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
Reviews: 304 | Ratings: 738
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 jjanega08
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on
Nov 10 2011

A= Pours a dark black color with a deep brown thick creamy head on it that holds great retention and lacing on the side of the glass.

S= I can smell the barrels from the moment I opened it up. A nice rustic oak character with a vanilla note that is a little less than some other bourbon barrel beers. Nice chocolate and roasted malt character and a little bourbon. The barrel seems to take a less obvious role in the nose than some other barrel aged beers. It has a sort of brownie smell to it overall that is tasty smelling.

T= The taste matches the aroma perfectly. A nice roasty chocolaty character with a small amount of bourbon and vanilla with a touch of oak. Again it seems to be a little less than some other bourbon barrel aged beers while still remaining in character. The overall taste is again similar to that of a brownie. Nice chocolaty character to this one with vanilla complements.

M= A little light for an imperial stout but nothing too bad.

O= This is a little different than most bourbon barrel beers. The bourbon barrel plays less of a main role and more of a complementary role. It works for sure leaving a nice chocolate vanilla mix that works ever so well. This is a quality brew and worth checking out.

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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.

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

Body is total blackness. No highlights at all. Billowing medium tan head, rapid collapse. Good stretchy lacing.

Aroma asserts itself from across the table. Plenty of oak, vanilla, and bourbon from the barrels. Little whiffs of coffee and chocolate.

Taste follows the nose. Vanilla, oak, bourbon, booze. Second tier of chocolate and coffee. Dark fruits floating along. Bit of an alcohol burn in he mouth.

Full smooth mouthfeel.

Would be better with a bit less barrel and a bit more Storm King, but a damn fine experience as it is.

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Photo of TheSupremeAJ
3.41/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle intoa St Bernardus chalice. Dark chestnut color with a thin head. Aroma is of bubble gum- definitely a strong estery aroma. Taste is very dark, smokey, and fairly bitter. I liked Storn King a lot better. Mouthfeel is moderately thick with a nice aftertaste, a little burnt for my taste and I like BOLD Starbucks Coffe for Pete's sake.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A creamy half-inch, dark chestnut head forms dense rings of lace over a jet-black beer that leaves legs on a Dogfish Head snifter.

The aroma has a strong sense of bourbon with equal parts chocolate and vanilla bean. Fudge and fruity notes can also be detected.

The flavor follows the nose with great roasted malt that is almost burnt with a bitter bite. There is a long, progressive finish. Dark Intrigue warms well with chocolate that ranges from bittersweet to rich fudge. The fruit tones are subdued. Bourbon and oak flavors do not overwhelm like they do in similar bourbon barrel beers.

A full to medium body that is not syrupy. Astringency is mild with alcohol above expectations, yet manageable. Carbonation is light and prickly.

Best with a steak but good on its own and would easily stand up to sipping while enjoying a cigar.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.61/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle from Pints O'Plenty. $11.90. Bottled Nov 2011.

Appearance: Opaque, not the thickest motor oil, but big and black. Thick tan head with great retention and big curtains of sticky lace.

Smell: Hot, vanilla-y bourbon. Its enough to sting the nose a little bit. There's bittersweet chocolate and a significant burnt roastiness.

Taste: As expected, lots of hot bourbon and bitter, burnt roast. There's still a bitter, grassy and citrusy hops bite too. Hidden amongst the harsher flavors is caramel and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Reasonably thick feeling with soft, creamy carbonation. The alcohol gives a very drying finish.

Overall: Its not as good as the regular Storm King. Its just harsh bourbon and burnt roast. Maybe some extended aging would smooth and meld things.

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Photo of Dope
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with a large and very dense light brown head. Fades slowly leaving big lines of lacing. Excellent retention.

S: Strong, stinging bourbon and oak with some decent roasted malt hiding behind it. Boozy.

T: Very strong bourbon flavor. Loaded with toffee, caramel, molasses and oak. LOTS of oak. Entirely bourbon until about midway through when it starts to fade a little, revealing just a little bit of that stout character. Once it warms fully you get more roasted malt character along with chocolate and a touch of coffee, but it's mostly still buried compared to the bourbon.

M: Fairly heavy, relatively smooth.

O: Shame, Storm King is such a great RIS, this barrel treatment actually makes it worse. It's still not bad, but what's the point? Might as well get regular storm king which is cheaper, easier to procure and tastes better. Barrel treatments are supposed to improve a beer, that's why I dropped the score in this category so much, even though it's a decent beer still. An aged version might be nicer, will have to revisit someday.

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Photo of TheHoppiest
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle bearing a bottled-on date of November 10, 2011 into an oversized snifter. Pours a deep dark brown, almost balck color, with a 1/2" frothy head that reduces quite slowly, leaving spotty froth bubbles like little foam islands.

Has a fair amount alcohol in the nose, like bourbon or whiskey, which is likley from the barrel aging this goes through. Vanilla, doughy bread, yeast, and coffee aromas are all present as well.

Taste is sharper than I would typically expect of a brew like this; alcohol, dark chocolate, black coffee, and other bitter black things combine to fill the palate after the initial heat of the sip. Finishes bitter, but not hoppy; has more of a lemon pith than a hop bitterness to it.

Mouthfeel is sharp, hot, and heavy; there's a fair amount of carbonation in this that, when combined with the alcohol, does not give it the most pleasant mouthfeel.

Overall, I'm slightly disappointed by this one. I don't know if I had it too soon, and should have let it age longer, or if this is how it presents. I had this a few years ago, and don't remember it quite being like this; rather, I thought it to be a boozy but decent stout. This bottle's more boozy and carbonated, less full-bodied. If you've got one of these at home, I'd let it sit a while before opening.

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

Black, with a nice head and better lacing than I've seen in most bourbon-barrel beers.

Smells of bourbon, burnt malt, light orange notes.

Tastes has notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, bourbon, citrus hops. ABV is noticeable. The bourbon barrel seems to give it more heat than real barrel character, but bourbon notes are definitely evident. You can definitely tell this is Storm King.

Medium-thick mouthfeel, medium-high carbonation. Lacks the light body of some barrel-aged beers, but has a bit more carbonation than some.

Overall this tastes a lot like Storm King, with decent bourbon flavors. It's not exactly complex and dense, but it's tasty.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a black color with a tan head. The aroma is full pf piney hops with some roasted malt. Not surprisingly, the beer smells a lot like Storm King, or in other words, like a hoppy Black IPA. The flavor is where the barrel aging is very apparent. I get a lot of bourbon notes, as well as some chocolate. The hops are present and add some pine to the flavor, but they are much more hidden than in the aroma. Medium to thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of Thickfreakness
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

200th review... congrats to my liver!

A- Pours a licorice stick black into my Bruery Tulip. Three fingers of dark brown head that floats and sticks all over the glass. Has a nice, thin pool of tan creamy head that keeps floating and perculating on the surface.

S- Citrusy and charred. Nice notes of orange, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and licorice. Has a nice bit of alcohol in the nose that complements and highlights the flavors. I really like the depth that the bourbon has added to the base nose of Storm King. It subdues some of the piney citrus while adding creamy vanilla/marshmallow tones.

T- Really punchy citrus flavors of grapefruit and orange zest. Huge charred chocolate malts, dark roasted coffee, and hints of licorice. Nice balance of vanilla, charred wood, and piney citrus. More like a HUGE Imperial Black IPA/Cascadian Ale than a traditional bourbon barrel aged stout.

M- Really all about the citrus and the char. Medium thickness. Wishing it had more bourbon and vanilla tones in the taste, not just the nose. Lots of citrus, alcohol, and charred wood.

O- Basically Storm King with some undertones of vanilla and perhaps a touch thicker. This one is still on the verge of being an Imperial Black IPA. Really nice brew. I wanna grab a couple more and open them at various times over the next few years to see how it develops, mellows, and what it becomes.

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Photo of Gosox8787
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: Picked up this corked and caged 750 mL bottle about a week ago. Poured in my Kate the Great tulip glass at around cellar temperature.

Appearance: Almost completely black in color with a nice, creamy medium brown head. Recedes into a nice lacing. Really nice retention for a barrel aged stout.

Aroma: The hop aromas are still pretty aggressive here even though this has been aged in barrels. The pine and citrus notes blend nicely with the chocolate notes of the stout. Some vanilla and caramel, maybe even a touch of bourbon, but it is mostly hidden beneath the hops and heavy alcohol.

Taste: Big, bitter pine notes from the hops are really the first thing to hit. The barrel doesn't really provide the smooth, sweet notes I would hope. Instead this is pretty harsh and medicinal tasting. The booze is not well hidden at all considering it is not high at all for the style. There is some vanilla, caramel and bourbon beneath the hops and alcohol, but it is really overpowered. The barrel really doesn't add anything other than a harsh alcohol note.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied, with a bit higher than average carbonation.

Overall, the barrel aging treatment here just doesn't add anything great to this beer. It's not even that this is a bad beer, it is just that it is not as good as the base beer. The hops and bourbon barrel do not meld at all. A dissappointment for sure, especiialy considering how good the base beer is.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.56/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The ever-delicious Victory Storm King undergoes a bourbon barreled face lift. It seems that every time that a world class Imperial Stout meets a bourbon barrel that the end result is miraculously better than the original. Does Storm King yield the same benefits?

Pouring a volumnous froathy pour of dark, dark brown (maybe black) and with a foamy tan head, the beer nearly billows with assertive carbonation. Stubborn carbonation and confident lace are hallmarks of a well made Stout.

Sharp aromas of grain and hops deliver an aggressive attack on the nose in the forms of burnt grain, coffee grounds, weedy hops, scorched caramel, and booze. The balance is superb as to never allow one element command the others.

Roasted malts demand early attention to the taste buds as the flavors of strong coffee, cocoa powder, scorched toffee, and burnt embers. Low lying sweetness keeps the beer's flavor focused on roasty elements. The counter of hops deliver a sharp and spicy flavor of grasses, weeds, and pine sap. Without the bridge of malt sweetness to connect the roast to the hops, the beer's roast and hop flavors seem to battle for attention in much conflicting demeanor.

Roasty dry and full bodied, the abundance of carbonation gives a fuller-than-expected and airy feel. The beer makes quick work of its champagne-like carbonation and quickly ushers in an arid and ashy-dry finish of astringency derived from both grain and vegetation. The boozy burn extends from warmth and into harshness in the finish. A linger of coffee and pine lasts deep into aftertaste.

In the end, the bourbon barrel aging attributes more harshness than benefit. The tannin and woody vegetation causes too much astringency, and the added alcohol fails to deliver the more gentlemanly caramel, vanilla, and mature oak flavors that make bourbon so wonderful.

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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 HattedClassic
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark chocolate black with a vigorous brown head that lasts for a while as well as some nice lacing on the glass afterwards.

A slight alcohol smell to it with hints of roasted malt and dark chocolate.

A strong alcohol taste with bits of vanilla dominate the pallate with undertones of dark chocolate and roasted malt. I also got some milk chocolate but it was largely masked by the vanilla.

Biting carbonation with a full bodied feel to it. The beer had a slightly thick texture to it.

A very good imperial stout and one that I might buy again the next time I see it. It was definitely worth drinking during a cold night.

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Photo of badbilly30
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Semi-aggressive pour leading to a huge tan head that leaves thick lacing on the glass as it slowly craters out. Aroma is rich bourbon, fresh oak, dark malt, marshmallow, vanilla, and light coconut. Smells very good. No noticeable hops in the aroma. Taste is heavy, wet bourbon right up front followed by chocolate, bitter coffee, bitter hops, roasted malt, some subtle raisin/date notes as it warms, and a fairly heavy handed boozie tingle through the finish. The bitterness/boozie tingle through the finish is a bit much but perhaps this beer will come into its own with some cellar time. Still a very good beer as is.

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Photo of jneiswender
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 750 ml bottle into a chalice. Served cool.

Pours a thick tan head and a very dark brown to black body.

herbal, minty, vanilla,

Strong bourbon front. Light chocolate, light coffee, boozy finish.

Full body. Fairly carbonated.

Nice beer. Not over the top, makes me want to wax poetic beer, but a good representation of the style. Probably one of the more accurate representations of the style.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle was poured into a snifter. This bottle survived the trip in my suitase back from Denver.

Appearance: The beer poured a one finger head that has reduced to a thin layer and left some nice lacing. Pitch black with some tiny little bubbles coming up the side of the top part of the glass. There is also nice lacing on the glass too.

Smell: bourbon, oak, vanilla, maple syrup, mocha, and boozy alcohol on the nose too.

Taste: whoa, super delicious. All of the above and some. Super bourbon and vanilla. Crazy good.

Mouthfeel: smooth, boozy, full bodied, medium to high carbonation, delicious, and easy to drink.

Overall: This is a very solid beer. The maturation in the bourbon barrels make this a treat. Will be enjoying more of this in the future.

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Photo of mfrederick
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My 1st review:

Poured jet black with one finger of brown head. Has a chocolate/coffee smell with bourbon, malt, and alcohol undertones. Strong alcohol taste with chocolate, coffee, rich malts, and bourbon. Felt thick with subtle fizz going down. Overall a great beer for the price but not as refined as other BBA Russian imperial stouts I have sampled. Definitely worth a second round.

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Photo of DCon
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received a 1 PINT 9.4 FL. OZ. (750ml) bottle of this from amcmaho1 in a trade. Poured from the Caged/Corked, Purple/Black Labeled bottle w/ a Owl blended on top of a Black Barrel into a Shaker Glass. Has BOTTLED ON-NOV 19 2010 on the front of label.

Aroma- Tons of deep chocolate and light booziness. Has a definite barrel note and hits the nose hard. Nothing soft in this aroma!

Appearance- Pours a 1 finger, bubbly head that has average retention. Has the deepest brown body with legs. Leaves nothing behind on the glass.

Flavor- Barrel, Malt, Bourbon, espresso, and chocolate flavors are all blended together but enjoy their presence! Medium-High Bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Light Carbonation, Smooth, Bourbon, and strong, sweet malt finish.

Overall Impression- Wow! I'm glad I traded for this one. Quite the barrel aged beer with tons of complexity and flavor. I specifically enjoyed how many characteristics there were but none were dominant. Also was a good choice to age this one for 2 years. Thanks again for the great brew Alex!

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Photo of rudzud
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle of this Russell's in Amherst last year. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice, rich oily black with a big, fluffy two finger mocha head that faded to a nice thick creamy quarte rinch blanket. Some light side lacing on this.

S - Nice aromas here. Rich roasted malts, chocolate, and earthy barrel notes. The bourbon is very smooth and mellow. The mingling of oak and chocolate roasty malts is creating a bit of a coconut aroma for me that is quite pleasant.

T - Hmm. Nice roasted malts, very creamy almost milky lactose. Good chocolate notes with alot of semi hot bourbon notes. Eh, not so much hot as it is prominant. Good barrel notes, tasty vanilla, and more of a slight coconut.

M - Mouthfeel is good for a stout, nice and creamy. Would stand from some age though to have the bourbon mellow out a bit more.

O - Overall this is an enjoyable stout for me. Really like the bourbon in this. Overpowers just a little bit, but its still quite enjoyable. Glad I have another bottle of this to cellar.

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Photo of ZombiesAteMyDog
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Thick, sticky blackness of night with a small, tan head.

S - Highlight for sure... very complex. I get some chocolate, berry, vanilla, peppercorn, burnt wood, bourbon... sweet and spicy.

T - It's a sipper for sure with a big bitter finish. Wood takes over from the bourbon barrel aging, but there's still some bourbon present. Big roasted malts almost take over, but the charred wood of the bourbon helps to fight it

M - Carbonation seems a bit too high for my taste. Seems a bit too thin for me, too. Pretty smooth for the size of this beast.

O - I planned on letting this one age a year or two, but I wanted a stout tonight. I probably would have been better off letting it age longer than 4 months. Good but not great. For the price, I wouldn't bother getting it again.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampling a cellar temp bottle poured into a plastic cup. It was what was available.
The beer pours dark brown to black color with a very large creamy tan head foaming up even with the cup tilted almost parallel to the floor.
Aroma is molasses, brown sugar, and dark chocolate, I also get vanilla and bourbon mixed in for good measure. RIch robust nose makes this start off nicely for a malt lover such as myself.The foamy head tickles my nose with each sip and it recedes very slowly to sturdy surface layer.
First sip reveals a smooth silky texture and fine rolling carbonation.
Flavor is all malt with bourbon and vanilla mixing with molasses and some dark chocolate. I dont get any real booze notes and the beer drinks very easy. As it warms up a little I do get some darker fruit flavors maybe some raisin.
Overall I really enjoyed this brew and would definitely buy another bottle if given the opportunity. Great Imperial Stout + bourbon barrels = YUM!

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: three finger milk chocolate head, some retention and nice lacing on a jet black body.

S: lots of chocolate and bourbon, chili pepper, black pepper and some roasted malt.

T: chocolate, roasted malt up front with bourbon dominating the finish. Pepper notes.

M: very thick and smooth, moderate carbonation.

Overall: Very drinkable for what it is. not too boozy, complex aroma with a fairly simple taste.

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