The First Nail (2015)
Fremont Brewing Company

The First Nail (2015)The First Nail (2015)
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Stout - American Imperial
4.39 | pDev: 8.2%
Fremont Brewing Company
Washington, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
The First Nail (2015)The First Nail (2015)
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 98 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by mdaschaf:
Photo of mdaschaf
mdaschaf from Indiana

4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Mar 09, 2015
More User Reviews:
Photo of EdwardAbbey
EdwardAbbey from Washington

4.84/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Probably my favorite beer of those that have never graced a barrel. Certainly my favorite dark beer of that kind. The cinnamon, licorice, and smoked barley are neither subtle nor in any way heavy-handed. They simply play off each other in a dynamic, delightful way, and make this beer, with the rest of the base, satiny-smooth despite its heft. It's not at all hard to imagine why the BBA version of this, the Rusty Nail, is so revered. Having had this one, I revere it.

Jul 16, 2015
Photo of Tilley4
Tilley4 from Tennessee

4.76/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Easily one of the best beers I've ever had. Fremont knocks it out of the park with everything I try from them... They can't make a bad beer... Deep, dark, boozy, loaded with licorice and smokiness, just absolutely delicious... Rich and creamy... This beer is just stupid good... Can't say that I get any Cinnamon but who cares? It's over the top good... Delicious... A sipper...boozy... Loaded with dangerous delicious flavors...

Dec 28, 2015
Photo of woemad
woemad from Washington

4.59/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz waxed bottle purchased about a month ago at Albertson’s in Kennewick, WA, for $9.99. According to the stamp on the neck, this was bottled at 9:10 AM on February 10, 2015. Why is this not available in any bottle shop I went into for the last year and a half, then suddenly popping up in a corporate grocery store in south-central Washington?

Poured into a River City snifter, this is the color of syrupy despair, with a dark, mocha colored head that dropped quickly, leaving spotty lace.

The nose was initially of bitter, smoked malts. As it warmed, the cinnamon and licorice could be detected as well, even though I expected it to have mellowed away over the last 1 ½ years. Neither of these latter aspects are in the same league as the smoked malt aroma, which is closer to something along the lines of soy sauce than say, bacon or smoked salmon. There are also traces of a chocolate-like aroma and a bit of coffeeish roastiness.

A combination of sweet, mollassesy and bitter, smoky maltiness hits the tastebuds first. Midway through comes the spicy cinnamon notes, with licorice riding along as more of an aftertaste than anything else. Licorice-phobes will be relieved to hear it’s a pretty mild, mellow flavor, rather than the big, black licorice blast of something like Ouzo or Sambucca (though I personally happen to enjoy those, especially Ouzo). Along the way are minor flavors of chocolate, coffee, raisins, even a bit of pipe tobacco. Mildly bitter at the finish. While there was some discernable alcohol flavor, it's nowhere near what could be expected from a beer clocking in at 11.5 % abv.

Creamy, velvety mouthfeel to this, like a thin milkshake.

I had my doubts about what this would be like at it’s age, but it’s great stuff. I can’t help but wonder if a fresher bottle might have been brash by comparison. I will certainly pounce on one if I should happen to find one, you know, for science. Between this and the two bombers from Trickster I found at the same time, I think I’ll be hitting the beer section at that particular Albertson’s regularly whenever I’m visiting my folks.

May 29, 2016
Photo of brentk56
brentk56 from North Carolina

4.04/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours engine oil black with a blanket of mocha foam; leaves a curtain of lace

Smell: Prune, black licorice and cinnamon with a touch of smoke; quite roasty

Taste: Assertive licorice and prune tones, with cinnamon and smoke building; herbal hops build, in the middle, too, but the finish is dominated by the sweeter malt elements with the prune and cinnamon lingering in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: Quite an unusual take on the style, part American, part Russian, part Fremont; I am put off a little by the way the beer finishes but I am glad to have had the chance to try it

Thanks, mabermud, for the opportunity

Jun 24, 2015
Photo of rab53
rab53 from Washington

4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Mar 04, 2015
Photo of mothman
mothman from Minnesota

4.36/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very little tan head. Black in color. The cinnamon and licorice show. Roasted malts and coffee. Lots of dark chocolate. Very impressive non- barrel aged stout. Very expedition stout like. Thick. Very nice beer.

Nov 28, 2015
Photo of twelveinches
twelveinches from Washington

4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

May 04, 2015
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB from Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

May 04, 2015
Photo of Morey
Morey from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aug 21, 2015
Photo of DavoleBomb
DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

4.5 A: Black color. One and a half fingers of frothy/creamy light brown head. Retention is impressive for a beer this massive and a short ring of lacing is left.

4.5 S: The nose is wonderful. Deep and welcoming. I won't even start with what's there because what isn't there is even more amazing. This has absolutely no booziness to it. That said, it has everything I want too. Rich caramel and molasses under a roast laden base. Next is the licorice. The smoke is present enough to know it's there, but only acts in a complementary role. The cinnamon rounds it out to give it a nice spicy kick. Sweet overall with a powerful neutral maltiness.

4.25 T: There is some booze in the taste, but it seems more in line with 7 or 8% and not 11.5%. Rich and spicy, more so than the nose. The smokiness meshes flawlessly with the caramel and molasses. Notes of semi-sweet chocolate, licorice, and roasted barley fill in underneath. Again the cinnamon adds a spiciness that enhances the subtle warming on the finish.

4.25 M: Heavy body. I usually love a rich, velvety body like this, but it's a bit too cloying, causing amylase globs to form in the mouth. Otherwise, good moderate carbonation and plenty of creaminess.

4.5 D: This is one hell of a brewery and they seem to have the big beers down. While I like some of their other beers better, this one is perfect for a cold wintry night.

Dec 01, 2016
Photo of billab914
billab914 from Virginia

4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jan 06, 2017
Photo of almostjay
almostjay from Virginia

4.46/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm not a big mouthfeel guy - it's typically not a discriminator for me, but every once in awhile I come across a beer that makes me remember why it's important.

I had First Nail on tap during a Founder's/Fremont event during Savor week in DC. On a tap list that included CBS, KBS, and BA Dark Star, this was the clear best beer of the night for me. Amazing creaminess, great cinnamon finish. Just a delicious, comforting beer. WIsh I could have constant access to it all winter.

Jun 06, 2015
Photo of zeledonia
zeledonia from Washington

4.16/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Tasted 9 September 2015. On-tap at Chuck’s Hop Shop in Seattle.

Pours very black and opaque. Brought with not much head, but it looks like old engine oil.

Smell is faint. What’s there is very sweet, reminding me of rum. Sugary, candy-like, with some dark fruit behind.

Wow, this is sweet. Fruit comes through, dates and sweet cherries, but it’s like they’re glazed with sugar. And chocolate. There’s some richness backing it up, and I wouldn’t miss that it’s an imperial stout. But those front-end flavors are all residual sugar. Wow.

Feel is stellar. Rich, thick, with enough carbonation to keep things fuzzy rather than sludgy. Yum.

Tasty stuff, but not mind-blowing. Good complexity in the taste, just too much of a blast up front that hides the more subtle flavors.

Sep 13, 2015
Photo of flagmantho
flagmantho from Washington

4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into my Fremont tulip/goblet thingy.

Appearance: totally, completely, rich dark black with a finger of creamy dark-tan foam. My only complaint is that the head does not stick around very long.

Smell: big maltiness with a big chocolate character. The licorice comes through a little bit, but the malt is the story here.

Taste: again, hugely rich malt with a sweet and powerful character. There's some dark fruit here, some licorice, and some very light spicing. I wouldn't guess cinnamon right away, but it is definitely deep in there. A highly complex beer worthy of contemplation. Great.

Mouthfeel: medium-rich body with a huge smoothness. Not necessarily creamy, but exceptionally smooth.

Overall: a very fine sippin' beer indeed. I should have bought more to age.

Oct 21, 2015
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.39/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. A 2015, properly cellared bottle. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a somewhat fizzy, thin brown head that dissipates to patches with light lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, cinnamon and licorice, a hint of cocoa. Flavor is semi-sweet dark toasted malt, cinnamon, light cherry, licorice, milk and dark chocolate. Nice lingering cherry, licorice and cinnamon. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess and good mouth feel. Well, I was planning to drink a Rusty Nail tonight from one or two years ago as my 2018 bottle heads to the cellar. I grabbed this and poured before realizing that despite the nearly identical graphics, this is the base stout, The First Nail. This is one of those mistakes that it is impossible to regret. With three years on it, this was due for drinking anyway, and it has aged very nicely. The cinnamon is the dominant flavor, but not really forward; chocolate, cinnamon, licorice and a light cherry note are all well balanced and integrated. This stout is so complete and flavorful, it's almost odd anyone thought it should be further aged, until I remember that this could have some bourbon on top and I'm looking forward to my Rusty Nail in the future. Fremont really has mastered the barreled stouts and strong ales and this is one of fine creations. Excellent.

Jul 07, 2018
Photo of NWer
NWer from Washington

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

Dec 18, 2015
Photo of oline73
oline73 from Maryland

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

Oct 27, 2016
Photo of rrock44
rrock44 from Washington

4.88/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Like woemad, I picked up this gem at my local Albertonson's - bottled 2/10/15. Thanks whoever aged this for me. Look - dark, brownish black with tan head. Smell - to me the licorice really stands out. Slight cinnamon. Taste - chocolate, molasses, licorice, then the cinnamon really kicks in. Feel - thick, rich, and creamy. Overall - love this beer. I wish I came across this beer last February because it would be interesting to see how this beer drinks fresh vs. some age.

Jun 13, 2016
Photo of steve8robin
steve8robin from Massachusetts

4.46/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nov 07, 2015
Photo of masterofsparks
masterofsparks from Ohio

4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jun 15, 2015
Photo of siege06nd
siege06nd from Virginia

4.52/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jan 06, 2017
Photo of Impfan
Impfan from Washington

4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a midnight black with a lasting two fingers of mocha colored head.

The nose is coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, cacao, coconut, raisin, and malted milk balls.

The flavor follows suit, and the segue from one component to the next is seamlessly smooth. The finish is aggressively spicy (with cinnamon the most forward), but there is more than ample body to carry all that spiciness. The flavors linger for an eternity, perhaps cutting the drinkability by a smidge, but considering how marvelous the flavors are, I wouldn't call that a flaw.

Simple a delightful, and delightfully different take on a stout that only Fremont could concoct.

May 03, 2015
Photo of IrishColonial
IrishColonial from Texas

4.02/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

May 23, 2016
Photo of rlee1390
rlee1390 from Indiana

4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Good balance, but the cinnamon is lacking. Mainly a nice chocolate. Not much coffee. A tad watery as well. Still a yummy beer.

May 05, 2015
The First Nail (2015) from Fremont Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 98 ratings