Dubious Black Chocolate Stout | North Peak Brewing Company

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Dubious Black Chocolate StoutDubious Black Chocolate Stout
Dubious Black Chocolate StoutDubious Black Chocolate Stout

Brewed by:
North Peak Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 175
Photo of Oktoberfest
2.5/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thin, chocolatey, but just not very good. Maybe big, high ABV chocolate stouts have jaded me. Very disappointing given the other North Peak offerings I've had lately.

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Photo of kvassgal
4.11/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The first thing that strikes me about this beer is that it is mercifully sweet. No bitter chocolate here, folks! The scent is chocolatey but a bit one-dimensional. There is no hoppy aftertaste, and the beer has a dark brown color with an average head.

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Photo of Harrison8
3.51/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nearly light resistant burgundy with a finger of khaki-colored head. Head formation is puffy, with moderate retention. Lacing is nearly non-existent. Aroma is dark, but rather dry with a short duration. Roasted malts, with chocolate are the only notes. Flavor profile follows along a similar path, with notes of roasted malts, and chocolate. Not much else too it. Mouth feel is watery, with some slight, grainy abrasion to it. Overall, it's a thin stout without much oomph or flavor to it. While its simplicity may have a place for some folks, particularly for someone trying to throw back as many dark beers as they can, it doesn't make a very fun sipping or savoring beer.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of Big_Neezy
2.28/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2

Looks like a decent chocolate stout but lacks the legs on the glass. Decent nose of chocolate but falls flat from there. Drank like a severely watered down version of a good idea. Didn't even bother to finish the glass. One of the most disappointing stouts in recent memory. This could easily become the Bud Light of chocolate stouts if volume is what you're going for.

Had it on tap at Jolly Pumpkin Cafe in A2.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.06/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Black as night with a small tan head.
Smell is all brown ale, malt with a hint of hops and caramel.
Taste toes that line, brown ale flavors masquerading as a stout. No chocolate as the label promised, just roasted malts.
Lighter side of medium body, middling carbonation. Middle of the road at best.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.83/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed form the bottle in a pint glass. This NICE stout pours a fantastic opaque black with a fantastic head of brown foam that lingers long until finally settling toa thick ring and fantastic lacing. Nose is subtle with chocolate---rich and dark, light coffee, and dark caramel malts. Flavors surpass the nose with rich chocolate flavors, deeply roasted, on all sides moving towards a roasted caramel flavor to the middle and finishing with a lightly bitter and lightly smoked chocolate and coffee note on the back and aftertaste. Not overly cloyingly sweet, this stout is moderately carbonated giving a slick mouth feel that is coating and satisfying with a slightly thin finish. As noted it is close to porter in the finish category, but a solid brew none the less. Excellent.


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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.69/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

This has nice chocolate on stout tones, from my point of view. The only real detractor is the feel, which strikes me as pretty thin, for the style. Easy drinker.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.68/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 11/4/14 and poured 1/19/15. $2 single. Haven't had a beer from North Peak for awhile, so it's nice to try another.

Appearance: Hard pour almost upside down into the glass did nothing -- very slight film on top of the glass. Dubious is pitch black in color and there's not much lacing. Unexciting looking beer -- the lack of head is likely at least partially due to the fact that it was probably a degree from freezing in my fridge.

Smell: Very nice -- definitely dark chocolate and roasty malt character, but also a sweet caramel malt aroma too. Really like the cocoa quality to this beer. Certainly not a huge depth here, but smells very good.

Taste/feel: Working pretty well for me. In the taste there's a bit of an unexpected so-dark-roasty-it's-ashy/smokey flavor that adds depth and a little bitterness to the chocolate. The aftertaste is a very nice deep roastiness that in a way comes off as nutty. The feel of this beer is alright... honestly, it's basically in porter territory (thin body, high carbonation), but it fortunately falls just short of that.

Dubious is an enjoyable beer and I'm liking it quite a bit. It has a pleasant chocolate character without taking away from what a stout should normally taste like. A nice sessionable stout that has quite a bit of flavor.

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Photo of ThePaleRider
3.36/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Got as a trade extra.

Nothing crazy going on here, but for the abv this packs a pretty big flavor. Really strong chocolate and dark grains. Not sure what a 6 pack of this runs, but I'd buy it.

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.09/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown color with tan head. Raw dark chocolate on the nose, with some roasted malt; follows onto the palate. Finishes with more roasty notes.

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Photo of oberon
3.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chocolate brown with a thin quick to fade tan colored head atop.Chocolate and dark fruit aromas mainly with mild roast.Chocolate and roasted flavors some dark fruit underneath,some earthiness in the finish.Eh it's ok but pretty standard,not anything I would seek out again.

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Photo of t420o
2.38/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

North Peak Dubious

A- pour yields a 1 finger mocha colored head receding quick. Beer is black in color. Lacing is minimal. 3

S- some good roast and bakers chocolate on the nose. Some cocoa and caramel as well. 3.75

T- subpar. A real letdown from the nose. Very subdued in flavor, which doesn't let the chocolate or malt shine. Sad. Almost a mineral water taste as well. Not pleasing. 2

M- light body and over carbonated. 2

O- a poor stout. I would not recommend it, especially at the absurd price of $18/6-pack. 1.5


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Photo of superspak
3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 12/19/2013. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, caramel, toast, dark bread, herbal, light char, and herbal/roasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance of dark/roasted malt, cocoa, and light earthy hop notes; with decent strength. Taste of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, toast, dark bread, herbal, light char, and herbal/roasted earthiness. Light earthy herbal/roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, roast, coffee, toast, dark bread, herbal, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice balance and robustness of dark/roasted malt , chocolate, and moderate herbal hop flavors; with decent complexity and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, creamy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very solid chocolate stout. Good balance and robustness of dark/roasted malt, chocolate, and herbal hop flavors; and very smooth to drink. A pleasantly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 12/19/13.

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, chocolate syrup, and char aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and char flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a chocolate presence that comes across slightly better in the aroma in my opinion.

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Photo of Tone
4.01/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of chocolate, sweet malt, slight roasted malt, hint of alcohol, oatmeal, and hint of wheat. Fits the style of an American Stout. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, hint of chocolate, slight hops, hint of alcohol, hint of chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Overall, good body, blend, and complexity.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.13/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Found this review from over a year ago.

Appearance - Big mocha head on a jet black body.  Darker than many heavier stouts.  Looks like Guinness.  Decent retention but not a bit of lacing sticks to the glass.

Smell - Dark roasted malt aroma.  Bitter chocolate. Very bitter aroma, really.  Not a hint of sweetness. No idea how I managed to smell bitterness when I wrote this review.

Taste - Dark bitter chocolate again.  Very one-note. Chocolate and an intense bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Pretty thin for a stout.  Easy drinking in that respect. Pretty high in carbonation too, but that bitterness is too much.

Overall - Simple flavor, but it's a nice flavor.  The bitterness kills it though.  Drinkable, I guess.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.68/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Once more, a bottle as part of my attempt to reduce the inventory. My thanks to my college buddy, David A., for sending me some Michigan beers.

From the bottle: "Brewed up North"; "Ale Brewed with Chocolate".

A stubby bottle! Holy Misspent Youth, Batman! I can't tell you how many stubbies we put away in our teens, but it was substantial. Also, for you budding anarchists, when building a Molotov Cocktail, a stubby bottle works better than a larger one.

I employed a gentle pour as I was concerned that there was a slight amount of lees in the bottle and I did not want to disturb their slumber. I still got a finger of foamy, deep-brown head with moderate retention. Color was a deep, dark brown allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose smelled like they had melted a Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate bar and poured it into my glass. I miss my Pops (father), who loved dark chocolate. My Mom-Za was into bizarre candy, like pastel pecans and licorice and soft chewy things. I personally eschew sweets, going for tangy, salty, bitter and like flavors. The mouthfeel was very fizzy, not really full but more efferevscent, and the taste was bittersweet chocolate. I wished that Pops was around to see what he would think of this, but it would be up his alley, no doubt. Finish was semi-dry with a mix of smoke and chocolate on the tongue. One was plenty for me, but if this is your bag, have at it.

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Photo of Keffa
3.94/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First review in a long, long time. Stubby bottle poured into an Ephemere tulip.

A: By far and away the best American stout I've ever seen in glass. A somewhat rousing pour fills the tulip with a head that takes up the whole glass and literally takes 5 minutes to settle enough to pour the rest of the bottle. Once the whole bottle is in, the head is still half the glass. It settles (again, after about 5 minutes) into a 1/2" thick full cap that leaves copious lacing everywhere on the glass. Color is pitch black with the head being a dark tan. Fantastic.

S: Deep roast, bittersweet chocolate, earthy hop, coffee, toast notes. Nice, but very heavily handed on the roast aroma kinda puts me off a bit.

T: Wow, not what I was expecting at all. The roast is much more mellow in the taste than in the aroma. Mainly focuses on the bittersweet chocolate, a light coffee and roast behind that. Very lightly bready and toast. Earthy hop comes through again, although it's subtle.

M: On the full side of medium, if that makes sense. Not quite chewy thick as an Imperial stout, but not as thin as some of the American stouts I've had. Coating on the palate. Nicely carbonated, almost creamy in texture. Finishes dry.

O: Very nice stout, easy drinking, low ABV, good flavor, and looks great. If you want a beer to show off how good it looks, I'd wager you won't easily find one that looks better.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It pours virtually black. An easy pour got me half a glass of mocha colored head.

S - I get some faint roasted malt. The focus seems to be on coffee and milk chocolate.

T - The taste is pretty mellow. Once again the roasted malt is faint. I get some coffee and bakers chocolate. I get a slight sense of bitter coffee on the aftertaste.

M - Medium to full

O - It reminds me of my attempts at homebrewing a stout. It is not terrible, but it certainly does not stand out in this style.

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Photo of Mitchster
2/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

$1.99 for a stubby 12oz bottle. Opens with a very brisk woosh. Gusher. Poured into a glass, forms solid foam, foaming over the edge of the glass. Black with a tall soapy tan head with very good retention and solid lacing. Very briskly carbonated. Thick layer of yeast in the bottom of the bottle. The aroma is of burnt marshmallows, kiwi fruit and copper. Chocolate? Where's the chocolate? Infected with something funky. The taste is tart and acidic with just enough malt character to remind me that this used to be beer. Scorched malts, wayyyy to much black patent bitterness and astringency. Champagne like mouthfeel, light bodied. Bitterness is moderately strong for a stout and earthy.

Dubious indeed.

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Photo of CliffBrake
3.74/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to beerhan for the bottle. Cheers!

Opaque black with an ample light brown head that leaves spots of lacing.

The chocolate shows best in the smell, blending with roasted grain notes. Prominent inviting aroma. Flavor is dominated by roasted grains, with a big trailing bitterness. Little or no chocolate in the taste. A bit grainy and one dimensional

Mouthfeel is a bit light for the big flavors. A bigger body would be a better match for the strong aromas and flavors.

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Photo of frenchblood21
3.16/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into Chimay goblet.

Appearance- Pitch black with a finger of dark tan head. More head than expected from a gentle pour.

Smell- Chocolate and malt in that order. Not too complex. Just smells like an average stout.

Taste- Nothing stands out besides the chocolate. A bit hoppier then other stouts I've had in this category.

Mouthfeel- Way too thin for a chocolate stout. It seems like the consistency is far off.

Overall- I could not recommend getting a whole 6 pack of this beer. I could, however, suggest getting a single bottle just to say you've had/reviewed it.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
3.88/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

These neckless bottle do not engender a good pour.

Bottled 12/06/11

A - Dark brown/black body with a large dark tan head. Pretty nice look here.

S - Chocolate, tanned leather/rawhide, dark fruits. It's a nice smell. Simple, but good things.

T - Dry malty chocolate flavor with a dry rawhide finish. Chocolate is not as prevalent here as it is in, say, ST Choklat, but it's good, and the dryness/bitterness is appropriate for the blackness of said chocolate.

M - Kind of thin, pretty smooth, present carbonation

O - this is pretty good. It is not quite how I would ideally imagine this beer, but it is nice.

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Photo of GRPunk
3.58/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated DEC1411, poured into a Duvel tulip.

A- A 2-finger, dense, dark brown head developes after a vigorous pour. Body is near jet through the middle with dark brown edges. Think I saw a hint of sediment during the pour. Head settles into about 1-finger and leaves good spots on the glass.

S- Mix of traditional roasty malts and dark chocolate. Though, there really isn't any more chocolate aroma than I get in many other stouts. An odd berry-like sweetness hit me at one point, causing a little concern.

T- Very roasty. Dark chocolate is present, though not as much as I'd expect from a "black chocolate stout.". A solid American stout, nonetheless. Does drink quite robust for the moderate ABV.

M- Moderate carbonation, medium feel. Dryish finish. Well within what I expect of a stout.

O- A solid, flavorful stout. I could drink a few in a single sitting. That said, the "chocolate" was a bit of a let-down. When a beer is advertised as a chocolate stout, I expect the chocolate to be showcased, front and center. Just a bit too subtle, IMO.

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Photo of weizenbob
3.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This 12 ounce stubby bottle was purchased at Shop-N-Save in Ludington, MI ($9.99/6-pack). The bottling date indicates that this was packaged on December 14, 2011. I do enjoy the stubby bottles and label designs of the North Peak line of beers, if not always the beer itself. This particular bottle was poured into a Samuel Smith tulip-shaped imperial pint glass. It is difficult to pour from the stubby bottle without it glugging uncontrollably, but they are nice for decanting sans yeast, of which there is much at the bottom of the bottle.

The pour manifests two fingers of mocha colored head that dissipates rather quickly, settling as a thin lace of foam over the beer. It is a very dark beer. Stout should be black, and this one does not disappoint. Close examination reveals a good amount of carbonic activity behind the glass wall. I would love for some better head retention on this beer, but as is it looks pleasant.

The aroma is a dead ringer for Pacman yeast. If smelled blindly I would have guessed beyond a doubt that this was a stout from the Rogue stable. Strike one. Beyond that there is a noticeable chocolaty presence as well as an alcoholic heat that is stronger than the 5.3% ABV on the label would imply. There is a mild tropical fruit aroma and the faint essence of Elmer's glue. It's really not as bad as it sounds.

Luckily the flavor of this stout is an improvement over the aroma. All of the right flavors are in there, just not in the correct balance. Yes, there is a fair amount of chocolate malt, as evidenced by the Hershey's Syrup-ish essence on the tongue. However, it tastes as though this stout has overdosed on black patent malt. The dominant malt flavor is roasty and bitter. Yes this is a 50 IBU stout so some bitterness should be expected. But this is not hop bitterness; this is excessive patent malt bitterness. If burnt beer with strong residual sweetness is your thing, this is the stout for you. Personally, I don't think it's bad; but I would like to have tasted a little less charcoal, even if it came at the expense of having a lighter colored beer.

The mouthfeel is where this beer excels. It is creamy and full-bodied, yet there is a moderately high level of carbonation that makes this beer dance on the tongue. That makes this beer a meal in itself; but if paired with food, the assertive character of this stout would go well with cheese-based soups or milder cuisine like broiled whitefish.

Dubious is a pretty fitting name for this confusing stout. It has the look and feel of something special, but tastes too awkward to be truly great. For its caliber, the price is not bad; and 5.3% ABV isn't going to put you under the table. I see this as a viable option if nothing better is available. But let's face it, any establishment savvy enough to carry North Peak (save for their brewpub) is probably going to have something better around.


The Two-Schlitz Scale: (reference my profile for an explanation)
I don't really give a Schlitz for this tolerable, though uninspiring stout.

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Dubious Black Chocolate Stout from North Peak Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.49 out of 5 with 175 ratings