Wolverine State Brewing Company

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Wolverine State Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
European Strong Lager
Ranked #1
Ranked #8,926
4.05 | pDev: 10.37%
Dec 31, 2022
Oct 21, 2012
Notes: Imperial dark lager aged in bourbon barrels.
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Photo of Coronaeus
Reviewed by Coronaeus from Canada (ON)

4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Pours an almost black brown. Small foamy head that recedes to a thin ring after about a minute or so.

A little bourbon on the nose followed by stewed stone fruits, raisins, a little toffee peaks in as well.

The bourbon sits in behind the woody barrel character which is sting on the tongue. Some of the the stewed fruit and a little chocolate follow. Lightly drying.

The body is moderate. There is a lightness to this despite the high ABV and barrel. Very good.

This is a very enjoyable beer
Dec 31, 2022
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Rated by Fordcoyote15 from Pennsylvania

4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Hot as fuck.
Sep 24, 2022
Photo of odement
Rated by odement from Michigan

4.49/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Another Michigan brewery nails it. Doppelbock very heavy, boozy. I'm lucky to be in MI where I can score this often.
Apr 22, 2022
Photo of Whyteboar
Reviewed by Whyteboar from Michigan

4.29/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
The pour is much darker than I expected, not black but darn close. A beige head says hello and then quickly takes it's leave.
The aroma- bourbon on forefront, no bones about that. Boozy figs, prunes, raisins, and caramel. A potent aroma that is making me wonder what I've got myself into.

The taste is not what I expected either. There's an initial sweetness that seems to accompany many BA beers, but that is quickly replaced by a bitterness, whether that is from hops or roasted malts I cannot say. Not unpleasant, and keeps this from being cloying.
Bourbon, figs, caramel, char, coffee, dates all shout to be heard (tasted, sorry) and it's a fun flavor fight for a while. I will state that I am glad it was "just" a 12 oz serving. It almost wore me out trying to separate out what I was tasting.
The feel is good, no issues at all. Viscous enough to remind you this is punching above it's normal weight class.
Glad this is available locally, I think I'll try and cllar one or two and see how they hold up.
Feb 14, 2022
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Reviewed by larryi86 from Delaware

4.34/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
12 oz bottle, 2017, poured into into a tulip

A- Dark brown with a small tan head.

S- Bourbon, dark fruits, sweet cherries, some figs, toffee, some leather, oak.

T- Bourbon, dark fruits, leather, toffee, figs, cherries, oak, slightly earthy, some chocolate towards the finish that lingers nicely.

M- Smooth, medium to full body.

O- Haven’t tried this fresh so I can’t if it gets better with aged but it seems to age well.
Feb 06, 2022
Rated: 4.56 by Resistance88 from California

Jan 24, 2022
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Reviewed by snaotheus from Washington

4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
12oz capped/waxed bottle served in a stemmed tulip. 2021 bottle. Don't see a specific date on it. Received from @whyteboar in a LIF associated with NBS BIF #14.

Pours dark brown to pitch black with a surprisingly large head that collapses to a few millimeter thick layer. Smell is chocolatey, vanilla, maybe a little maple. Some roasted coffee.

Taste is moderate syrup sweetness, moderate anise, lots of chocolate sweetness, tons of vanilla. Bitterness in the finish...maybe roasted grain, maybe a little woodiness.

Mouthfeel is medium to thick, smooth, rich, just slightly lively, satisfying. Overall, very good!
Nov 20, 2021
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Reviewed by Roguer from Connecticut

4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Good head production and OK retention. Body is a very dark brown, nearly but not quite black, and does not appear to be perfectly clear. Lacing is short-lived on the glass.

Huge bourbon on the nose. Booze, mash, oak, prune, raisin, toffee, caramel. A wonderful aroma that is simultaneously inviting and a touch intimidating.

Very challenging on the palate. There's an initial sweetness matching the nose, but that is quickly replaced by a surprising bitterness, a combination of the oak, roasted barley, and hops. Bourbon, slightly soured grapes, caramel, toffee, light char, coffee, dates. Everything hits so quickly and all together that it's difficult to pick it apart, and similarly not quite as easy to approach as other beers.

Very smooth on the palate, with little harshness despite the sky-high ABV.

This is an excellent beer that promises to age well. Fresh, it's more bitter than I think it deserves; I would challenge anyone with access to this beer to try it at various ages: fresh, 1- and 2- years.
Nov 14, 2021
Photo of JohnnyHopps
Reviewed by JohnnyHopps from Indiana

4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Appearance - The beer was black in color with a mocha colored head crowning the glass.

Smell - The dark vaults of the logger made for caramel like notes with the bourbon.

Taste - Smooth bourbon combine with chocolate nuts. It’s still had a little bite. There were chocolate notes as well. A little bitterness lingered toward the back.

Mouthfeel - The field was amazingly smooth with small carbonation.

Overall - for the style, this was superb. It was smooth and chocolatey.
Aug 28, 2021
Rated: 4.23 by Phoodcritic from Michigan

Mar 14, 2021
Photo of micada
Reviewed by micada from New York

4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Courtesy of @Blutz as a trade extra: 2017 Wolverine State Massacre BBA Imperial Dark Lager. Never heard of the brewery or the brew, so totally new to me. 12 oz bottle nicely wax-sealed. Poured cellar temp assertively to an IPA-ish wide-mouth glass. Half-inch head comes out as an oddity, much like the Dark Soul I had some time ago, in that it has a creamy mocha tan color that looks like it belongs on an oatmeal stout instead of a lager. Color is dark, translucent burnt mahogany. Nose has a very prominent bourbon aroma, sweet caramel, and some winter spiciness.

First sips are surprising and marvelous! The bourbon is strong, the main profile is oozy dark caramel, with an ending hit of a cinnamon-esque flavor. It reminds me of a nice barleywine in some respects. Mouthfeel is full, decadent, with carbonation on the finish that clears the way for a long-lasting linger of all the flavors. Boozy aroma and flavor that matches the ABV, but no burn and no warming...much too easy to drink like it’s an 8%er, but this is clocking in over 14%. As it warms, more stone fruit flavors like plum/prune come to the mid and rear of the swallow.

It’s totally delicious! Three years has done it justice.
Dec 07, 2020
Rated: 4.08 by blissfulNemo from Michigan

Oct 31, 2020
Rated: 4.25 by Sparky44 from Illinois

Oct 11, 2020
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Reviewed by stevoj from Idaho

4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
12oz bottle at share.Muddy brown pour with a small beige head. Seemingly like a stout, roast malts and chocolate filter up first, followed by some brown sugar and bourbon. Taste is more roast, boozy and a bit more stout-ish than a dopplebock, but still great.
Jun 14, 2020
Rated: 4.53 by CDBeerDisappear from Ohio

Jan 31, 2020
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Reviewed by Buck89 from Tennessee

4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Poured into a pint glass. A nice dark chestnut color, fairly clear and with a modest tan head. Vanilla and bourbon dominated the first sniff, and a closer inspection brought roasted grain notes like caramel and cherry. The taste followed. The barrel was there but supported the caramel and cherry notes. Full bodied but this did not feel like a 14+% ABV beer. Slightly boozy and hot on the finish but this was well done. I was impressed with the rich malty notes, as this stayed true to a Doppelbock despite the heft. Well done and recommended for a big beer.
Jan 19, 2020
Photo of beersampler6
Reviewed by beersampler6 from Michigan

4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Very nice, rich, hearty bock from a solid local brewery. No date printed on bottle. Pours a thicker honeyed rust brown color with just a little off-white head and very minimal scant lingering lacing. Smells of brown sugar, raisin, fig, malt, caramel, vanilla and faint hops. Tastes similarly, strong sipper for sure but still the very high ABV was a little deceivingly hidden. Good depth and complexity. Smooth slightly sticky mouthfeel with decent carbonation. A solid beer for its style.
Jan 08, 2020
Rated: 4.53 by jordanginsberg from Louisiana

Dec 29, 2019
Photo of Wolvmar
Reviewed by Wolvmar from Michigan

4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Jan 2021 Review
2020 vintage poured into a chalice

Similar to previous reviews except this is fresher. A bit more alcohol bite, less head and lacing than last years review. But, still really tasty any worth trying. Overall, going to knock look, taste, feel down a notch each.

Review Dec 15 2019
2017 vintage, poured into a tulip glass.

Overall: essentially the same as the Jul 2018 review. This is really good. Reminds me more of a barleywine than a lager but great no matter the name. This was my last 2017 but I think I’ve got some 2018 and need to find some 2019. Absolutely worth trying/buying if you see it.

Updated review Jul 26 2018.
Pour: 2017 vintage, so about 9 months old. 12oz bottle. Poured into a pint glass. Beautiful mahagony color with light coming through on the edges. 1-2 finger tan head that dissaptes into clouds and a nice ring with small amounts of lacing. Really attractive.

Nose: lots going on here. Caramel, molasses, dark chocolate, raisins and brandied dark fruits dominate. As label notes, sweet bourbon and malt also present.

Taste: definitely follows the nose but maybe even more molasses and bourbon on the front end. Definite chocolate, dark fruit as well. Some hoppy bitterness on the backend keeps the sweetness well balanced. 14.5% ABV is well hidden. Alcohol is there but really well balanced.
Not sure why I didn’t like this as much the first time but suspect aging has helped mellow the alcohol bite into a soft embrace (lol). I really like this.

Mouthfeel: fair amount of carbonation but still a thick, viscous, syrupy feel. That’s right up my alley. Bitterness on the backend lingers a bit but quickly clears. Maybe the lagering gives it a clean finish? Really have no idea why I ranked this relatively low the first time. Maybe the carbonation has mellowed?

Overall: I really like this. A BBA lager is unusual but this is absolutely worth trying. Again, aging seems to have improved it in my opinion but maybe I just didn’t appreciate it the first time. Or, just in a great beer mood tonight!?! After thinking I would not buy again, I will seek out he 2018 vintage when available. One 2017 left that I will save for a meaningful Wolverine victory, hopefully, this fall.

Original review ratings from around Oct or Nov 2017. Look 4 smell 4.25 taste 3.5 feel 3 overall 3.75. I recall not really liking it a lot. Too in your face.
Dec 16, 2019
Rated: 4 by rare_bird from Michigan

Dec 03, 2019
Photo of oberon
Reviewed by oberon from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Poured into a half liter stein a deep mahogany color with a thinner off white head that was quick to fade.Bourbon and toasty oak mixed with brown sugar in the nose,yeah it's sweet but so inviting.Bourbon infused bark fruits and brown sugar on the palate,sweet but crazy drinkable for such a big sweet beer.It is quite a sweet thick beer but if you know that going in it's quite satisfying and warming.
Oct 03, 2019
Photo of EdmundExley
Reviewed by EdmundExley from France

4.57/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Courtesy of Superspak

The label mention an imperial dark lager and BA says it’s a German doppelbock.

Poured into a Guinness Pint, poured a dark color with a brownish thin head.

Smells and taste are strong on Bourbon, caramel and some red fruits. Very drinkable considering a heavy abv of 14,2%.

Overall an excellent beer, Michigan has once again nailed it. Cheers!
Sep 26, 2019
Rated: 4.05 by Furlinator from California

Jul 06, 2019
Photo of dd53grif
Reviewed by dd53grif from Michigan

4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Pours a dark brown with a foamy tan head that lasts quite a while. Aroma is alcohol with some chocolate. Taste is bourbon first, then the chocolate comes through. Good mouth feel; smooth and very warming.
Jul 04, 2019
Photo of JBowenGeorgia
Reviewed by JBowenGeorgia from Georgia

4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Pours a soda black complete with two fingers of tan head.
Smell is predominantly bourbon, burnt sugars, vanilla.
Lots of bourbon up front, roasted malts, caramel, some dark fruits.
Medium bodied with good carb levels. A bit hot, alcohol definitely present.
Overall I wouldn't have thought lager if I hadn't read the label. Pretty tasty!
Apr 15, 2019
Photo of TreyIsWilson
Reviewed by TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
A - Pours dak brown with a one finger tan head. Light amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is carmel, toffee, raisins, vanilla and bourbon.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, raisins, plums, molasses, vanilla, charred oak and bourbon.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a smooth hot finish.

O - This is a big boozy beer. Flavors are rich and agressive. Definetly a slow sipper.
Apr 04, 2019
Rated: 4.43 by Mikecd234 from Michigan

Feb 17, 2019
Photo of darktronica
Reviewed by darktronica from Indiana

4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25
I guess this is way above the average rating for Massacre, but I was blown away by this beer upon taking a trip to Wolverine State on my first visit to Ann Arbor. That was back in early November, but I was impressed enough to seek out a few 4-packs from a local grocer before coming home. My impression was that the brewery is hoping to redefine lagers for a new-school craft audience, and while some of their experimental concoctions were too oddball for my tastes (I can go without a pumpkin spice lager, thanks), this is straightforward in its madness. It's just a 14.3% ABV dark lager aged in bourbon barrels. Not sure how they got it so high in ABV, but I'm not questioning it.

The pour is thick and black, with a half-finger of fast-dissipating head from an aggressive pour. Low carbonation on the palate. Scuppernong grape, malted milkshakes, chocolate tootsie rolls, root beer, and bitter hop character all rolled up into an aggressive, boozy snifter. I really dig it.
Jan 21, 2019
Rated: 4.53 by JSirko from Michigan

Jan 13, 2019
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Reviewed by CanConPhilly from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
L - trace head atop a cola black body.

S - bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar.

T - lots of barrel. Oak, vanilla, dark fruit, char, booze. Low bitterness. Moderate sweetness. Moderate booziness.

F - medium body with low carb.

O - would never have guessed this was originally a lager. Quite boozy. But that barrel is hella tasty.
Dec 09, 2018
Rated: 4.1 by jduprey007 from Michigan

Dec 09, 2018
Rated: 4.5 by Sauced4life from Michigan

Nov 17, 2018
Rated: 4.33 by JamieDuncan from Maryland

Apr 09, 2018
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Reviewed by kemoarps from Washington

4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2017 edition. @FlintB sent it along as part of NBS BIF#007. Poured into my Lopez Island pokal-ish.

Clean looking deep deep brown that's garnet red in the thinner corners. Nice little brown head that settles in to a reasonably consistent cover and sticks around leaving lacing along the lanes as the lager leaves the glass.

Big and boozy and dark on the nose. Bourbon spice with thick heavy oak and some chocolate and fig as it warms up.

Rich sweet cocoa leads the charge here with alcohol burn being the next contestant up to bat. Almost some raisins as well and smoothe darkness.

Body is silky smoothe if a bit thin, with fine pinpricks of carbonation. Incredibly smoothe, but very hot as well.

This is a really interesting and really tasty brew. Very sweet and decadent, but silky smoothe with the lightness of silk as well. My biggest complaint is just that it is still incredibly hot, and the alcohol can be a little bit overwhelming at times. Would love to see what this could be like with a couple of years on it to mellow a touch.

Do I feel guilty drinking Wolverine State Massacre the day after Michigan got... massacred in the national title game? Eh, not really. Am I enjoying the beverage in the glass? Absolutely. Thanks Brian for sending it along!!
Apr 03, 2018
Rated: 3.86 by TheCrowsEye from California

Mar 13, 2018
Rated: 4.04 by AdamSteve from Michigan

Feb 25, 2018
Rated: 4.5 by GarthDanielson from Virginia

Jan 13, 2018
Rated: 4 by Gaddabble from Ohio

Jan 01, 2018
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Reviewed by breakingbland from Michigan

4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
This beer pours as an essentially completely opaque brown/black. There is a bit of foam on the surface but this quickly devolves into a tiny ring of bubbles around the edge. The aroma is typical of bourbon barrel aged beers: sweet, vanilla and oak. The taste is similar but with less vanilla and oak. The aftertaste is nice but I can't really identify it: sweet, a bit sour with a slight astringency. The beer feels thick in the mouth but not overly so. The carbonation is appropriate. There is no alcoholic hotness in spite of the 14.5% ABV as stated on the label.

Overall, I like this one a lot. I might get some more of these and cellar them to see how it matures. (The above review is of the 2017 batch.)
Dec 08, 2017
Photo of BenHoppy
Reviewed by BenHoppy from Michigan

3.59/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
Tastes of chocolate with some molasses and stale whiskey or perhaps cheap whiskey barrels or both. It wasn't too bad 3 forths of the way but last few sips were a bit harsh. Though at 14.5% I guess that's expected. This beer looked a bit like pop and was really fizzy but had to remember it was a barrel aged lager and not a stout. So was sort've hard to judge on this one being my first barrel aged lager but do believe it needs a few tweaks. Then again maybe with some age on it the smoothness will occur and it'll be more flavorful. Still not a bad beer.
Nov 30, 2017
Massacre from Wolverine State Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 164 ratings