Darkest Hour | Anchorage Brewing Company

63 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Darkest HourDarkest Hour

Brewed by:
Anchorage Brewing Company
Alaska, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by DucksFan16 on 06-02-2013

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 63 | Ratings: 325
Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.03/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours a nice, deep black, small, quick to fade head, no lace.

The smell starts with a surprising red wine cork smell, teriyaki sauce... and not much more.

Chocolate, musty grape, booze, vanilla extract and soy sauce make up the taste. Cheap bourbon at the finish. Not quite as hot as the ABV suggests, which is nice. Still goes down a bit thin.

Not a fan. I wish they had tried a duel release. Darkest Hour Pinot Noir aged, and a separate DH whiskey barrel edition. That may have worked a bit better.

 503 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.44/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Batch #1. March 2013. 13% ABV confirmed. 40 IBUs. "Ale brewed with Summit hops. Triple fermented. First with Belgian yeast, second in Pinot Noir and rye whisky barrels. And finally in the bottle with a wine yeast for natural carbonation." 1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass bottle with printed-on label art and hood-and-wire cap acquired at a local SoCal bottle shop for $14.99 USD and served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are very high given its current ratings and reputation. Love the label art.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.
The wire grows brittle and deteriorates as I unwind it. I'm forced to cut the wire in order to dislodge the cork. Poor manufacturing.

A: Pours a two finger wide head of nice dark tan colour. Nice creaminess. Smooth soft complexion. Nice thickness. Retention is pretty good - about 4-5 minutes. No real lacing as the head recedes.

Body colour is a solid opaque dark black. Not quite a jet black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Looks pretty good for the style, but it's admittedly standard fare. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Not unique or special. No overt flaws are immediately obvious.

Sm: Hmm. Belgian spice sort of clashes with the more traditional dark and chocolate malt body. Molasses. Rye whisky but not much spice. Red wine notes. Bakers' chocolate. Caramel. Oddly, I keep sneezing as I try to ascertain the aroma. Light acridity. No hop profile is detectable, nor is any yeast. No alcohol comes through either. Cream. Caramel. Berry. An above average to mild strength.

T: Dark malts, cream, caramel, caramalt, biscuit malt, chocolate malt, and some light subtle spicy rye whisky. No booze or heat - surprisingly. They really kept that in check. The berry notes are quite light, but do manifest on the climax. Sadly, there's little oak to speak of here. I do get a twinge of lightly acidic pinot noir/red wine just after the climax; integration thereof could definitely be smoother. Sweet Port-like notes. Roast is sorely lacking. No yeast or hop character. All the wine notes are packed in the third act whilst the whisky notes are more timid and occupy the second act. The result is a segmented flavour profile rather than a collaborative cohesive whole of a beer. Balanced, but there's room for improvement - especially structurally. There's certainly a lot going on here, but the complexity is not mitigated by subtlety. Flavour intensity is above average for the style, as is depth of flavour. Flavour duration is average for the style. I do like it, but some of its notes clash. Feels like they lucked out, not like it was deliberately executed this well. I don't get a sense that they were in control here; it's a happy accident.

Mf: Acidic yet soft. Tends a biteen towards the sweeter end but never goes so far as to get cloying or obnoxious. Smooth and wet. Slightly syrupy. On the thicker side but still approachable. Not oily, harsh, biting, or hot. Suits the flavour profile generally well, but it doesn't feel custom-tailored to it. Nice presence on the palate, but there's room for improvement. Sticky and chewy.

Dr: Very drinkable - especially for the high ABV (which is pretty well concealed). I'll definitely be able to kill this bottle by myself. It has a lot of likable elements, but I don't know that I'd call it great. It's a rather good brew from Anchorage, but it's not exemplary. I doubt I'd get it again at this price ($15), but I can see where others might. By no means disappointing, just not worthy of the hype.

Highish B-

Best enjoyed in small quantities.

 3,818 characters

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.66/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Batch #2
Pours a viscous looking black with a dark tan head of less than a finger. Aroma is pretty standard from a BA stout. Whiskey notes, charred barrel, some milk chocolate, vanilla undertones and booze. Flavor consists of most of what the nose picked up with some dark fruit. Dry, roasty, and bitter on the back end. Low carbonation, which helps make for a creamier body despite it really not being that thick.

Overall, this is solid, but not all that inspiring. But look no further if you want an all around delicious BA stout with very few flaws.

 560 characters

Photo of DovaliHops
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Batch 1. Pours an almost-still, pitch black color. Some tan bubbles. Scent is VERY wine-forward. Some rye whiskey aromas with pinot aromas. As it warms, I also get some burgundy. Rich cocoa and dark chocolate with dark fruits. Sweet, burnt sugars...smells very sweet, but some light sour notes as well. Taste is immediately whiskey forward. Burnt brown sugar and sweet dark fruits with a ton of rich chocolate. Sweet, port-like characteristics. Drinks more like a dessert wine than most barrel-aged beers I've had. Slightly tart pinot flavors. Finishes with more sweet, chocolatey flavors. Mouthfeel is full-bodied, and carbonation is VERY soft. Drinkability is fair, as I am not the biggest fan of dessert wines. Overall, I absolutely love Anchorage beers. I love barrel aged beers, even the sweetest one from The Bruery, Alesmith, etc. I love beers with wine-like characteristics, especially when they're more on the sour side. However, this one was a bit too sweet for me. If it had been more sour, like the other dark Anchorage beer, it would have been more enjoyable for me. This beer is good in small doses IMO. Very interesting and worth a try nonetheless.

 1,163 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.74/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Kyle for sharing.

A - Poured into a tulip a nice dark black hue with some thin mocha head.

S - Aromas of dark chocolate, dark fruits, malt bomb.

T - Taste is more of a quad than anything. Nice chocolate, strong malts, strong dark fruits, slightly cloy.

M - Mouthfeel is rather heavy, rather cloy.

O - Overall this beer was alright, not really a stout and super malty.

 383 characters

Photo of arvidkoval
3.8/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

L- Pitch black body, very dark head.

S- Boozey, dark malts, whiskey. Kinda sweet.

T- Alcohol, bittersweet chocolate, oak, whiskey, wine, some dark fruits, slight bitterness in there.

F- Thick body, good carbonation, smooth with a warming feeling from the alcohol.

O- Decent imperial stout, but the barrel flavors were too much.

 337 characters

Photo of boltfan
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured vigorously mocha head dissipates very quickly. Black with brown edges leaves the glass brown when swirled. Nice alcohol legs.

Sm: Tons of wine in the aroma very pleasant. Dark chocolate dipped figs and dates. Can definitely smell the bourbon in the background but not dominating.

Taste: Sweet. Chocolate dipped cherries, you can pick up on the wine characters in the beginning. Next is an overwhelming bourbon drying the tongue. The taste lingers with a toasty aftertaste.

Mf: Viscous and Oily. Dries out the tongue with alcohol on each sip . Sticky sweet

O: I had a lot of expectation on this one. This had potential but the bourbon was a little overwhelming. It helps cut the sweetness and prevents it from becoming cloying but ultimately takes over the taste. Definitely complex and happy to have tried it. This might be worth a revisit after some age.

 871 characters

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not just a stout – a high-gravity Belgian stout! Aged in pinot noir barrels! And rye whiskey barrels! And bottled-conditioned with wine yeast!

Holy shit!

Batch #1, bottled in March 2013 (seven months before the date of this tasting).

A: Shining black with a foamy, dark tan head two-fingers high. The bubbles shimmer with an oily light as they fall slowly to a barely-there layer of retention.

S: Heavy barrel notes with deep chocolate stand at the top of nose, a dark, woody, slightly boozy quality that’s accented by the spice of peppery pinot noir; notes of oxidation are prevalent, though, which places the nose under an unfortunate shadow of wet cardboard. An intriguing duo of buttery caramel and tart Belgian yeast ride the back of the nose out – uniquely sweet and sour.

T: For such a high-gravity beer, this palate is surprisingly balanced and incredibly drinkable. Immediately, a dense chocolate flavor with a roasted backdrop is subdued by the toasted coconut and graham cracker of barrel wood. Fruit flavor makes a noticeable statement on the palate soon after, with notes of wild berry and lemon rind from the Belgian yeast – beautifully matched against the darkness of the residual sugars. Finishes with an earthy sweetness like underripe blackberries: syrupy, but with a wild, leafy grass flavor.

M: This bottle was gone before I knew it – it’s enormously drinkable. “Chewy” is a good description, seeing as this milky brew has only a small amount of silky carbonation.

O: The weakest offering from Anchorage Brewing I’ve had to date, but the most intoxicatingly drinkable stout I’ve had in a while – it’s pretty easy to tell that Anchorage has its act together. Though it’s kind of hard to find the Belgian in this beer, I’ll admit I couldn’t help but keep sipping. Unique, drinkable, and satisfying: that seems to be Anchorage’s game.

 1,890 characters

Photo of SitkaSteve
3.91/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This was poured into a snifter. Bottled December, 2014.
Consumed last night (August 14, 2015).
The appearance was a black color with a slim finger's worth of white to off white foamy head that dissipated within less than about forty seconds. Lacing was light and slid into the beer.
The smell started off with a slick cocoa and then lead into a some light roasty coffee tones and then light amounts of a vinous substance (somewhat a bitter citrusy sort of thing going on).
The taste was sweet through the combination of the cocoa and coffee and then bitter through the coffee and vinous qualities and then the roasty part comes back to slide in underneath, balances nicely.
The mouthfeel was slightly slick with a sharp tangy sweetness rolling over my tongue from the vinous qualities. It sits about medium bodied.
Overall, this was a pretty good Double Stout. The vinous qualities are still there, luckily, I have another bottle to age even longer.

 949 characters

Photo of Derek
3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Black with a tiny bit of tan head, thin ring of retention shows a little leg.

S: Big boozy aroma, almost like dark rum, treacle, field berries, pumpernickel rye.

T: Surprising amount of rye up front, demerara, licorice, cocao, wood, modest bitterness, port-like finish. Nice, but I'm not feeling the Belgian at all.

M: Low on the carbonation, slightly oily and acidic, drying alcohol finish.

O: It's not bad, but certainly not worth the $17 I paid for a bottle.

 469 characters

Photo of chinchill
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber at RBWG-2014 in Asheville.

Deep dark red-brown with a decent head.

Boozy with prunes, dark bread, raisins. Excellent sweet/bitter balance.

Full body with perfect carbonation.

Lasting aftertaste with dark roasted grains eventually coming to the fore.


 273 characters

Photo of rodmanfor3
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: oil black with a thick pour.

Smell: chocolate, smoke, booze, and barrel.

Taste: heat, then very sweet, then barrel, then soy sauce, followed by a bizarre crab porridge finish.

Feel: thick and full

Overall: I am noticing a trend with many of Anchorage's barrel aged offerings, namely that they are far too expensive, given the quality. This beer would be fine at half the price.

 388 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev -5.9%
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 Sarlacc83
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Belmont Station:

A: Pitch black with a ring of dark mocha head. Nice lacing.

N: Hershey’s syrup, cocoa powder, and tons of vanilla and caramel from the bourbon. Cherries, raisin, and prune.

T: Deftly balanced. Coffee bitterness, malt sweetness and an expert blending of bourbon. Does have a bit of sharpness that I attribute to the wine/brett.

M: Oily, but it’s not nearly as thick as I’d like it to be. Big alcohol.

O: A bit burly take-no-prisoners RIS. I really wish it wasn’t so damned alcoholic.

 529 characters

Photo of 303beer
4.01/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black with a dark thin coffee head. To me it has a sweet yeasty smell and notes of the barrel. You can not see through this beer even with a light behind it. Has to be one of the thickest beers I have had. You can taste the barrel without question.

 249 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

Batch # 1. Bottled 3/2013.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown 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, toffee, whiskey, and wine aromas. Taste is much the same with slight sour wine and cocoa flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a great barrel aged presence in the smell and tasty flavors.

 676 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A-Pours thick and inky black. Tan head grows as I pour. It slowly dwindles away after a few moments. Fairly stingy with its lacing.

S-Aroma is pretty heavy. It just slowly rolls out of the glass like a fog. Standard Imperial Stout aromatics are all there. Chocolate and roast. The rye whiskey comes on strong as well. I'm not getting too much in terms of wine notes; there is a dark fruitiness but if ant tell if that's actually from the wine barrels.

T-Powerful flavor. Luscious fudge and medium roast coffee. Heavy on the chocolate. The rye whiskey barrel is again, quite strong. It goes very well with the beer's base. The Pinot barrels do deliver a bit of red fruitiness but that's not as strong as the dark, Belgian fruitiness that is also there.

M-Big bodied Thick and creamy. Definitely hot. It's inviting and enticing and I had to slow myself down because this is a high gravity brew.

O/D-A rich, complicated beer. A tasty sipper with a lot to decipher flavor-wise. An expensive bottle. Anchorage is a killer brewery. I was very happy to give this one a whirl. Might want to split this bad boy because it'll knock your ass out.

 1,139 characters

Photo of mjpolzin
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this at the end of a LONG night of beer tasting with friends so I probably didn't fully appreciate it as much as I should.

Very sweet but smooth. Whiskey barrel shows through nicely. Very good beer but too sweet to make it a top notch barrel aged stout.

 258 characters

Photo of impending
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 5


750ml into a tulip. Pours a dirty walnut motor oil, very encouraging pour need for a mid sized cappuccino ice cream colored head, minor lacing. Pitch black in the glass.

Aroma is of yeasty oak, molasses and vanilla. A little solvency of the alcohol. Unripened black cherries. Whiskey is hardly in evidence nor anything from a barrel excepting the vanilla. Nice all the same.

The taste is an explosion of flavors wholly unexpected. The wine and whiskey fully revealed but restrained, the barrel is without a doubt. Again burnt sugar and bittersweet molasses
The alcohol, while indeed slightly solvent, is a welcome obvious flavor component.
Very thick viscous mouthfeel, almost greasy. excellent at room temp
Does not pair well with any worthy food.

 764 characters

Photo of flayedandskinned
4.07/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2013 Vintage
Poured into a standard tulip glass.

Appearance: (4)
Pours an absolutely, viscous impenetrable black with only a mere wisp of a dark knaki that almost recedes as quickly as it forms. The high alcohol content(13%), coupled with the extensive aging in both Pinot Noir and Rittenhouse Rye whiskey barrels, definitely kills any hope of a head. Plenty of alcohol legs.

Aroma: (4.5)
Huge notes of sweet, overripe plums, dark cherries, figs, rich molasses, dark chocolate and dried tobacco leaves. Massive barrel character; The whiskey barrel definitely dominates aroma; cascading notes of vanilla, bourbon and light coconut . There is a vinous leather character imparted by the Pinot barrel. Some alcohol phenols come out more and more as the beer warms.

Taste: (4)
As soon as the beer enters your mouth, you're hit with peppery, spicy black cherries from the Pinot barrel. Soon to follow the Pinot character, is some sweet plum and general dark, fruitiness from the Belgian yeast that the stout was fermented with. Rich, dark chocolate malt quickly follows the fruity yeast character. The stout finishes very dry with more lingering impressions of black cherries, plums and chocolate. Big bourbon barrel notes at the tail end of the finish; vanilla, faint charred oak, light tannins and a resounding booziness as the beer warms. For being 13% ABV, the alcohol is fairly well hidden.

Mouthfeel: (3.5)
Thick, viscous with very soft carbonation and an oily, drying alcohol presence.

Overall: (4)
An extremely unique take on a barrel aged stout; Both the Pinot Noir and Rye Whiskey barrels are showcased very well, the bourbon dominates the nose, and the tail end of the finish, whereas the Pinot dominates the initial flavor and the back end of the aroma. Very interesting stuff. I do find myself wishing that the base beer had more of a roasted malt backbone to help counteract the sweetness of the stout, as the beer does get pretty cloying as it warms. Stronger carbonation would also help in this matter. I think this beer will greatly benefit with some more age on it. This is one stout keep buried in the closet for a while; to let the carbonation build up and let the diverse flavors round themselves out a bit. I recommend this beer to anybody who is looking for a new flavor experience on their palate. Good, but young beer; still has some aging to do.

 2,374 characters

Photo of unclekeith
4.11/5  rDev -3.3%
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 Alieniloquium
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body with a decent khaki head. Thick collar. A few islands.

Smell - Rich chocolate, some whiskey, and then the red wine barrel comes through in the end. Gives it a vinous character.

Taste - Chocolate and coffee up front. Vanilla. The red wine comes through with the vinous character. Whiskey comes back in the finish but the lingering flavor is wine.

Mouthfeel - Medium high carbonation. A little boozy.

Overall - The wine barrel needs some time to die down, I think, but this could be really good with some agem

 575 characters

Photo of mothman
4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A little bit of a gusher. Tan head. Motor oil black.

Belgian yeast provides a lot of carbonation. Lots of whiskey, oak, and dark fruits. Cherries and molasses. Roasted malts.

Full bodied. Thick.

Solid beer, maybe a touch to much carbonation and peat. Otherwise enjoyable.

 274 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Tipples. Batch #1, March 2013. Poured October 18, 2013. Pour is a sense black letting no light in, small dark brown head that bubbles hard and recedes quickly. A beautiful aroma of licorice/anise, good n plenties, vanilla, chocolate, whiskey, fruit. Flavor starts with chocolate covered raisins, followed by some heat as it goes down and fades into vanilla. A bit of whiskey soaked Good n Plenty here as well. Chocolate comes back to linger. The mouthfeel is thick at first, then the carbonation makes this thinner than expected. The body is there though. High carbonation for the style (assume this is the Belgian yeast inspiration) and I’d prefer less but still works OK. Very drinkable for the rather high ABV though still pretty hot. Very nice.

 762 characters

Photo of dar482
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer offers tons of red wine and intense grape flavor, balanced with roasted malt and chocolate. The beer then transitions to the rye whiskey and oak. Throughout, there is tons of pinot flavor.

The finish is slightly unsettling and possibly from the use of Belgian yeast.

 276 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Darkest Hour from Anchorage Brewing Company
4.25 out of 5 based on 325 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.