Dark Intrigue | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

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Dark IntrigueDark Intrigue
Very Good
Dark IntrigueDark Intrigue

Brewed by:
Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 304 | Ratings: 738
Reviews by kojevergas:
Photo of kojevergas
2.95/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Duff27 for the bottle. "Bottled On: Nov 10 2011." 750ml brown glass bottle with unbranded gold hood-and-wire cap over a branded cork and appealing label art served into a Guinness stem-goblet in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery and the fact that this is a bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King - a beer I dug.

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 a 2.5 finger wide head of khaki-tan colour. Not the rich dark tan colour that I love in an imperial stout, but is still appealing. Nice creaminess and thickness. Smooth even consistency. Complexion could be softer. Uneven inconsistent lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is good - about 5 minutes.

Body colour is an opaque solid black. No floating yeast particles are visible. Appears overcarbonated judging by the abundant cola-esque bubbles crowding the underside of the goblet.

Overall, it's appealing, but unremarkable - especially for a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. I'd like it creamier, fuller, and darker. A better head would be helpful as well. I'm looking forward to trying it, but it's far from unique or special. There are no egregious flaws.

Sm: Dominant bourbon is the first thing I notice. It's aggressive without overwhelming the other notes. Light vanilla evokes neither true vanilla bean on the high end nor artificial vanillicin on the low end. Noticeable oak, but no toasty character or refined soaky wood notes. Obligatory dark malts and chocolate malts. Unfortunately, I'm not finding any roasted barley character, which is essential in a great imperial stout. Cocoa powder. Plenty of malty sweetness. A hint of insipid coffee. A very faint burnt character is detectable as well.

Certainly not a hoppy imperial stout. I don't get any yeast character or alcohol from the aroma. Frankly, it just isn't all that evocative; each note feels very shallow and surface. It's a bit reticent overall, but I'm optimistic given the base beer. It's a pleasant aroma of below average strength.

T: Hm. Unfortunately, the taste is as shallow as the aroma suggested. Very surface notes of dark malts and chocolate malts provide the body, with complementary notes of cocoa powder, light ash/burnt character, and some malty sweetness. The bourbon is well-integrated but fairly artificial; I wonder about the quality of the bourbon used. There are one-dimensional notes of artificial vanilla and reticent-as-hell oak (with no toasty or refined qualities).

Somehow though, there's no booziness or alcohol presence. I'm not finding any coffee either. There's also no yeast or hop character.

On the sweeter side overall, though the slight burnt character does curb that a bit.

It's damned simple. I'm a bit surprised; the base beer was pretty complex. Could age have muted the flavour profile? This beer lacks complexity, subtlety, nuance, and intricacy. It's balanced, sure, but there's not that much going on to balance. I wonder how this drank fresh. It's cohesive, but far from gestalt. I'm really disappointed. Painfully shallow for the style. Below average intensity of flavour. Average duration of flavour.

The key to a great bourbon barrel stout is using the bourbon notes to develop the natural nuances of the base beer. This is uncommon in that it isn't the bourbon overwhelming the base that is the issue, it's the fact that the base beer is nowhere to be found. This level of simplicity is staggering.

Mf: Chalky, with a strange muted presence on the palate. Smooth and wet. Too airy and light. It needs more body, weight, and thickness. Lacks punch. I feel like the texture doesn't fully facilitate each note from the flavour profile. Where's the oomph, victory? Sure, it's not boozy or hot, but an imperial stout needs to be more bold and assertive. It's a clean mouthfeel with no yeasty sediment, gushed quality, or harshness, but it comes off weak. Almost Guinness-esque.

The texture does not complement the taste well.

Dr: I'll finish the bottle with relative ease. The mouthfeel enhances drinkability because it's so silky and light, but the beer loses power and presence as a trade-off. The mouthfeel and simplicity of this beer really hold it back. I prefer regular Storm King and can see why they retired this brew. I'd like to see Victory re-try a barrel aged Storm King in the future, preferably with a superior bourbon and more care regarding the mouthfeel. I wouldn't recommend this to friends, but I'm glad I got to try it. Thanks, Duff27!

Bottom line: Serious missed potential from Victory, Dark Intrigue fails to use bourbon barrel notes to develop or enhance the notes of the base beer, and really commits a faux pas with the light airy texture.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of AgentMunky
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750mL bottle into a St Bernardus goblet. Bottled 10 November 2011. Best by November 2016.
A: Light cream-colored head with cola-black body.
S: Intoxicating. Boozy and ensorcelling. Whisky, licorice, a whiff of oxidation.
T: Comes in roasted and sweet, heavy on the malted barley, toothsome with molasses and bourbon. Spicy, and very oaky. Aggressively woody and tannic.
M: Not as thin as feared. Actually quite robust.
O: A solid whisky-aged stout. I'm still not sold on cellaring, but this isn't hot at all. Quite nice.

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Photo of marvin213
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of schultzi22
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2.5/5  rDev -35.4%

Photo of fields336
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle
Served in victory tulip, side by side with storm king
A: Black as night, licorice color with 1 finger creamy brown/beige head. slight bubbles piercing the thick head. Lasts longer than SKS, but similar lacing.

S: bourbon first off, followed by similar flavors to SKS. Vanilla, chocolates, roastiness. similar complexity, but the bourbon is overriding some of the flavors. docking some points here bc of the overwhelming bourbon flavor.

T: Tastes like roasted, dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, mellow oak, burnt malts, alcohol burn, and slight hop presence, less hops than SKS.

M: slightly less carbonated, but similar mouthfeel to SKS. slight mellowness and also a bourbon mouthfeel (if that makes any sense) from the barrels but otherwise same mouthfeel.

O: My first bourbon barrel aged RIS, and as a bourbon lover as well as a craft beer lover, it piques my interest. Sad that they are not making this anymore, as it is a worthy and widely available BBARIS. Slightly less enjoyable than SKS but that in no way makes it a bad beer as SKS is one of the best I have ever had of the style.

 1,106 characters

Photo of jhb138
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of KickInTheChalice
2.86/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark Intrigue has a mahogany color throughout and is a little bit lighter around the edges. Not much head, although a bit of lace is left around the glass.

Smell: Bourbon, anise, raisins, some oak, vanilla, and a bit of milk chocolate.

Taste: The roasted malt is noticeable up front, along with some sweet raisin, fig, and chocolate notes, but the bourbon escalates very quickly. The woody oak and vanilla flavors ar mostly lost, as are any hoppiness or end flavors as bourbon dominates. The aftertaste is all bourbon.

Mouthfeel: The body is full, but it dries out toward the end leaving my mouth full of bourbon residue. Medium to full carbonation, I would probably like it a bit lighter.

Drinkability: This was disappointing. Not terrible, but the bourbon was overwhelming. Maybe it would be better with some time on it, after all, I did like Storm King better with a year of age.

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Photo of BMart
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of PDXHops
2.41/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into an oversized snifter. An initial pour of 8 ounces or results in a huge puffy tan head. Kinda fizzy, though, and within a couple of minutes it's a dense skim. Good retention from that. Not much lacing.

A comparison with the notes from my Storm King review.

Storm King:
Pretty straightforward nose- dark roasted malt, tiny bit of chocolate, bit of hops. Smells good, just not too exciting.
Dark Intrigue:
The base beer can't keep up with the big boozy blast of the barrel aromas. On the positive side, some cookie dough and dark fruity notes are coaxed out.

Storm King:
Flavor is also on the bland side. Dark malts accompanied by a bit of chocolate, a bit of coffee, a bit of hops.
Dark Intrigue:
Again, the base beer isn't quite up to the challenge here. In the sea of booziness, the chief malty notes are tangy and bittersweet. Oddly, it's the surprisingly potent underlying bitterness that provides the most contrast to the booze.

Storm King:
Body is on the thinner side of medium, but the combination of creaminess and moderate carbonation hides it pretty well.
Dark Intrigue:
The thinness really hurts things. Seems a tad watery at the swallow. Huge alcohol burn in the finish, and then some barrel notes creep in.

Storm King:
Smooth and about as sessionable as an RIS can be. Not sure if that's such a great thing, though, since there's none of the bold flavors I'm looking for in an RIS.
Dark Intrigue:
Certainly neither smooth nor sessionable. The base beer simply isn't robust enough to stand up to barrel-aging. I reckon some cellar time would smooth it out a bit, but I'm not inclinded to spend my limited cellar dollars on that particular experiment.

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Photo of JayS2629
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful, dark black with a huge tan head. Great retention and big rings of chunky lace.

The aroma is heavy on rich bourbon and oak with dark chocolate, earth, and roasted malts.

Huge boozy bourbon up front throws the balance off. I have to compare this with other bourbon barrelled stouts, and it isn't balanced well. Nice underneath flavors of chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and bitter hops to balance....but too much roast and boourbon.

Very warming, thick, full bodied

Overall a little aggressive. Definitely a sipper. Pehaps will improve with some cellar aging.

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Photo of corby112
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with faint hints of mahogany edges when held to a light source and a 2.5 finger frothy, pillowy mocha head. Excellent retention, only slowly fading into a lasting cap that leaves chunks of soapy lacing behind.

Complex aroma with lots of sweet boozy bourbon along with earthy oak, vanilla and silky chocolate malt. Slightly roasty with hints of oatmeal, toffee and coffee bean.

Chewy medium body with a lot of silky chocolate and roasted malt. As expected, there is a blast of bourbon which is slightly hot but more sweet really. The oak barrel aging adds an earthy quality as well as a good amount of bourbon and vanilla. The vanilla presence smooths things out a bit. Lots of roasted malt with hints of caramel, oatmeal, burnt toast and dark fruit. Very complex but a bit too hot at this stage. I'm excited to see how it develops.

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Photo of BabySnakes
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of SiepJones
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with a small amount of chocolate brown head.

S: Lots of Bourbon scents coming from this brew, some dark fruit flavors on the finish.

T: Lots of Bourbon, Vanilla, Oak, roasted malt, dark chocolate, and some sweet dark fruit round out the flavors of this beer. I love the barrel aging of this beer as it mellows out a lot of the alcohol taste that Storm King usually has.

M: Creamy mouth feel, not too much carbonation.

D: I loved this beer although I am a bit of a homer because I enjoy Storm King a ton. I think that this beer takes Storm King to another level with a new complexity to the flavor but also fine tunes the original recipe as the barrel aging mellows it. It's a bummer that this was a limited release because everyone should try this beer, and I hope Victory does something like this again.

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Photo of deonreds
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of Mag00n
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark as night from a 750 mL corked bottle with ABV and 'best-by' date on the label.
One finger dark mocha colored head that dissipated fairly quickly to a thin film that stays.
Aroma has notes of bourbon, chocolate malts, and the characteristic Storm King hopped-stout aroma with some booze coming through. Very pleasing on the nose.
Taste upfront is of super-roasted malt bitterness, with hints of bourbon surfacing from start to finish. Slight wood (oak) notes towards the finish. After taste is slightly bitter, not overwhelming though. Pleasant tasting beer, and easy to drink. The alcohol is very well hidden.
Medium bodied stout, a little more body would have surely elevated it a notch.
Overall, this is a good barrel-aged RIS and another winner from Victory. Definitely worth a try and would surely recommend it.

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Photo of silentjay
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

black pour with a dark tan head that raises up to 4 fingers, retains well and leaves tons of lacing.

aroma is of bourbon, molasses, brown sugar, soy sauce, dark cacao, vanilla, and plenty of licorice that reminds me of the base beer.

more chocolatey than the aroma with a touch of charred malts and a bit more subtle bourbon. licorice, molasses, dark fruits (raisins especially), and vanilla are evident as well. tasty. maybe a touch too strong in the licorice flavors, and could use a bit more cacao, though thats being nitpicky.

a touch lighter bodied than ideal with subtle carbonation which suits the style nicely and a significant burn on the swallow.

drinks pretty well. the first few sips blew me away. each subsequent sip was a bit of a letdown. It seems stronger than the stated ABV. Its a wonderful beer, but falls just shy of the epitome of the style.

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Photo of MrHirschybar
3/5  rDev -22.5%

Photo of devilben02
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one starts out as expected, with a standard opaque brown imperial stout color and a thinnest beige head. The aroma is nice but again expected, with a deeply roasted malt bitterness and an earthy combination of hops and wood. The flavor shines a bit more, with the deep, rich, roasty malt backbone meshing well with an earthy, herbal, and sometimes almost spicy hop character. Instead of just adding a whiskey flavor on top of this profile, the barrel aging imparts a nice woodiness that again meshes well with the base beer's characteristics. The taste of the alcohol is there, but without much of the straight alcohol burn, which makes this one drink relatively easy. Overall, this still isn't one that I could tolerate drinking for extended periods, but I was quite enjoyable as a brief experience.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle of 2011 vintage into a snifter, the beer is an extremely dark brown, almost black in the depths, with a dark, chocolatey brown ring of film around the surface. A slight, dark brown film coats the glass on a swirl, but recedes fairly quickly. Aromas are heavy in oak, both wood and earth, with a heavy booze overtone and a good background of dark coffee and rich, molasses sweetness. The wood and booze dominate the nose. The beer is sharp in mouth, with booze and coffee bombarding the forward tongue and palate. Super rich and dark cocoa nib throughout the background, with an earthy and woody blending. The aftertaste is more of a burnt coffee bitter and roasting, as well as a rich, dark chocolate and booze heavy backbone. The finish is borderline smokey, with a charred bitterness and a slight cloying in mouth. Strong brew, and very tasty. Not for the faint of heart. Very interested to see how this tastes in a couple of years.

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Photo of CMB2012
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of GuisseppeFranco
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of portia99
3.76/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle (bottled on Nov 10, 2011) courtesy of hoppymcgee, poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - After a lite pop of the cork, this one pours a thick near black but still distinctly brown color with a huge three finger pillow of fluffy chocolate milk shake-like head. Foam has excellent staying power, only giving up after several minutes and leaving behind sticky webs of lace on the glass.

S - Dark fruits take the lead in the aroma. Lots of berries and some cherry add to the overall fruity aroma. Noticeable sweet aroma of alcohol, notes of bourbon, some roasted malts but at a lower level of intensity.

T - Bitter roast malt, some coffee, touch of smoke, bourbon is more prominant in the flavor while the fruity aspects move into the background. Quite a bit more hoppy than the aroma suggests also. Finishes crisp, bitter and towards the dry side with some green, grassy hop flavors lingering into the aftertaste.

M - A bit on the thin side, perhaps only managing a medium level body. Carbonation is healthy and mid-level as well. Alcohol is rather well hidden. Bourbon is really on the backburner of intensity...only contributing a mild flavor component and really no booziness or warmth.

O - Overall, a good but not great RIS...barrel treatment is subtle leaving me wanting a bit more character added. I think I like the un-barreled Storm King a little bit better. This is well balanced but only lightly nuanced and just seems to be missing something that leaves this less than complete.

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Dark Intrigue from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 738 ratings