Before The Dawn | Steel Toe Brewing

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92
outstanding
194 Ratings
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Before The DawnBefore The Dawn
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Steel Toe Brewing
Minnesota, United States
steeltoebrewing.com

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Black Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels. Before the Dawn is a fusion of a Barleywine and a Russian Imperial Stout. Layer upon layer of complex malt character is what makes this beer so special. Caramel and toffee give way to molasses, coco and roasted malt. This rich and warming beer underwent a lengthy aging process in bourbon barrels which lends a wonderful oak and vanilla character followed by moderate tannin in the finish.

Added by claaark13 on 06-28-2012

BEER STATS
Ratings:
194
Reviews:
31
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
8.29%
 
 
Wants:
96
Gots:
45
For Trade:
5
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 194 |  Reviews: 31
Photo of GRG1313
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at GRG1313's tasting.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, caramel, toffee, vanilla, bourbon, wood, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, caramel, toffee, vanilla, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with nice stout like qualities that work well with the barleywine characteristics.

 712 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this is my favorite steel toe beer i have ever had, and probably their most ambitious as a brewery. its a black barleywine, or some sort of fusion between a big russian imperial stout and an english barleywine, aged in whiskey barrels. shiny black with a very short little patchy layer of bubbles on the top, inky and intense looking, but not overly viscous, especially compared to the insanely dense lunker barleywine they do here. so much interesting grain right away on this one, i get the roasted barley first, with a fairly heavy coffee and char aspect to it, the vanilla and oak from the barrel come on next, sweet for sure, but only balancing some of the bitter darker grains. i get cocoa and burnt bread here, a little sweet. the caramel and toffee notes that make give this its barleywine character come next, with hints of red apple, honey, and bran muffin, sweet again, but balanced too. moving towards the finish, i get a more unique grain complexion, starchy and rich, maybe some oats in here, or some high crystal barley, its beautiful and fully appropriate. licorice and booze in the finish, with a bit of the whiskey returning sweet and hot. not too heavy to drink a whole glass of, warming but not scalding alcohol profile, and an enormous depth of grain flavors with very few equals. a style i wish we saw more of, so much potential in it, and steel toe has delivered with this one, what a gem!

edit: they also did a tart cherry version of this that was also incredible, just a little fruity tang to cut some of the sweetness, and a real compatible dark fruit note that brings out more of the chocolate and dark malt in the more stout-like aspects of this. just delightful!

 1,692 characters

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of brentk56
3.79/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Couldn't possibly be any blacker and the head is as dark as any I have seen; though the foam doesn't get that high, it leaves viscous spots of lacing

Smell: Molasses, licorice, charred oak, Bourbon, pine, prune and chocolate; quite boozy

Taste: Molasses, licorice and prune, up front, with a growing burnt oak character; Bourbon and pine build, after the swallow and there is some chocolate in the finish; still quite hot and boozy, even after a year

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Overall: I had high hopes for this beer as I have enjoyed most everything else I have tasted but, despite the creativity of brewing a black barleywine, the flavors really clash

 714 characters

Photo of oline73
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of largadeer
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of mothman
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Short review: reminds me of BCS

Light tan head. Color is black.

Aroma: a lot like BCS 

Taste: more BCS flavors but a little bit of coffee and roast

Mouthfeel: warming and smooth. Medium carbonation. Full bodied. Ends with a bit of roast and heat.

Overall, a really great beer. Really surprised with this one. Really reminds me of BCS.

 340 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to rudzud for sharing.

Light fizzy dark head, nice legs, pitch black.

Nose is pretty interesting, lots of fudge and cocoa, chewy dark malts, dark choc and nice cocoa fudge caramel, faint oak and bourbon.

Taste big fudgey cocoa, chewy dark malts, cocoa, some booze and cocoa, fudgey, chewy, create dark choc, etc. Finish dark fudgey cocoa, bitter notes, Light roast, etc. into a mild vanilla barrel and some bourbon notes.

Mouth is fuller bod, decent carb, light booze.

Overall interesting, a bit too dark and roasty for a barleywine, more like a stout, but nice beer.

 580 characters

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

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of XmnwildX12
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of mendvicdog
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of billab914
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The pour is very dark brown in color with a khaki head. A light roastiness followed by tons of whiskey, vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits. A really nice barrel aroma to this. A light oxidation on the palate, but really great barrel flavors. Whiskey, vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits. There’s a rather strong roasted malt note, and some spiciness of wood and rye.

 365 characters

Photo of orangesol
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.04/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Very dark body. Nearly black. Almost no head.

Smell - Molasses and whiskey. Lots of dark brown sugar.

Taste - Very sweet. Strong oak. Whiskey isn't that strong, but it complements the malt character well. Intense molasses and chocolate malt. Oaky finish.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation. Medium heavy.

Overall - Excellent. I like the molasses component.

 413 characters

Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of johnnnniee
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

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

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Steel Toe Brewing Before the Dawn Barrel Aged Black Barley-wine Ale. Malt Beverage Aged in Rye Whisky Barrels. Brewed and Bottled by Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN. Zero vowels, consonants, or syllables of gobbledygook accompanying the legal label information.

Utter darkness, completely opaque, with a slight, slim head of cocoa-tinged foam.

Aroma: Whiskey hits first, and nothing but. They spell it "whisky", though, which probably means it's Canadian. Rich, large, and lovely. Vanilla, molasses, black cherry. Pepper and anise. These are all but associations, and just the tip, just the start, only what's popping out at me. A little char and roast roars up, too, lush malt is keeping up with the work of the barrel.

I get the name now, all of a sudden. "It's always darkest…" Damn, why did I not get that till now?

Taste: Thick, viscous, rich, and ridiculous. Huge whisky flavor, intense malt domination, not a whistle from hops, but the viscosity is terribly felt and the tastiness is monumental. All those flavors from aroma come back in spades on the tongue. We've got the char, the roast, the anise, the molasses, a whisper of espresso, and a big bite of chocolate. It's utterly indulgent, and abundantly rewarding. It's goddamned good, is what it is!

What else it is, is a hell of a nightcap. I wish they packaged this in little "nip" bottles, 6 ounces or so, so I can pop on off, and slowly consume as I slip into slumber. Once a night, for nights on end. That's the dream, anyway.

It's a great big, beautiful blend of flavors. The vanilla, anise, cocoa, whisky and molasses all popping out at different intervals, but all part of this wonderful stew.

I just noticed what else is missing from the label. Alcohol content is missing. I'm guessing it's 10-12%.

So huge, so vast, so long. But no "so, long", I'm not even halfway into the bottle. More fun to come. I'm going to slowly sip the night away, and lean back, reeling with the feeling, while Coltrane plays something deep, long and ponderous. Ah, that's the stuff.

Have you ever heard anyone say, "What's my favorite beer? The one in my glass right now." I think that was Michael Jackson. Sounds like him. This is my favorite beer right now. And maybe it will be even after I'm done drinking it. It's amazing. It's perfect. It rocks. Long may it wave.

 2,334 characters

Photo of Duff27
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

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Before The Dawn from Steel Toe Brewing
4.22 out of 5 based on 194 ratings.
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