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Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout) | Muskoka Brewery

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Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)

Brewed by:
Muskoka Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is rich and sturdy with roasted dark chocolate malts, real cocoa, 70% dark chocolate, and freshly harvested local cranberries. Pair that with a slightly higher alcohol content and you'll find yourself sharing this bottle of joy all winter long.

25 IBU

Added by mrnobody on 12-05-2010

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Reviews: 64 | Ratings: 155
Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this on-tap at Cole's (Buffalo, NY).

A: Pours a nice rich and silky black. There is about one finger of dark mocha colored head. The foam settles nicely. There is only minimal head as it drinks.

S: This beer smells of roasted chocolate malt, caramel, and chocolate. It seems like a pretty typical imperial stout.

T: It starts out sweet with some really wonderful roasted notes. The chocolate in this beer is big and totally noticeable. There is a slight fruity tartness to this beer, which I assume is the cranberry, but I can't pick out that flavor specifically.

M: Full bodied beer. It's super smooth, silky, creamy, and it coats the palate. It's a really great mouthfeel.

O: This beer is interesting, but I think is falls short on smell and taste. I was intrigued, and now I know what's it like. It's a good beer, but it's not anything special.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml swinging pop top bottle poured into tulip 10/1/12

A loud fizzy two finger head is gone before I really checked out if it has color, thought a dirty glass was the culprit but a second pour fizzed away too, looks like a still glass of motor oil but has some deep cola edges once held to the light

S chocolate covered cherries, (well it could be cranberries) but almost smells like a chocolate cherry liqueur, big coco notes some smokey charred wood and booze

T somehow there's more coco then I could smell, I also pick up on a little licorice I couldn't smell, lots of bakers chocolate and all things dark chocolate for that matter, the fruit is mellow and so is the booze

M silky entry and creams up almost to the point of foam without quite going there, fruity char on the faint lingering finish

O fairly well concealed booze and pretty nice flavors if you like dark chocolate, good beer for sure but nothing to put into the "great" category

I'm curious to how this one would age, being well priced for a strong 750ml pop top I might find out. Even if I don't like an aged bottle I could still sell the empty bottle for two bits to a local Yeast Wrangler, how do I lose?

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Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml swing-top bottle. The label projects the image of one weird hybrid of a beaver/old guy in the midst of a winter beard overflow..

This beer pours a solid black, with very slight mahogany edges, and one finger of creamy beige head, which wisps away quite quickly, leaving a low ring of lace around the glass, not much more than a meniscus.

It smells fairly strongly of dense chocolate milk powder, chocolate malt, and well, not chocolate earthy hops. The taste is big chocolate malt, cocoa powder, a bit of cold coffee, a slight indistinct tart fruitiness, some porter-esque sourness, and mild earthy hops. Decent, for sure.

Bubbles form a nice cordon of effervescence, none too strict, with a somewhat hefty medium body, that engenders a quite agreeable smoothness. It finishes with a nice blend of chocolate sweetness, tempered by an inherent dry sourness, and soft berry fruitiness.

Well, the name does say "Double" for the chocolate component, so, um, well, there! The cranberry kind of falls under the wheels of the big cocoa onslaught, and waning sourness, but I'm not judging it too heavily for that. An enjoyable big (oh yeah, the elevated ABV does a hell of a job keeping its head down) stout. The porter sourness is a bit strange, but entirely forgivable.

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Photo of leaddog
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Dark ebony with a thin mocha head. Head quickly dissipates.

Smell- Dark chocolate, cocoa, black cherry aromas.

Taste- Bittersweet chocolate flavour is predominate. The cranberry adds a pleasant tartness. Leaves a little smoky aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied that has a smooth and dry finish. Slight tingle is present.

Overall- A pleasant flavoured stout. This is my first offering from Muskoka and was pleased with how easy this one is to drink. This definitely is a dessert beer and certainly can't drink this year round. Needs a little work around the edges but besides that, a nice treat to have during the holidays!

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Photo of spinrsx
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml Bottle

Appearance - Black/brown colour (with a hint of burgundy) with a small size fizzy light brown coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some fair lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for only a minute or two.

Smell - Chocolate, malts, coffee, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste chocolate mixed with malts and a roasted/toasted taste. There is also a coffee flavour mixed with some tart cranberry. It ends with a cranberry chocolate aftertaste.

Overall – Part of me wanted this beer to be a little more sweet, but I think it would make it less drinkable.. especially considering the size of the bottle. It's an interesting tasting beer, but not one I'd buy again.

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Photo of IronDjinn
2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From a tall 750 ml brown flip-top bottle, has the name and new logo of Winter Beard on it, 2011 offering. Pours out an oily dark opaque black hue, very thin cola nimbus when held to direct light. Tall fizzy mocha head on the pour that settles quickly, however very active carbonation can be seen dancing across the surface.

Notes of coffee and dark cocoa on the nose, tartness from cranberries is subdued by the dark grains and come across a bit sweet. Hints of burnt malt and smoke.

The first few sips remind me of homebrew, especially on the finish--worty grains, and that tell-tale papery yeast character with a touch of detergent. That aside, it starts out with coffee and dry cocoa notes,punctuated with a hint of dark berries. Roasted malt on the aftertaste, aside from the homebrew tinge.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, texture is full yet slick, with a carbonation that starts out with a medium briskness yet dissipates over time.

Tough call on this one. Could be an off bottle, could be an off batch, or perhaps I'm just not as enthused by this particular Muskoka offering as some of the other reviewers. Considering the price tag on another bottle to sample I'm not in any huge rush to cross-reference this experience. Has potential, yet from my take either this double chocolate fruit stout could benefit from some tweaking, or some QC. Or it could have been an oxidized bottle....

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Photo of Foddz
4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rich, opaque black with about a finger of cola-brown head. Minimal light penetration when set on an angle, the light that does filter thru is a rich cola/caramel. Head dies back quickly but maintains a ring around the glass.

S: Rich chocolate and coffee notes with a distinctive tart note. A little bit of burnt wood is in the offering as well. While the tartness in the nose gives away the cranberries, the fruitness I'd expect to smell is understated - otherwise a very nicely balanced nose.

T: The taste is also well balanced. Dark chocolate mingles nicely with the coffee and roasted flavours. Subtly tart cranberry presents towards the middle and plays well with the other flavours. Not too sweet, not too bitter, and the roasted coffee and chocolate linger for a very pleasant mocha aftertaste.

M: Smooth on the initial presentation, but the carbonation and alcohol lend a slight bite. Leaves a pleasant dryness, with a slightly chalky sensation, presumably from the cocoa.

O/D: What an excellent seasonal brew. Very glad I picked up two bottles of this! Looks and smells good, tastes great. Well balanced and a pleasure to drink. The slight harshness in the mouthfeel keeps one from drinking this too quickly - which is fine when one can simply enjoy the aftertaste.

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Photo of slitherySOB
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a shade below pitch black. You can see a bit of brown shining through. About a finger and a half of head, which slowly simmers down to half a finger as you drink. Lace sticks to the glass like artwork. Smells deep of chocolate, almonds and cherries. I'm trying to detect some cranberries, but my nose does not pick any up. At the back of the nostrils is a bit of an oak scent as well. Taste is almost pure chocolate. Hint of vanilla and oak. And the cranberries are in the aftertaste. Has more of a cranberry, feel, than a cranberry flavour. That bit of tartness left on the tongue after you swallow. Mouthfeel is somewhat creamy and sticky. Dare I say, even chewy. Overall, I like this stout. It's a hair below great beer, but definitely good and worth having again beside a winter fire.

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Photo of TLJ
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This stout pours a deep brown, almost black with relatively little head which is tan in colour. The aroma is sweeter than the taste; reminiscent of home-made hot chocolate heating on the stove. I also detect ripe cherries, toasted vanilla, orange peel, and coffee.

This beer tastes exactly like Ecuadorian dark chocolate with its notes of cherries, wood and almonds. The cranberry flavour is not prominent, although I find that combined with the light carbonation, the brightness of the cranberries shines through the rich, creamy taste of this stout.

The body of the beer is potent and extremely lingering with the carbonation felt at the tip of the tongue. Nevertheless, this beer is drinkable in its richness whereas some stouts can be too heavy and cloying.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Winter Beard version - which is a much nicer bottle than last year's, but not convinced the beer itself is as awesome as I remember from 2010.

Inky black with very little coffee-coloured head, no lacing. The bottle was well sealed with a loud pop when opening and there's lots of carbonation in the mouthfeel, but visually not as stunning as some.

Aroma of roasted chocolate malts with a faint fruit undertone, although I wouldn't have guessed which if it wasn't in the name. Really enjoy the flavour medley of sweet roasted malts followed by a lingering bitter finish. The cranberry is subtle, but definitely present. Likewise the alcohol content is dangerously well hidden...

Although my personal preference will always lean towards Muskoka's Mad Tom IPA, all in all think this is a decent Ontario representation of the style and it provides an excellent winter sipping treat.

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Photo of heebes
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with reddish hues. Fluffy beige head. Nose is roasted malts and dark chocolate and cranberries. Taste is similar with the cranberries coming through only slightly. Body is somewhat lacking against American stouts. Overall nice beer with a cool label "winter beard", may repurchase.

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Photo of peensteen
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Near jet black, big tan head, good retention and fairly lacey. Smell is of roasted malt and coffee, bakers chocolate, chocolate cake and fudge, not much in the way of cranberry but there were some forest fruit scents, lightly ashey/smokey. Taste is initially roasted malt and coffee followed by bittersweet chocolate, smokey charred flavours, cranberry is there in a lightly tart flavour toward the finish. Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, medium carbonation and medium body. Not bad but falls a little short for me, a little more body and more assertive flavours would be good here.

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Photo of Stocean1
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A beautiful bottle poured into a pint glass. Massive three finger head (color of caramel) perched atop a near black body. The head is full of big bubbles and is well retained. The lacing is patchy, very nice.

The scent is burnt malt, dark chocolate, vanilla, with a hint of cranberries.

The Taste is malty chocolate up front with a vanilla note, alcohol but nice, cranberries peak out on the finish.

Medium body with a relatively creamy mouthfeel, little carbonation and a nice amount of bitterness.

Overall, anotherbrew that demonstrates muskoka's elevation to the upper tier of craft brewers, bravo.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this one from mrnobody and JohnnyBarman over the summer. Having two big bottles was great for sharing at the pool with the kiddies. Thanks guys!

From a 750 into a snifter.
Vintage: 2010

APPEARANCE: A dark pour yields a two finger, medium looking, light tan head with good retention. Black body, rather transparent, with higher levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a good, full foam cap, then eventually fades to a wisp on top. Carbonation decorating the wisp all over the place. A wisp and ring remain until the end and leave some decent lacing down the glass. Nice body and lacing, but rampant carbonation for the style.

SMELL: Roasted and smoky malts, cocoa powder and some definite cranberry notes. Dark chocolate and a touch of caramel, but cranberries outdo the chocolate a bit. Nice and medium in strength.

TASTE: Roasted malts and some cocoa powder up front. Medium strength flavors of cranberries and roasted goodness through the middle, leading into a cocoa and smoky dark chocolate finish. Aftertaste is bold and lingers very nicely, with smoky dark chocolate and a touch of faint, slightly tart cranberries. Much more balanced and the cranberries more restraint than the nose had indicated. Tasty and interesting stuff, though it could be a little bolder.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Only semi-creamy on the palate, goes down slightly prickly and finishes somewhat sticky. Average at best here.

OVERALL: Pretty good beer here. While the cranberries outplayed the chocolate and roasted base in the nose, the flavor profile balanced everything out very nicely. The flavors could be a little bigger perhaps, but nevertheless, this is an interesting and enjoyable brew for sure. Glad to have tried this one guys, and my mates enjoyed it as well. Thanks again for the bottles mrnobody and JohnnyBarman.

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Photo of mintjellie
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Black as night. Persistent cappucino-coloured head leaves behind some lace. Milk chocolate and dried fruit aroma. Nothing that will blow you back in terms of intensity, but it's noticeable and it's present. Good chocolate flavour with a zing of acidity and cranberry flavour coming across the midpalate and growing into the aftertaste. Cocoa and roast come in at the finish. This isn't the biggest beer around in terms of flavour, but it has a wonderful balance of sweet, sour, and bitter tastes. Reminds me of chocolate covered cranberries given to me last Christmas. Alcohol is well hidden. Feels a little bit thin in the mouth. Balanced, integrated flavours make this better than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of DrJay
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL swing top. Bottle courtesy of northyorksammy. Thanks!
This beer is pretty black -- even holding it up to the light, there was nothing but the thinnest of brown edges. It sported a brown cap of very fine bubbles that stuck around for quite a while and left transient sheets of lace on the glass that receded between sips. Lots of dark and milk chocolate in the aroma, malt and cocoa, a hint of cranberries as it warmed but this was a background trait. There was a lot more cranberry in the flavour, almost equaling the chocolate. Bitterness was moderate and noticeable throughout. It reminded me a lot of a fruit and nut chocolate bar, but with some bitterness and roasty notes. Full bodied with nearly creamy carbonation, slight astringency. Decent texture overall. I quite enjoyed this. This would work nicely with dessert.

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Photo of marty21
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A: Pours pitch black with 2 fingers worth of brown creamy foam. Settles to a thin cap and left a bit of lacing.

S: A bit of roasted malt with lots of dark chocolate and at times I get a quick scent of the cranberries with the chocolate. But I probably wouldn't notice it if this beer wasn't advertised with cherries. But the nose is primarily chocolate.

T: Roasted malt and chocolate up front and finishes with some sweet cherries. No taste of alcohol at all.

M: Light carbonation with a medium body. Very creamy mouthfeel.

O: I decided to buy this since it says best before March 31st and quickly review it. You get everything in the taste that it advertised on the bottle. It's a bit expensive but after drinking it I would say it was worth it.

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Photo of eat
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opaque, black body with a thin cover of beige head and bubbly ring around the glass. Some lacing.

The nose shows lots of whole wheat bread, dusty chocolate, espresso, vanilla, minerals, something sour (cranberries?), toffee. Pretty nice smelling stuff.

Well-balanced and accessible flavour. A good amount of milk chocolate is joined by espresso, vanilla, light roasted malt and a subtle sour cranberry presence. I only wish there was a more intense flavour overall, though its lightness does add to drinkability. The extra alcohol isn't showing itself at all; very smooth stuff. Cocoa pairs with earthy hops to leave a slightly drying finish. Maybe it would be nice to taste some more cranberry, but under-doing is always better than overdoing it when it comes to fruit in beer. It is there, but it's pretty subtle.

Good medium body; slightly creamy even. Low carbonation. Nothing wrong with this.

I'd say this is a deliciously successful attempt at something more challenging than most Ontario brewers are attempting. Had I know this stuff would be this good I would have picked up a few more, even at the high price. Dangerously drinkable at 8% ABV. I'd definitely get more of this if I happen to see it again. One of the better Ontario brews I've had. This would be a great bottle to share but I'm having no problem getting through this on my own. Not sure why the best-before date is listed as March 31, 2011; you should be able to get at least a year out of this one. No sign of going bad two weeks before the deadline.

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Photo of kjyost
3.66/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled dated "Vintage 2010", neck marked BB March, 31 2011. Served around 8C, poured into a fluted stemmed beer glass. Served with (mistakenly) dinner

A: Tan to mocha head with a hint of red to the hue, that has next to retention, nor lacing. The beer though is inky black.

S: Smells like a thick chocolate milkshake or Hershey's chocolate syrup. While very enjoyable, the nose is entirely one dimensional. If you search through the aroma, maybe a hint of berry comes through.

T/M: A nice thick body that is quite sweet. Some heat comes through during some sip, leaving a lingering burn, that helps cut through the chocolate and syrupy sweetness. A solid body that hides the ABV quite well. A hint of berry also plays through on the palate.

D: I wish the advertised cranberry would have brought more fruit and tartness to the party. It does seem to some through at moments, but the chocolate is so dominant I wouldn't necessarily have picked it out if they hadn't told me to. A little too thick for my circumstances, so it was recapped and put back in the fridge.

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Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As one might expect, Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is doubly dark and opaque, but underlined with a thin sliver of cranberry red. It's rare to see such healthy, full of life head form from a flip-top (especially one that doesn't make even a whimper on the pop). No complaints here though. The airy, bubbly receptacle that formed has now diminished to a thin but silky cream that has already begun marking its territory on the sides of the glass.

The nose has plenty of delicious (and strong) chocolate but not really much cranberry. (Then again, not even actual cranberries have much, if any, of a cranberry smell so what was I expecting?) Each sniff feels like a chocolatier is jamming a giant black, bitter block of cocoa up my nostrils which, contrary to how it might feel if actually done, is a wonderful sensation. *This* is a bittersweet symphony! And it's like music to my, err, nose.

The flavour is essentially as advertised. A bittersweet chocolate dashes across the palate alright, while the cranberry is awfully subtle - such that you likely wouldn't know of its presence if not informed - although a slightly bitter, dried fruit flavour does appear here and there on the palate. When I see 'chocolate' in the name I tend to judge the beer on one measure: its decadence. Though not exceedingly, I'd consider this pretty indulgent.

Right up to and including the flavour, this offering reminds me of one of my all-time favourite chocolate beers, Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Where it ultimately differs, in an unfavorably way, is the mouthfeel which begins not with a silky chocolate or even bitter cranberry note, but a bizarre twang that is one part metallic (iron-y), one part lactose-y. It doesn't go down as rich and decadent as it first comes across.

Muskoka deserves all the credit they get for this seasonal, and plenty of credit they didn't get. The Ontario market sorely lacks in dark beer, especially stouts and doubly especially rich and indulgent ones like this. Even at the hefty, but understandably warranted, price tag of $10 a pop, I enjoyed a number of bottles of this over Christmas break and it made a perfect accomplice to my holiday cheer and late night snacking. Easily recommended.

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Photo of shamus
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice cocoa-coffee flavour. it pours with a reasonable head. Not too foamy. This is a better beer than i was expecting from Muskoka Cottage Brewery as in the past I have had some of their products that were not inviting me back. This does. A fine Winter time chocolate Stout.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black. Two finger tan, really creamy head. Typical Imperial Stout appearance but not over the top good looking.

S - Tons of chocolate with that nice mild cranberry. Smells like chocolate covered cranberries. No booze. Some really faint coffee perhaps.

T - Coffee there more, chocolate has been tamed, and I get no cranberry. Bitter roastiness in the finish.

M - Mild carbonation and medium body. Seems like it needs more body, especially for something with so much chocolate emphasis.

D - Tasty stout but lacking in some respects. Body and Flavour are what hold this back, otherwhise a nice treat. Not overly sweet for something of this nature either. A good effort.

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Photo of Antikythera
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Great stuff. Caramel-coloured head and sweet chocolaty aroma. Practicaly opaque in the glass even if it's held up to light. Most stouts that say 'chocolate' on the label don't smell or taste like chocolate to me. This one does. I'm not sure where the cranberry is -- it might just be adding a little fruitiness to the aroma. Even without it, this is great stuff. The flavour is sweet, chocolatey, and dark, and it feels creamy on the tongue. Not as candy-sweet as a proper sweet stout like Dragon, so it's more than just a dessert beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with an average size off-white foamy head with average retention and no lacing. Aroma of rich black chocolate with light cranberry and minimal sweetness level. Taste is quite enjoyable with notes of rich chocolates and cranberry with very subtle dry coffee notes. Chocolate notes are really smooth with great quality malt being used. Body is about average for style with good carbonation and no signs of alcohol. This brewery seems to amazed me more and more with another quality offering.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting notes from 12-30-10
Poured in to Duvel Tulip

A - Dark brown/black colour with one finger of light brown head. Neat swing-top bottle.

S - Dark roaste malts, bitter sweet chocolate and light coffee notes.

T - Very chocolaty, somewhat sweet with a nice overall roasted malt bill. No cranberries come through specifically but a nice bitterness/tartness is evident, which nicely rounds out the palate.

M - Medium body, slight chew, light

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Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout) from Muskoka Brewery
3.83 out of 5 based on 155 ratings.
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