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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 DmouthCaliBrewz
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into FFF Teku

A: Pours inky black with a fizzy thin 3 finger mocha head, which dissipated after about ten minutes leaving just a rim around the edges. No lacing as expected.

S: Subtle notes of bourbon and fruits, with a bit of booze. Aroma gets more intense as it warms.

T: Chocolate and oak up front, with dark fruits and a ton of spices - definitely some cinnamon and nutmeg. After a second the Pinot starts to come through, but the combo of the red wine barrels and the chocolate notes make it not immediately detectable, and takes your tastebuds on a bit of a wild goose chase. Dark fruits keep their presence known through the middle, as some alcohol heat and a noticeable funk begin to develop. Definitely noticing the belgian yeast on the end, and the combo of spice + funk + chocolate malts + red wine barrels is truly a crazy one to decipher. Almost reminiscent of bourbon barrels, but funkier and more tannic. The yeast character and the funkiness combined with the spices had my brain screaming "eggnog."

M: Definitely on the thinner side, but it is a belgian stout. Not pouring like motor oil thats for sure,and the barrel treatment did thin this guy out a bit. But not terribly off base for the style, and the taste definitely makes up for it. I would have liked a bit more body though. Heavy alcohol heat at the end.

O: This is a fantastic belgian stout. Anchorage has yet to disappoint. Everything I have had so far has been money. Would have liked a bit more mouthfeel, but hey...you can't always get what you want.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.73/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

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Photo of stx00lax
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Kevin! As always, you the man!

A- pours a lively dark brown/black. Translucent rim to dark core. Minimal head, but obvious carb and good lacing.

S- vinous oak, dark fruits, light smoke, a bit of roast and bourbon. Belgian yeast.

T- much like the nose, my nostalgia sensor immediately triggers bar fly. These are fairly similar beers with bar fly being a little more roasty with a bigger body.

M- on the thinner side of 13% stouts. The bourbon heat becomes prominent as the beer warms. The oak gives it a dryer feel.

O- this is an awesome stout. Currently I think it's underrated. It doesn't have the vanilla/coconut/bourbon qualities that most American ba stouts have, but rather the complex flavor profiles of both Belgian and American stouts combined. Ready to drink fresh

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Photo of Reswald
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

It poured opaque with a nice, persistent mocha colored head. The nose had lots of whisky and wood notes, mixed in with the roasted barley and malty sweetness - very rich and complex. On the tongue, it was more of the same, with a thick, chewy mouthfeel surrounding notes of dark fruit, chocolate, roasted coffee, oak, whisky, and wine, all in an intricate and complex dance across your taste buds. The finish is long and slow, with some alcohol heat at the end. This is a superb beer, one deserving of being savored in small glasses between a group of appreciative friends. When I tasted it for this review, I was drinking alone and feeling almost guilty for keeping it to myself. Seek it out at all costs.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a shade lighter than jet black with a thin head that fizzes and dissipates like soda. Some visible carbonation creeps up the glass. Definitely doesn't look anywhere near 13%.

S: Lots of raisin skin upfront, and it almost smells like it's been soaked in brandy. I get a sweet booziness right off that bat that's not really a turnoff. It's a little inviting, actually. Beneath the raisin, I get some molasses, heavy wine notes, faint spicy oak, burnt brown sugar and maybe a hint of leather.

T: Man, there's a lot going on here. Upfront, there's some burnt creme brulee with some molasses, sour-ish and dense wine notes, and toffee. Dark chocolate covered raisins, whiskey and oak in the middle with a finish of charred oak, burnt raisin and some booze. Definitely an interesting stout. The sourness of the wine barrel throws things off a bit for me, but this is still really enjoyable. Another good one from Anchorage.

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Photo of Jackals
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
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


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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.

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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.

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Photo of KevSal
4.85/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 2 quick review

Wow this is even better than batch 1. Lots of balance, and delicious at every sip. Damn near perfect score, and incredibly smooth for a 13% beer. Drank an entire 750 with ease.

This beer is something else, highly recommend

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Photo of DucksFan16
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Anchorage Brewing Company Darkest Hour - Belgian Style Imperial Stout, aged in French oak pinot noir and rye whiskey barrels.

Pours very dark. I had to purposely pour this one harder than normal to get a nice head going, resulting in one that was nice and medium brownish. The head fades quickly, but that is to be expected with the extensive barrel aging that this beer has gone though.

I get more of the french oak coming through in the aroma, with the whiskey more in the background. But they mix quite nicely. I want to smell this a while longer before I take my first sip.

The taste is extremely rich. Once again, I get a lot more of the french oak barrel flavors than I do with the whiskey. To be honest, the aroma and taste of this one slightly reminds me of Bar Fly. I believe that Gabe was still the head brewer at Midnight Sun when Bar Fly was brewed. Bar Fly was aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, while this one was aged in Pinot Noir barrels, but it's hard for me to not notice a slight resemblance between the two.

Overall, this is a rock-solid brew. I was very excited to try this one from the first time I heard about it's development, which was probably a year ago already. The wait was worth it.

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