Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice Wars
Fremont Brewing Company

Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice WarsBourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice Wars
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English Oatmeal Stout
Ranked #4
Ranked #601
4.38 | pDev: 7.08%
Fremont Brewing Company
Washington, United States
Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice WarsBourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice Wars
Notes: Our Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in 15 year old single use Kentucky Bourbon Barrels. Spice wars adds vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves.
Reviews: 55 | Ratings: 326 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Roguer
4.57/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Excellent head production, and incredible lacing for the style.

Nose is deep, sweet, inviting, and curious. Without knowing the spice blend, I get rich vanilla tones, cinnamon, ginger, and clove, all mingling with the bourbon barrel influence and thick stout base. (After looking up the blend, allspice and nutmeg make sense as well, although they don't immediately come to mind.)

Very similar presentation on the palate, with sweet vanilla leading the way, quickly overtaken by strong notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The barrel is clearly present on the second third, yet on the outside of the flavor profile, like a boozy, mashy, oaky envelope surrounding the spice tones. Kisses of ginger hear and there, most notably on the back third. Semi-sweet chocolate, Baker's chocolate, and bitter coffee tones from the roasted barley, especially on the back end once the spices and sugar have mostly been absorbed.

Creamy and smooth, with a boozy, lively bite that never offends, yet still finds a way to remind you of the massive ABV.

Both smells and tastes like beer's answer to spiked egg nog. It's certainly over the top, and comes across a touch gimmicky, but it's unquestionably delicious.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.69/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is sort of a light cola black with a tall mocha foam settling to a tan collar.

This exhibits all kinds of ginger right up front, and having this outside in the middle of summer, it's a big no from me. I concert with the Big Red sort of cinnamon flavor I'm getting, there's even an evergreen note to it all.

The soft frothy medium body does survive on to add a decent milk chocolate and cocoa character before the semi-dry finish. It has some heat and a little metallic, nutty barrel, and while that's not bad, it's a bit weird.

It's just too damn Christmasy for me, and I wasn't coming into it expecting that. I was thinking this would be Fremont's version of barrel aged Huna, which sounded fucking awesome in my head. Damn.

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Photo of brentk56
4.31/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Arrives espresso colored with a tan head; swathes of lacing

Smell: Spice wars on the nose with cinnamon, ginger, clove, peppermint and vanilla merging with chocolate fudge

Taste: A little bit of chocolate, up front, with the spices quickly impacting; Teaberry gum popped into my mind with cinnamon and clove powering; hints of vanilla and peppermint, in the middle; boozy finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Overall: A fun beer to cogitate but not sure I would return to this

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Photo of AyatollahGold
4.77/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

If you’re into spices, this is amazing. The name sums it all up. Spice wars. A borage of spices tangling all the way throughout. Cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg, can go on and on. I loved it.

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Photo of rypkr
4.02/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Pretty nice beer. I'm finding the spice overtaking any true stout flavors such that I'd really say this is more reminiscent of a pumpkin beer than any sort of stout.

And yes, I cracked this is April.

As I sip on it longer the spice is less overpowering and it somewhat begins to drink as a stout. Something about it all isnt working for me though. Its overly sweet and that's not something I usually say.

After 1/4 I had enough. It wasnt worth the calories to finish.

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at BottleCraft in San Diego poured into a tulip

Dark liquid, taupe foam cap immediately disappears

Aroma of spices, all spice, nutmeg, rum raisins,

Taste of nutmeg spice, allspice

Velvety smooth

Good beer

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Photo of emyers
4.04/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Near black with a thin light brown head.

Nose: very spice - forward. Cinnamon, clove, allspice. Bourbon barrel is subtle.

Taste: still spice-forward but a bit more vanilla and bourbon character. Subtle roasted malt.

Feel: full-bodied, medium-low carbonation.

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Photo of ManapuaMan
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consistently high marks across the board for all the BA Dark Star variants. You know what you'll get from the beer, regardless of the flavor additive: an impeccably crafted, barrel-heavy-but-still-somehow-balanced beer that incredibly smooth, silky and packs a nuanced flavor-cascade in every sip.

This version comes strong with warming, holiday-inspired flavors like nutmeg and cinnamon. Both are present and unmistakable and will heavily influence the aroma and taste. The glass will literally emit a bouquet of fucking holiday goodness before every sip. Remarkable.

Everything else, however, is trademark Fremont.

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Photo of WA_Brian
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2018 bottle poured into a snifter at 51°F.

L: Pours black with a small brown head. Head dissipates quickly to the edges of the glass.
S: Strong cinnamon aroma complimented with nutmeg. Swirling opens up a bit of whiskey and and a hint of what I can only guess is the ginger from reading the spice list.
T: Roasty chocolate initially, then spices dominate with nutmeg leading the charge. Fairly sweet, but 13.6% ABV is well hidden.
F: Medium body with medium carbonation. Very smooth and creamy.
O: This is a bold base beer with a large amount of spices and yet remains very drinkable. It tastes like dessert, from the chocolate and spice flavors to the sweetness of the beer. My only criticism is the spices are so heavy that it sort of masks the complexity of the base BBADS, but at the same time I very much enjoy the spices.

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Photo of Buck89
4.51/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. A viscous dark brown on the pour with a medium sized creamy tan head. Amazing aroma with serious spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla, and faint bourbon. The first thing I noticed on the taste was the thick creamy feel. This nicely supported the spices and the barrel. The chocolate and roasty notes were also there. The ginger shined on the finish. Overall an interesting and elegant beer.

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Photo of rarigney
4.91/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance is very dark brown with a creamy dark mocha head. Head is fairly retentive but leaves very little lacing. Aroma is a combination of chocolate and bourbon with a nice spice blend in the background. Taste is very similar with a hint of sweetness. The spices reveal themselves to include cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Full bodied and smooth as silk.

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

22oz bottle (2017) pours out dark black topped with a small beige head. In addition to the normal BBA RIS aromas, the vanilla and spices are quite evident. Taste too, sweet and spicy, lots of warmth from the ABV. Really nice.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Beermongers.

Black, dark brown head. The nose is spicy with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, mildly smoky peppers, heather, buckwheat honey, dark caramel. Wonderful honeyed palate, creamy full, mild leather, and moderate spice. Vanilla, gingerbread cookie like with a little smoky pepper. The vanilla adds a mildly fruity sweetness, complementing the nutmeg quite nicely.Sweet, spicy finish, wonderful palate. Alcohol is well hidden. Excellent beer.

**Edit 30 Nov 2018**
2018 vintage on tap at the Upper Lip.
Balls to the wall decadence with cinnamon, allspice , nutmeg and ginger, all with a ton of chocolate. Full, creamy and spicy, this is decadent. The chocolate notes on this beer are off the chain. Deep and flavorful, they hold their own against the spices. 4.5/4.25/4.5

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Photo of amano_h
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The brew is aptly named "Spice Wars" because spice is pretty much the predominant theme across the board. Cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger powder, faint peppermint, and bitter endives compose the more garden herb/spice component of the aromatic quoutient.

The rich barrel-aged oatmeal stout-y aromatics are hard to detect on the nose as the spice complete takes over, but there's hints of french roast espresso, and dark roasted malts that emanate from the glass toward the back.
The oatmeal stout strikes back as the maltier side of the business are more aggressively pronounced upon the tongue than they were on the nose. Charred oak, army-style turpentine coffee, and thick molasses are able to sneak in a quick jab until they're counterattacked by the spice flood of cinnamon, nutmeg, and altoids. Yeah, yeah altoids aren't spices, eat a dick. It's actually quite curious that the spice is able to overpower any and all competitors for dominance over this already decadent brew--in fact, you probably wouldn't know this was bourbon barrel-aged if it weren't for the heat you felt while the liquid trickles down your throat into your belly.
The variant thankfully retains the rich creamy mouthfeel that its other counterparts presented, while sporting a solidly medium body. There's a nice velvety slickness which coats the tongue on each sip, which would be absolutely heavenly if there was a more substantial chewy texture that went with it; I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too. Gentle simmering carbonation remains consistent throughout the drinking experience.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.97/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark black body, one finger offwhite head, good retention and no lacing. Smell is coconut oil, sort of curry-like, touch of cinnamon, dark chocolate fudge and a bit of bourbon. Flavour is more of the nutmeg and clove; background of dark chocolate and a bit of Ritter sport, light bourbon presence that adds a nice complexity to it. Ultimately it is fairly spice-heavy befitting the name, but I think it has a bit too much Indian curry, fennel-type presence going on here. Mouthfeel is full bodied, good carbonation, smooth and creamy with a spice-forward finish.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.51/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Toronado in Seattle, WA.

This one pours a pretty dark black, with a small head, and no lacing.

This smells like cinnamon dusted high quality chocolate, bourbon, spicy oak, and nutmeg.

I don't quite get all the spices here, but i do get gritty nutmeg, and spicy cinnamon. There's a lot of toasty and spicy barrel, with a good amount of leathery bourbon. The Dark Star base provides a good amount of chocolate, too.

This is thick, chewy and creamy, with a good level of carbonation for the style.

Fremont can't fail when it comes to this sort of thing.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.43/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage
22oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep black color with a one-finger foamy khaki head that eventually reduces to a ring around the edge

S- the spice profile almost reminds me of a pumpkin spiced beer; lots of clove, nutmeg, allspice & cinnamon. Spicy ginger pops out before giving some barrel notes of earthy wet wood, vanilla and caramel. Finishes with slightly charred malt and dark chocolate

T- opens with sweet roasted chocolaty malt, followed by an array of spices; spicy ginger & clove, pumpkin-like flavors of nutmeg, allspice & cinnamon. Mid-palate gives some barrel notes of bourbon and woody oak, as well as some caramel and vanilla undertones. The finish brings more ginger and clove, and lingers of dark chocolate and barrel

M- medium-heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that turns into a velvety, warming finish

O- pumpkin spice Dark Star? I love pumpkin beer and this one mimics some of the best pumpkin stouts I've had (minus the physical pumpkin)

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thank you, Sebastian. This was poured into a snifter. The appearance was a nice looking dark brown close to black color with a slim half finger off white foamy head that dissipated within about a minute. Light lacing skimmed the glass nicely and slid into the body. The smell had a nice dark sweet malty light cocoa to sweet roasted coffee with a bit of a dark chocolate embodying a nice depth of vanilla and cinnamon. The taste was sweet and took the spice to the underside to balance. It’s quite sticky in the aftertaste but leads to a slightly sticky yet spiced finish. On the palate, this one sat about a medium on the body with a mostly sipping quality about it. It’s practically perfectly carbonated. Oh wow! Overall, this is probably one the best bourbon barrel aged oatmeal stouts I’ve ever had.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.22/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: pours thick, black
S: black licorice, cinnamon, chocolate and light barrel.
T: chocolate and cinnamon thankfully are foremost.
F: smooth, fairly thin though.

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Photo of MjBrewhouse
4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage. I thought I may have waited too long to crack open this one. I was wrong, this beer has so much going on but balances all the components just right. At just over 2 years in my cellar it is a gem.I do notice that the barrel aging has fallen off just a touch and it is not as thick and vicious as maybe it once was, I have not tried Spice Wars before so only have 2014 and 2015 Ba Darkstar to reference. Seems almost like in between Darkstar and BBomb as far as the mouth feel. The nose still has enough bourbon goodness to hold my interest and all the spices enhance the nose and blend well with bourbon to make for an amazing balance on the palate. Hardly notice the booze on the back end. I'm super impressed with Spice wars, hope Fremont makes more of this in the future.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to John for the bottle. Always a pleasure to get Fremont stuff.

Had this back to back with the year's CCBBomb, and I definitely preferred this one, while the wife preferred the other. Oily black pour, foamy brown head that simmered down to a lasting ringlet. Rich malt aroma, and a cavalcade of spices. Dark malts in the taste, roast, cinnamon and allspice coming out the most to me, with a strong barrel presence, complimenting a rich but not overblown vanilla profile. Lots of breweries have been overdoing the vanilla lately, but this one hits a very comfortable spot that keeps the sweetness in check, while allowing the other spices to come out. Rich mouthfeel, medium-full body, and great drinkability.

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Photo of Slack
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22 oz

Black to deep brown on the edges and clear. A minor partial head ring still remains after sitting for a bit. Minimal lacing on a sip.

Nose is spicy - ginger and cinnamon dominate. A bit of booze and oak also show up as well as a bit of vanilla.

Taste is bourbon, oak, subtle sweetness, cinnamon, vanilla, and a ginger finish.

Mouthful is medium to heavy and syrupy. Carbonation is average. Finish is semi sweet.

Very spice forward. It dominates the profile and supports the name. Very good in nature however I can see this being an acquired taste while the regular KDS appealing to all. Try it if available.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.26/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle $17.99. I was not expecting to like this as much as I did. I picked it up based on how good their other barrel aged offerings are, good choice. Looks just like the other KDS beers. Aroma was ginger at first, then spice, then bourbon barrel stout, nice. Flavor alternates between the bourbon barrel stout flavors and the spices, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, everything listed on the label is present though I can't really say what allspice tastes like. The nice thing about this beer is the subtlety of the spices. Well done.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

for all the different spices in here, its pretty cohesive in its overall presentation, like, the spices are not readily distinguished from one another, they go together really well, and are strong enough to come though the huge base beer without being overwhelming. i could not imagine a more perfect balance. the vanilla and the cinnamon seem to lead the charge, but its all there together, soft and warming with the very sweet whiskey profile on this. i was a little concerned about the ginger being hot and maybe making this less of a mellow experience overall, but that really isnt the case. a real mellow almost dried and powdered ginger profile rather than a fresh one helps with that. heavy dark chocolate and coffee notes from the base stout, enormous beer in its own right. tons of oak here too, sweet and less charred and burnt tasting than the coffee edition, which i was lucky enough to have side by side with this one. smoother here, less alcohol heat it seems too, almost seems more mature in some ways. for all thats added to this beer, it comes across like it was meant to be from the very beginning. i have not seen this one in bottles yet in colorado, but i sure hope it comes around. fremont is on a serious hot streak right now, this and the coffee edition are out of this world!

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Photo of Lochnessmonster
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I'll be honest, I expected this one to be a mess. So much going on in one beer (and I don't love ginger), but wow did they pull it off! Super drinkable for such a high abv beer - this is yet another home run from Fremont.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice Wars from Fremont Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 326 ratings