Berserker Imperial Stout | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Berserker Imperial StoutBerserker Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.33/5
Outstanding
1,200 Ratings
Berserker Imperial StoutBerserker Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
midnightsunbrewing.com

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.70%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Vicious and viscous, this menacing brew pours opaque black with a creamy maduro-colored head. Its aroma offers seductive whiskey, chewy red wine, dark fruit and lavish tobacco. Berserker Imperial Stout invades your taste buds with in-your-face flavor. Weighing in at almost 13% alcohol by volume, Berserker is completely out-of-control. Give it a good fight. Berserker Imperial Stout was aged in both red wine and whiskey barrels.

Original release of Berserker was at 10.4%, subsequent vintages have gone upwards of 12.7%. When reviewing, please list beer vintage and that vintage's specific ABV.

30 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-13-2005

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#469
Reviews:
301
Ratings:
1,200
pDev:
8.55%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
810
Gots:
303
Trade:
31
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,200 |  Reviews: 301
Photo of NeoClassicist
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of gshak
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 22oz at ISO beers, in San Jose. No bottled-on date noticed. Poured into a Glenmorangie whiskey glass at refrigerator temperature.
A - Poured flat with no head and very spotty lacing. The liquid itself is pitch black like an Alaskan wintry night, and mocha tints coating the glass where the liquid has been. Quite a hefty pour too, almost sludgy coming out of the bottle, more like in the Speedway category, than the Marshal Zhukov.
S - Very very subdued smell, likely due to the cold temperature. Should pick up some aromas as the liquid warms up...assuming it stays that long in the glass.
T - Definitely the highpoint of the beer. Very reminiscent of the Abyss, in that there are very prominent red wine characteristics coupled with roasty, chocolatey notes. Drinks much lighter than I anticipated, due to the supressed carbonation that explodes on the palate, bringing forth notes of roast, red wine, oak, bker's chocolate, and a very meaty umami flavor. The coating on the lips and teeth is excellent, and very, very drying. My teeth are almost going numb like I sucked on some sour candy, surprising and very delectable. Maple, and bourbon while boldly advertised on the bottle, are not noticed on the palate,
M - This is a heavy beer that has an amazing drinkability, thanks to the plentiful carbonation that can be felt but not seen. There is an element of subtle tinge of drying cherry-like tartness which aids the drinkability as well. Very well executed.
O - Overall a very well executed beer as an IRS. The lack of bourbon in the aromas or the taste, and the lack of the familiar notes of almonds, vanilla, or coconut leaves me unsatisfied given this was to be a BBA stout

 1,696 characters

Photo of jcflorian
4.34/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of eldoctorador
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of durlta
4.56/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of tbryan5
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bkwhoppa66
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Kavinci
4.23/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Brittonkay
3.19/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of akk14
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.16/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve snifter
From: Bine & Vine Bottle Shop in Normal Heights (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $19.99
Purchased: Jan. 6, 2017
Consumed: Jan. 20, 2017
Reviewed as: American Double / Imperial Stout
Misc.: Bottled on Oct. 24, 2016

Picked this up with basically a $50 gift certificate for my birthday. Had heard of Midnight Sun and saw on one of the emails that they had a few coming in, so I pounced on this and the Arctic Devil Barley Wine. $19.99 (Berserker) and $17.99 (AD) seems a bit much but I got them anyway. Show me I’m wrong.

Poured a pitch black color with 1-to-2 fingers of frothy tan head. Calm, serene setting underneath the top. Average lacing. Outstanding retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled a big boozy mix of bourbon and maple syrup. Also some chewy molasses in there, probably making it seem boozier than it is. Getting that molasses after the bourbon and maple syrup, but that bourbon kind of dies off. Also earthy leather, port red wine barrels, dates, vanilla, toasted oak, hints of coconut and dark caramel. Not as good as I thought it would be, but still appetizing. (Smell - 4.00)

Initial taste had me thinking it wasn’t quite an imperial stout, but then it smoothed out and I felt it warm all the way down my body. A lot of different flavors pulling at each other, getting in order smoky molasses, port wine, oaky bourbon, vanilla, earthy leather and tobacco. Getting less maple syrup than the nose and more port wine. Either way it’s sugary sweet. Also dates, figs, raisins, overripe plum, dark caramel, toffee and toasted coconut. Really feeling the alcohol, warming up the body rather quickly. This is complex. (Taste - 4.25)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, semi-smoky, warming finish. (Feel - 4.25)

This was a different imperial stout for sure. Liked it overall, but I feel like I overrated it just a bid. (Overall - 4.25)

4.16 | 93 | A-

 1,944 characters

Photo of MacMalt
4.49/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 Vintage. Poured into snifter glass. It pours black as midnight with two fingers of frothy, mocha-colored head and lacing with excellent retention. It's a lovely pour. It smells of dark roasted malt, freshly brewed coffee, cocoa, caramel, peat, smoke, and whiskey. This is delicious! A wonderful blend of roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, tobacco, and dark fruit. Also, there are red wine notes in the taste, particularly at the finish, that I didn't smell. While you can taste the whiskey, it's subtle and pleasant; not overly hot. This stout is medium-bodied; it's creamy but not chewy. It is mildly carbonated and while it isn't overtly boozy in taste, you can certainly feel the 12.7% ABV. This is a sipper for sure. Overall, it's a wonderful Imperial Stout, with lots of taste notes that blend seamlessly. It deserves its world class rating.

 858 characters

Photo of smi69
4.34/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Radcpa
4.54/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very dark appearance with little head and just the right amount of carbonation. Very nice aroma with light molasses. Great bourbon taste with molasses without any alcohol after taste. Excellent stout

 202 characters

Photo of morrowd3
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Warren2621
4.48/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of HeartofMiami
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of RickyBfromCT
4.62/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of CharlesK
4.15/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DamienI
3.5/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of fosters9
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of TylerJ
4.84/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of pkalix
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

nothing special on the look, but a super nice aroma. taste is difficult at first but becomes so very nice and delicious after it drains down the backside.... 2015 edition....

 174 characters

Photo of Bubbawilly88
4.49/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Currently #5 on the Alaska Top 100 list.

BOTTLE: 2016 vintage. $19.99 at an overpriced beer store in Brooklyn, NY. 22 fl oz.

"Imperial stout." "ale brewed with maple syrup & molasses and aged in oak bourbon barrels." 12.70% ABV. 30 IBUs.

Served straight from the fridge into a nonic and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption.

HEAD: Pours a gorgeous silky tan colour head with a beautiful shiny complexion. It doesn't quite attain that gilded tan colour that the tippy top very best imperial stouts boast, but it comes close. Appears lusciously soft and creamy, leaving thick lacing on the sides of the glass as it recedes. Thick and robust, holding up for a good 10+ minutes, defying the 12.70% ABV. Remarkably well-executed, though far from perfection. ~6-7cm high.

BODY: Opaque black. True to form for the style, with no visible yeast particulate or hop sediment. Not hazy or cloudy.

Overall, it's a good looking imperial stout. I'm quite eager to try it.

AROMA: Subtle maple collides with a robust dark malt backbone. Subtle notes surface of chocolate malt, charred oak (especially on the back end), black strap molasses sweetness, wisps of dark fruit (mainly plum, date, and raisin) with subsidiary hints of port wine, tobacco, and reticent bourbon. Though the subtle oak presence is wonderful, balancing out the aromatic sweetness with some cutting char/burnt character, the bourbon presence isn't great; I'm craving those notes of toasted coconut and subtle vanilla than are generally present in the best bourbon barrel aged expressions of the style.

Nevertheless, this robust aroma promises a thick chewy imperial stout with plenty of complexity and nuance, even if the maple syrup and bourbon notes aren't as vivid or evocative as the label seems to want to make us believe they'd be.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Not at all what the aroma suggested. Off-puttingly coating, with an almost slightly chalky presence on the palate that elevates artificial vanillin in the second half of the beer at the expense of all the other notes. Not the chewy treacly treat of a mouthfeel I hoped for; it thins out towards the finish, giving it a somewhat weak but definitely uneven presence on the palate. Full-bodied up front but medium bodied on the finish. Carbonation is good, and it's aptly smooth and wet, but it's just a mess texture-wise. Not boozy or warm, but that'd be fine (and maybe even preferable) if it had the consistent body and chewiness it should have.

Like the texture, the taste is structurally imbalanced, with most of the flavour shoved in towards the open. Flavours taper as the beer moves through the second act towards the finish, arriving eventually at that one flat note of bourbon barrel-derived vanillin - which dominates the beer into the aftertaste. Up front, it's decent - some hints of molasses and a blip of barrel char alongside the dark malt & chocolate malt sweetness you'd expect. Maple syrup is sadly wasted on this brew, with no real presence ever emerging. I wanted a molten gooey feel on the palate; this hardly delivered.

The bourbon barrel character isn't dazzling either, and I find myself wondering if the underwhelming vanillin and barrel sugar sweetness they attained from the aging made it worth doing...don't expect any rich white oak, charred wood, or toasted coconut from the barrel. (A better selection of bourbon as well as more time in barrels might help).

None of the tobacco or port wine the aroma promised comes through, unfortunately. A bit of dark fruit does, I suppose - maybe raisin, faint plum, and date? As it warms, I get a whisper of pomegranate (if you'll excuse the pretension implicit in that phrasing).

It's on the sweeter side for an imperial stout, rendering it a sipper. But it doesn't earn that low level of drinkability with intricacy, depth of flavour, or nuance; it's just a heavy brew with too much sweetness.

I hoped for vivid maple syrup (a la Founders' CBS), rich bourbon notes (a la any of the great bourbon barrel stouts out there), and impeccable balance (as found in some of Midnight Sun's beers). None of that was delivered in this brew, which has a taste that disappoints after the treats of its appearance and aroma.

OVERALL: This doesn't make my Top 5 for Alaskan beers, and I've tried less than 50. Apparently, some vintages of this are aged in red wine and whiskey barrels, while others are aged only in bourbon? One can imagine the whiskey/red wine version working better than this (bourbon only) one does. It's not a bad imperial stout by any stretch, but the good isn't good enough to justify a 2nd purchase - especially when I'd sooner get Victory Storm King, North Coast Ole Raspy, or Oscar Blues Ten Fidy - all of which can be had in 6 or 4 packs for less than one bottle of this. Price doesn't affect my rating, though, and it's competent fare in a style that's difficult to excel in. There's a lot to like in Berserker...but nothing to love.

B- (3.40) / WORTHY

 4,986 characters

Berserker Imperial Stout from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 1,200 ratings