The Harbinger
J. Wakefield Brewing

The HarbingerThe Harbinger
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Stout - Sweet / Milk
Ranked #40
Ranked #1,212
4.36 | pDev: 8.72%
J. Wakefield Brewing
Florida, United States
The HarbingerThe Harbinger
Notes: Imperial sweet stout with hazelnuts and coffee
Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 113 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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deschutes_fan from California

4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Maybe I'm just a sucker for hazelnuts, but this beer is insane. Smell is the greatest thing about this beer, roasted coffee with hazelnuts on top of more hazelnuts. The taste doesn't disappoint and follows the nose well. Harbinger finishes with a bit of a resin from the hops which adds some complexity and prevents the beer from being overly sweet. Overall this is a guilty pleasure to me, love this beer. Did I mention the hazelnuts?

May 11, 2018
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Sabtos from Ohio

4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dull black with a thin tan blanket leaving a geometric array of sticky tan lace on the glass.

Smell is nice and smooth hazelnut and chocolate with some cocoa wafers.

Taste is semi-sweet, lightly sticky hazelnut and chocolate with wafer, graham and some tangy roast via a frothy medium body with a chewy dry finish.

Mar 29, 2018
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mothman from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the brewery. Tan head. Black color.

Hazelnut is nice and not overpowering. Coffee roast. Some sweetness and nuttiness. Lots of cocoa and chocolate. Full bodied. Smooth. Solid.

Feb 16, 2018
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.31/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at EBF in Boston, MA.

This one pours a farirly dark black, with no head or lacing.

This smells like hazelnut, coffee creamer, vanilla, and chocolate syrup, and dark chocolate.

As expected, given my experiences with J. Wakefield, this is very, very sweet. The hazelnut flavor is certainly delicious, but this is diabetes inducing. There's nutella, chocolate, and vanilla, heavy cream, and chocolate syrup. Thre's a slight dark chocolate flavor, and that's the only thing that even remotely balances it.

This is medium bodied, thick, fudgy, and slightly syrupy, with a normal level of carbonation.

This is pastry stout at it's most diabolical, and it's pretty delicious. I just wish it was a little less sweet.

Feb 08, 2018
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Lochnessmonster from Florida

4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this at a recent bottle share and it was in the top 3 of the day - crazy good hazelnut flavor that stands up to other legends like Cycle and Angry Chair. I'd love to have this again.

Apr 27, 2017
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aleigator from Germany

3.23/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours oily black with a small, fluffy dark brown head.

Smells of nutella dessert, sweet, with lots of roasted, sugared hazelnuts and almost bitter, earthen coffee as its counterpart. After adjusting to the nose, the coffee blends into the beers sweet foundation like sugared cold brew with a decadent richness to it, loosing a bit of its edge.

Has a huge, thicker, creamy mouthfeel with a fitting lower carbonation to compliment its sweet chocolate, hazelnut cream body.

Tastes of an earthy coffee roast, soon overwhelmed by creme brulee with a touch of molasses, together with lots of creamy milk chocolate. The sweetness of the beer's foundation gets enhanced by hazelnuts, creating a nutella impression, somehow balanced by the coffee, which does produce a late dryness.

All in all this is too sweet for me. Chocolate maltiness, topped off by even more rock sugar makes this a sugar bomb. The coffee certainly helps to balance things out, but its not enough for me to create a balance which goes further than just displaying the two adjuncts in this. A big stout for sure, but it lacks depth unfortunately.

Apr 17, 2017
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clayrock81 from Florida

4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with one-finger head that slowly died. While a smidgen of roasted coffee malts hits me the aroma is almost exclusively hazelnuts. Taste is same as aroma with a real smooth easy-drinking quality that is so nutty it's not only real sweet but almost overpowers both the nose and taste.

Feb 09, 2017
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bob_roberts from Colorado

3.08/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Second J. Wakefield for me and I think this brewer just isn't for me. Quite honestly, it feels like a super quality product but that's where it ends for me. Good carbonation on this as well as feel, but there's a lot of hazelnut in this. Dominates nose and palate. Maybe I'm not a fan of hazelnut unless it's overly sugary and mixed with chocolate, but this is not for me.

Jan 14, 2017
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rudzud from Massachusetts

4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Shared with JLindros.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice dark brown almost black hue with a one finger off white head that fades to leave light wisps.

S - Aromas of hazelnut galore, nutty and rich, very light chocolate as well. Nicer subtle coffee.

T - Taste is incredibly one note of hazelnut. Not much else going on here. Light coffee creamer, good nutty notes, solid coffee. Still though it is pure hazelnuts.

M - Mouthfeel is brightly carbonated, though, almost overly so.

O - Overall this was a very hazelnut heavy beer, distractingly so.

Serving Type: bottle

Apr 01, 2016
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jlindros from Massachusetts

3.7/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to rudzud

Nice mocha colored creamy fluffy thick 1 finger head fades at a need pace, little lacing, pitch black beer.

Nose huge hazelnut, nutty so much, hazelnut everything, little creamy, maybe touch of cocoa but pretty much all hazelnut extract

Taste is loaded with hazelnuts again, tons of hazelnuts loaded, little caramel maple candy hazelnut, toffee caramel notes, vanilla, but mostly just roasted hazelnuts.

Mouth is med bod little thin, too much carb, no booze.

Overall interesting but pretty much all hazelnut flavor, real and artificial, not much else.

Apr 01, 2016
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brewskifan55 from Mississippi

4.31/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass. Signed by the brewer on a tag roped to the bottle.

A: Black with tan foam that dissipates to a ring.

S: Hazelnut screams out from three feet away. Lactose and coffee make a whimper in the background. Did I mention the hazelnut? Wow!

T: Oh my! That hazelnut rules. Strong and sweet and begging to be sipped. Lactose and coffee bring up the rear. I could sip this one all day.

M: Thick, with medium to heavy carbonation.

O: One of the top 3 beers of the bottle share. A true standout. Glad I got to try this one. Well done.

Mar 28, 2016
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.41/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

ratebeer tasting at Dick's. Dark brown body with a thin beige collar. Huge hazelnut aroma. Coffee character emerges in the flavor. Sweet, nutty, earthy. Delicious.

Jan 27, 2016
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DMBrady20 from Illinois

4.54/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the best smelling beers I've ever had. It's like frangelico and espresso made a love child and put it in your stout. Very strong coffee/hazelnut flavor with long hazelnut finish.

Jan 19, 2016
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lupercmda from North Carolina

4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with minimal tan head. Smells of sweet lactose and hazelnut. Taste is sweet up front with hazelnut back end. Has a nice thick mouthfeel. My first offering from Wakefield. Very good.

Dec 28, 2015
Photo of HarryS
HarryS from Florida

5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another 5 across the board masterpiece by Jonathan Wakefield. WOW is an unbelievable understatement.

L: Pitch black pour with an expression head.

S: this is a hazelnut coffee bomb from the second you pop that bottle.

T: again, all hazelnut coffee from the first sip until the last. Nothing short of delicious.

F: incredibly thick. Full mouth feel the entire time.

O: top 5 beers I've ever had, no question. Get your hands on a bottle if you can, or grab a glass at the brewery while it lasts. A game changer.

Dec 21, 2015
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ELS from Florida

4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This stout has one of the best aromas of any beer I have ever smelled. I'm not even a big hazelnut fan but it smells fantastic! The taste follows the smell with strong hazelnut and coffee with a slight bit of hops to pull it all together. This is one delicious brew! Goes down easy, looks good with a nice thin layer of foam and an overall great drinking experience. I'm actually surprised the other ratings for this beer aren't higher because this stout is outstanding.

Reviewer Note: This review in 2015 was before J Wakefield raised the abv on this beer. Personally, I like the original Harbinger (the one I reviewed) much better than later batches. The hazelnut is more pronounced in 2015 and much more drinkable. Bring it back Jon/Maria.

Mar 14, 2015
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Lare453 from Florida

4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night with cola brown edges. Thick and foamy kakhi head. Smell is strong hazelnut, this gives cycle hazelnut a run for the money. Coffee, chocolate, roast on the nose too. Taste is milk chocolate, bitter coffee and huge hazelnut. Thick and viscous.

Almost as good as cycle hazelnut.

Mar 01, 2015
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Beerly-Departed from Florida

4.52/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this from a growler fill. Big hazelnut nose and a solid hazelnut taste to follow. I liked that it wasn't a heavy stout which made it very drinkable. The slight sweetness paired up nicely for me. This would be crazy as a rum barrel variant. I believe it's now called Harbinger

Feb 22, 2015
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.54/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery. Served in a plastic cup.

Appearance - Black with a nice mocha head. Doesn't last long. Chunky collar.

Smell - Coffee. Lactose. Lots of lactose. Not my thing.

Taste - Very sweet. Lots of coffee, but lactose and sweet malts are very strong. A nuttiness in the middle, but it's not a really definitive hazelnut. Lactose lingers in the finish. I take that back. As it warms a bit, I get a ton of hazelnut in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Very sweet. Medium carbonation.

Overall - I don't love the lactose. Actually i really don't like it. The hazelnut is a very nice addition, though.

Jan 10, 2015
The Harbinger from J. Wakefield Brewing
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 113 ratings