium-sized ones, but this one is huge!

Just a shade off of black, the dark "bark" brown hue is laced with powdered cocoa appearances. Its dense haze prevents any light as its cauldron simmers with a creamy lather of espresso-like creme to top glass. Trailing with mild fingerling lace, the stout is masculine and calm.

Its robust scent of charred toast, french-roast coffee and dark chocolate is moderately strong even though there's a somber tone to its intensity. With a growing bourbon presence, the nose is soon under command of its oak, caramel, vanilla, light coconut and its own spicy char. Woven together with malted milk, roasted nuts and subtle campfire, the bourbon and roast pull together seamlessly.

Its decadent taste of coffee, chocolate, nuts and toast are supported with toasted caramel, milkshake and cake batter-type of sweetness and breadiness. Again, it mid-intense flavor is smooth and cream filled. But the rise of bourbon carries a classy taste with its whisky-soaked oak, vanillans and and wood spices that offset the beer's lavish taste to start.

Creamy and lush in texture, its tightly woven carbonation dissolves deeply into the stout's sweetness and is slow to separate. This silky texture remains in tact deep into taste and lifts only as the bourbon spice and warmth dissect the marshmallowy feel and allow the wood spices to dry the palate like fine powder.

Huge Arker is a deceptively smooth bourbon-laced stout. There's' really no indication to its powerful strength as it plays out with remarkable drinkability on the tongue and palate. I don't know what an Arker is.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle, and a little dear a shelf tag for my impression thus far of barrel-aged expressions from this brewery. So it remains to be seen what particular sort of 'huge arker' (bomb) this one will be. Onwards, then.

This beer pours a solid tinted black, with strong cola basal highlights, and three fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and rocky tan head, which leaves some random splatters of dried soapy lace around the glass as it easily abates.

It smells of gritty bittersweet chocolate, well-roasted caramel malt, wet brown bread, besotted wood, cheap rye whiskey, weak black licorice, muddled black fruit, a bit of raw vanilla, and a musty hoppiness. The taste is heady medium baker's cocoa, caramel/toffee malt, doughy bread, mixed vanilla/licorice confection, rather intact boozy Bourbon (wood, spicy grain, alcohol, mostly), mild earthy dark fruit, say prunes and raisins, and a subtle leafy, weedy hop dryness.

The carbonation is quite soft and hard to discern at times, but it does the job, the body a wavering medium weight for the style, a tad oily, but generally smooth, with a certain boozy creaminess arising as things warm. It finishes well off-dry, the chocolate and nicely subdued caramel still holding court, with that shot o' Wild Turkey finally having found the good sense to mix 'n mingle.

Well, this is quite the improvement over the 'regular' BBA Wild Turkey offering - here, the demon whiskey wood mostly contributes well-rendered Kentucky rotgut flavour to the underlying RIS, and none of the mouthfeel-thinning experience endemic in this one's little brother. Tasty, huge (the English word), and yet fairly balanced, as the 27-proof alcohol is evident, sure, but not nearly as hot as many sub-10 percenters in the same bracket. So, more of a bomb with a slowly hissing fuse, the end result merely pleasantly sinful fireworks.

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Photo of nickfl
3.94/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Wow, the aroma is mild but there is a huge note of wild turkey bourbon in the flavor. Very distinctly wild turkey, which may or may not be a good thing but is nevertheless impressive. A little cola like overall, but the over the top ABV is relatively well disguised.

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Photo of mothman
3.94/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a tan head. Leaves a lot of lace. Color is pretty much black.

Flavors: nothing out of the ordinary here. A heavy dose of whiskey. Some oak and vanilla with molasses. Roasted malts with hints of coffee. Lots of chocolate and caramel. Finishes with a huge dose of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: smooth, hot, and creamy. Full bodied.

Overall, a solid ba stout, but a bit too hot. Still, very enjoyable.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter; no bottle dating, but is a recent release. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense and rocky tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, coconut, toasted oak, dark bread, raisin, plum, light smoke/char, and roast/oak earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, coconut, toasted oak, dark bread, raisin, plum, light smoke/char, and roast/oak earthiness. Moderate roast/char bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, coconut, toasted oak, dark bread, dark fruit, smoke, char, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitter/sweet and bourbon/oak spiciness balance; and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from roast bitter and oak spiciness as well. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a smooth, moderately creamy/silky, and sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is fairly well hidden with a light-moderate warmth and light barrel booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding barrel aged Russian imperial stout. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the huge ABV, even with the warming barrel notes. Really big on the barrel presence, but not overdone at all. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.87/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I purchased this at Brass Rail Deli, enjoyed chilled from the bomber in a glass.

The color is black with a tan head and tight bead. The smell has a strong bourbon aroma with light stout scent hints of wood with the wild turkey dominating. The feel is very woody with a slight boozy presence and light sweetness with strong tannic quality and mildly sweet middle with almost sweet/dry finish lasting on the palate with alcohol noticeable.

The feel leads to taste of bourbon in the flavor profile which almost seems like a shot dropped in a stout...not offensive but very dominant in the taste with wood and whiskey taking precedence to the base stout flvaor which also makes the stout seem thin and only a gentle caramel flavor is remaining after the swallow. Overall this is not bad, but not what I expect either good for a double digit barrel aged beer but not good if you are not a fan of whiskey flavor in your stout

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Photo of russpowell
3.75/5  rDev -9%

Pours a turbid ebony with a thumb of tan head. Great lacing & head retention, never
really drops bright ( as far as this style can ). Stays effervescent (4.5)

S: Figs, faint booze, Bourbon gets stronger once warm (3.5)

T: Raisins, booze, dryness, Bourbon & figs up front. Some caramel & vanilla mix in with figgyness
once warm, a little molasses, some jammyness too almost makes me think Boulevard BBQ. Finishes
boozey with some woody notes, more figs (3.75)

MF: Medium body at best, slight carbonation, very warming, slick (3.5)

Huge beer, proceed with caution. Tasty enough, just needed more Stout aspects to make me
really happy. Well worth a go though (3.75)

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.65/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Really dark brown color with creamy, mocha head. Aroma is full-on bourbon, caramel, fudge and butterscotch. Taste follows with the fudge and caramel, chocolate cake, bourbon and a roasty bitter finish. Slightly boozy but it's not bothering at all. Full bodied, smooth mouthfeel with just the right amount of carbonation. A really well made bourbon barrel aged imperial stout which I think should get more attention.

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Photo of stevoj
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Bar Gernika. Warm whiskey notes at first sniff, dark brown sticky body. Taste also brings the wood barrel notes on top of a robust RIS. Plenty of heat follows.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours pitch black with a half finger light brown head with good retention and lots of lacing. Aroma of bourbon with dark malt and chocolate barely making themselves known. Flavor follows, with an intense bourbon, vanilla, dark malt and hints of chocolate, very boozy; light chocolate and vanilla appear in the finish after the bourbon settles. Medium, creamy bodied. Whoa, this is one bourbon monster. Many bourbon aged stouts taste like a stout with a shot bourbon, this tastes like a bourbon with a shot of stout. Not sure how I feel about this one. I like bourbon and I do really like drinking this, but it really seems to be a bit unbalanced in favor of of the booze. I am certainly going to buy a couple of these to cellar, this could be interesting with a few years on it. Rating is a bit below my actual enjoyment value because it deviates so much from the style. A powerful, bourbon flavored sipper.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 grudgingly picked up at the COOP for $14... It is as much as $21 at other places around town. Shared tonight with a work buddy.. Dark tan 1" head.. Nice retention.. Decent lacing.. Dark malt and brownie batter on the nose... The flavor shows better bourbon barrel character with plenty of dark malt and vanilla.. Good body, but not huge, well made without needing time to rest in the bottle.


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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A. Pours dark brown with an off white head.

S. Bourbon, malt, sweet and heat. There's a touch of pine but mainly boozy and roasted.

T. Bourbon and wood flavor lasting with a strong malt note. A bit hot. Perhaps a touch oxidized with a chocolate yet dark soy like note. Oak, char, booze. Toasty, roasted, barreled and bourbon soaked.

F. Full bodied, smooth and creamy. Only slightly dry and roasted in the finish.

O. Lovely beer but she's big.

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Photo of biegaman
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge Arker is straightforward black. You wouldn't think such a simple looking beer could pack such deep, profound complexities; one colour equates to a multitudes of flavours. The amount of head the forms from the pour (and sticks around) is surprising and very impressive given the alcohol content.

I love whiskey, but it's not something I want to drink all the time. Of all the styles, however, I find bourbon to be the most "everyday" - sweet vanilla and butterscotch flavours, cinnamon-like spice and orange peel zest can make any 80 proof beverage that much more approachable and agreeable.

Oddly enough, however, bourbon can have the opposite effect when introduced to beer; it often throws velvety, bittersweet mocha flavours entirely out of balance, adding a brash, boozy bite while at it. But not always - Huge Arker is composed like a symphony and has the composure of a monk.

Wild Turkey barrels imparted French vanilla, dark caramel and toasty oak flavours without handcuffing them to any harsh notes of spent tobacco, burnt splinters or alcohol esters. They've extracted the good and excluded the bad. The bourbon is as mellow as The Dude himself and really ties this stout together.

Some bourbon-barrel beers are fire hazards - simply smelling the fumes can put your blood alcohol over the legal limit. With Huge Arker, however, I had to double-check the label - the 13.5% might hit your head but it bypasses the palate. There exists lower strength beers that are far more obnoxious.

Much of the reason behind this lies in its extremely creamy, satiny mouthfeel and the corresponding distraction of flavours: burnt marshmallow, cayenne-infused hot cocoa, black licorice, vanilla pod, and creme caramel custard. I'm not typically one for dessert but this is too good to pass up on.

I'm not impressed by the beer that shouts loudest - I want the one that can sing with soul and melody. Anderson Valley didn't out-muscle their barrel-aged counterparts, they went the way of tact and finesse. Whereas most bourbon ales are army hummers, Huge Arker is a pillowed horse-and-carriage ride.

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Photo of Zorro
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Near black colored beer with a momentary thin brown head.

Smells fruity with lots of grape and berry. Scents of vanilla and caramel. Scent of whiskey and chocolate. Sent of Kahlua liquor.

Starts out sweet and a little bitter. Lots of chocolate and caramel. Fruit flavor and the taste of berries. Taste of coconut. Abundant warming in the chest and no alcohol tasted. Bitterness level is moderate. Bitter chocolate after taste.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Overall a good heavy beer. But it isn't quite Bourbon County Stout level.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a dark, glossy black, with a half inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells very bourbon-forward, with some smoke and chocolate.

The taste is similar. One of the more bourbon forward stouts I've had, this is huge and tasty. Some vanilla, and chocolate, a slight kiss of smokiness, and some good roasted malt flavors.

Thick bodied, quite viscous and sticky, but still very drinkable. Low carbonation.

This was very tasty, I was impressed.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.71/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Huge boozy bourbon barrel aged stout. The aroma is fantastic. This one needs some age on it in the taste department, too boozy when fresh. I'm looking forward to trying this with a little age on it.

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Photo of barczar
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep brown black, lingering head. Cocoa dominates aroma, slightly sweet, with hints of vanilla and bourbon countering coffee and roast malt. Flavor reveals a very roasty and coffee finish, but the chocolate sweetness counters the bitter finish nicely. There's a hint of cherry adding complexity. A little hot, but very enjoyable. Roast is a little more overpowering than I'd like. Reminiscent of a milkshake at times

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Photo of avalon07
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was a two inch, creamy, tan-colored, long-lasting head. Below average lacing.

S: A very good aroma of chocolate, malt, dark fruit, bourbon, and vanilla.

T: Tasted of some malt, chocolate, hints of vanilla, a good amount of bourbon, plum, and caramel. Needless to say, this is a complex, robust flavor. Very tasty and powerful.

F: A good amount of carbonation with a smooth finish, Full-bodied.

O: A very weighty and well made RIS. Easy to like and lots of character.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

served on draft

black in color with white head. good lacing. aroma is all bourbon, quite boozy. taste has a bit of roast, boozy. thicker, coats the mouth.

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

On tap at the Yardhouse, eight ounce pour was $6.75. Completely black, decent head at first. Smell is nice, mild bourbon notes and a hint of chocolate. Surprising. Flavor had more chocolate, roasted malts, sweetness, mild bourbon barrel. This was actually a lot better than I thought it would be, I might need to grab a bottle if I see one.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.51/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into BT glass.

A: Pours a dark cola, near black, with a couple fingers of very dense and soft looking creamy mocha colored head that took forever to fade into a lasting bubbly collar that left thick sheets of fuzzy lace down the glass.
S: Bourbon is rich and sweet but not overly volatile or boozy. I get notes of raisin, leather, chocolate and candied dates.
T: I get notes of raisins, leather, and chocolate that are quickly overshadowed by boozy and dominating notes of bourbon. The finish is particularly boozy that reminds me more of watered down whiskey than it does a barrel aged beer. I also get a lingering peat/char quality that sticks around long after the swallow, as well as flavors of toasted marshmallow throughout.
M: Thick and chewy mouthfeel, full and rich body, lightly sticky, with a ton bourbon that has a ton of lingering booze after each swallow. The carbonation is fluffy and thick.
O: This beer has a huge Wild Turkey presence. It’s not necessary hot, but the booze is very prominent to the point of distraction, and the finish is definitely rough.

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Photo of n2185
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: pours black with a finger of brown head that fades into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: lots of oak on the nose with roasted malts, semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon.

T: lots of oak here as well with roasted malts, burnt sugar, bourbon, vanilla, and a bit of char before a moderately boozy finish

M: thick body with moderate carbonation, this beer is surprisingly lively feeling for such a big beer.

O: I really enjoy this one. Most BBA beers this high in alcohol are so cloyingly sweet or boozy that they're tough to drink more than a few ounces of. This one avoids those qualities and becomes dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is a big beer by any definition. Respectable in most every way, but not quite dialed in like some of the top big barrel aged stouts out there. Its also very heavy handed on the bourbon flavoring. More than most others as well. Still enjoyable and reasonably priced to split with friends.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. I've been holding this bottle down for a couple months now, and I decided now was the time to try it. My second bourbon barrel aged stout from Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a dark woodsy brown color; opaque black in the glass. A finger and a half of creamy khaki mocha head. Nice scattered spotty lacing. Looks pretty nice.

S - The smell is good, but not great for the style especially. Some fudgey chocolate / cookie dough, mild vanilla, mild caramel / toffee, and lots of alcohol fumes. Pretty nice, but I was expecting a little more.

T - Taste follows the nose - some fudgey chocolate / cookie dough / vanilla, mild caramel / toffee presence, and lots of boozey Wild Turkey bourbon heat. Some mild dark fruit presence noticeable as the beer warms.

M - The feel is smooth and creamy. Sticky, bitter, roasty, and dry. Medium-full bodied with good adequate carbonation.

Overall, it's a nice beer, but not quite as amazing as some of the other bourbon barrel aged stouts I've had. The booze character is high with this one, leaving lots of residual heat behind.

Anderson Valley Huge Arker ---4/5.

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Huge Arker from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
4.12 out of 5 based on 314 ratings.
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