Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #255
Ranked #4,054
4.11 | pDev: 8.52%
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
Notes: First brewed as part of our 2011 World Tour series, MOSCOW Rye Russian Imperial Stout is a hefty, opaque black liquid that pours slowly and soulfully into your snifter. A high percentage of spicy rye and roasted dark malts create a dense, chewy yet elegant winter wonderland of flavors. And from AK we say: Let it Snow…in Moscow.
Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 295 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Older bottle from 2012-2013ish

A: Poured into a snifter to a black beer topped by a dense and slightly rocky two fingers of dark tan head which retains very well while fading slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing.
S: Smells of intense chocolate with some rye spice and coffee along with some roasted malts
T: Taste is roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate, charred wood, burnt sugars, and espresso. There are some hints of oxidation but it blends in well with the base beer. On the swallow there's some slight spice, more roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, and caramelized sugars with a hint of charred wood.
M: This beer is fairly full in body with a silky smooth feel on the palate. Carbonation is on the low end but it's adequate for the style while the beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this is a great beer and a solid example of the style. It has good flavors and a nice complexity. The beer at this stage shows good balance of flavor as well instead of being dominated by one note. I'd like to revisit this one when it's fresh.

Aug 26, 2020
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IKR from California

4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black with a generous-sized foamy dark beige head that stuck around for a while. A very good looking Imperial Stout.

Smell: Roasted malts, and some bready notes. The nose is fairly mild but I've had this one cellared for a while.

Taste: The taste profile features roasted malt notes, and some rye spiciness. The finish dries out with the roast malts and spicy rye notes lingering to the end. The beer has a mild alcohol presence.

Mouth-feel: Medium bodied with a generous level of carbonation. The body is satisfying.

Overall: A tasty non bal-aged stout. I've had this one cellared for years and it has aged well. I'm not sure of the year but the label is mostly black and looks completely different from the photo here (maybe 2011 if I'm reading the bar label right?). I need to seek this one out fresh because this was good.

Jun 27, 2020
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EdwardAbbey from Washington

4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I like what the hefty portion of spicy rye brings to this, but I also regret what it takes away, because it ever-so-slightly overwhelms the rest. If you love rye and like big stouts, this could be right in your wheelhouse. But if you love big stouts and like rye, it might leave you a little disappointed, as it did with me.

Aug 25, 2017
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Lone_Freighter from Vermont

4.34/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes. The appearance that poured like jet fuel - pure black and slow like motor oil (could’ve sworn I heard the "glug, glug, glug" of the beer pouring out); small super tan/slightly brown colored slim looking head, light speckled all over the place lacing. The smell had a roasted cocoa with a spectacular dose of coffee aromas coming through, I believe I’m also getting some anise - ?? maybe. The taste had a roasty sweet and ever so slightly bitter cocoa/coffee flavoring with the anise just a tad stronger than before. There is some alcohol in the taste, but I realize I’m having a 11% beer from the growler 3 days after it was put into the growler; super sweet sticky aftertaste (holy coating of my lips, don’t think I’ve ever had any beer so sticky). It had somewhat of a dry sweet cocoa finish. On the palate, it sat about a medium to heavy, yup this beast is a sipper (don’t try to dominate this beer) in other words there’s no such word as sessionable for this beer. Carbonation is fairly smooth for an RIS - good for the style and for me. Overall, really nice RIS but I didn't get the suspected rye that was supposed to be in this.

Jun 30, 2017
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_RL_ from Maryland

4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Excellent, thick, oily pour. Not a ton on the nose. Some earthiness and roastiness on the nose but quite subtle. The taste is faint - not overpowering or boozy at all and the weak point in the beer, mostly roast/burned flavor. The mouthfeel is excellent - thick and chewy. Only thicker beer I've had is Assassin.

Exceptionally smooth, especially for the ABV. Wish this was stuck in some kind of barrel as some bourbon, oak, cognac, etc. could really take this beer to the next level.

Nov 27, 2015
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JohnGalt1 from Idaho

3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours with a nice dark tan head that lasts for quite a while. okay lacing.. a bit oily and is pretty dark.

Nose shows as a big acrid oily mess that somehow pulls out and becomes at least a little enjoyable...

rye and black malt with too much "tar" on the palate... This is a great example of a heavy RIS that goes outside the bounds of the traditional big boy stouts. Needs to be enjoyed colder.

Sep 22, 2015
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beerthulhu from New Jersey

4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Viscose syrupy exit sits an inky jet black in the chalice with a caramel-chocolate topping, one inch with a thick, milky cream texture. Thick sheet lace coating dresses the glass.

S: Slight charred pine cone notes, rich, dark milky chocolate, more sweet then bitter with a light to medium awareness per style. No alcohol detection thus far.

T: Big roasted barley and roasted chocolate malts up front. Bite of peppery spice rye follows. Smooth flavor, charred toast, earthy mineral bitterness with smoky pine hints. Smooth charred finish, some spicy rye barrel notes and an soothing complimentary mention of alcohol.

M: Chewy oats and malt, thick, sticky, earthy bittering. You can litteraly chew this like bubblegum. Whats not to love here.

O: Exceptionally smooth drinkability and bitterness with little alcohol contention. Big chewy mouthful, 11.3% abv, a long, slow sipper on the bomber. Great close of winter and start of spring beer.

Apr 03, 2015
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vfgccp from New York

4.49/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

No bottled-on date, but purchased at least a year ago.

A - Bowling ball black body with a 1/2 finger of dark chocolate colored head. Nice retention and ok lace.

S - Sweet seeded pumpernickel rye bread, raisins, molasses, chocolate graham cracker, gingerbread batter, and prunes.

T - Really interesting. A roast-forward take on an RIS. Dark roasted coffee and burnt rye toast blanket over sweet molasses, caramel, gingerbread, milk chocolate, and burnt toffee. Nice, bitter woody hop character on the backend.

M - Full, smooth body. Creamy finish.

O - An outstanding flavor profile. Great balance, but a little bit better integration and this beer would move from outstanding to world-class.

Feb 22, 2015
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours pitch black with a dark caramel colored head, sticky and a lot of legs.

S - Burnt chocolate, light char, dark roasted chocolate malt, molasses, light coffee bean aroma.

T - Light char, dark roasted chocolate malt, some coffee bean buried deep down, light spice, and very well hidden alcohol.

M - Thick and heavy body, robust.

O - Really enjoyed this one.

Jan 04, 2015
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Beersnake1 from California

4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Poured into snifter from fridge temp. Pours black as night, with almost no carbonation.

Smell is very nice - thick and deep RIS. Molasses, roasted malts, licorice

Taste - intense and more than expected based on the aroma. A lost of roasted malts and licorice, and the rye comes through nicely. Nice aftertaste.

Thick and creamy - very nice mouthfeel.

Dec 14, 2014
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MonkeyBread from Nevada

3.4/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

First beer from Midnight Sun. Heard great things about them. This particular beer combines two of my favorites: rye and Russian imp stouts. Big expectations for me.

Look: dark as night. Head is tan and fairly mild. Bit of bubbles.

Smell: not much on the nose. Standard roastiness, dark chocolate, little spicy rye.

Taste: bitter baker's chocolate, astringent roasted coffee, black bread, general spices. Finish is very bitter.

Mouthfeel: this is where the beer is weak. The body is airy and not thick enough. There is no enjoyable thickness that you expect with a big stout. There is an unpleasant carbonation and effervescence here as well.

Overall: disappointment. The rye didn't shine through much. The mouthfeel really overshadowed the positive qualities.

Dec 07, 2014
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kdahnke123 from Indiana

3.5/5  rDev -14.8%

Poured at room temperature into a wine glass.
A - Poured a very dark brown with 2 fingers of chocolate brown head. The head was long lasting and left a nice lacing.
S - Lots of dark roasted malt smell with coffee notes. A moderate amount of hoppy notes.
T - Coffee and bitter chocolate with hints of the added rye.
M - Has a moderately heavy mouthfeel and a moderate amount of carbonation.
O - A little overbalanced on the roast with insufficient unroasted malt to balance it out. There are a lot of RIS out there. I would choose a Narwhal or Fouders Imperial stout over this given a choice.

Sep 22, 2014
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ThickNStout from Georgia

3.85/5  rDev -6.3%

22oz bottle from No bottling date but this was an early 2014 release. Served in a goblet.

Pours midnight black with a three and a half finger cap of deep mocha foam. Maintains about an slight layer of head which ocassionally deposits flecks of dark lacing.

Huge dose of rye on the nose. Followed by cocoa, dark fruit and burnt sugar.

The sharply spicy rye remains at the forefront in the flavor. It's near-dominant but there are plenty of rich, traditional Russian imperial stout flavors as well- bitter bakers cocoa, black coffee, smoked bark, dark fruit skins, earthy herbal roots, dark roasted malt, burnt caramel, dirt and a healthy kick of booze. Spicy, sweet, bitter, boozey and rich all at once.

Creamy, full body with moderate carbonation. Finishes rather bitter and spicy with notes of rye, dark chocolate, burnt coffee and biting alcohol.

Moscow is a solid tale on the Russian imperial stout. The copious rye adds a new dimension of spice and bitterness to balance all the sweet malts.

Sep 20, 2014
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superspak from Ohio

4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/31/2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense dark brown head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, spicy rye, smoke, raisin, plum, light char, and roast/smokey earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, rye, and light-moderate dark fruit notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, spicy rye, smoke, raisin, plum, light char, and roast/smokey earthiness. Fair amount of roast/smokey bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, dark bread, spicy rye, toast, smoke, light char, and roast/smokey earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and robustness of big dark/roasted malt, rye, and light-moderate dark fruit flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent rye imperial stout. All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt, rye, and light-moderate dark fruit flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Aug 24, 2014
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Gushue3 from Massachusetts

3.87/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours flat black into the glass and forms a medium sized mocha head. Dark streaks slowly descend after a quick swish around the glass, lively body.

S - Big charred roast and chocolate malts along with smoke and spicy rye.

T - Smoke and roast bring out some big char characteristics. Rye comes out toward the middle and rides to the charred finish. Not acrid or overly bitter but dominated by the char. Nice flavors but somewhat one dimensional.

M - Big thick, chewy feel with medium carbonation for the style. Feels nice

O - Good RIS from Midnight Sun, would be a great winter time sipper. Kind of one dimensional, some sweetness wouldn't hurt it at all.

Aug 04, 2014
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artdob from California

4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A rich black pour donning a deep dar brown head which quickly fades to a light scattered froth.

Nose has spicy notes with caraway and hints of pumpernickel bread. A bit of sweet yeast underneath it all.

Palate is on the chewy side, though not as dense as Stone's Woot 2.0. Similar notes as found on the nose ooze through on the taste profile. Light shades of a licorice come through as the finish begins to take shop. Roasted notes develop upon further sips and help to keep the hoppiness balanced.

The bottle indicates 45 IBUs. Perhaps because of the long distance to being this bottle to Southern California, it is on the pricier side at $14.99 for a 22 ounce bottle.

Mildly carbonated. Enjoyable brew though in the category, North Coast's Old Rasputin continues to serve as my benchmark. This brew seems to me to veer closer to Rasputin than some other Imperial Stouts. Moscow brings somewhat more sweetness, very mildly on one side, and very distinctive rye notes on the other side. A nice alternative, though pricier.

Jul 22, 2014
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cbutova from Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes taken over Memorial Day weekend. Last unique bottle from my November 2013 CA trip.

A- Deep midnight black, thick bodied pour from the bomber to a snifter. Creamy dark mocha tan head rises to a finger with good retention. Frothy ring remains to leave spotty lace

S- Deep dark roast grains and plummy fruits with dark cocoa powder. Toasted nutty feel.

T- Rich melted chocolate and deeply roasted burnt grains. Cherry plummy fruits give the beer a fudge truffle aspect. Toasted grain and rye spice opens up here.

Mf- Thick, creamy body with a chewy, silky texture which is also somewhat oily. Carbonation is medium low and smooth. Roast bitter lingers with no warming from the alcohol. ABV is very well hidden.

Fudgey RIS with a fruit feel that doesn't distract from the main stout elements while also having a bit of a rye flavor.

May 28, 2014
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cvm4 from Mississippi

3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours really thick, motor oil, with a really brown espresso head and tight bubbles.

S - The rye is the star of the show as well as dark chocolate and light roasted malts.

T - The taste follows the nose to me with may'be a little bit of sweetness to it.

M - Medium to full bodied, not one of the heavier stouts I've had. The carbonation is a little too high and prickly for me.

O - It's a solid rye stout and it shines through. But, a bit messy in execution.

Apr 18, 2014
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farrago from New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

At first pour the head is thin but then it just slowly escalates close to three fingers in the glass so watch out when you pour, dense, looks like a dark brown murky pond, the lacing is thin and long yet sticks very well. The liquid is the predictable blackest of black, no discernible color and no visible bubbles. The nose is heavy and sluggish, big emphasis on that rye as well as dark chocolate, coffee, milk and toffee crisp, semi-muted plum, fig, date, raisin fruit scents, its relative lack of roastiness allows a floral dimension to bloom, orange zest too, not that complex. Full-bodied, super-creamy texture, however, the booziness adds bite and unsettles overall smoothness. Rum raisin ice cream, chocolate, coffee, the alcohol brings out butterscotch, caramel tones. More roast here, perhaps the rye factors in although on the taste scale it is not dominant. Tar, earth, asphalt as well as dampened campfire smokiness. Light ginger spice and orange citrus, as in the nose it’s all about the rich maltiness. The carbonation has minimal prickle, just helps build that creamy texture. Lingers very nicely, turning pleasingly bitter at the end rather than reaching for maximal sweetness. Drinkable, powerful, just too monochrome to be a benchmark beer.

Apr 03, 2014
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Axnjxn from North Carolina

4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

bomber into a shaker

extremely pitch black pour, massively dark with a nice dark brown head. smell is chocolately and the rye notes come through. taste is extremely chocolatey at first with DARK bittersweet chocolate and then the rye comes through and is very apparent and the beer ends with a big, big bitterness. grows on you and is very good if youre a fan of rye. the body on this beer is huge and thick and awesome, love it. carbonation is on point.

overall terrific..great job guys.

Apr 02, 2014
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Tony49er from California

4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*As a side note I did not have this exact beer I had the Rye Barrel Aged version of this*

Serving type- On tap poured into a snifter glass

Appearance- Dark black almost sucks you into it its so dark, some brown head but not much

Smell- Epic, Rye bourbon notes, chocolate, coffee/ espresso, taffy notes as well just a sweet smelling beer

Taste- Rye, bourbon, dark chocolate, coffee/espresso, taffy notes, a little hint of oak in the back of the tongue

Moutfeel- Thick solid stout mouth feel very smooth taste in the mouth

Overall- I have been looking forward to trying this beer for a long time and I was able to try the Rye Barrel aged version and it is awesome

Mar 04, 2014
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artoolemomo from Oregon

3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours up a slender amount of head which looks to have okay retention. The head is a very dark beige with dark umber and hints of purple, almost gritty looking. The body is a opaque and dark chocolate black.

Nose- A bit muted for an Imperial stout but still quite nice. Not much difference from the bottle to the glass. There was a slight bit of formic acid, deep bittersweet chocolate with a slight vinosity on the initial sniff from the bottle but now it's pretty much the same as the glass: milk chocolate, cocoa, cream, and malted milk balls. If I didn't know better, I would think this was a milk stout.

Taste- Starts off with a hint of the nose (some chocolate, cream, cocoa) but the rye and coffee with roasted malts start to take over. Definite spice from the rye with some woodiness on the backend. Slight sweetness starts to peak out, think raisins. Lots of bittersweet chocolate. More cream starts to rise while the woodiness begins to fade. This is pretty much all about the bittersweet chocolate and coffee of the middle with some rye on the end. The rye gives this some breadiness with a slight sour quality. I wish there were more and while this is a pretty solid beer, it's average for an Imperial stout in my opinion. Covers the basics but doesn't branch out to show different flavors and nuances. The raisin aspect is a little cloying and sours on the linger a bit. While the complexity might be lacking, this does mellow out to be a quite enjoyable and balanced beer. It still reminds me of a milk stout in ways. Also, I get not hint of the alcohol at all. In between good and really good at this point.

Mouthfeel- Between medium and heavy bodied. Some smoothness but it's somewhat canceled out by some over-carbonation. It's not too bad but it does become noticeable at points.

Drinkability- Pretty easygoing- no hint of heat anywhere. It would be dangerous if it were a little more complex but it's still a pretty good beer. Around 11 bucks is pretty solid but I'd probably look around for something else at that price. Ten Fidy maybe? The rye isn't enough of a distinguishing characteristic in this beer.

Overall- Good to pretty good beer, closer to pretty good. Solid and enjoyable Imperial that needs to express more rye. It would be interesting to try this beer aged in rye barrels. Definitely worth a try and just needs a few tweaks to get close to great. Probably wouldn't purchase again though. But you never know.

Feb 15, 2014
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mdfb79 from New York

3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From 02/11/14 notes. Thanks to Adam for sharing this one. 22 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Think this was a 2012 vintage bottle.

a - Pours a deep brown, almost black color, with one inch of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Looks great.

s - Smells of chocolate, rye, roasted malts, toasted malts, caramel malts, cocoa, and burnt malts. Nice nose; rye comes through a little bit, but I like it.

t - Tastes of milk and dark chocolate, rye, caramel malts, roasted malts, vanilla, cocoa nobs, toasted malts, burnt malts. Taste has more rye and caramel than the nose had. Think I like the nose a little better but this is good.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Body is very thin for a big stout and seems a bit oxidized.

o - Overall a pretty good stout. I'd be interested to try it fresh as it seemed a bit old and oxidized. Worth checking out.

Feb 12, 2014
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Kendo from New York

3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The bottle is not dated in any way. I believe I purchased this about 4-6 months ago, so I'm guessing it's the 2012 edition. Paid $12.49 for the 22 oz bottle.

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass, slightly aggressively. A slow-forming but thick, chocolate milkshake-type head settles on top - and then stays there. Eventually it settles, leaving a curtain of brown lacing on the glass. It's a nice looking beer at this point. . . .

S: Some chocolate, some spice, some alcohol - and a sense of "old" beer, suggesting oxidation has begun.

T: Interesting mix of sweet and burnt. Some molasses, roasted barley malt and charcoal. Heat from alcohol is felt in the belly. Lingering taste of ash in the aftertaste is not entirely pleasant. A bit of a metallic taste shows up in the aftertaste at times as well.

M: Slick, but not thick enough to be syrupy. Carbonation is nearly non-existent.

O: Not impressed with this one. Too sweet, too ashy, the feel is too slick.

Jan 26, 2014
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oberon from North Carolina

4.19/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black as oil slick with a creamy deep beige head that holds together without ever really subsiding.Vanilla and chocolate at first whiff along with mild smokiness,obviously some big black roast is present as well.A full creamy feel it just gldes down with ease,just creaminess and big and chewey at the same time.Flavors of dark fruit and vanilla that meld into a big smokiness that really hits hard, with just a tinge of the sharp rye in the finish along with sticky sweet alcohol.Now this is a different and unique beer just the type of stuff I like to drink this time of year.

Dec 21, 2013
Moscow from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 295 ratings