Shadow Brewer
Brewery Ommegang

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Stout - Russian Imperial
4.03 | pDev: 7.44%
Brewery Ommegang
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Shadow BrewerShadow Brewer
Notes: A thick tan head tops the jet black brew as aromas of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate give way to rich dark fruit notes. The taste is malty, roasted, and chocolatey with moderate hop bitterness. The finish is thick with oatmeal creaminess and pleasant lingering roast.

American ale yeast used in primary and secondary fermentation.
Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 124 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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stortore from Illinois

4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into a snifter. Believe it to be a 2018 release, had 3/5/20.

Pours dark brown and mostly opaque, with a one inch foamy head and a good amount of foamy lacing. Aromas of roasted malt, chocolate, light coffee and caramel, a little smoke. Has a light herbal aroma. Flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, some coffee- more as it warms, light caramel and toffee, some hop bitterness. Has a fairly herbal taste. Smooth, a little creamy, a very good full body, well carbonated.

There’s really not all that much to this, but it’s very likeable. Has a different type of hop flavor for a more hop forward stout, but it’s good. Lots of chocolate and malt. Very enjoyable.

Apr 09, 2020
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Ohknows from Nevada

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

This beer pours dark with a brown head.

I taste some chocolate, malty and roasted. The beers is not thick or thin is in the middle. Good beer! I like it!

Mar 14, 2020
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EMV from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a cork'n'cage bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Nearly black pour with 2 fingers of fluffy off-white head. Nice ring of lacing.

S: Roasted malts, coffee, and cocoa. Rich and inviting.

T.F: Sweet roasted sugars and malts... espresso and dark chocolate. The roast also kicks in some bitterness along with the hopping. Plum and burned raisin a bit later in the swing. Creamy on the tongue... sticky and warming. More roast at the finish.

O: A well done Imperial Stout from Ommegang. Great flavor and drinkability... a dessert sipper.

Jun 21, 2019
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ChrisCage from Canada (AB)

4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Purchased and enjoying Apr 2019.....not sure that this is a retired brew....bottle states its a limited release.

A- Love the masculine bottle with the cork and cap method of sealing the brew inside! As for that brew, it pours with a superbly thick four finger dark tan colored head, which is puffy, creamy and retains very well, only slowly settling down into a meringue like foam over the beer. The liquid is a very dark brown color, is generally very opaque and silky smooth to the eye as it pours. Lacing is thick and clings very well to the inside of my tulip glass, and carbonation is of course much too hard to see. An elegant looking beer overall!

S- Right away, I smell generous aromas of milk and dark chocolates, coffee overtones, mocha, toasty chocolate and black malts, faint hints of old leather and on the finish, there is some sweet blackstrap molasses and burnt toffee richness. An intriguing medley of aromas wafting into my nose here....

T- The burnt character of the malts now take precedent over everything else, providing some traditional bittering charred malt, which hits the sides and back of the palate heavily. Once this dissipates, dry cocoa, black French Press coffee and an Earthy, oat flake dryness that is present from start to finish. Speaking of the finish, the hop character is moderate and provides some bitterness that is sticky and lingering on the palate. Very nice overall!

M/O- The body is most definitely full and the carbonation is very smooth and velvety! The alcohol isn't totally mute, but it is hidden quite well for something that is 9.7%, which translates into quite a social and drinkable Russian Imperial Stout! Overall this has more dessert like qualities than traditional Stout character, yet everything about the new and traditional points blend well together. A perfect after dinner beer in lieu of sweets, but would pair well with a black forest cake or high cocoa content chocolate. Would recommend and will seek this one out again, as long as I can find it! Cheers!!

Apr 05, 2019
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LifesAnesthesia from Virginia

4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L - Deep, pitch, opaque black with a large dark tan head that sticks around and leaves behind tons of lacing - a great looking stout
S - Rich chocolate and roasted malt - slight notes of coffee but overall the smell is pretty faint
T - Follows the nose with notes of rich dark chocolate and roasted malt followed by hints of coffee, slight notes of hops
F - Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation - somewhat airway, yet smooth and rich - lighter than I'd like for an imperial stout, but still a very pleasant mouthfeel
O - Overall a nice imperial stout but honestly, nothing really stands out with this one that would make me want to buy it again over others

Feb 03, 2019
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VABA from Virginia

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a very dark opaque color with a slight head and lacing
A-Aroma has coffee, chocolate and malt hints
T-The taste follows the nose with coffee, chocolate and malt flavors
M-A medium bodied moderately carbonated beer
O-A nice stout

Sep 30, 2018
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Roguer from Connecticut

3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a strong and firm mocha-colored head; good retention and fantastic lacing. Brew is as dark as the name suggests.

Classic RIS on the nose: sharp, bitter, and roasty. Dark fruit and red grapes; char; chocolate and burnt coffee; a touch of molasses; spicy, earthy hops. A touch of banana in the background, along with nuts.

Flavor follows: traditional, straightforward, and bitter as hell. Dark, bitter chocolate and coffee come through from a massive amount of roast; some banana; tons of earthy spices. Moderate-to-strong ashy finish with hints of walnuts; fairly dry and effervescent.

Body is a touch too effervescent, but is otherwise smooth and creamy, and appropriately thick for the style.

A Russian Imperial Stout - with American ale yeast - by Ommegang? Color me surprised that they brewed this beer. Where I'm not surprised is that they executed it quite well. It's not my favorite expression of the style, but it is good. I rate it out as a 4.0 overall by a hair; it's really right on the cusp of outstanding.

Jan 02, 2018
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bushbeer75 from Michigan

4.06/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

poured from a 1pt. 9.4 fl. oz. caged and corked brown bottle - not dated

Ommegang Shadow Brewer filled my snifter with a coal black body and a nice looking 1-finger thick tan head. The head held well and eventually reduced to sticky lacing. The nose was first hit with the aromas of; roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee followed by dark fruit. The taste matches the nose with moderate hop bitterness. The mouth feel is thick, smooth and [oatmeal] creamy with a full body and a moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall, a good [roasted] flavorful RIS without being overly bitter.

Oct 04, 2017
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Zorro from California

3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Very dark brown colored ale with a medium sized brown colored head.

Smells sweet and full of chocolate and burned sugar. Strong scent of berries. Scent of smoke and charred grain. Scent of rum. Espresso scent is there but the fruitiness is stronger.

Starts out bittersweet with a berry after taste. Strong coffee and chocolate flavors. Bitterness is medium.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Overall a good RIS but not one of the best.

Oct 01, 2017
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Mindcrime1000 from South Dakota

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer No. 100 on Beer Advocate appropriately hails from one of my favorite stateside breweries that always delivers something that is at least solid, usually is pretty darn good, and often is spectacular--especially when taking on a classic overseas style.

Pours a dark, but not opaque deep-brown-just-this-side of black. Very little head, but very good lacing. Not as dark as the "classics," but light only passes through at the very top of the glass.

Chocolate in several forms, bitter and sweet alike, hit the nose first (bitter cocoa, sweet fudge, and semi-sweet chocolate nibs), followed by dark (but not espresso dark) coffee, and a hint of smoke and herbal anise, finished by just a hint of solvent booze. As the brew warms, a bit of dark fruit aroma creeps in. Decent complexity, but the aroma is fairly subdued.

Like one of its American cousins (Dark Truth Stout--Boulevard), the flavor here weaves back and forth, staying mostly on the "RIS" side of the line, but occasionally evoking a BSDA. Unlike the complexity of the aroma, the flavor is a little narrower. Bittersweet chocolate (but not the multiple notes sensed on the nose) meets dark (but not espresso) chocolate, with the roasted malts on both counts dominating overall. However, some dark fruits, molasses, and yeast show up late in the game, particularly as the brew nears room temperature, to supply a little more. Ever present throughout are boozy notes that weave back and forth between herbal/anise and slightly over the top solvency. A nice brew, but a little rough.

The mouthfeel is pretty darn good. Purists of the style will regard it as a bit thin, but the medium-fullness suits just fine. It has a sweet, solid finish, but there is just enough bitterness, boozy bite, and carbonation (very excellent bubbly throughout by the way) to lighten it up in a pleasing way.

Overall, this American "take" on a harshly-graded style fits my "pretty darn solid" category. It is a bit "off" for the style in some ways, it is a little lacking in the complexity department, and the booze is half a notch too strong, but still, in true Ommegang fashion--this is a brew that delivers.

Aug 05, 2017
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wmartin from North Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drinking right now from 750ml bottle into Teku at about 55F.

Definitely a good IS. Excellent vaguely complex, and sweet maltiness with some bitterness and a little coffee flavor. Will get more if I ever see it again.

I should temper this by saying IS is my favorite style. They aren't all good, tough; but this one is. What I look for in an IS is complex malt forward flavor with some bitter balance that adds to the complexity. People probably vary on how much bitter/coffee flavor versus how much malt sweetness they like. This may have a little more coffee than a perfect IS, IMHO, but it is still great.

May 18, 2017
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ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

3.81/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Black as night with a light brown head. Great retention. Thick, sticky lacing.

S: Thick fudge, brownie batter, chocolate sauce, chocolate covered coffee beans. Blackstrap molasses. Hints of roast and smoke pull through more as it warms. Lots of fruit from the fermentation. Plum, currant, berries, and fig.

T: Much more roast and smoke pulling through on the taste. French roast coffee, jerky, smoke, Fudgy. Chocolate sauce. Pervasive plum and black currant fruitiness. Ample hop bitterness. Long finish of thick malt, burnt grain, and smoke.

M: Thick, rich, round, chewy, and perhaps a bit slick. Ample carbonation does lift a bit. Touch of warmth, but the alcohol is hidden well.

O: I was expecting a Belgian style stout here, but this is far more in the Imperial stout vein and seems to use a British yeast. Done pretty well at any rate. Nice fermentation. Big, rich, thick, and roasty. Hits the mark.

Mar 03, 2017
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Ricelikesbeer from Colorado

3.69/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Ommegang brewing what appears to be an American style Imperial stout? Well I'm game, I like everything else they do, so Belgian or not, I'll donate my money for research's sake.

L: Cool looking corked/caged bottle. pours an inky black with foamy beige lacing- appears to be on the medium-high carbonation level for a big stout.

S: Lots of roast on the nose with some alcohol esters. no hops, maybe some bready malt

T: Lots of charr/ashy flavor upfront, followed by a lingering caramel malt sweetness. finishes smooth. There is cocoa here too. Feint hops but more for balance. Not the most complex stout I've tried, it is really on the ash/char side of things.

F: medium body with decent carbonation. Warming alcohol but not "hot".

O: This one was worth trying and a good stout overall. It just doesn't have anything that wows you or would set this apart from dozens of better examples. Still, a solid effort and well brewed beer. I bought mine at a discount for around $11, but wouldn't have bought it at face value, as it was quite a bit more expensive.

Feb 13, 2017
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dbl_delta from Pennsylvania

3.74/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Growler into pint glass. Pours an inky black with a massive tan head. Initial impression was burnt coffee, bitter dark chocolate, charred oak, and a little caramel maybe. Chocolate and caramel become more evident as it warms. Warming is recommended.
Medium carbonation, a little too much for the style. Mouthfeel is medium - a little too thin for the style. Obvious alcohol burn - feels like a lot more than 9.7%. Finish is bitter coffee.
This is not yo mama's RIS. In fact,it's probably not yo DADDY'S cup of tea either. However, given the right frame of mind and a predilection for expresso laced with dark chocolate and grain alcohol, this one might just broaden your horizons. I'd probably revisit.

Dec 29, 2016
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Vixie from Illinois

3.74/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep black with a little bit of a tan head that dissipates quickly, leaving a little lacing.

Smell has a lot of chocolate in it, my first impression was it smells just like chocolate cake.

Sweet and dark chocolate. Starts with the sweetness, then bitter notes kick in. It is a lot like a liquid version of a dark chocolate bar, with an alcohol warming at the finish.

Feel is a bit thin and harsh for the style, I would prefer it be a bit smoother.

Overall a pretty good beer, but not among the best I have had, but still decent. Just about every beer I have had from this brewery has been good, and this is no exception. I do wonder if letting this age a year or two would smooth it out. It is good, but has a few rough edges that maybe time would smooth out.

Sep 30, 2016
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Pencible from Virginia

3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: This poured an opaque black with thick tan head.
S: It smelled like cocoa powder and roasted coffee, with some licorice and cream.
T: It tasted like dry semi-sweet chocolate, with some roasted coffee and smoky licorice. It had a clean bitter aftertaste with alcohol warming.
M: It was oily with smooth natural carbonation. Nice slick body.
D: This was a nice brew, but not the most complex or delicious scent and taste. The body was solid, but the finish was a little rough, so it was better to sip. Age would probably improve it, as it was only ok fresh. Interesting to try once.

Sep 15, 2016
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DankScuba from Maryland

4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

L: Pitch black, but somewhat thin. Light tan head, that retains for quite a while. Very creamy appearance.

S: lots of chocolate, roasted malt and a touch of coffee. Faint dark fruit in background.

T: sweet chocolate, rich stout, and coffee. Heavy roasted malt, sweetness. No alcohol noticeable.

F: creamy mouthfeel, but a bit thin. Heavier carbonation than expected for the style.

O: great imperial stout. Lots of chocolate for not having an adjunct. Great beer, would drink again.

Aug 16, 2016
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Jason from Massachusetts

3.74/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ML brown bottle, sample from the brewery.

Pretty much pitch black, decent tan lacing. Sweet dark sugar and burnt grain aromas in the nose and flavors on the palate. Molasses, dark chocolate, espresso, and charcoal. Very smooth and creamy. A very noticeable alcohol, very warming. Dark fruits and more of that burnt tone in the finish. Would have love to have seen this as a Belgian Stout, I think it would have brought a bit more depth and character to the table. Not too bad though.

Aug 12, 2016
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$ 15.24 (Including tax)/750 mL bottle ($ 0.600/oz) at Fairgrounds Wine & Spirits, Danbury, CT
Undated bottle at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter, allowed to warm to 55 degrees
Aroma – roasted malt and chocolate
Head large (Maximum five cm, aggressive pour), light brown, creamy, diminishing to a five mm ring with legs and a thick partial layer
Lacing excellent – moderately wide lacy rings with both stalactites and stalagmites of tiny bubbles
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor – follow your nose! Roasted malt and chocolate with some hops bitterness at the end. No alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation.

This is a good RIS. I don’t notice any advertised coffee flavor but the chocolate and roasted malt are very evident. I won’t buy this again because the price is too high – there are equal or better RISs available for less loot.

Appearance 4.25, Aroma 4, Flavor 4, Palate 4, Overall 4.

Aug 06, 2016
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KTCamm from New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

5/8....pours coal black, solid, with thick heavy lasting brown foam. Light coffee dark chocolate nose. Hearty bitter roasted espresso bean flavor. Hard bitter close. Smooth creamy mouthfeel between the roasted bitter. A worthy sipper but not for the faint of heart or light of palate.

Jun 19, 2016
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LiquidAmber from Washington

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

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, nearly black and nearly opaque in the glass, with a fine, half finger khaki head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of lightly sweet dark toasted malt, milk chocolate, vanilla and a hint of char. Faint fruit esters. Flavor of dark toasted malt with light char, milk chocolate, mocha coffee, vanilla, mild caramel and dark stone fruit. Finishes with toasted malt, light char and some hop bitterness. Nice creamy body consistent with a good helping of oats. A wonderfully well integrated dark stout, the profile is closer to an imperial oatmeal stout in flavor and feel, but with the rich malt flavors expected from a Russian imperial stout. Covers both styles nicely. Pleasant light hints of vanilla and dark fruit hint at a Belgian influence, although this was apparently made with American yeast. Not too surprising from Ommegang, and another mild influence that adds to the flavor interest. I liked this a lot and will get it again.

Jun 06, 2016
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 750 ml bottle in a snifter. This ode to roasted goodness pours a deep opaque with a nice head of light tan foam that dies down to a thick ring, thin pool, and spotty lacing. Nose of heavy deeply roasted malts, char, and dark bakers chocolate. Flavors exceed the nose with dark espresso and bakers chocolate on the front and sides, heavy char floats from middle to back with a touch of cream, and dark berries. A bitter malt and bittering hops presence makes itself known and prominent on the rear and aftertaste with a creaminess lent from oats. Substantial and impressive with a coating full mouth feel, light carbonation, and a bitter malt finish with a warming booze after burn. Overall very nice.

Reminiscent of Victory Storm King with it's hop nuances that vies for dominance over the char and malt.



May 13, 2016
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teromous from Virginia

4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I don't see any date on the bottle or label.

Appearance: Black body with a nice thick foamy medium khaki head. Great retention and lacing. At 9.7% ABV the head is beyond impressive.

Aroma: It has a bit of a woody aroma with some coal-like burnt ash scent. It doesn't smell like a campfire or ashtray or anything but it just has this slightly acrid burnt aroma. This is not a strong aroma and it works itself in behind the woody character. The back of the label says "coffee and chocolate tastes and aromas" and it really does not translate into the aroma. It does have a very nice aroma but I wouldn't associate it with coffee or chocolate in any way.

Taste: A lot of that carbon flavor comes through in a strong roasted flavor right up front that spreads to the back of the palate leaving a mild bitterness in the aftertaste. A touch of an earthy wood character is in there. Some alcohol does peak through. Once more I will bring up that the back of this beer mentions coffee and chocolate so I feel I should address it again that I don't pick it up in the flavor at all.

Mouthfeel: Good bitterness and carbonation with some stickiness on the palate. Very full bodied and rich without being sweet.

Overall: I felt it was an outstanding beer. It has a bold earthy and roasted flavor with a good bitterness to drive the flavor forward. If you are looking for a coffee or chocolate forward beer then I regret to inform you that this is not it. Those flavors don't even come to mind. What you do get is an excellent Imperial Stout that gives you some wood and even possibly a touch of pine with a very large amount of carbon and bitterness. If you like charred steaks or burnt popcorn then this is the beer for you. If you like rich chocolatey beers or complex coffee tasting beers I would pass. It is a beer that I would drink again if I wanted this particular flavor profile, and it is a beer that I recommend.

Apr 16, 2016
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CTHomer from Connecticut

3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: opaque; deep brown in color; 1 finger dark tan head that receded slowly to a very thin cap; very nice lacing;

S: roasted grains; milk chocolate; as it warms, dark fruit comes to the forefront; a little alcohol is noticeable as well;

T;: roasted grain up front, then milk chocolate through the finish; mild bitterness at the end; oddly, as it warms, it becomes somewhat less interesting - roasted grain and milk chocolate from start to finish;

M: medium to full bodied; moderate carbonation; lightly dry finish; hides the ABV well; as it warms, it becomes much dryer;

O: very interesting contrast between the colder and warmer versions;

Apr 16, 2016
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clayrock81 from Florida

3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with minimal head and no lace. Roasted and chocolate malt aromas dominate the smell. Medium to heavy bodied beer with good chocolate notes, roasted malts abound so beer has dry feel, hints of dark fruits but mostly a roasted chocolate dry and sweet beer that finishes clean.

Apr 14, 2016
Shadow Brewer from Brewery Ommegang
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 124 ratings