Darkest Hour
Anchorage Brewing Company

Darkest HourDarkest Hour
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Style:
American Imperial Stout
Ranked #490
ABV:
13%
Score:
94
Ranked #1,723
Avg:
4.22 | pDev: 9.72%
Reviews:
72
Ratings:
361
From:
Anchorage Brewing Company
 
Alaska, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  91
Gots
  90
SCORE
94
Outstanding
Darkest HourDarkest Hour
Notes: Ale brewed with Summit hops. Triple fermented: First with a Belgian yeast, second in Pinot Noir and rye whiskey barrels. And finally in the bottle with a wine yeast for natural carbonation.

40 IBU
Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 361 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by HALB:
Photo of HALB
4/5  rDev -5.2%

More User Reviews:
Photo of rand
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From 750 mL bottle to snifter

One of the more deeply rich brews I've come across. A gentle poor yields perhaps the most viscous complexions possible in a beer - if it wasn't for the healthy head and carbonation I'd guess it was crude oil.

Other aspects are remarkable as well. The nose carries notes of chocolate and anise and oak - as expected in a big stout - but they're joined by suggestions of port wine and soy sauce. On the palate, a creamy, velvety mouthfeel highlights notes of chocolate and vanilla and sweet bread, coating every corner of your mouth. Oak and hop resin dry things out toward the back of the sip, along with the unique tones found in the bouquet. Booze and chocolatey sweetness usher in the finish, which is long, limgering and tastey.

I heard this was good, but this easily surpassed my expectations.

 839 characters

Photo of bobhits
4.94/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I think it's offical folks. Anchorage is now one of the 5 best brewers in America. These guys are just out of this world.

Pours opaque black with bubbles rising from the bottom to produce a thin but dark head. Thick body with legs for days when swirled in the glass. Lovely.

A distinct acid aroma comes off the glass, perhaps some cherry nature to it. This is followed by sugary malts with an almost perfect blend of espresso and molasses seeming to become milder and more toffee or caramel like. There's definitely a belgian yeast character giving complex aromas but so well blending no one comes out.

Sour fruits perfectly blended into a toffee, coffee, caramel, milk chocolate, and dark fruited explosion. I can't even put this one to words folks. They throw everything you can imagine from a stout and a belgian at me and then added in whiskey barrels that give off distinctive vanilla and oak and then wine barrels giving new levels of fruit flavors I've never had in a stout. This might be "darkest Hour" but it seems in the darkest to also be simply the best hour. If only I could control myself and sip this for a full hour.

Creamy and thick yet not overly thick to where it's a struggle to drink. The perfect creamy mouth feel of this is amazing beyond words. A light bit of alcohol perhaps the only flaw this beer has it just barely noticed.

I'm truly at a loss here. This is simply one of the best beers I've ever had in my entire life. It is beyond words. It is beyond what I can explain in a review. This is up there with bourbon county stout. Pay day, I think I'm buying every bottle I can find and if I have to drive 3 hours, so be it. Unbelievable.

 1,671 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Paccamacca for the extra!

poured into Tulip glass.

Appearance: light to medium black bodied beer with 2 fingers of frothy medium tan head. Spotty lace on the glass. Head drops down to a thin ring around the glass.

Smell: Lots of chocolate, oak, rye and red wine notes are very noticable and pleasant.

Taste: Milk chocolate and lots of it. Rye and red wine notes with wet oak. Light notes of dark fruits. Hint of earthy hop that blends effortlessly with all the other flavors in this beer. Fantastic balance and complexity. This is the thing that I love about Anchorage beers is that they are so balanced even though there is sooo much going on with the layers and layers of complexity found in this beer!

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Alcohol is very well hidden. Its still a sipper too.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer more than I expected. I havent had an Anchorage beer that wasnt awesome yet to date. Recommended.

 958 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.71/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 2. Poured in Churchkey.

Beer pours a brown as in actual brown head. Beer is pitch black like oil. It's beautiful. Nice sheen on it.

Smell is delicious. Strong cocoa and whiskey notes mixed with light vanilla and sweet dark chocolate is indulgent.

Taste is fantastic. Stronger whiskey but not overpowering. Mixes well with chocolate resemble brownie. Light vanilla.

Very heavy body. Syrupy. Heaven. Effervescent carbonation. One heck of a body.

Get it. Give all your money.

 491 characters

Photo of unclekeith
4.11/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 3 (Whisky) into a Teku - released yesterday

L: Pitch black - any light is consumed by the beer, 1 finger brown head (maybe darkest head I have ever seen), leaving minimal lacing/collar
A: Chocolate, whisky, vanilla, and alcohol heat
T: Follows the nose, but leaves an aftertaste of strong whiskey and oak
F: Full bodied, low carbonation
O: A great beer, however, the whiskey comes on a bit too strong for me

There was an 80% price jump versus the previous batch which was released about 2 years ago - the prior price point was a bargain which spoiled me; the new price stings but Darkest Hour is still worth revisiting.

 627 characters

Photo of Kuaff
4.73/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Woooaaahhh... woah. That's what I thought to myself when I saw the unfamiliar bottle with the beautiful owl on it, and also what I thought when I later took my first sip... at cellar temperature from a snifter. I have a lot to say about this one.

It's appearance is pretty darn dark, almost a totally opaque black. There's just a tiny bit of auburn transparency around the edges of the glass. I can see tiny bubbles against the wall of the glass, rising up to the head, which brings me to what I love most about this stout's appearance. The head is a two fingers-deep, mocha-colored mass of super-fine, dense and creamy foam that looks as smooth as silk. AND it has INCREDIBLE retention despite the 13% ABV and extensive barrel aging. It gets progressively smoother-looking over time until it actually resembles cream very closely.

The first thing I have to say about the smell is that it hits me with one of the best chocolate aromas I've ever been tempted with, either by a beer or dessert. This is the most crucial part of an imperial stout's smell for me, so I LOVE that about it. But there's more. Much more. Rich milk chocolate, raisins, vanilla, bourbon, whisky-soaked leather, and a bit of red wine all float up into my scent receptors.

As I taste this beer, I'm faithfully treated to everything the aroma promised. Sweet milk chocolate is in the taste, along with the bourbon and vanilla. A tart wine character from the pinot noir barrel aging is very noticeable and adds another enjoyable complexity, and Belgian yeast imparts the distinct, yeasty sweetness of Belgian strong dark ales. Early in the finish, I get the bitterness of coffee and dark chocolate to accompany an awesome roasty aftertaste that I'd describe as burnt leather. I think I pick up on a bit of the rye at very end of the extraordinarily long finish too.

Being 13% ABV, I feel I must describe in detail the effects of the alcohol. Its wrath is only felt AFTER it slides down my throat. Seductively subdued carbonation baits me into taking big sips, each one of which feels totally smooth and innocent on my palate... until I swallow and am given a hot lashing by the alcohol for daring to even THINK that this beer is as unrefined and "drinkable" as lesser beers. The pleasure was well worth paying the punishment.

The mouthfeel is sticky and fairly thick, like most excellent imperial stouts. It kind of has the same feel of wine.

What's so marvelous about this specimen is how it was created by use of such interesting, expiramental brewing techniques and treated with such an astonishing array of barrel aging... and that I can then distinguish and fully enjoy the unique qualities contributed by each technique. Darkest Hour is nothing less than a phenominal triumph of the imagination. And you BETTER set aside more than just ONE hour if you're confronting a bottle of this all alone... or you WILL experience your darkest hour.

 2,921 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I worry about Belgian stouts and the friction that's caused by the highly roast character and the acidic puckering that, in tandem accelerates each flavor and throws them both way out of balance. But because its "Anchorage" at the helm, I've got to feel confident that they'll pull it off well. Right?

Upon the pour, the ale foregoes its exuberant Belgian character and sides mightily with traditional Imperial Stout. Its rich black body slowly releases a creamy and delicately frothy mocha foam that dissolves back into the glass, but a gentle swirl rejuvenates its dense frothy character. Light on lace, the ale shows how it struggles with its immense body beneath.

Sour on the nose, the scent of tart cherries, burnt fruit, grape must all lead the way. A slow rise of chocolate, toast, and coffee eventually support the sour tinge but remains in the backdrop of aroma.

But to taste, the flavors erupt! Stout everywhere- the fudgey chocolates, smooth espresso, walnut, and overall robust roast taste is balanced superbly with burnt caramel and toffee. -and that's just the start. Upon these firm dessert-like underpinnings spring the savory notes of sherry wine, savory near-balsamic notes, a meaty element and some light salt to bring the flavor to live. Vinous acidity plays on the finish with pino noir and oak spices for a semi-clean closure of earth and rum.

Full bodied, yet nowhere near the level that's expected from a 13% beer. The malts hide its strength well and without over-sweetening the beer. The wine and whisky heat never exaggerate the tone- the smooth warmth weaves into the ale like fine tawny port wines will.

Darkest Hour turned into darkest minutes for the few who shared this bottle. Its simply irresistible to leave the glass alone for much time at all as those savory and robust notes strike the perfect balance and invites a return to the glass much quicker than at 13% beer should.

 1,917 characters

Photo of deereless
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BeerMeBro720
4.41/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ReverendJon
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of astroflounder
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of akang
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of cjgator3
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of DustinSWB
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of neenerzig
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've a bottle of Batch # 1, which was bottled in March of 2013, aging in my cellar for 3 years. Since old man winter decided to rear its ugly head here in Cleveland again today in full force after having had fucked off tor the vast majority of the time this winter season, I decided it was appropriate to craft this beer open. Even though this is 13% ABV and Ohio has a legal cap on 12% ABV for beers being sold in the state, this snuck its way onto shelves at a few stores here in the Cleveland area somehow when this beer was originally released. Poured out of a 25.4 oz. bottle into my snifter glass, this beer pours a very dark brown/black color that has no interest in letting in any light at all. Upon pouring this beer into the glass, foam/head wise this beer has a big gray cluster swirl of a film layer foam in the middle of the surface of the beer along with a thick ran ring lining the inside of the glass. Not much lacing, but some. Aromas of toasted caramel malts and some chocolate are present along with a hint of rye along with red wine notes as well of course. The taste is pretty much the same, with some caramel malt sweet notes that give way to some chocolate hints followed by rye whiskey notes and certainly some undertones of oaky red wine along with bits of butterscotch and tobacco as well. One of the most complex flavor profiles I've ever had before in an imperial stout beer. Has a slightly syrupy, chewy, smooth, just ever so slightly prickly, full bodied mouthfeel with light to moderate carbonation. The 13% ABV subtly creeps up on you as you tame more and more sips of this very intricate beer. Very damn amazing!

Eric

 1,662 characters

Photo of t8dd
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Fcolle2
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of blindmike
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of Fitze
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle $19.99. Extremely dark black, good sized head, looks nice. Aroma was booze, whiskey, fruit, nice. Flavor is definitely more fruit and whiskey barrel, I didn't get a whole lot of chocolate nor coffee flavors that i sometimes get from imperial stouts. Overall pretty tasty and I am contemplating tracking down a second bottle.

 337 characters

Photo of Jackals
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I thought that this beer was very interesting. The fact that it is triple fermented intrigued me enough to buy a few bottles. The smell and flavor are very complicated. There is both a wine and a (rye?) barrel character that i found delightful. The fact that it was a dark beer with intense malty/chocolate flavors only made me like it more.
I would recommend to anyone with a penchant for high octane, complexly brewed, fermented, and aged beers

4.25/5

 455 characters

Photo of drewone
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of toomuchhops
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Darkest Hour from Anchorage Brewing Company
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 361 ratings