Captain Swain's Extra Stout | Cisco Brewers Inc.

very good
217 Ratings
Captain Swain's Extra StoutCaptain Swain's Extra Stout

Brewed by:
Cisco Brewers Inc.
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Foreign / Export Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-21-2001

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Ratings: 217 |  Reviews: 152
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I once had a discussion with Michael Jackson regarding judging beers to style versus judging them hedonistically; and although he initially defended both sides of the issue, we concurred that it all comes down to "do you like the beer"? And, yes, I do.
It pours an almost black, exceptionally deep mahogany body beneath a short head of creamy dark tan foam that dies gently and leaves walls of spotty lace about the glass. They're transient at 8%abv, but that's OK, a new wall is built with each sip.
An acidic, dark malt greets you in the nose; followed by some sweeter notes of rich chocolate and a hint of burnt coffee as well as some spruce-like hoppiness. It's restrained, exceptionally fine-bubbled carbonation and light-medium body leaves it silky smooth across the palate. The flavor is bold without being overdone. Dark malt acidity greets you upfront (it's definitely not acetic or lactic, but it is somewhat tart), followed by some mild notes of bittersweet chocolate, and then some sweeter notes of creamy caramel. Restrained, but distinctly spruce-like hops appear immediately at the swallow; and help to usher in its dry and lingering earthy finish. It's quite enjoyable once it warms a bit and lends more breadth to its character. Certainly worth trying.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.33/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This came in a nice big 750ml bottle. Pours out black with a tall tan head. There were decent rings of lace left around the glass as it is consumed. Aroma smelled of licorice, fruit a bit of chocolate and an odd soy sauce type note. Taste was of chocolate, coffee, a bitter earthiness and a bit of sourness. Very complex and interesting taste but the sourness and another odd flavor kept me from enjoying this as much as I could have. Mouthfeel was a bit thin but not too bad. Drinkability was pretty good even though there was some off flavor lingering in the background. I will probably give this another chance if I come across it again but this time it just seemed off.

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Photo of farHillsBrewer
3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

An interesting brew but tough to judge.
First, this bottled conditioned stout was over-primed and tried to explode from the bottle. I wasn't sure where to detract points, so I deducted on drinkability, because I had to wait until the massive foam cload settled. The appearance was pleasing, a chocolate malt with a kick.
The second flaw was the quantity of yeast in the bottle. I can't remember when I last had a beer that collected visible yeast in the glass. Being a homebrewer, I detected an evident yeast flavor, which I consider a flaw when I brew.
Negatives aside there was plenty to enjoy in this bottle.
The deep dark color was matched with an array of tasty notes, including coffee, cocoa, roasted malt and a mild hoppines to bitter and support the malt complexity. the yeastiness did swirl somewhat around the tongue and also imparted a warm bubbliness on the tongue.
Overall, the quality factors were not worth the premium price that I paid for the bottle. I'll wait a year and try again because I think the brewers can greatly improve this recipe.

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Photo of Shiredave
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Overcarbonated. Foam explodes as beer is gently poured into my Duvel goblet. 3/4 coffee w/ cream colored head, 1/4 purple black liquid. Gooey brown lace coats the glass.
Aroma is sharply fruity with charred grain and yeast notes. Light and clean, the aroma is nice but not really stout like to me.
Flavor is wonderfully roasty with lush, sugary fruit mixed with earthy, chalky dryness. Great roasted sweetness up front and firm hop flavor and bittering in the middle. Full bodied and slick on the tongue. Finishes smokey and dry with the faint warm of alcohol.
A very good stout from a fine little brewery but like most of the products Ive had from Cisco, the bottles dont age well, and are usually over carbonated. Drink em soon after you buy em, except maybe the Baggywrinkle.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.82/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A thick black body covered in a nice covering of tan foam that eventually dies leaving the glass covered in sticky lace. This one did not have explosive foam like one or two other Cisco brews I have had. I just poured wonderfully. The aroma is nothing short of exceptional. It is loaded with sweet rich chocolate and coffee. There are some nutty notes in there as well, and my nose picks up molasses and a very delicate fruit aroma hidden in the backround. Wow, this is sure a great whiffer. Having had some Cisco brews before, I knew I could not just smell this one.

The carbonation was a little big on this one, even though it did not show in the pour. It left the first few swigs to be a bit bubbly, but no matter. The body is full and has a somewhat thick feel to it. After the carbonation died a bit, it was very smooth. The initial flavor is big sweet rich chocolate as if it were melted from a bar straight into my mouth. Coffee and roasty flavors enter next bringing with them a small hint of molasses. It starts to dry quickly, and some burnt flavors come into play. The aftertaste is loaded with coffee, but you still know that the chocolate is there. Alcohol is, well, invisible to my tongue. Maybe just a little taste here and there. I could drink this beer all day long. Its complexity is outstanding, and it will make almost any stout jealous. It is big, bold and excellent.

Cisco has wowed me again.

Special thanks to VENOM for this brew. This was the last of a deliteful Cisco sampler, and I enjoyed every one of 'em.

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Photo of aracauna
3.35/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Definitely a foamer. Luckily, I was quick enough to get it to the sink before it spewed everywhere, but that's because I caught it before the lid was fully off. Huge tan head eventually fades completely away. The black body has a bit of a gray cast to it. A bit of the imperial stout fruitiness on the nose over a little chocolate. The flavor and body are thin. Some chocolate, some lingering hop bitterness. Definitely not one of the fuller flavored stouts of this size.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This bottle got off to a rollicking start, for it exploded on uncapping, creating a head that's a thick morass of cocoa, and leaving me with a little mess to clean up on the floor! When I returned from my scrubbing and blotting, I marveled at the pitch-black color, a deep, stygian sea.
Aroma: rich and dark, thick as molasses, swimming with myriad connotations, bits of coffee, brown sugar, dark Jamaican rum, devilish spices,...I was tempted to postpone the consumption of the stout itself, and luxuriate with my nose in this forever!
Taste: as I eventually start to sip, we encounter some powerful hops up on top, and rich, full texture, with a strain of spiciness that plays on the tongue and continues all the way down. Gritty, earthy, bittersweet as well, but still smooth and easy. Somehow, the body isn't quite as thick as I'd like, but maybe that delectable nose had me hungering for an Imperial stout, which this is not. Doesn't quite last long enough in the mouth. Very mellow, actuall, while still rich and tasty. Despite petering out on the initial promise (or what I read into it), this is a top-notch foreign extra and I'd turn to often, if I were so lucky.
Thanks to UncleJimbo for this bottle!

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Photo of Gusler
4.36/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On the pour, a tall dark and handsome beer this one, the head a majestic chocolate crown that is creamy in consistency with the lace a thick and sticky blanket upon the glass. Toasted grains dominate the coffee and chocolate like nose, that is also fresh, crisp and somewhat sweet nose, a real treat to sniff, start is thick malt, sweet and the top full bodied and in feel. Finish is delectable in its hop spicy bite, the carbonation moderate, bittersweet chocolate dry and a fine drinking stout that is a true treat, just a shame they don’t export this far west, good thing I have some good ole BA buddies in the east to thank for this one.

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Photo of kunzbrew
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Holy head batman, it took 15 minutes to pour a beer. After trying to pour for a while, I took a look at the label and it says "gently carbonated..." my ass. There is more carbonation than I know what to do with. After the head settles it reveals a very nice looking brew with a head that last for about 30-40 minutes.

The smells are nice coffee malt and raosted malts fill the nose with great pleasure. Hops are low to moderate in aroma, typical for the style.

Carbonation bites the tongue like no other beer I have had. The roasty toasty malts are very nice in flavor, by far the flavor is right up there with most stouts. As this thing warms the carbonation settle to a nice comfort level. The hop flavor is light and the bitterness is light as well. The beer settles nice make this beer feel good and I really enjoy drinking it. This one makes you patiently wait for the taste.

The mouthfeel is bad in the beginning but after the beer warms it becomes much better.

I think you can drink this one for a while as long as you let it simmer for about 20 minutes.


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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The overly enthusiastic effervescence is WAY over done. The brewer has yet to learn how to bottle his beers. Even the gentlest and slowest of pours produces a brew that is exclusively tan head. This might be acceptable if the 15 minutes it takes to reveal the liquid stout were worth it. The aroma is a mild malt, green apple and hops. Flavors of sweet chocolate, light smoky malt blend with a light metallic and lemon zest. A slightly astringent camphor lingers in the background. A fizzy effervescence remains almost all the way through.

This is a complete re-edit from my review on 10-14-2003.
No doubt I had a bottle gone bad the first time around.
It pours a very deep cola color with a 1" tan head and loads of lacing.
Smells of a horse barn that had a slight fire the night before. In a completely good way. Smells of roasted malt, burnt toast, coffee, chocolate and flowers follow.
A big taste of roasted chocolate malt is dominant, but the resinous and citrusy hops are no shrinking violets. It's roasty, toasty and tart!
The mouthfeel is near perfect for the style. Not too oily, nor too heavy.
I wish I had re-tried this earlier. Good, solid stout!

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Photo of marc77
3.45/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A mild, but incessant gusher... Beneath the tremendously thick, excessive carbonation induced, dark beige, sticky head lies a virtually black brew with flashes of clear deep garnet when held to light. With patience, the head settles into a manageable, blanket of loose foam fluff. Sweet, milky chocolate malt and caramel combination upfront in aroma, supported by a buttery diacetyl undertone. Mellow suggestion of mocha dipped pear adds a stately fruity contrast. Understated, but well rounded aromawise. Sharp, lightly tart carbonic acid bite hits the palate at first, then yields to a balanced combination of burnt barley bitterness and deeply toffeeish dark lovibond caramel malt. Roasted grain presence tapers mid palate, allowing moderate hop bitterness and chocolate malt to surface concomintantly, lending a dryish, only lightly sugared baker's chocolate presence. Faint, token prune like esters emerge late along with a mild, but perceptibly nut driven impression of spicy nutmeg and dry roasted almond. Persistently prickly in mouthfeel, from both the high attenuation and over carbonation. As the CO2 dissipates, the overall body is revealed to be thinnish, with its passable viscosity somewhat akin to that of an American brown ale. Finishes mostly dry, yet pleasantly sweet, with notes of molasses drizzled graham crackers and butter. Captain Swain is a flavorful stout unfortunately marred by overcarbonation. The superfluous attenuation suggests they prematurely bottled... This is more spritzy than a Duvel! Drinkability is only decent simply due to the inherent patience required for dealing with its excessive carbonation. Almost an excellent stout, but their yeast strain apparently behaved unpredictably. Tasty nonetheless and without outright flavor flaws.

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Photo of MJR
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased in Boston the weekend of the AoBF...

750ml bottle with clean and elegant labeling. I really like the simple appearance of Cisco's bottles...

Appearance: Considering how overly-carbonated the other two beers I had from Cisco were, I was expecting yet another glass of foam. What I got was a huge tan head, but nothing compared to the others. Underneath it is a black body that gives off shades of reddish-brown when held up to a strong light. Great retention and lacing.

Smell: The aroma is a mix of roasted barley and dark malts, and a yeasty, earthiness that almost gives the impression of oats. Hints of coffee and chocolate, along with a slighty phenolic background.

Taste: The flavor is quite rich with a huge burst of coffee and roasted malts starting strong right out of the gate. After that, a bit of chocolate and a charred taste show up. Mid-palate, a strong phenolic character trys to take control, with varying success: one swallow will be all roasted malts, the next all's like they're taking turns! There's a firm bitterness, but it's from the roasted barley. Hops make their obligatory appearance towards the end with a fresh, green note. A bit of alcohol rides the lengthy aftertaste...

Mouthfeel: The 'higher-than-it-should-be' carbonation takes away a bit of the body, but there's still plenty left. Medium in body, with a sharp, dry finish.

Drinkability: I could drink this again. The phenolic taste and high carbonation seem to be an across-the-board problem with Cisco, but I think they could have some damn good brews if they managed to fix a few lingering problems. Still, this is an extremely tasty foreign/export-style stout.

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Photo of scottum
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lost 1/3 my big bottle to the overflow... d'oh! Pour really really dark with a solid head. Quite bitter. A bit of sweet. Other than a slight burnt coffee flavor in the back ground, this come across as a quite nice beer. Very complex. Ends dry. Not the best stout, but worth a sample.

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Photo of Thrasher
4.4/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Part of a 4-bottle sampler pack from Cisco that included a cd of some truly lame white-boy island groove music. You can almost picture the guys practicing all summer in their parents' vacation beach house with their faded college baseball caps on backwards. Ah, Nantucket! But I digress; on to the beer. Pitch black with lively head that recedes, almost completely. A couple big floating chunks of... yeast, perhaps? Exceptionally fruity aroma for a stout with some burnt brown sugar. Bittersweet chocolate, coffee, caramel, and huge roasty malts start things off, with that fruity yeast providing an eloquent twist, letting you know this is no ordinary stout. Incorporates sweeter elements of an oatmeal stout with the figgy, raisiny elements of an imperial stout or robust porter. Finishes with an excellent balance of dryness (from the hops) and sweet fruitiness that is pretty wet, almost cloying, tempting you to go back for more. This is a pretty remarkable stout. It requires your undivided attention; sit back and appreciate the achievement of balancing the roastiness of the dark malts with the exciting fruitiness of the yeast.

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Photo of Murph
4.77/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black enough to leave fingerprints on coal, this brew doesn't allow the slightest hints of light around its edges with a good brown head that sinks but leaves a nice lace. Huge chocolate aromas along with some nice roasted coffee in the background. Taste starts off extremely chocolatey with some subtle dark roasted coffee flavors tagging along all the way through. The brew finishes with a lingering bitter coffee taste that is a perfect ending. The brew is very creamy but not quite as chewy as I would like and a little too carbonated. This brew reamains very drinkable and is yet another big time winner from Cisco Brewers.

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Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Bukowski's Tavern in my 32 oz mug. Nearly pitch black with a deep tan and tiny bubbled head.

Smells sweet with soft roasted aromas, a bit of dark chocolate and coffee also with a trace of hop.

Full sturdy bodied, very malty with a great balance of sweetness and bitterness with an outstanding and complex palate. Sweetness is soft with coffeeish flavours, creamy in the mouth feel. Hop bitterness is ample and rides with the mellow but stern roasted grain. Earthy, charred wood and nutty yeast round out the semi sweet finish.

A first taste I though this might be a beer to have just one and go to something else, by the end of the glass I wanted to drink it all night.

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Photo of Todd
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Big 1 pint 9.4fl oz brown bottle. "Good fresh beer" is stated on the label, but there's no freshness date.

Appearance: Black as night with a huge, thick, rocky foam, creamy coffee coloured head.

Smell: Roasted malts, earth, smoke, faint caramel, light alcohol and oxidation notes.

Taste: Crisp upfront with a more than lively carbonation level. Big malt profile of intense roasted malts hit the palate, with charred, smoked, earth, faint caramel flavours and background sweetness. Hops are dually instense and follow with a sharp rind astringency. In between the malt and hops you can note some definte oxidation. Malt flavour and sweetness really fills out more as the beer warms to room temperature -- fruity and bready notes become pronounced. Body is medium. Mouthfeel is smooth, firm, semi-slick. Things dry up just a bit towards the end with roasted astringency and a lingering smoke flavour.

Notes: It's not very accessible at the time of this review, comes in big bottles and is $7 a pop. That said, you'd probably be spending your money well as this is a very decent stout with some rare characteristics for the market -- big time smoke flavours. Complex, unique and robust. I very much enjoyed this brew.

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Captain Swain's Extra Stout from Cisco Brewers Inc.
3.89 out of 5 based on 217 ratings.
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