Hellfighter | Karbach Brewing Co.

very good
21 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Karbach Brewing Co.
Texas, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by champ103 on 12-19-2011

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Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 163
Photo of zonker17
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

5 oz taster pour in the taproom. Very dark brown, beige, creamy head, some lacing. Roasted malt nose, chocolate, molasses. As expected the roasty malt dominates the flavor, brings coffee along for the ride. Above medium body and average carbonation. Judging as a porter, but damn near a stout.

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Photo of JamesStreet
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - Pours a murky, brown with a 1/2" almond-colored head. Dissipates to a slight ring but leaves a beautiful lacing.
Smell - Sweet chocolate, some bitter chocolate, roasted malts, some nuttiness.
Taste - Really chocolatey taste upfront that's followed by a sweet, milk chocolate taste. Taste some alcohol booziness, but not overpowering.
Feel - Really smooth. Heavy-medium body, low carbonation. Lactose seems present giving it a good, creaminess.
Overall - Nice version of an Imperial porter. I'd really love to try the BA version of this.

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Photo of Jonny41
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

lot going on here..
First sip got a coffee, cola type feel, as it warmed the cola taste faded and replaced by bitter coffee, in a good way
coca nibs in the front lingering black coffee on the end , chewy mouth feel makes this a really good porter.

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Photo of macrosmatic
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Daemose for sending this one! Poured from bomber into a Russian River tulip glass.

A: Very dark - essentially black - and opaque, with a big two-finger fluffy tan head that holds up quite well. Fairly low visible carbonation.

S: Rich roasted malts, very dark chocolate, some creamy sweetness, and bits of coffee and leather.

T: Follows the nose quite closely. Rich cacao, roasted malts with moderate bitter character, leather and tobacco, and almost a lactose sweetness and creaminess. A touch of hop bitterness near the end accompanies the finishing bitterness from the roasted malts.

M: Nice heavy body consistent with the "Imperial Porter" moniker, and a thick round mouthfeel. Alcohol content seems fairly restrained, and carbonation sensation on the low side, but not at all flat.

O: I thought this was pretty darn tasty. A nice porter with big roasted bitterness and well put-together. There's not much different here to make it stand out, but what it does, it does well.

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Photo of zander4dawin
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%

Dark brown beer with cascading brown-tan head. Deep chocolate and toffee notes and a mellow sweet finish. Silky smooth finish and the alcohol is concealed nicely.

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Photo of AtrumAnimus
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The pour is an extremely dark porter that more closely resembles a stout. A porter will typically allow a little hint of light through. This one has zero light making it through. The head is a nice foamy tan color that is thick and rick with a slow settle that leaves large holed persistent lacing down the glass.

The nose is hinting to bread with a subtle hopping and sweet malty that is blanketed with a tiny bit of smokiness.

The taste is very strong and bitter hops that ride on a subdued malt bed that has the matching smokiness that one would expect. The finish is rather bitter and not terribly clean. This is good, but not great.

The mouthfeel is just right for an imperial porter with a nice coating feeling that allows the palate to bathe int he flavor without being cloying.

Overall this is a drinkable Imperial Porter but is not my favorite. There are definitely others I would prefer to drink. That said it is a fine example and definitely worthwhile to try.

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Photo of Wedgie28
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This stuff tastes, smells and feels really strong. It's very manly. You should get a bottle at a bar and just leave it on the table all night so people will know how cool you are. Tear off the label and bring it home with you.

A. Good
T. Good
S. Good

This beer is GOOD but it's strong. After two 22's you will not be cool even though you think you are and girls won't like you because you'll be really loud and arrogant. Take it easy with this stuff.

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Photo of Radome
4.11/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber bottle into a goblet.

A - Extremely dark brown color; totally opaque like engine oil. Head is dark tan colored and piles inches high. Very fluffy, moussy and long-lasting. Some of the larger bubbles have an oily sheen. Huge amounts of lace.

S - Sharp cracked-grain dominates the aromas. Some earthy and grassy hops as well. A hint of smoke, maybe mesquite smoke, like a good Texas barbecue. Overall the smells are clean, but at lower level than I expected, almost muted.

T - A very good balance between malt and hops. Malt is bready, with brown sugar, raisins, chocolate, and a bit of coffee roast. Strong hops bitterness, but the actual hops flavors are hard to nail down. They seem flowery and have maybe a bit of grapefruit; I'm pretty confident they are US-type rather than English, but I can't guess the variety.

M - Thick, creamy body. Carbonation moderate, but contributes to the creaminess. Mouth-coating sweetness in mid-palate, but dries out in the end. Some alcohol burn, but not much considering the strength.

O - This is a big, bold, moderately complex beer. It has a creaminess that combines with the chocolate notes to bring up visions of chocolate milk, but the hops bitterness quickly bring you back to the reality that this is an Imperial Porter. It would make a great base beer for experiments with barrel-aging, etc., and I know Karbach does that with it. I would like to try some of those special editions as soon as I can..

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Photo of Can_has_beer
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with a tan head.

S- Chocolate, roasted malts, and vanilla.

T- Very similar to how it smells. It's hot from the alcohol.

M- I love the carbonation on this beer. I noticed it with last year's batch as well. It gives the beer a very creamy and full mouthfeel, making it taste decadent.

O- I love this seasonal offering. If it weren't for the price I would drink it consistently. Even though the alcohol comes off as hot, I don't find this as a flaw. Personally, I like a cold weather beer to have this quality. What I like most about Hellfighter is the overall combination of the chocolate & vanilla, the heat from the alcohol and the creamy mouthfeel. I think they combine wonderfully to comprise a delectable full-bodied imperial porter.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.76/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

I'm excited to try this given it's the base beer for what is currently ranked #11 on the Top 50 Southwest list. 32oz grumbler filled at The Growler Room a few days ago and served into an Avery stem-tulip in low altitude Austin, TX.

Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given its current 88 rating.

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.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours no head whatsoever - not even a floater ring.

Body colour is a rather dark brown-black - but not quite a jet black. Opaque. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Far from the sleekest imperial porter I've seen. I'm pretty unimpressed by the appearance, but given that this is a growler review I'm optimistic. Appears undercarbonated.

Sm: Dark malts, black strap molasses, chocolate malt, lactose sugar, sassafras, root beer, cola nut, and some vaguely medicinal vinous character.

No hop profile, alcohol, or yeast character is detectable.

Overall, it's an inoffensive aroma of below average strength. There's just nothing here that really grabs me. So far, it's a rather generic imperial porter with little to set it apart.

T: The build is cohesive but shockingly shallow, lacking any real depth of flavour at all. Far from gestalt. It's got a pretty standard malt base - just dark malts and chocolate malts. There's some cola nut and sassafras character in there too, as well as some unbecoming vinous character that doesn't belong in a porter. I also pick up hints of brown sugar and lactose sugar.

No hop profile, yeast character, or alcohol comes through.

There's very little happening here, and what little there is doesn't feel neatly balanced. The notes coexist but there isn't any intricate integration of notes or anything. The painful simplicity isn't doing it any favors, and there's no subtlety or nuance at all. I'm pretty underwhelmed. I will say it's nuttier than anticipated given the style.

Flavour duration is surprisingly brief. Flavour intensity is low. Mediocre amplitude.

I don't know that I like this. Not only is it boring, frankly it's rather insipid. That said, I am grateful there aren't any off-notes, and I'm surprised the alcohol doesn't come through more. I'd probably guess it was 7% if I tried it blind. I really want some roasted barley character, but there's hardly any here.

Mf: Undercarbonated - likely because it's a growler pour. Smooth and wet. A bit sticky. Should be creamier and softer. Too thin. Borders almost on watery. Lacks body and weight on the palate. It's fleeting - not a good characteristic for an imperial porter. Bad presence on the palate.

Not oily, astringent, dirty, harsh, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Overall, the texture is to style but doesn't coax much out from the flavour profile. More oomph is needed.

Dr: I can't see why this was chosen as the base beer for a bourbon barrel brew; the quality just isn't there. Maybe it's like Fifty Fifty's Totality in that it's meant to be a bit more neutral so that the barrel character can really dominate. As a stand-alone imperial porter, it's very forgettable. That said, its well-disguised alcohol content will get you drunk, and it might make a nice break from the heavy bludgeoning porters and stouts flooding the market. I certainly wouldn't buy it again, and I wouldn't recommend it to friends, but I doubt I'll have any issues finishing all 32 oz of it. Ultimately, it's not a bad porter - just a disappointing and bland one. It's hard to love and hard to hate. Certainly not Karbach's best work. Might be better on-draught (or even nitro).

If you're looking for a great imperial porter, try Ballast Point's Victory At Sea instead.

Low C

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Photo of mothman
3.74/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Light tan head. Color is black.

Flavor profile: rich chocolate, caramel, toffee, and a touch of nuts. Roasted malts and coffee.

Mouthfeel: roasted and smooth. Full bodied. Ends dry and roasted.

Overall, a solid porter. This is boarder line stout. Full flavored.

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Photo of darocny
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First bottling of Hellfighter.

Two finger head with good retention. Leaves good amount of lacing all around.

Aroma is roasted malt and dark fruits

Silky, full and creamy. Perfect carbonation. Chocolate forward.

Somewhat hoppy for the style and therefore not traditional, but it does balance nicely with the moderate chocolate. As it warms a really pleasant sweetness comes through towards the end. Excellent complexity, especially as the beer warms. The sweetness pushes the alcohol further into the background.

I've had Hellfighter fresh and the alcohol has an overpowering astringency and the hops seem out of balance. However, by 6 months this is a fantastic imperial porter. The alcohol significantly mellows and moves into the background. The aggressive hops move to the background as well, allowing the chocolate and sweetness to become much more prominent. Age at least 6 to 9 months and this is a excellent imperial porter.

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Photo of superspak
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a nice 2 finger dense khaki head with awesome retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of caramel, raisin, chocolate, roasted malt, floral, pine, toast, licorice, molasses, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Ok aromas with solid balance of flavors; but is very weak and lacking prominent roasted malt qualities, with much more fruitiness present. Taste of caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, raisin, floral, pine, brown sugar, toast, licorice, and roasted earthiness. Good amount of pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, toast, brown sugar, floral, pine, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors; with moderate amount of hop presence and some fairly astringent bitterness lingering after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very solid imperial porter. The weak aromas and astringent hoppiness really knocked it down for me; but this was still an enjoyable offering overall.

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Photo of Premo88
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bomber 22 oz. bottle poured into pub glass

L: black with chocolate brown highlights only at the very edges of the glass when held up to the light; massive fluffy tan to dark tan head about 2 inches with almost normal pour; the head really explodes, laces, sticks ... just an awesome show

S: super malt; full sweet biscuit, toasted chocolate, sweet coffee. it's all malt but without crossing into the darker/raisins/licorice zone. so sweet.

T: woooah, alcohol! taste follows the smell closely with the very notable exception of the alcohol ... it's there, and while the good taste notes try real hard to cover it up, it's still there. very dark, burnt barley that may also have some hops pushing it into a nice bitter bite that gets smoothed out by all of the sweet malt. an interesting collection of tastes for sure.

F: solid silky, full ... at first it seems a bit too, how do I say? it has just a bit of that lumpy pudding feel some milk stouts/imperial stouts get, but only for a moment, then it starts feeling like simple good beer, plenty of carbonation despite the massive head it creates (I could drink this in my nonic glass with the CO2 nucleation point with a light pour and be good)

O: it's a hell of a beer in many ways ... it puts on a show in the pour and the nose. i need an air freshener made out of this stuff! the 9.5% ABV is not as well disguised as I'd like, but that might just be me.

bottom line: it had me coming back for more. considering i'm still not much of a stout/porter drinker, it's saying something that I wanted a second (and now a third!) bomber of this stuff.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.26/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Black body and khaki head. Smells of burnt malt, fruity yeast (makes me think "English"), subtle warm spices, and chocolate. I really enjoy the malts in this one. Not overwhelmed by coffee flavors. Nice fruitiness. Strong bitterness and alcohol warmth in the finish. Mouthfeel is solid. Could be a little thicker to match the rich flavor. Overall, this is a winner from Karbach.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.76/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle pours a rich black color with a billowing brown head, even with a gentle pour. Retention is awesome and lacing even better. Not even a sheet of lace...more like a wall. Amazing looking beer.

Nose is surprisingly fruity, like strawberries covered in melted Charleston Chew. Malts are chocolaty and smooth. Keeps the roast and caramel to a minimum. Smells decent, but a far cry from the barrel-aged Hellfighter.

Taste maintains the fruity profile in the flavor along with a big alcohol wash. The malts are understated, but nicely flavored...I just wish they were a bit bolder. Hops are there in a leafy-background kind of way, but I cant help but think a different varietal might have worked better. Mouthfeel is great, nice and creamy, plenty full for a porter. The alcohol is a little rough right now, hoping that smooths out at some point. It is pretty tasty, but unfortunately I have had the bourbon barrel aged Hellfighter a few times before finally trying this and it aint even close!

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Photo of brewtus
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours black with a bubbly beige head that fades soon
S- vanilla, cinnamon, Bourbon, dark fruit, licorice
T/M- light texure, slightly bitter, like the nose, vanilla, common, bourbon, earthy Boozy
O- not bad, great bourbon flavor but the underlying beer leaves something to be desired. Good, very good just not great.

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Photo of Ford
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Karbach Brewery

My favorite beer from Karbach.. and they have some great beers... (I like the BB version even more)

This is a great Porter.. which is my favorite style.. big flavor... would love maybe a bit more coffee flavor.. but this isn't a coffee porter...

Plenty of chocolate and malt.. good, good stuff.. can't wait for this to be canned someday. It will be my go to local porter.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Anvil.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a large brown head. The aroma has some big chocolate notes, as well as some roasted malt. The flavor is also very bold. I get a ton of chocolate and roasted malt, as well as a hint of coffee. The beer is fairly sweet overall and very enjoyable. The alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering. Thick, creamy mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of biochembrewer
3.05/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a ~12oz snifter on-tap at the Flying Saucer-Houston. As with most beers at the Saucer, poured much too cold for the style, so I let it warm up to about 50 before evaluating.

A: approximately a 1" khaki to light mocha colored head that dissipates within 1.5 to 2 minutes. The beer is very dark, almost an opaque brown, but not quite full-on black. An SRM probably around 55 or so? Lets minimal light through, except on edges. Minimal to no lacing.

S: As it warms, you get a slight alcohol nose. The largest or most detectable malt aromas are dark roast and coffee notes. Slight biscuity notes as well. Slight notes of hops under the malt backbone in the aroma.

T: Hops up front and immediately noticeable. After, the malty flavors and a minute bit of residual sweetness present. Very pleasant deluge of dark and roasty, even some chocolate notes. Hops are also somewhat present in the finish and have a slight unpleasant lingering that coats the back of the tongue after tasting.

M: Very round, creamy, and medium mouthfeel. Pleasant. Slightly chewy.

O: Overall, a good "imperial porter" with a very pleasant taste for a 9.5% ABV beer. A bit too hoppy for the style (not only IMO, but also per BJCP guidelines) even considering the high alcohol from a big grain bill. Also, the unpleasant lingering bitterness from the hops detracted from the overall experience. If this gets bottled any time soon, grab some and cellar them for a year and I think the taste will GREATLY improve as the bitterness quiets down a bit. Looking forward to seeing some tweaking with this recipe as Karbach gets their feet.

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Photo of champ103
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at BRC in Houston, TX

A: Pours an opaque black color. No light gets through at all. A two finger tan head rises with good retention. The foam gently recedes to leave some light lace behind.
S: Very subtle at first. Though as this warms lots of nuances come out. Roasted malt, toasted bread/biscuit aromas. Chocolate, and some vanilla sweetness.
T: This is excellent. Some roasted coffee. Slightly bitter/sweet milk chocolate. A nice roasted malt flavor along with some toasted bread/biscuits. A light lingering vanilla sweetness. I love it.
M/D: A medium to full body. Low on the carbonation, but not under carbonated at all. So smooth and velvety. This is incredibly easy and enjoyable to drink. The alcohol is not noticeable in the least.

This is an excellent "Imperial Porter." I love it, and another great beer from Karbach. Highly recommended.

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Hellfighter from Karbach Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 163 ratings.
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