Bar Fly (2011)
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Bar Fly (2011)Bar Fly (2011)
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Stout - American Imperial
4.41 | pDev: 9.07%
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Bar Fly (2011)Bar Fly (2011)
Notes: Smoked imperial stout aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 252 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of joe1896
joe1896 from New York

4.5/5  rDev +2%

This beer pours molasses-thick and is nearly the same color. Drinks with an excellent balance of brown/burnt sugar and smokey malts with a distinct bourbon kick. At 11.6%, it's bold but not at all overwhelming. Totally smooth with a well rounded finish more befitting of a great single malt than a beer.

All around this is a wonderful beer that I highly recommend if your local beer place is resourceful enough to stock.

Oct 21, 2014
SPLITGRIN from Kentucky

4.67/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Literally pours like 3000 mile used motor oil from the bottle. Sits in the glass pure pitch ink black. Not a spot of light is getting through this one. Head may be the most robust deep chocolate brown that I have seen in my many beers. Leaves a total wall of lace as it slowly fades.

Nose is rich with molasses, campfire wood and hints of chocolate fudge. Really robust and gels incredibly well for so much going on. A hint of alcohol is there on the back side as well.

With first sip you are greeted by beautifully rich bourbon soaked dark chocolate cake. Almost like chocolate lava cake with dark chocolate bourbon sauce. There is some black cherry that develops on the back end of the palate. Kind of like black cherry sweet bread. Smoke really just plays as a balancer here to provide nice body to this brew. In many ways this brew reminds me of a fine port.

This one is a real treat to enjoy. It is gorgeously drinkable for a big beer. I will definitely seek out more of these. A true gem.

Oct 09, 2014
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John_M from Oregon

4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

The beer pours the expected blackish brown color, with very good head retention andlots of sticky dark foam lacing all around. The nose is every bit as good in this beer, as I pick up light bourbon, vanilla, light milk duds (always a good sign), dark chocolate and light coffee. This beer just smells like it will be yummy. On the palate, the flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, but the molasses just seemed a bit excessive. There's a lot going on in this beer (I get a hint of smoke, but was expecting more, given the description on the label), but I felt like the molasses flavor really dominated. The beer is fairly sweet, but not overly so, as the light smoke and molasses keep that in check. Mouthfeel is great, as the beer displays a long, soft creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile. You can tell it's up there, but it's not the least bit obtrusive.

This beer is excellent, no doubt, but I preferred the earlier version, which I was fortunate enough to have at a bottle share several years ago. It was the cab barrel version, and it seemed like the wine flavor played well and better with the smoke and molasses. The current version is still quite excellent, but it's hard to forget the earlier version I was able to try some years back. Also, I wonder if some short term cellaring might improve this beer a bit, and perhaps smooth out some of the rough edges.

Regardless. This is a very nice effort from the folks at MS.

Sep 13, 2014
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Gmann from New York

4.1/5  rDev -7%

Pours a motor oil sludge black color. Huge brown fluffy head that slowly settles into a puffy cap. Small wall of lacing on the glass. 4.25

The aroma has some chocolate note, sweet bourbon and vanilla, and a sour berry twang. The smoke comes through every now and again but you need to pull to get it. Standard issue bourbon barrel aged stout. 4

The taste is of a big malty stout. The roast is moderate, not overly aggressive, and has more of a milk chocolate flavor. The smoke pops out more in the flavor but its not dominate. The bourbon brings a caramel ribbon with some vanilla. A sharp sour berry and/or oak note. A bit acidic. 4

The feel is full bodied. Sweet, sour, and bitter on the palate. Some stickiness in the finish. 4

A flavorful BBA stout. It needs more smoke to make it stand out more from the rest. Its well made but it doesn't stand out from the others. 4

Aug 24, 2014
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Greywulfken from New York

4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition...

A: oily black beer produced a quick finger of dark brown foam, which slimmed into a filmy mocha collar; oily sheen down glass with an occasional mote of brown lace

S: rich sugars and dark malts accompanied by bourbon's whiskey airs - chocolate, vanilla, molasses, oak, and smoke

T: molasses sweetness for sure, bourbon enriches the sweetness with warm booze notes; roasted chocolaty malts aplenty, slightly charred with hints of smoky alcohol

M: full-bodied without being too heavy, silky and slick; bourbon wafts hit the roof ; some tingle on the tongue; linger of smoke and wood o'er moderately sticky finish

O: bourbon barrel aging a stout is a fairly surefire win so long as the base stout is of reasonable quality - all that applies here - the brown sugar and molasses ensure this is a sweet-drinking stout, and if you like molasses, you can rest assured that it is asserted here. The use of smoked malts is probably where this beer becomes hit-or-miss for some. The smoke is apparent on the nose and palate.

Aug 12, 2014
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Kuaff from Alaska

4.76/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bar Fly, snifter, cellar temperature. Note that it's now aged in bourbon oak barrels and has an ABV of 11.6%.

The head, while non-existent, is pretty sheet of fading dark brown froth. And like Midnight Sun's other imperial stouts, it's the absolute blackest of the black. IT LOOKS LIKE TAR.

Its aroma is ridiculously good, packing caramel, vanilla, raisins, cherries, red wine, leather, oak, and sweet maple or molasses. Some rich chocolate in there, too. An alcohol presence is obvious, and welcome. Damn!

This stout brims over with leathury, oaky, caramel and bourbon-like flavors. However, it's also brilliantly balanced with a complex sweetness of maple, molasses, and vinous fruitiness mixed with the dark fruits. The alcohol isn't shy, and, once again, it's welcome. The finish is earthy and smoky. Incredible.

The body is full, thick, syrupy, and sticky as hell. Very viscous. Doesn't get much better than this.

An unapologetic, extravagant show of decadence in a beer bottle.

Aug 03, 2014
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Alieniloquium from Florida

4.21/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Ink-staining black. Medium khaki head. Thin collar.

Smell - Smokey. Oxidized. Red wine acidity. A bit of raisin and dark roasted malt.

Taste - Smoke flavor is still strong. Dark coffee roasted malts. A little sweet. Oak is strong. Red wine flavor is more prevalent in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Still pretty chewy. Not boozy at all.

Overall - The final beer of the night. Excellent in its own right. I really like the red wine component.

May 19, 2014
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msubulldog25 from Oregon

4.39/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle with a (now) peeling label, from the 2010 "Pop Ten Series". Received this bottle as a 40th birthday gift from my friend, Justin, over 2 years ago; it's been in the fridge or cellar ever since. Split with my wife on a fairly average Wednesday night, the only reason being we needed a strong/smoky beer to pair with some awesome split pea & ham hock soup she'd made. Two large snifters.

Label says 12.6% ABV & 45 IBU

A: Extremely dark pour with a leathery brown head, short - 1/4" at best. Impenetrable, so there's no carbonation showing. What head there is fades to a thin star-shaped swirl with a thin ring that drags with each sip into speckles of slowly falling lace.

S: With probably close to 4 years of age on this, aromas have muddled but not faded. Very good molasses-like sweetness, with brown sugar, cocoa, sweet bourbon. There are hints of ash/wood that come off as almost "meaty" - think maple-glazed bacon - although a little subtle. Regardless, a savory-sweet and enticing scent.

T: What first struck me was a syrupy and lightly medicinal cherry (cough medicine) sweetness. Once that initial flavor subsided, a tastier vanilla and praline/candy sweetness developed. Cocoa powder/Ovaltine with modest oak. Smokiness appears in the finish as a charred/grainy and balancing bitterness. Again, I think of candied bacon, even of a red wine reduction. Deep and ever-changing flavors.

M: After a few years in the cellar, a VERY smooth sipper. Velvety level of light carbonation. Creamy, sublime. Medium body, no real "heat" from a 12%+ ABV content.

O: A very enjoyable beer, one that has held up very well and that was, truly, a shame to finally finish. Knowing that this will likely be the one chance I get to enjoy this beer, I made sure to let it linger and to savor each sip. I think the smokiness and barrel/oak flavors have waned, but nonetheless it was a delicious beer that I'd love to have the chance to try again. Thanks again, JustinatBeaumont!

Jan 30, 2014
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a black liquid with a tan head on top. The smell of the beer has a lot of smokey roasted malts on the nose. The taste of the beer has a nice rich chocolate flavor with some dark fruit and herbal spice going on. The feel was full bodied and well carbonated to the style. Overall it was a very nice beer.

Jan 19, 2014
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SpeedwayJim from New York

3.97/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Dan for this one. I've been looking for this for a while now. 22oz bottle into a Cantillon balloon. Reviewed from notes.

Pours pitch black with a thin mocha head with little retention. Spotty lace with thin legs. Solid.

Nose is cocoa, smoke, roast, molasses, sweet grape, fudge, anise and a mellow booziness. Real aromatic and complex.

Opens anise, plum, roasted and smoked malt, chocolate and cocoa. Chocolate in the morning with an addition of plum and grape in the end. Finishes smoky with hints of cocoa powder. Aftertaste is dark fruit. Pretty nice.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Mellow and smooth in the mouth and goes down silky. Messy finish with a filmy, sticky aftertaste. Complements the flavor well.

Overall a pretty good beer and I'm glad I got the chance to try this one. The fruit and barrel aging has mostly fallen off but the smoke, roast and mellow fruit presence keep this an interesting brew.

Nov 15, 2013
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DefenCorps from Oregon

4.53/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kyle and Todd for bottles of this elusive beer.

Midnight Sun brews stouts that are incredibly pleasing to the eye, and this is no exception. Jet black, with a thick, dark brown head with excellent retention and lacing, this is a gorgeous stout. The nose is great. The smoke character here is delicate, moderately earthy and a little meaty, and the wine barrels are an inspired choice. Pairing well with the robust chocolate, roast and espresso of the base stout, the fruity vinous notes are excellent. Mildly jammy as well, the wine character is expressed very well .

The palate is truly unique. Very jammy and fruity from the wine, this is among the fruitier imperial stouts I've had. Flavors of blackberry and black cherriy come to mind, before the base stout, powerful in depth and balance, takes over. Plenty of dark chocolate (85%ish?), heavily roasted malts and a mild smoke character are present. The smoke character is really mellow here, most noticeable as an earthy, smoldering wet wood bitterness and flavor that's present towards the finish. A moderate spice character, anise being most prominent, is present as well. The finish is long and excellent, with a great blend of roast, bitterness and chocolate, with the unexpected (but wholly welcome) fruitiness from the wine. Oak character is minimal here. Medium-full in body with soft, creamy carbonation, this feels really great on the palate - so soft and so supple! Highly recommended.

Jun 10, 2013
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thagr81us from South Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to beeruser and funkydelic for sharing this one at a past Random Sunday Tasting! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured pitch black with a minimal brown head. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, dark fruit, sweet alcohol, wood, spices, and smoke. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, roasted malt, dark fruit, dark chocolate, wood, smoke, spices, and molasses. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was an excellent brew. How had I never tried this before this??? Wow! This beer was definitely on a whole new level as it was quite enjoyable while being very complex and challenging. All of the right flavors were there for the style and were all there in a nice intense but not overpowering amount. This made it quite easy to drink and very enjoyable. Really glad I got the opportunity to try this one and I suggest you dig in your cellar to do the same. You won’t regret it.

Jan 15, 2013
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tewaris from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Insanely dark, among the darkest beers I have had and equally thick --- thick enough to stain the glass at the sides. Vanilla, sweet booze and spice, subtle smoke, dark fruit in volumes, roast at the end. Pretty darn good. Silky feel and medium carbonation.

Thanks Dan.

Jan 08, 2013
Photo of tarheels86
tarheels86 from California

3.64/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

651mL thanks to CaptainCougar. Pours an ink color- used motoroil. Opaque with a large, dense, deep brown head. Yessss. Nose...apples and similar to CCB Hunahpu nose. Cocoa, dark chocolate, red apple. Taste is rich, mild smokiness and bacon, big sweetness, small lemon, big strawberry and brown sugar. Sort of a disappointment with not much smoked character. 7/5/7/4/14=3.7

Oct 02, 2012
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Luk13 from Canada (QC)

4.43/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Kyle for opening this one. One of the most intense and balanced imperial stout I’ve had. Molasses, chocolate cake, vanilla and oak. Alcohol join the sweetness and intensity from the malts and brings this beer to a whole new level. Some dark fruits in the taste. Very rich and lovely palate.

Sep 23, 2012
Photo of fiver29
fiver29 from Ohio

4.48/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Mike. Thanks! Pours thick jet black with than head. Aroma is roasted malt and smoke. Dense and creamy mouthfeel. Almost as if it was made with oats. Taste was very nice meld of smoke, peat, coffee, roasted malt, and an herbal note. Very nice beer.

Sep 11, 2012
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cosmicevan from New York

4.43/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

massive thanks to vitese for the kind trade. enjoyed from a midnight sun tulip. Notes from 8/29.

a - dark and thick, like motor oil with a thin creamy head and streaky lacing. looks like a stout aught to look.

s - smoked indeed. some peat. some oak. some char. more porter than stout from the smokiness. good chocolate fruity roasty notes.

t - Wow...that's GOOD! really perfect amount of smoke. chocolate malts. some peat and smokiness from the wood. the roast is great. doesn't feel like red wine barrels, but it is a stout so haven't had many aged in red wine barrels, but upon realizing it was aged in red wine barrels, i can definitely believe it. there are some nice dark fruit notes in there which very well could be from the red wine barrels.

m - thick, rich, velvety. highlight of the beer is the mouthfeel. the ABV is totally invisible. i was shocked to see the number tied with the ABV.

o - overall, one of the best smoked beers i've ever had. really great chocolate notes intermingling with a perfect amount of smoke. this is what a smoked stout should be.

Aug 31, 2012
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raveskdr from Virginia

4.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Always been a want. Smoked beer in wine barrels? Don't mind if I do! Huge ups to starrdogg for this mini whale. Poured into my FFF Teku.

A - Dense and dark, very viscous when pouring. Medium brown head that laces decently well.

S - Super slight touch of smoke right up front, lots more dark fruit and roastiness. There is this really bizarre metallic smell when first poured. (note: this dissipates when it warms up). Concerning.

T - Boom. The smokiness and juicy, fruity red wine right up front. They blend together perfectly, crazily enough. There is a big amount of roast and smoke on the back end.

M - Silky smooth, crazily slow for the smoke/barrel. Not a touch of alcohol in any facet. Amazing.

O - Wow. I was both super intrigued and dubious about this beer. Needless to say, even after the rocky start, this beer delivers and some. I don't know if I'll ever be able to drink it again (or how long it'll hold up), but I can't imagine this beer isn't right near it's sweet spot right now. A mini whale that stands up to the hype!

Jul 25, 2012
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DarthKostrizer from California

3.26/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by a generous soul at Woodshop

Look: Black as hell with a small maybe 1/8 inch tan head (small pour) with ok retention and some spotty lacing left on the glass

Smell: The nose was rather faint. The label says smoked imperial stout so I was expecting quite a bit of smoke and it is there but very faint. Following the smoke is some chocolate and oak

Taste: Again damn it where is the smoke??? Very faint smoke and just quite malty. There is a some roasted malt mid palate and has a fair amount of oak on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body with medium to low carbonation.

Overall: This is one of those beers that I am glad I did not trade for as I am quite let down. Based on the other reviews it almost seems like I had a totally different beer from everyone else or this beer was improperly stored and time has been harsh to it. Either way the beer was very lack luster at best and most definitely not worth the headache. I would love to try it again in the future to see if maybe I just had a bad bottle

Jul 25, 2012
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.95/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at Woodshop 7 held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and some slight soy sauce aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild roasty bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with some solid aromas and flavors that make it pretty easy to drink

Jul 24, 2012
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schmoopsbeer from California

4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle in to firestone tulip
served at cellar temp

Color: Pours almost jet black. Hints of mocha shine around the edges of the glass. A nice tan one finger head forms in the glass, but it dissolves quite quickly.

Nose: Just superb! Light smoke, roast, and great oak presence. Hints of roasted coffee beans, mellow chocolate, with hints of tobacco. Quite complex.

Palate: Medium to full bodied. Extremely drinkable with the perfect amount of carbonation. The abv is well masked throughout the beer. On the tongue you first get the smoke followed by waves of roasted coffee and tobacco. At the back end the vanilla and cab barrel presence begins to show.

Finish: Smooth and uber complex. Great texture and layers. An incredible stout that shines above all others out there.

Rating: 97/100

Jul 15, 2012
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kawilliams81 from Illinois

4.85/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally found my notes from a couple months ago to review this beer.

Poured from a 22 oz bottle split into 2 pint glasses.

A- Thick motor oil black with a 2 finger dark brown head. Small blotches of lacing on the glass.

S- Sweet dark fruits, chocolate and a slight smoke aroma.

T- Similar to the nose with sweet dark fruits coming through, nice chocolate and coffee notes as well.

M- Full body, medium carbonation. Perfect mouth feel, very smooth and creamy.

O- Amazing RIS! Great combination of sweet dark fruits, chocolate and slight smokiness. ISO

Jun 21, 2012
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oline73 from Maryland

4.3/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into my Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: The beer pours black with a layer of tan head that fades to a ring around the pour.

Smell: Sweet and quite smokey. Lots of dark fruit, I am picking up some wine like qualities. I'm also getting some alcohol heat.

Taste: This is a very smokey beer, especially right off the bat. The first sip reminded me of barbecue sauce. I'm pretty sure it's the combination of the smoked malt and the wine. Things blend together and mellow after a few sips. The finish is a tad bitter with a nice smoke level. There was also a hint of dark chocolate from the malt.

Mouthfeel: The body is just on the thick side of medium with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This was a very good and extremely interesting beer. The wine barrels and smoke worked well together. I wouldn't want all of my stouts to taste like this, but I'm glad this one did.

Jun 20, 2012
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mulder1010 from Australia

4.82/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big long time want
Thanks to Nicks6217 for the bottle

A-- Poured and settled motor oil black. Thin, half finger of dark leather head that quickly went to a ringed collar. Not too bad a lacing for the size of this. Visually a big beer and a lot of a dark, oily substance left behind through drinking.

S-- Dark coco, oak, dark fruits burnt tires, or rubber, and red wine. Just a huge nose with this. Impressive as heck and very full on.

T-- See above but amped up. Just a full on taste. Lots of chocolate, burnt tires, dark plum and strawberry, red wine, ash and char. Well hidden alcohol.

M-- Full bodied and light to no carbonation. Slick and oily but very velvety and easy to drink. More wine like in a lot of respects with the amount of fruit in the mid and back palate. Finishes quite dry and coating. Almost parching dry. Stunning with it's balance in the mouth. Just bits of smoke in the back of palate.

O-- Seriously a top 5 stout. Dry as heck monster but easy to drink. More fruit than expected, mixed in with enough chocolate. Well hidden alcohol and only real complaint is not enough smoke. One of the best imperial stouts I have tried in the last 18 months. More European than American due to the lack of sweetness and how dry it was. Pleasure to drink.

Jun 01, 2012
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HuskyinPDX from Washington

4.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Been stashed away in my cellar for almost a year. Today is as good as any day to try this one. Opened on 5.27.12.

A - Pours a motor oil black with a very small dark tan head that quickly fades to the edges.

S - Mostly chocolate at first, then some subtle coffe and booze come out.

T - Again chocolate is noticeable at first, then a sweet, smokey wonder. Hard to place, but very good. Made me think of beef jerkey, and in a good way.

D - A heavier body and mild carbonation. Velvety smooth in the mouth.

O - So good. Smokey, but very sublte and well balanced. Subtle smoke, sweetness, coffee and chocolate, and some wow!

May 30, 2012
Bar Fly (2011) from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 252 ratings