Toppling Goliath Brewing Company

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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #9
Ranked #16
4.7 | pDev: 8.09%
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
Iowa, United States
Notes: After endless hours of scorching in heat, brewing in turmoil, fermenting in angst, the Assassin’s journey has just begun. In the shadow of the temple, he lies in wait, maturing his plot to perfection. He emerges merciless, dominated by darkness, his bite laced with the charred remnants of his victims. No man dares to cross his path. They will forever sleep with one eye open, in fear of the Assassin’s hot kiss of death.
Reviews: 158 | Ratings: 1,456 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of pkalix
pkalix from California

4.92/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

smells like a 2012 stout recipe. a tad perfume-y. reminds me of the Eclipse series.... really well done. sometimes it's hard to realize something that comes close to flawless unless we have the accompanying hype, but this is very good. also makes we want to go back and find those Eclipse bottles....

May 27, 2021
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Craftbeerfan666 from Norway

5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

OMG. Have this at the same time as I had KBBS- to be frank & honest about it, it was so good that it felt unfair to even think about rating with any lower then the mentioned merit in life. I had the coconut version and it was amazing! Thick, full and beautifully balanced sweet. Would love to have it again... And again

Apr 20, 2021
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DEZ01301960 from Illinois

4.29/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I was lucky enough to win the recent Assassin vertical random draw. Drove to Iowa on Friday, pick up day was Saturday.
I sampled 2020 Assassin, Term Oil and Kaiju Clash.

Look: Dark, like a stout should be.
Smell: Bourbon, Chocolate, slight Vanilla.
Taste: No adjuncts, pure BA Imperial Stout. Picking up some Vanilla on the back end.
Feel: Thinner than I expected but still nice.
Overall: Maybe the hype was too much. The beer is very good but I was not blown away.

Mar 30, 2021
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WickedBeer from Alabama

4.77/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2018 Bottle (Orange Wax)

A really fantastic, in-your-face whiskey barrel stout. Lots of stewed fruits cut through a whiskey potency that finishes dangerously smooth. Very impressed. Had heard some possible bottle variance, but this one was holding up exceptionally well.

Feb 12, 2021
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brokensail from California

4.05/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Batch 1 (Red Wax). Thick black pour with a small tan head and low carbonation. Intense rye, vanilla, and oak aromas. Big chocolate, roast, fudge, cocoa, and oak. Mild booze, licorice, and dark fruit. Sweet flavor of whiskey and vanilla. Chocolate, fudge, and dark fruit. Some alcohol, hints of licorice, and a nice coffee bite on the finish.

Feb 05, 2021
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.69/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 Purple Wax Bottle
22oz bottle poured into an Assassin teku

A- pours jet black in color, thick and syrupy with a one-finger creamy dark brown head that has great retention and leaves a bit of lacing behind

S- aroma opens with straight up brownie batter; chocolate, caramel, toffee and cake batter. Undertones of coconut, vanilla cream and char. Plenty of barrel aroma on the close with some wet oak, bourbon and an enhancing vanilla and coconut note

T- brownie batter flavors follow the aromas with notes of rich chocolate, cake batter, caramel and toffee up front. Mid-palate starts to bring out the barrel, with notes of barrel juice and chewy oak, along with vanilla and coconut starting to emerge. The finish gives notes of raisins and figs, as well as rich chocolate icing and caramel. Lingers of dark fruits, bourbon and marshmallow

M- heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a thick and chewy mouthfeel that continues into. a velvety warming finish

O- a big, bold, thick and chewy stout that has just enough barrel character. Definitely a slow sipper

Dec 23, 2020
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jheimbigner from Washington

4.64/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2019 vintage poured on dec 19, 2020

Pours a viscous used motor oil color with a mocha color head that leaves minimal lacing.

Nose is of dark fruit, vanilla, leather, dark chocolate, and faint oak. This is culmination of great barrel and base beer.

Taste follows nose with subtle dark fruit, dark chocolate, lingering vanilla and barrel character. The taste once again really showcases the great use of barrels and base stout.

Feel is where this beer falls short. It is slightly over carbed that thins out the beer more than desired on the pallet. However, beer is still medium body. As this sits for 45+ mins, the carb starts to dissipates and leaves a more velvet mouth feel.

Overall, excellently crafted barrel aged stout that showcases the use of great barrels and stout recipe. Unbelievable that this is non adjucted. I think the beer falls short on feel(but gets better once it sits open) but I would gladly drink another! I also do not think it is worth the price of admission, unless you are able to get it directly from the brewery.

Dec 14, 2020
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

4.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2020 vintage (green wax); consumed on 10/27/20

Pours an inky, jet-black body trailed in turn by a cascading, rocky, deep mocha foam; great head retention withers steadily to a foggy sliver of cap, a massive, creamy collar, and walls of lacing clinging briefly to the glass.

Aroma begins with subtle dark fruits alongside a building barrel presence, invoking details of rich caramel, light oak, and a subtle vanilla; a depth surges in waves over the middle, bringing a healthy combo of fresh cacao nibs and milk chocolate alternating prominence; raisin, a minor (though brilliantly leveled) ethanol, brown sugar, and dark cherry esters accent the back end of the bouquet as chocolate pudding closes and lingers through the nose.

Taste opens with splintery oak carrying the weight of dark malts, which calmly evolves to more toasted notes of caramel, brown sugar, lush bakers chocolate, and a fluffy, pipe tobacco-imbued roast; cherry 'pops' against decadent, oaky vanilla and a soft nuttiness over the mid-palate and forms a vanilla frosting character on back end, where dusty tones of hot chocolate leave the final impression.

Mouthfeel offers a near-comprehensive full body, showing a chewy texture balanced against a low-moderate, pillowy carbonation; a slick, malty grit eases through the mid-palate with an evenly dispersed ethanol warmth lurking beneath and a splintery dryness prickle developing through an oily back end; an impactful rounding of robust, malt roast assures a totality to the finish/swallow.

A graceful, classically-styled barrel-aged stout, layering waves of chocolate and an intrinsic whiskey undertone atop the ideal body, plush as it embraces the subtleties of a mild-moderate boozy heat. The barrel itself is sweet, but sees the malt profile flourish with near-perfect integration, coming to form one of the more exhaustively pleasing samples of an unadjuncted barrel-aged beer one is likely to come across.

Oct 28, 2020
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SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.68/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Assassin 2020

Split with jrc1093, who I owe my soul to for such a generous act. Thank you beyond words for sharing this with me.

2020 Vintage (green wax) - poured into a stemless glass at about 50°F. Wax was somewhat of a project, but it wasn't me opening it, and I'm prreettty sure I could have done it quicker. Just sayin'.

Pours an oily jet black with absolutely zero light penetration - even on the pour. Two fingers of very dark brown head build up - coarse, with each individual bubble visible, and with very impressive retention. Clings to the glass. Visible effervescence can be seen feeding the collar, which is nuts.

Nose: Balanced roast that somehow conveys more caramel, toffee, and brown sugar than chocolate sets the foundation, with zero ash or char. There's some very restrained dark fruit - mostly dried cherry, and it's quite tucked in. There's a hint of vanilla frosting, as well as some raw brownie batter. Tons of oak and bourbon quickly become the star of the show, with warm, saturated bourbon, lending classic caramel, brown sugar, and barrel spice notes. The oak is splintery, woody, and prominent - like sticking your head in a fresh barrel. A round nuttiness encompasses everything. Ethanol becomes very apparent as it opens up, but integrates well. A really stunning aroma.

Palate: Assassin opens up with an explosion of chocolate cake batter, hot chocolate, splintery bourbon-soaked oak, soft caramel, English toffee, and brown sugar. Very sweet, rich, and decadent, but never becoming cloying or saccharine, as the barrel constantly grounds it. The malts here still shy away from acrid or charry roast, contributing very little coffee, dark chocolate, or bitterness, and instead, milky, creamy, sweet chocolate, and a whisper of Cavendish pipe tobacco. There is an underlying note of vanilla frosting, and malted milk balls, framed by a constant round nutty element, like praline pecans and hazelnut butter. The chocolatey sweetness begins to subside, as a full-on punch of splintery, dry, toasted oak lends a nice woodiness, with dusty, mature bourbon sweeping in to provide a drying balance. The finish lingers with oak, caramel, toffee, and tobacco, rather than roast or ash. Surprisingly easy to drink.

Mouthfeel/Body: Everything you've heard about Toppling Goliath stouts applies here. It's almost hard to believe. As soon as Assassin passes your lips, it fills your mouth with rich, oily, slick, viscous liquid, reminiscent of motor oil, but with an added fluffy softness from the fine effervescence. Chewy, decadent, and luscious, yet never actually sticky, fudgey, or overbearing - with that splintery oak perfectly drying it out and letting it lift off the palate with no lingering sweetness. Definitely coats the lips though. Warming, but never hot or burning, and somehow, is actually easy to drink.

Overall: I'm not one to cave into hype, and I'll admit when something is overrated. Assassin delivers almost everything you could possibly want from an un-adjuncted barrel-aged imperial stout. Densely saturated with sweet, decadent milk chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, with a bold bourbon presence, heavy oak for balance, sweet, nutty malts, and a texture that is almost hard to believe, all while keeping balanced, drinkable, and still very much an imperial stout. No beer is worth hundreds of dollars, but value aside, it's difficult not to fall in love with this one. I'm grateful for the experience.

Oct 28, 2020
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AllOfTheCats from Wisconsin

4.67/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Getting some fruit. Great non-adjunct barrel-aged stout. Never thought I would see or try this beer. Not sure how my friend procured this, but glad to try it!

Sep 27, 2020
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.63/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2019 vintage. Silver wax.

This one pours a very dark black color, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like dark chocolate fudge, oak spice, nuttiness, caramel, tobacco, smoke, and vanilla.

I'm not sure this is worth the exorbitant secondary price that it commands, but it's certainly a very well executed barrel aged stout. The barrel character is very well done, and it's a surprisingly dry and non "pastry" take. There's tobacco, roast, oak spice, caramel and well integrated bourbon, along with vanilla, deep dark chocolate fudge, some fruitiness, brownies, and espresso.

This is medium bodied, and not very boozy, with a good drinkability for what this is. I could imagine this wouldn't be that hard to solo dome, if you really wanted to do that.

I have no frame of reference to say if this stands up to the earlier and more "legendary" batches of this beer, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it.

Aug 18, 2020
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bret27 from California

4.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2020 green wax version thanks to sverseman.
L: black, pretty minimal dark brn head.
S: Chocolate, almonds, bourbon.
T: fudge, roasted chocolate malt, nuts, vanilla, bourbon, oakiness.
F: Thiccc and oily, though not outta control.
Overall: solid. Would not pay $50 for it repeatedly. One and done sort of deal at the premium pricing/trade value.

Jul 11, 2020
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hops_for_thought from New York

4.83/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle (2020 vintage) into a tumbler

L: deep black brown, pours like oil with a small brown head. Small brown lacing, nice legs

S: beautiful amount of barrel with chocolate, tobacco, good roast coffee (i.e. not burnt bean), raisins

T: this is just amazing. Rich, decadent flavor without anything close to abv burn or off flavors. Chocolate chocolate chips brownies, roast coffee, lots of great barrel flavor. Lives up to hype, excited to crack that second bottle in a couple years

F: low carbonation, medium body could be a bit thicker my only possible knock against this brew

O: lived up to expectations, with maybe the exception of the body but that’s only if I’m trying to find flaws. A great, smooth, balanced brew that demonstrates how good a simple stout aged in barrels can be

Jun 07, 2020
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Phineasco from Massachusetts

4.36/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2018 Vintage Orange Wax

The beer pours pitch black like heavy dense motor oil. It smells of char, whisky barrel, dates, and raisins. The beer tastes like cherry, raisins, tobacco, a little smoke, and heavy whisky barrel. The beer is very thick, 2 years smoothed it out a bit, but not much. It’s a fun stout to try, but wasn’t really my jam. I prefer Mornin Delight and KBBS. It would be nice to try other vintages.

Feb 16, 2020
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NYNorseman from New York

4.72/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I became a big Toppling Goliath fan over the past few years and traveled out to the brewery in August 2019. Assassin was on tap and it was the best beer in the joint. My draft was a beautiful midnight black with light lacing, thick and bold with rich mouthfeel. Slightly boozy aroma. Chocolate notes blend magnificently with coffee on the back end. There were a lot of excellent beers to try but I did several Assassins and made a stop back on my way out of town the next day for another one. This brew was deadly good! Give Decorah, Iowa a try. It's a great small town - filthy dirty (in a good way) with Norse culture and a few great breweries. How can you go wrong?!?

Jan 16, 2020
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pants678 from California

4.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black with tan foam.

Whiskey, roasted malt.

Sweet liquor/vanilla, cola, not really roasted malt. Gives a sugary marshmallow flavor.

Not piecing despite ABV. Very low carb, not all that thick.

Jan 04, 2020
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briandgilbert from Illinois

5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Surprise on tap at brewery July 26
Look - jet black with brown edge on glass
Smell - holy cow!! Huge smell and such a punch!! Amazing!
Taste - this stout blows me away, such a chocolate punch!
Feel - very very thick, must sip little by little!
Overall - a knock out!! Mornin Delight and I assume KBBS are only better because they have a sweeter taste to them. Hope to try KBBS soon! Coming in Dec for another release.

Jul 26, 2019
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jhavs from New York

4.64/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Purple wax, 2016, shared with friends.

Black, sticky, thin head of deep tan. Settles into a few thin bubbles.

Aroma is rich and substantial booze, roasted malts, bittersweet cocoa, toffee.

Bold and rich flavors. Booze heat but not overpowering, fudge and bitter chocolate, earthy vanilla and woody barrel. Dark fruits and licorice root. Toffee sweetness as it warms.

Rich and decadent body, lighter side of moderate carbonation.

Excellent brew, super mouthfeel and flavor balance/blend.

Jul 25, 2019
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von_kaiser from Connecticut

4.81/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage...may 26th 2019....this is amazing! Every sip is a different experience. flavors all over the place. maple? vanilla? chocolate? Not nearly the viscosity of Sr-71 but LEAGUES ahead of all around! Worth trying.

May 26, 2019
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JapaneseZombie from Washington

4.84/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'13 vintage (yellow wax)

Pours like SR71 b1 thick 5W-30 motor-oil viscosity. Upfront chocolate fudge, with a hint of black licorice and bourbon. Mouthfeel coats the tongue and teeth after each sip, 9/10 viscosity level. Absolutely amazing beer if it was drank fresh or properly cellared. This was drank early May of 2019.

May 14, 2019
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Dharmelink from Wisconsin

4.62/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Gold Wax

I’m tasting Carmel, bourbon, black licorice, vanilla. Lucky enough to drink the whole bottle myself. Barely any carbonation at this point. Extremely delicious! Yum yum

Nov 25, 2018
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mohaghandi from California

3.91/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark black pour, lacing for days.

Cherry and birch bark on the nose. Smells more like a quad.

The awesome texture on the front of the tongue is quickly assaulted by liquorice, anaise, and anything else you might taste after opening up a package of black Twizlers candy.
It coats the mouth, throat, lungs, belly, all the way down to my big toe.
Each additional sip seems to enhance the assault. Were it not for the heavy price I’d paid for this bottle, I would not want to finish it.
This drinks hotter/more painful than most 18-20% stouts. But as a glutton for punishment, I’m very disappointed in this one.

Sep 28, 2018
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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts

4.88/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

03/2015 - This is absolutely incredible - the nose is big bourbon, dark chocolate, roast, and some vanilla, too; the mouthfeel is velvety, luscious, and full on whiskey, yet there isn't any ethanol; the finish slightly sweet, yet the roast and barrel linger in a wonderful union that lasts and lasts.

Sep 25, 2018
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pmarlowe from Virginia

4.31/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2018 release (orange wax).

A: Pours absolutely jet black with a thin cap of dark brown head. A couple streaks of lacing and pretty good retention for something this big.

S: Rich dark chocolate bar, dark dried fruit, sweet vanilla bean ice cream, light oak char and whiskey. A bit of an alcohol burn on the nose.

T: Hot ethanol, dark chocolate, oak, light vanilla and whiskey, and a bit of red cherry with the associated tartness. The cherry and a powdery cocoa lingers on the (very long) finish.

M: Thick, motor oil consistency cut by medium carbonation. Moderate alcohol heat and burn.

O: A big, bruising imperial stout. Interesting fruit notes and complexity. The heat and light barrel treatment knocks this down below top tier BA stouts. This is decidedly less good than much easier to acquire BA stouts like BCBS or BT.

Aug 22, 2018
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Radcpa from Washington

4.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

aged in the bottle for two years. Very dark brown appearance with slight tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is a very pleasant and prominent whiskey and malt. Taste is a very pleasant caramel, whiskey, and malt that is very smooth.

Aug 20, 2018
Assassin from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 1456 ratings