Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star
Fremont Brewing Company

Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark StarBourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star
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Stout - Oatmeal
Ranked #4
Ranked #274
4.45 | pDev: 6.52%
Fremont Brewing Company
Washington, United States
Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark StarBourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star
Notes: Formerly known as Kentucky Dark Star (KDS), Imperial Oatmeal Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels.

2020: Blend of 24, 18, 12 and 8-month Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star in 7-12-year old Kentucky bourbon barrels. 12.7%
2019: Blend of 24, 18, 12, and 8-month Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star in 7-12 year old Kentucky bourbon barrels. 13.1%
2018: Blend of 24, 18, 12 and 8-month Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star in 7-12-year old Kentucky bourbon barrels. 13.6%
2017: Blend of 18, 12 and 8-month Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star in 12-year old Kentucky bourbon barrels. 13.1%
2016: Blend of 18, 12 and 8-month bourbon barrel-aged Dark Star in 12-year old Kentucky Bourbon barrels. 14.5%
Reviews: 205 | Ratings: 1,159 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Holderness
Holderness from Massachusetts

4.12/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L -- Jet black in the glass with a surprisingly robust mocha-hued head produced with moderately aerated pour. Good retention and lacing
S -- Rich chocolate, herbal hop, char, leather, black licorice, earth, oak
T -- Largely follows the nose. Almost has an RIS-like bitterness to it. The bourbon character is much more prevalent -- almost wet barrel
F -- Soft mouthfeel from all the oats, and very palate-coating. Minimal velvety carb
O -- Just a hair on the bitter/herbal side. Otherwise quite nice


Aug 26, 2021
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hopley from Massachusetts

4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2017 bottle drank 7/2021 from a Barreled Souls tulip. Aged well. Beautiful pour and nice frothy head that lasted throughout the drink. Roasty but smooth character. Thick but not overly thick mouthfeel. Note my bottle was 14.0% ABV, not as suggested on the notes, so they must have done a few different batches. Glad I finally got to try this one, and a nice one at that! Cheers!

Jul 18, 2021
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

4.13/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2020 vintage (releasedon 10/1/20); consumed on 7/4/21

Pours a clean midnight black body capped with multiple fingers of fluffy, rocky, caramel-colored foam; good head retention leaves a finger of near-creamy cap, a large, frothy collar, and splotchy, short-lived veils of soapy, paper-thin lacing interspersed across the walls of the glass.

Aroma is coated in charred oak from the start, accented with earthy raisin and a steadily expressive barrel spice feeding into burnt dark chocolate and wisps of smoked toffee against a boggy bourbon profile already firm across the bouquet; heavy malt roast develops nuance through the back end, defined and deceptively deft in construction.

Taste offers a heavy barrel char upfront, fading to reveal candied prunes and an encroaching sweetness highlighted via burnt vanillins and silky milk chocolate eventually darkening to bakers cocoa; tinges of bourbon come through on the back end while a resurgent oaky char melds with touches of caramel to finish.

Mouthfeel shows a medium-light body with a fluffy carbonation on the higher end of moderate dispersing a mild, charry texture into the mid-palate; an oily backing, slick with underlying roast to balance, becomes progressively dry toward the finish, with a rounded warmth sneaking through past the swallow.

A throwback profile of charry roast and subtle hop influence meets warming bourbon and burly barrel for a deceptively deep malt profile exploring rangy chocolate notes on a spectrum of bittersweetness; a classic feel with modern appeal, composed and approachably abrasive in its oaky appeal, and so incredibly well-made.

Jul 05, 2021
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morimech from Minnesota

3.57/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2018 release.
Chocolate brown color with a small head that fades to a thin cap. Aroma of alcohol, bourbon, and vanilla. Surprised by the lack of depth. The flavor is strong with alcohol upfront and personal and does not hold back. Notes of bourbon and oak with a bit of chocolate. Very sweet. Again surprised by the lack of depth. Starting to show its age as well with a bit of stale or wet cardboard flavor in the finish. Solid body and carbonation for a big stout. This is a very highly rated and beer and what I tasted did not warrant the score it has on this site.

2017 Release
I am liking this one more than the 2018. Could be just different days and different moods or maybe a difference in vintages. This seems to have less alcohol burn and influence with some more subtle flavor notes. I am picking up licorice, fudge, and a wisp of smoke. Also does not seem as sweet. I would rate this one L:4 S:4 T:4 F:4.25 O:4

Jun 20, 2021
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Pinz412 from Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 2019 bottle, poured into a snulip, was jet black in appearance with a one inch tan head. The aroma was all bourbon. While bourbon was quite forward in the taste, the underlying stout was the standout. Roasty with big notes of dark chocolate, a nicely bitter finish, and the essence of bourbon on the finish. Big bodied and silky smooth on the palate. This deserves every bit of of its reputation. Very well done.

Mar 31, 2021
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Pivopijak from Washington

3.86/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

bottle into glass
Quickly vanishing medium brown head. Pours like motor oil and looks like it's ready to be changed. Smells like an overly caramelized caramel. Strong, dry blackstrap molasses initial flavor with dark roasted grain and finishes with that dark roasted grain note.

Feb 25, 2021
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DIM from Pennsylvania

4.83/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2020 vintage. What a decadent treat! Intense, bitter, dark chocolate dominates. The effect of the barrel aging is perfect as far as I can tell, blending seamlessly with the base beer. Plenty of smooth, warming whiskey and a healthy hit of vanilla. As big as the barrel presence is, the bitter chocolate retains center stage. The mouthfeel is silky redolence.

My first from Fremont. The prospect of being able to procure more from these fine folks will prevent me from deleting the Tavour app. This is just incredible.

Feb 11, 2021
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DoctorZombies from Florida

4.65/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured at 58 degrees. Black with ruby edges; dark tan head; some cap retention; solid ring; soapy lacing; medium legs. Nose is bourbon, charred oak; boozy retro nasal. Bitter sweet dark chocolate entry; some earthy bitterness from hops (Willamette, Cascade and Columbus); oak, vanilla and dried fruit middle; cocoa finish. Almost full (oats) body; moderate minus carbonation; warmth in mouth from 13.1% abv; light carbonation; dry barrel finish. Overall, very well balanced between base and barrel flavors; alcohol is barely noticeable; long oaky/chocolate linger.

Feb 07, 2021
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Guaro from Italy

4.71/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black as the night with creamy cappuccino foam. Elegant scent, caramel, milk chocolate, coffee, plum, raisins, vanilla, bourbon. On the palate, chocolate, molasses, caramel and dehydrated dark fruit, vanilla, roasted coffee and malt, decisive hopping, very light tobacco note and robust but sweet ethyl whiskey embrace. Sumptuous aftertaste of whiskey chocolate. Full body, soft, round and viscous, low carbonation. Excellent balance between sweet and bitter.

Jan 03, 2021
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DarkLordScott from Wisconsin

4.59/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2019 version rated.

A deep black pour that aggressively strangles light that tries to enter it. Wafts of bourbon barrels, sticky sweet chocolate and vanilla entice as you pour. A thin head of foam covers the pour.

Taste immediately presents heavy bourbon, maple and complex notes that swirl lingeringly along the tongue and on down. Rich, deep chocolate sweet overtones, laced with vanilla with thick, delicious maple syrupness grab tight of your throat and never let go. As it warms slightly, it assumes a more balanced profile. However, too warm and it does lose some character. Keep well chilled but not too cold. This is a special brew that boldly knocks on the door, demands to be let in and refuses to leave your living room with no apologies. If you think you're worthy, pick it up.

Jan 02, 2021
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

3.97/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pitch-black coloration with a large, creamy, mocha-colored head. Smells of lightly roasted, sweet caramel malt, some chocolate and vanilla, lighter coffee and bourbon, as well as just a hint of charred oak. Taste is a good balance of roasted, quite caramelly malt, molasses, chocolate, coffee and vanilla, with a distinct Bourbon presence and slight hints of tobacco, leather and charred oak also coming through. Finishes rather sweet, with a very light bitterness and some chocolate, coffee, vanilla and Bourbon lingering in the aftertaste. Full mouthfeel with a rich body and light carbonation.

I have to say that having this right after the base beer was a rather interesting experience and I probaly prefered the non-barrel-aged version of this to be honest, which was just way better balanced for my personal taste. The long aging in barrels has basically caused the bitter, herbal hops, which represented a great counterpoint to the already quite caramelly sweet beer to completely fade away and has also added even more sweetness in the form of some distinct vanilla accents, which also seem to overshadow the roasted malts a little here, along with the mildly boozy Bourbon note.

While this is a much richer beer than the base stout, with a slightly thicker mouthfeel and some nice additional bourbon, vanilla and oak notes, it does not feel distinctly more complex, as these just overshadow some of the more interesting notes of the base beer, while the balance is noteably worse in my personal opinion. Don't get me wrong, this still makes for a very enjoyable BA stout with a very nice, warming, but not quite too boozy Bourbon presence in the finish, but overall it's just too sweet and a tiny tad too boozy for my personal taste, while I also much prefered the more roasted nose of the base beer to the sweeter and more boozy aroma of this.

Dec 25, 2020
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Bruno74200 from France

4.74/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2018 vintage enjoyed in 2020
Very nice bourbon presence with oak and vanilla. Nice roastiness and overall balance.
Where are the 13.6% ABV? It's hardly noticeable and very drinkable.
Nice mouthfeel, very well rounded.
A great barrel aged imperial stout

Nov 30, 2020
Photo of just1cho
just1cho from California

4.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

*2019 Edition*

*Poured into a Teku glass from a 22oz bottle*

This beer poured pitch black in color with a half-finger thick dark khaki colored head. The beer kind of reminds me of a freshly poured espresso shot, having a thin lace of dark tan head as the creamy looking head subsides after a short period of time.

The aroma was very barrel-forward upfront, giving me seductive notes of sweet bourbon. The aroma wasn't one-note however, as the aroma quickly evolved to rich notes of dutch processed cocoa powder with a coffee-like dark roast bitterness. The sweet, rich, and bitter aromas coming from the bourbon, cocoa nibs, and coffee all danced around my nose in balance and harmony the more I nosed my glass.

The taste followed the nose, expect I got the balance that I mentioned in the aroma right away in the front of my palate. Notes of sweet bourbon, dark roasted coffee, and dark chocolate were very prominent. I also got slight hints of black licorice there too, but this wasn't overwhelming or as noticeable as the other flavors. Towards the middle, I just got notes of the sweet bourbon, only for it to become reunited again with softer and less harsh notes of dark chocolate and coffee which don't leave you with an overwhelming bitterness like other stouts do, but with a mellow and non-lingering note of semi-sweet dark chocolate.

The feel of this beer was just simply awesome. I really love the way oatmeal stouts make it feel like you're drinking straight up rich and decadent fudge. The slick oiliness, full-bodied weightiness, and the low carbonation of this beer made it such a smooth and velvety drinking experience that I had to keep reminding myself to slow down my pace. Simply awesome!

Overall, this beer was a very good time. I was able to share a bottle of this with others and they all thought it was rich and amazing as well. I would definitely get this again without thinking twice.

Jun 22, 2020
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.38/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Properly cellared bottle. Midnight black with some dark stars of brown shading, thin tan head. Smell has a ton of barrel up front, the booze is warm, the wood is hardy, not just a sculptor but a lead in the smell, with semi-sweet chocolate, tobacco, and to a lesser degree oat, and toasted caramel. Taste again has the barrel warm and leading even with years of age, crazy, with oat, molasses, bittersweet dark chocolate, tobacco, anise, char and toasted caramel forming waves of flavor washing upon the barrel. Feel is very warm, almost hot, chewy, malty, and big though not super heavy. The hotter booze while it gives the beer character, it needs a touch more balance to fulfill the highest potential. Still a great sipper

Jun 07, 2020
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StraightNoChaser from Georgia

4.87/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: really dark, nearly opaque. Some cola highlights when held to light.
Smell: huge, rich nose of in your face bourbon tempered by velvety smooth vanilla chocolate.
Taste: like the nose, just a stellar blend of in your face richness, and perfectly matched softer notes.

May 03, 2020
Photo of beergoot
beergoot from Colorado

4.31/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The 2017 version...

Jet black body; thin yet lasting tannish head, thick and creamy. A mildly heady scent blend of cocoa and bourbon; a bit spicy with some esters present. Spicy flavor highlighting anise and licorice; light bourbon taste; boozy. Heavy body yet somewhat thin for the style; alcohol heat with some bourbon burn; light syrup.

This is a fiery treat. I wonder what the fresh version would have been like. Perhaps a bit richer in the mouthfeel and fuller in the aroma. But there is no denying the intensity of the taste.

Apr 11, 2020
Photo of 5toutman75
5toutman75 from Illinois

4.52/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Opening a 2015 release on 4/10/20

I haven't had this enough to know what the aging has done to change it, but I can say it's so super smooth and complex. This easily ranks up there with some of my all time favorite regular BA stouts. If there's any let down it's in the slightly thinner feel than my favorite from Goose and Perennial. The alcohol is very well hidden as I'd hope from an aged stout. It's on the more bitter side than sweet which I prefer. Some stouts get too sweet and I can only enjoy them for 8oz. I could drink a whole bottle of this easily.

Worth the hype and respect. I need more of it.

Apr 10, 2020
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UWDAWG from Washington

4.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Look- Black, frothy medium brown head, average head retention, above average lacing.

Smell- Bourbon, oats, chocolate.

Taste- Bourbon (caramel, vanilla, oak), roasted oats, sweet, chocolate.

Feel- Smooth finish, sticky sweet finish, syrup like, full body, slightly below average carbonation.

Mar 27, 2020
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stevoj from Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Grunt fill from Albertsons. Pours out like an oil slick, black and sticky, flat. Aroma us toasty and smoky, woody, boozy. Taste is full on ready grains, burnt toast, ashy, dark chocolate. Alcohol heat kicks in late , rising up the gullet with a slow burn. Really thick and creamy.

Feb 02, 2020
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rand from California

4.71/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Toronado SD, into a small goblet

Dark (dark) brown ale, barely a wispy head as the brew’s viscosity keeps everything contained. Coffee-vanilla nose, with oak and earthy grains balancing strong notes of burnt sugar. Bourbon-forward flavors, caramelly and oaky. Smart move barrel-aging an oatmeal stout, as the stodgy complexion and earthy, grainy undertones help to control the sugary aspects. Still closes with a long, sweet finish.

One of my favorite BA beers I’ve had recently. Grainy oatmeal is a nice, balancing component and ramps up quaffability.

Jan 29, 2020
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JamFuel from Sweden

4.59/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 vintage.

Pours sludgily from the bottle jet black, settling with a thin cap of tan head.

Smell is powerful and roasty with notes of coffee, chocolate, fudge, vanilla, fudge and cardamom. Some charred hints as well as some rum raisin. Barrel notes are there but not huge.

Taste is soft but powerful and intense, Notes of coffee, oak, bourbon, chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon. Some charred sandalwood hints in the back, along with some rum and dried fruit. Just a bit of bitterness on the finish. The booze is felt, but not tasted. Very complex, adding bits and pieces as it warms.

Mouthfeel is medum to full, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall, a terrific stout, rich and strong, but still very balanced. Had no trouble finish the bomber myself.

Jan 21, 2020
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hreb from Washington

4.09/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is the 2017 Fremont Barrel Aged Dark Star, which I'm reviewing in January 2020, after personally cellaring it for the duration (most of that time at fridge temperature, though served slightly warmer).

Beer is oil slick black and forms little head. Strong aroma of bourbon: oaky booze and vanilla. Flavor is layered with blackened barley, nutty goodness, and that strong flavor of kentucky bourbon. Mouthfeel is thin from alcohol and flaked oats. Alcohol content tips the scales at 14.0% for this vintage, and it's no surprise from the taste. Carbonation is also extremely subtle, at least at this age, which works well with the chocolate and vanilla flavors.

Is it good? It's excellent. As a bourbon barrel aged beer, it's amazing. But as an imperial stout... my favorites focus on chocolate, coffee, and roasted barley flavors first, and bourbon second. So this will not dethrone my top beers.

Jan 19, 2020
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Nice looking, with a thick tan head that slowly settled and left a resilient cap for the duration of the drink. Lots on bourbon on the first whiff. Deeper inspection brought roasted grain, coffee, chocolate, and floral hoppy notes. Taste largely followed with bourbon dominating the opening, followed by a rich, roasty, chocolatey flavor bathed in the barrel. The feel was big but silky and not sweet. Slight warming on the finish as expected but not boozy. This deserves it's reputation.

Jan 16, 2020
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beersampler6 from Michigan

4.43/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another outstanding beer from this Dark Star series. I had previously tried the Spice Wars version so was really looking forward to this one. 2017 version. Looks great, nice thick syrupy black opaque color with some tan head and small rings of lingering lacing that persisted. Again drank this one once it had been out of the fridge for 2 hours, so wasn't too cold like my usual stouts. Smells of rich dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, malt, bourbon and oak. Tastes similarly, great balance and complexity and depth. Flavors were out of this world. Smooth, sticky, rich mouthfeel that coated the palate and just the right amount of moderate carbonation. Works as a sipper with both savory dinner and sweeter dessert. Amazing!

Jan 15, 2020
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heydre from Oregon

4.23/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2019 vintage that is near black pour with thin tan head. Slight raisin/cherry up front followed by booze and barrel oak. Hard to tell the chocolate from the coffee so not much candy or bitterness. Roasty malt and a GREAT buzz!

Jan 02, 2020
Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star from Fremont Brewing Company
Beer rating: 98 out of 100 with 1159 ratings