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Darkest Hour | Anchorage Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 62 | Ratings: 323
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.


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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.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.49/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml caged and corked bottle. Batch #1, bottled March 2013. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch and a half tan head that stuck around for a while. There's a decent amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like roasted malt, red wine/grapes, whiskey, chocolate, and a bit of licorice. The brew tastes like roasted malt, chocolate, red wine, whiskey, dark fruit, licorice, molasses, caramel, and some coffee and wood. I think it's tasty! Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's coating and chewy with moderate carbonation. The 13% ABV is well hidden. I liked this brew a lot, I think it's definitely worth trying. I know I'd like to get another bottle of this in the future, it's one of the better beers I've had recently. $17.99 a bottle.

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Photo of artoolemomo
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours up a gorgeous block of head that doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The head is a dark beige/mocha while the body is an opaque, dark chocolate black. The head is very slow to dissipate but shows some sheeting that extends from the head. Lacing ranges from sheeting to spots.

Nose- Lots of smoke such that it has aspects of burnt rubber and oil. Sounds bad but it actually works well with subsequent notes of chocolate and poignant roasted notes. Some hint of coffee but there is a slight acridity to it. The nose from the glass is milder and shows a bit of raisins that have a bit of prunes to them. Swirling shows mostly chocolate and cocoa.

Taste- Starts off with a defined fruitiness (mostly raisins, some cherry) that moves into a very complex flavor profile that moves from rich, dark chocolate to coffee to red grapes (very heavy Pinot Noir) to notes of rye whiskey. Heat is noticeable at the moment but I wouldn't exactly call it boozy. My first sip seems to suggest that this might needs more aging if I wanted to be more like the Belgian Yeti I had two days ago. Dry and ashy finish that also dries out the mouth a bit. Some clove that hangs around but is in no way obtrusive. Even a bit of inkiness but there is a very rich deep chocolate taste on the finish- think 70% or greater cacao dark chocolate. The Pinot Noir and whiskey elements have tons of presence and really mesh well together. At the moment, the entire flavor profile has great progression, great complexity, and great integration. There are clashes but they build the other notes rather than detract from them. Good amount of cocoa as well. Some leather and tobacco and pretty much everything I look for in a good stout. The Belgian characteristics may be muted but they do play enough of a part to distinguish this from a normal imperial stout. This is a brash, in your face beer and I wonder if this is the reason why it doesn't get rave reviews. Sure, 4.1 is a very good score but this could easily be in the top 250 in my opinion. Very good to almost great beer. I think it would be almost great with or without aging. I seems quite versatile.

Mouthfeel- Very heavy bodied while managing to be slight creamy and smooth with a touch of grittiness. It has a bit of zip to it. Very neat, dry finish that does give you a bit of cottonmouth.

Drinkability- By no means sessionable or even dangerous. The alcohol is noticeable and the notes of other alcohols make you pause. I enjoy that from a 13%, 17 dollar beer.

Overall- Why did I ever doubt Belgian Imperial Stouts? I'm 2 for 2 now. The ones I have encountered seem to have a bit of a Quad aspect (or maybe a Dubbel) while maintaining the basic foundation of an Imperial Stout. I have to say that I like that combination. I also must express great admiration for the meticulous nature of Gabe Fletcher's brewing. The process he undertakes must demand (or deserves) at least 17 bucks and if there were more hype around his beers, they would be much more. So on that note, this is beer is shit and don't ever drink anything by Anchorage. It might give you herpes. In fact, I guarantee it will give you herpes.

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Photo of Joshpu
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

(Batch # 1, 2013) Poured from the bottle to a snifter.

A: Poured nearly black in color with a reddish tinge and a one finger of light brown head.

S: I am primarily getting the smell of the aging from the (red) pinot noir barrels, a typical wine/tart smell. Also getting a toffee or molasses. The warmer it got the more I could detect the smell from the aging of the rye whiskey barrels.

T: It first starts off with the wine/tartness. In the middle I get a sweetness that hits, molasses, dark brown sugar. The end follows with a slight bitter coffee/black licorice. There is also the sweet rye whiskey bite on the aftertaste.

M: Medium to full bodied. Almost like an oily mouth feel to it. I don't taste the alcohol at all.

Overall I thought this was a great beer, very complex with a lot going on.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks for sharing Matt!

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Produced some tan froth. Minimal lacing.

(S)- A complex aroma. An ever so slight fruity tartness meets a spicy caramel dry barrel with subtle roasted qualities. Just the subtlest grape/raisin hint at the end from the pinot barrel.

(T)- A very complex stout. Faint hints at the fruity pinot barrel met with a great dry oaky spice from the rye barrel. Subtle underling caramel and roasted grains meets raisin and cocoa. A very striking take on a stout.

(M)- A great carbonation level meets a dynamic barrel aged stout. Great rye and caramel meets a superb subtle pinot barrel fruit component.

(O)- The combo of a pinot and rye whiskey barrel is really striking. An absolutely superb stout that used the blend of barrels expertly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Batch #1 - Brewed in March 2013.
Poured in to tulip.

A - Deep ink black with one finger of medium brown head that slowly receded to a thin layer.

S - Rich sweet caramel, molasses, chocolate and red wine notes come through initially, followed by toasted oak, whiskey and some spice. A beautiful nose.

T - A massively rich and bold flavour profile (without being cloying). Red wine, dark fruit, caramel, chocolate and molasses flavours come through up front. The mid-palate adds toasted oak and whiskey flavours and the finish has a light spice presence along with the Belgian yeast profile. Truly decadent.

M - Full body. Thick and viscous. Light carbonation.

O - This was a truly unique and remarkable beer. The integration of the red wine and whiskey barrel aging along with the base beer was perfect. Perhaps a touch sweet, which kept it from getting a perfect score, but this was outstanding.

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Photo of N3rdM3t4l
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

750ml corked and caged silkscreened bottle into short stemmed tulip glass.

A: pitch black with the thinnest rich chocolate colored head. No lacing either.

S: sweet alcohol, chocolate, roasty malt, vanilla, slight tannin, brandy soaked raisins, and a hint of wood.

T: follows nose. Richer than it smells though. Opens sweet and just has waves subtle notes before it closes up with bitter chocolate.

M: high alcohol makes it thinner than expected. Good and smooth with just enough carb.

O: fan-fucking-tastic I hqve nothing to else to say.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.21/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

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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.

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Photo of macher0
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to tulip

A: Poured black with a slight amber head that retreats to a fine bubble rim. Slight hints of purple on the edges when swirled. Very viscous.

S: Roasted malts, grapes, wine, bourbon, oak. Some sweetness. Some hops. Complex.

T: A little sweet and a little bitter, very complex. Lots going on here. Strong dark roasted malts. Notes of grapes, oak tannins, bourbon soaked oak, dry red wine, cranberries, and hops. Some vanilla and toffee. Strong booze.

M: A little harsh. Low carbonation. Full bodied. The barrel ageing leaves a aftertaste that is a combination of wine and whiskey.

O: A must try. This is a very complex stout that picks up a lot from it's different ageing mechanisms. It's a work of art, but I had to pace myself as it did not go down quite as smooth as other stouts. The booze is very prevalent and adds to the harshness. But this is a delicious ale. I shared the second bottle with others, some of whom are more wine fans than beer, and they loved it.

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Photo of schwemjw
4.57/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Motor oil black with a dark tan foamy head. big alcohol legs.

S: Teriyaki sauce with dark bitter chocolate. Strong oak presence with vanilla and green peppers. spicy. molasses and condensed milk. thick fig and raisin with a sharp tannic red wine.

T: Sweet chocolate and belgian yeast up front. a funk mix of dates, figs raisins and molasses. Sweet plum and fresh vanilla. bitter yet smooth with a toffee and red wine finish. bits of caramelized sugar play at the edges of your tongue with some linger burnt spice.

M: Smooth and creamy. very full but not too heavy. long dark fruit and spice finish.

O: Wow i am very impressed here. so complex. cant taste the abv AT ALL. /95

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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.

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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

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Photo of bobhits
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
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.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed as out of a brown 750 mL bottle marked with the information, Batch #1 March 2013. Poured into a Boulevard Smokestack tulip glass.

Appearance - Aggressive pour yields a frothy but fleeting mocha-tan head that slinks back into the liquid after a little while, leaving a rim of foam around the edges of the glass. Body is almost pitch black, but reveals highlights of garnet and pomegranate seed red when held in front of the light. An enchanting looking beer, though it could use some better head retention and lacing, but I suppose that's to be expected from a 13% BA imperial stout.

Smell - Very hot with boozy notes from the rye barrel-aged portion. Belgian yeast gives the typically roasty smell a floral depth, like nectar. Still, the elements of coffee and cacao are still present. I also get characteristics of rich, decadent port wine and dark fruits. Unfortunately, the booze is a little unbalanced for my taste, but it's an incredibly unique smelling brew. Almost like brandy.

Taste - Unbelievable. I'm not even sure where to start, the flavor is so deep and complex. Definite characteristics of pinot noir and grape must, some dark spiciness with a hint of oak from the rye barrels, and a pleasant sweetness of molasses and caramelized sugar. I love the fact that the wine elements are clearly present, but blend in nicely to the overall darker, sweeter elements from the stout to highlight darker fruits like figs, dates and currants. The acidity provides a good counterpoint to the heavier, more cloying components.

Mouthfeel - Thick and viscous, with a heavy body. Carbonation is moderate-to-heavy; in spite of the lack of retention, a gentle swirl coaxes out fizz and foaming pretty easily.

Overall - As a end-of-the-night sipper, this might be one of the best beers I've ever had. I'm sure it would be fabulous with a dessert, but it's also sufficient enough to be its own dessert. I will definitely have to make a point to get more bottles of this, partly because it's amazing, but also to age it and see how that wine yeast changes the characteristics of the beer over time. Anchorage continues to use its King Midas touch to crank out fantastic beers.

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Photo of dbc5
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle poured into 10 ounce Kentucky Bourbon Stout snifter.

A: Pours a jet black with a nice mocha colored head. Head slowly recedes, leaving a ring of foam around the edge of the glass. No lacing, but there are some alcohol legs left after each swirl. Good looking beer, particularly for a stout of this size.

S: Really interesting nose. There are some classic stout aromas, chocolate being the most prevalent, as well as some light roast. A fair barrel presence is also apparent and comes out even more as the beer warms. When really digging, you can pick up some of the rye whiskey as well. This is an incredibly complex nose.

T: There is a ton going on in this beer. The rye whiskey wasn't particularly present in the nose, but the flavors come through on the palate, although they are not "hot." There is a significant flavor of sweet chocolate and also a lot of dark fruits. The finish is tart dark fruits, lingering chocolate, and a bit of rye whiskey. This beer has a ton to chew on and think about. I am digging it.

M: Moderate to full bodied. Oily and sticky as it leaves the palate. Fairly low carbonation.

O: I am thoroughly impressed by this beer. This beer is incredibly complex and makes for a memorable drinking experience.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 7.14.13
Batch #1 Mar/2013

A - Pours a dark brown/black with a brown fine head with good retention.

S - Subtle tartness, roasted malts and sugars, red-wine barrel when swirled, bourbon when sitting.

T - Hop bite, then a sweet chocolate, roasted and dark fruit, then some sweet red wine and oaky bourbon. What?

D - Good, but lower carbonation with a heavier body.

O - Stout with Belgian red wine traits up front, and bourbon barrel in the background. Somehow it worked.

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Photo of Brenden
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown and almost fudgy in appearance, this thick brew looks the part of a big stout. It grows a khaki-colored head about a finger in height. Retention is on the better side of moderate, as is a mingling of patching and spotting.
Stout characteristics make themselves known in the aroma, more than the Belgian yeast. Otherwise it's got a great balance of tart and sour, Michigan cherry style, with a light sweetness both fruity and almost creamy in nature. Rye whiskey and Pinot, seemingly experimental and potentially disastrous, marry impressively well, and I'm loving the dry/sweet interplay. Roast and light cocoa notes mingle well, as does a sort of toastiness, making this a complete, balanced, and well-rounded beer full of depth and flavor. The taste adds an excellently well-toned acidity/vinegar element and brings the unity of malts, sourness, tartness and sweetness into accord exceptionally well. There's little notice of this beer's huge ABV, but it sure does warm nicely.
Stout big and rich, this full-bodied beauty is thick and creamy. Dryness from the rye whiskey, wine and the oak they're in balances out the overall feel. Creamy smooth and warm, this is a seemingly winter-appropriate bee that I'd drink any time, as it's also somehow refreshing, likely due to the light acidity.

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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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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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.

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Darkest Hour from Anchorage Brewing Company
4.25 out of 5 based on 323 ratings.
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