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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Stout - Oatmeal
Ranked #7
Ranked #592
4.38 | pDev: 6.85%
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: 64 | Ratings: 356 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Scotchboy
Scotchboy from Idaho

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

2020 bottling.

A: Excellent wax-topped presentation. Pours stout-dark; dense and black with a mocha-colored & fizzy head that doesn’t completely disappear.

S: Spicing, followed by bourbon... very smooth but complex...vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Strong sweetness and spicing on competing levels...fudgy caramel, mild coconut.

T: Bourbon-y palate carries the spicing forward; vanilla, oak, caramel, mocha, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Warm. Chocolate. Delicious.

MF: Smooth, velvety, full-bodied, lower carbonation; warm; mildly boozy.

O: Very nice; the spicing plays well with the strong, clear bourbon character. There is a good amount of sweetness. Spicing finishes the palate well.

Feb 06, 2021
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Parmesan from Colorado

4.49/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L:. Pours a thick oily black with a big thick beige tan head and no lacing.

S:. Lots of notes of spice including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, with notes of vanilla and bourbon lingering underneath and finally ends with a note of chocolate.

T:. Bourbon and vanilla wonderfully intermingle with chocolate followed by lots of nutmeg, clove, all spice, and cinnamon. The spice is masterfully balanced with the rest of the base beer.

F:. Thick body, smooth and slick.

O:. The spice is really well done in this beer, as it compliments the rest of the other flavors really well.

Jan 24, 2021
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Wasatch from Colorado

4.91/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22 oz. Bomber
Silver Wax/Capped
Limited 2020 Release
ABV: 12.7%

Poured into a Trillium glass a very nice dark brown/black color, with some very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy one-finger tan head, which also leaves some pretty nice oil slicks, and some pretty nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is very nice, malty, hoppy, with a very nice touch of chocolate/toffee, very nice touch of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger, very nice bourbon/oak note, vanilla, with some licorice, slightly roasty. The taste is very nice, awesome, malty, hoppy, with a very nice touch of chocolate/toffee, very nice touch of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger, very nice bourbon/oak note, very nice vanilla sweetness, licorice, nice roastyness. Full Body, ABV is hidden very nicely, a very tasty complex brew, a very nice sipper. Overall, this is one pretty awesome brew. Definitely nice to see this one around, been looking for it for about 2 years. Glad to have finally found some. Definitely worth buying!

Jan 03, 2021
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EMV from Pennsylvania

4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a grey wax-topped bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Inky black pour with a finger of mocha colored head. Not much light getting through this one.

S: Sweet and roasty with spice. Cinnamon mixed with cocoa.

T.F: Follows the nose. Sweet and roasty. Booze and spice. Nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon. Bourbon and vanilla. Ginger, mild espresso, and roasted grains. Thick bodied and oily. Low carbonation... boozy and warming. Oak and fudge.

O: An outstanding big, boozy, spicy, bourbon barrel aged stout. Delicious... and one to sip on a cold winter night. Very well executed.

Dec 25, 2020
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hops_for_thought from New York

4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle (2016) into a small glass taster

L: pours a very deep black brown, with a minimal brown head that fades after a few seconds. Leaves some nice brown foam around the edge

S: nice balanced spice nose on a great barrel-forward stout base. Not surprisingly the spices have faded somewhat, but still getting a nice amount of cinnamon and ginger. Mostly a deep chocolate aroma, good amount of raisins and figs, some oak and vanilla

T: mostly base beer here, which isn’t surprising considering the years on the bottle and also is far from a bad thing. Lots of raisin/fig goodness, with nice dark chocolate and roasty notes. Nice amount of vanilla, imagine that’s both barrel and adjunct coming through. Long finish, nothing I would attribute to oxidation on the swallow which is fairly impressive

F: medium- body, low+ carbonation. My main knock is the body is somewhat thin vs. expectations for the style

O: a very good beer, adjuncts still coming through with some decent aging. The base brew is fantastic, the spices come through, and there’s no oxidation to speak of

Oct 25, 2020
Photo of dfillius
dfillius from Iowa

4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wow. Such a nice blend of flavors. The spices are VERY complementary and not muddled or distracting at all. I thought it’d be like a winter warmer, but not at all, this is darn near perfect as a stout. Alcohol is not hot at all, hidden/complementary as well. Shocking for a 14% beer. Improvements would be: greater quantity of head, less bracing booze in the aroma...and that’s it!
Thanks to cousin Mindy’s bf Jesse for the hookup. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This beer is precious, seek it out!

Mar 21, 2020
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beersampler6 from Michigan

4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely incredible beer that I’d been meaning to try for a while. I’ve heard so much about these Fremont Dark Star beers and was finally able to find a collection. I’ve been more into oatmeal stouts recently and this one hits all the notes for me - aroma, flavor, creaminess. 2017 version. Pours a thick sludgy black opaque color with a nice thick tan head and some small rings of lingering lacing that persisted. I let this one warm up a little out of the fridge and that made a huge difference. Big aromas of dark chocolate, rich roast coffee, caramel, toffee, vanilla, biscuit, brown sugar, raisin, spice - I could detect cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Some nice boozy bourbon and oak. Taste follows the nose, absolutely incredible flavors and they were so well blended and balanced. This was close to being rated a 5 for flavor. Smooth, luscious, sticky, rich mouthfeel that coated the palate. Perfect amount of moderate carbonation. Definitely a sipper but surprisingly not as much warming alcohol as I expected. A tremendous beer and I highly look forward to trying the other ones in this series.

Jan 13, 2020
Photo of 5toutman75
5toutman75 from Illinois

4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Best part about it is the thick mouthfeel and spice combination. It’s the perfect Christmas beer to me. Sometimes these spiced stouts can overdo it but I think they hit the mark. I wonder what a fresh bottle would taste like though. It could use more barrel character but I love the barrel forward stouts more than most. Glad I could have this bottle!

Dec 01, 2019
Photo of Beersnake1
Beersnake1 from California

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

Poured from fridge temp. Nice black color with lots of light brown head. Nose is cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, chocolate, and some licorice. Taste is amazing. Charred wood, Christmas spices, dark chocolate, licorice, bourbon, toffee, burnt candy, leather, tree bark, earth, and some molasses. Super complex, yet smooth. Mouthfeel is deep and creamy. Just how it should be. Overall, this is amazing.

Nov 28, 2019
Photo of Roguer
Roguer from Georgia

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.

Oct 18, 2019
Photo of Sabtos
Sabtos from Ohio

4.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.


Okay, so this is weird. I wish I had notated the vintage of the bottle I'd reviewed above, because having a 2018 bottle just before Christmas of 2020, I'm far more pleased with the experience.

Again appearance is a dark coffee black with a short but creamy tan head settling to a ridged ring.

It seems much less heavy-handed with the Christmas spice now than last I had it. It's quite mild and more drinkable on that front, while the barrel maintains a very pleasantly dominant presence, featuring a good char with a whiskey bite and some milky oak. The malt is a bit chocolatey, but not too much, also featuring notes of caramel and nuts, all in fine balance with nothing obtrusive.

The medium body is slick but then its soft froth cuts to a sharp tingly crisp carbonation that has a semi-dry sting.

There's a bit more cinnamon this time, and much less ginger, nutmeg, allspice or whatever else they put in this. I can't help but completely blow away my previous rating and up this by quite a lot.

Sep 10, 2019
Photo of brentk56
brentk56 from North Carolina

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

Jul 24, 2019
Photo of AyatollahGold
AyatollahGold from Indiana

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.

May 21, 2019
Photo of Fordcoyote15
Fordcoyote15 from Kentucky

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.

Apr 16, 2019
Photo of WunderLlama
WunderLlama from Massachusetts

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

Mar 21, 2019
Photo of emyers
emyers from Illinois

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.

Mar 02, 2019
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ManapuaMan from Massachusetts

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.

Jan 29, 2019
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WA_Brian from Washington

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.

Jan 08, 2019
Photo of Buck89
Buck89 from Tennessee

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.

Dec 30, 2018
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rarigney from Washington

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.

Jun 02, 2018
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stevoj from Idaho

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.

Jan 08, 2018
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DefenCorps from Oregon

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

Dec 18, 2017
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amano_h from Oregon

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.

Dec 16, 2017
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Stevedore from Oregon

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.

Nov 14, 2017
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GreesyFizeek from New York

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.

Aug 15, 2017
Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Spice Wars from Fremont Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 356 ratings