Skeleton Key | Bellwoods Brewery

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Skeleton KeySkeleton Key
91 Ratings
Skeleton KeySkeleton Key

Brewed by:
Bellwoods Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A Bellwoods take on spiced rum, this imperial stout was aged for a year in rum barrels with a melange of ginger, all spice, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, and juniper berries. What has emerged is a refined, smooth, warming, and lethally delicious spiced stout that’ll induce sharp pangs of nostalgia long after your final bottle is empty. And though it’s our highest alcohol beer to date, you’ll find the beauty is in the balance.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 91 |  Reviews: 31
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.36/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

a beautiful stout, cool to try the original after having a couple of the variants while i was in toronto earlier this year. this was one of my brothers favorite beers of a week long bender, and i really dug it too. the use of spices here is incredible, fresh ginger rising above all others in nose and taste, the beers is elegantly smooth for its enormity, and its about as complex as they get, with aromas and flavors of freshly lit cigar, sweet dark rum, wet decaying oak, light salt and minerals, ground anise and clove spices, good black coffee, and a swirl of cardamom above all the dark malts giving it an almost indian complexion for a second. the ginger is spicy and fresh, odd and unique with the coffee, but it grows on me as i let the aftertaste linger on my tongue. the juniper is a neat touch too, it blends in well in the aroma, but later on in the taste i can pick it out easily with the ginger, not gin like, not yet concentrated and distilled like that, less clean and breathy, its piney and intense, picks up cool chocolate notes in the malt base too, i love how much this opens up, how much is happening, and how all of these interesting ingredients and flavors come together. its almost creamy feeling, hugely full bodied, lively feeling too. i dont get much of the booze, even at temperature. a standout in the style, what an adjunct stout in a barrel should be, this really is some special liquid here, bellwoods is really making a name for themselves with this kind of thing...

 1,500 characters

Photo of LampertLand
4.29/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bellwoods Brewery 'Skeleton Key' @ 12.0% , served from a 500 ml bottle
A-pour is a dark cola brown from the bottle to a black in the glass with a small tan head leaving a spotty lace along the snifter
S-ripe fruits & rum barrels
T-creamy smooth vanilla , bit boozy , nice finish
MF-mild carbonation , feels full bodied , warming
Ov-has the wow factor , excellent beer
prost LampertLand

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Photo of csmrx7
4.38/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Not overly thick considering, but enough body to hold up to the spice and rum. Definately has a nice rum nose and flavor without being overly hot or intrusive.

 160 characters

Photo of mattsander
3.16/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of paulish
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.84/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with the slightest amber glints on the edges of the glass. The head is dark brown and compact. Prunes, raisin, cocoa, vanilla in the nose. Christmas pudding, rum, fruit compote, oak, dark chocolate in the taste. Full bodied with a light carbonation. Dark sugar and boozy warmth in the finish. Hops are awol throughout.

A nice Imperial Stout with strong rum flavors and very little roasty, chocolatey flavors. On the sweeter side with lots of alcohol kick. Worth a try if you're a rum fan.

 509 characters

Photo of Abe_Froman
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into a tulip
2017 Vintage

A- pours jet black in color with a two-finger creamy khaki colored head that has good retention and leaves some lacing behind

S- an array of spices on the nose, with ginger, cardamon & nutmeg leading the way. Undertones of anise, cinnamon & pepper are noticeable as well. Woody rum barrel seems to enhance all of the spices. Charred/chocolaty malt closes it out

T- an onslaught of spices up front; cardamon, cinnamon, ginger and allspice lead the way, similar to pumpkin-style spicing. Mid-palate continues the spices with notes of black pepper, anise & an herbal note, perhaps from the juniper berries. The finish brings our some barrel notes with oak and rum that adds notes of caramel & molasses. Th linger leaves more spices, more specifically cinnamon & ginger

M- heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a chewy velvety, slightly warming finish

O- one of the better spices stouts that I've had, every addition plays a role and is complimented nicely by the rum barrel, simply outstanding

 1,095 characters

Photo of BeerGlassesCollector
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 version.

Full bodied with lots spices and vanilla. I liked the fact that bourbon is not very heavy on the nose or taste. Complex and very enjoyable

 153 characters

Photo of spinrsx
4.09/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Kevin

17 characters

Photo of Z-man
4.34/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of darktronica
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My favorite of the evening from a tasting that featured a handful of Bellwoods beers--but then again, I'm a sucker for ageing in rum barrels. I did not realize at the time that the beer itself had so many spices included in it, but this makes sense given its complexity. I would not have picked out all of the various flavors individually, but it did still come together in a pleasant and coherent whole. I was mostly excited about the inclusion of raisins, which were evident but not particularly prominent.

 508 characters

Photo of TheGent
4.8/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Black color with creamy mocha head. Aroma has apple brandy, spicy rum, cinnamon and dark chocolate. Taste has cinnamon, spicy rum, booze soaked dried fruits like figs and raisins, dark chocolate fudge, bittersweet finish. Full bodied, smooth on the palate. Really tasty, well balanced, smooth, a bit warming but overall excellent.

 330 characters

Photo of groleau
3.96/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Simon212
4.64/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of StormAles
4.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
3.61/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Ultra-Plinian
4.52/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from the Bellwoods reserve list in Toronto, ON.

This one pours a pretty dark black, with a very small head, and no lacing.

This smells like cinnamon, spiced rum, licorice, oak, chocolate, coffee, tobacco, black pepper, and ginger. I don't get all the spices on the nose, but I get most of them.

This is a really unique stout- the spices here work exceptionally well. The cinnamon, licorice, and pepper are the strongest flavors. The rum works well, too- providing a sweet spice and some vanilla flavors, and a hint of oak. The base stout is also very nice, with a little bit of fruit, and lots of fudgy chocolate. This is delicious.

This is medium bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel, and a good level of carbonation.

It's cool to see a new unique spin on the barrel aged stout thing- this is very tasty.

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Photo of Cramshawbar
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had it during the 2017 Peche Day.
I am not a fan of the bourbon infused stouts, so I was somewhat apprehensive about rum. The nose was boozy as expected but the first taste was surprisingly pleasant, with a non-obtrusive sweetness. It was also spicy. But inevitably, and surprisingly quickly, the rum took over and I had a hard time finishing just 6 ounces of this. With it, I will most likely stop sampling barrel aged beer altogether. It makes me nauseous.

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

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

Photo of Jerk_Store
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of GJKerr
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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Skeleton Key from Bellwoods Brewery
Beer rating: 4.29 out of 5 with 91 ratings