Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)
Muskoka Brewery

Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #1,970
Ranked #14,267
3.9 | pDev: 10.77%
Muskoka Brewery
Ontario, Canada
Very Good
Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout)
Notes: 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
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Reviews: 69 | Ratings: 175
Photo of shamus
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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 -0.8%
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 +16.7%
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 +8.2%
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 -3.8%
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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Photo of GradyS1
3.42/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My girlfriend brought me back a bottle of this from her recent trip home. I had never heard of this brewery or beer befor. The flip top bottle is a nice addition

Pours a dark brown chocolate, comes out at a medium thickness with a half of finger head that subsides slowly.

There is a lot of chocolate. Dark coco chocolate, a small amount of malts, I pick up on a small amount of red fruit in the end, very small

Like the smell, there is a lot of chocolate to the taste. All the way through, from start to finish, the coco is strong in the finish. The malts help to balance it out a bit. I do not taste any cranberry at all though.

The amount of carbonation this has, goes nicely with the consistency of this beer. I personally like a stout a little thicker but this was well balanced.

This beer is definitely a double chocolate stout, no lacking in the chocolate on this one. I was a little disappointed that the cranberry did not come through as much, I think it would add a really great flavor twist to this.

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Photo of kwjd
3.74/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was going to wait to try this on tap given the price at the LCBO, but figured I'd buy a bottle anyway. Pours an opaque brown colour with tan head that dissipates fairly quickly with hints of lacing. Smells of dark chocolate and roasted malt. Cranberry seems to come through more in the aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel. This doesn't taste like an imperial stout, so quite drinkable. Very nice, though won't be buying much at $10/bottle.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Was pretty excited to find this on the shelves at my local LCBO.

A - Pours dark, almost opaque, black with a ruby red and brown tint on the edges. Finger of nice mocha head which quickly settls leaving no real lacing.

S - Dark cocoa with tobacco and a smokey wooden finish. Some sweet fruit is also detectable, but is rather mild.

T - Chocolate comes through nicely and is complemented by some roasted coffee notes, sweet cranberries (though I found it more reminiscent of cherries) lingers on the finish with a touch of bitterness on the tongue.

M - A tad thin with only light bubbles filling the palette, finishes a tad dry, but is non-offensive.

D - Overall quite tasty and I found it a bit sweeter than Wild Rose's Cherry Porter offering. The higher ABV is well hidden and it offers a nice bouquet of chocolate and coffee malts with the sweet fruit on the finish. Well worth the price, IMO, or at least a try!

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Photo of Sammy
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Bar Volo. Black body with whisp of brown head. Chocolate aromas, with the cranberry in the secondary. The taste is chocolate and roast, with cranberry in the secondary lending some tartness to the dry and sweetish chocolate.Drinkable but not tremendously drinkable.Slightly below average mouthfeel.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.16/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Love the swing top bottle.

A vigorous pour leaves a tremendously lush cap of mocha head that lingers long on top of a not-quite-opaque inky black.

The aroma is a strong hit of Nesquik being stirred into warm milk with a mild hint of halitosis.

The taste is chocolate and weak coffee. A little tart in the finish which might be the result of the cranberries. If not then they don't contribute anything to the flavor, just the name. I would have never pegged this as an 8% beer as the alcohol is nonexistent. Not bad, but there's not a lot of depth or complexity here and the berry aspect is somewhat lacking, and there's not enough chocolate to warrant the double chocolate moniker in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side. Actually it's a lot on the thin side. Well carbonated though. It needs work, that's all I know.

This is certainly a good beer and suitable for the Ontario market in that it's good without really challenging the palate. But at that price point it's not good enough to get again.

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Photo of bryehn
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Absolutely gorgeous dark bottle with a snap top. Gold flecking on the label with full-colour imagery. Beer details, serving instructions and even a downloadable video that can be obtained by taking a picture of a code with your smartphone.

Pours very dark, almost black. There isn't much head on there aside from a nut brown collar.

There is a very deep chocolate aroma, like baker's chocolate doused in cocoa powder. There's a definite red berry tone in there, but it reminds me more of raspberry than cranberry.

Unsurprisingly, the chocolate flavours dominate the taste of the stout, though I also get bready or yeasty tones here. This brew is very bitter overall, with sweetness and red berry flavour coming through on the finish.

The Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout does a fantastic job of hiding its high ABV and I never get a "boozy" aroma or taste from it.

The mouthfeel has a bubbly freshness common to Muskoka Cottage Brewery products that transitions to a very smooth and thick-feeling creaminess.

This is a very drinkable beer that is a real treat worth looking forward to every year. It's kind of like drinking a black forest cake.

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Photo of fostachild
3.42/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

picked up at an lcbo, best before march 2011. pours a very very dark colour with lots of light tan head.

smell had a little chocolate, smokey aroma but was pretty terrible in my opinion.

chocolate is present in the taste. well balanced and good carbonation. didn't really pick up on the cranberry too much. but respectable and drinkable brew.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml pot-stopper bottle, love these new bottles that Muskoka is using. Pours a dark dark brew, just a thin line of mahogany around the edges. Two fingers of mocha head quickly recede to a thin foam and then to a fine collar.

Nose is dusty cocoa and some dark chocolate, hint of a sweeter caramel and touch of fruitiness.

Interesting offering. Loads of dusty cocoa and baker's chocolate, a real dry quality to the chocolate. A light roastiness adds further to this. The cranberry is subtle, a light bitterness and tastes more like dried cranberries, subtly integrated. A light sweetness, hides the ABV well but the body is thinner than I would choose for the weight. Quite dry and a little too one dimensional which by the end of the bottle starts to wear, could use some more weight and a more rounded body and character to suit the style and perhaps highlight the cranberry better.

I like the direction Muskoka is taking with these seasonal offerings, this and the harvest ale were both heads above their regular offerings. This is a solid offering.

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Photo of liamt07
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Volo, poured into a snifter.

Dense black body appears in the glass, with little head formed. What was formed quickly fell to a tiny collar, with no lace. Aroma is dominated by cocoa, giving a real sense of hot chocolate. Hints to the cranberry tartness, but I really had to dig for that one. Red berries are tasted from the get go, but not clear that it was cranberry. Some tartness/sweetness helps confirm the cranberries, leading right into the rich cocoa/milk chocolate base of this beer. On the sweeter side on the whole, a brief flash of alcohol in the finish, but drinks smooth and velvety. Easy going down overall, and in terms of Ontario brewers, this is one of the better stouts to have come out of here.

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Photo of ludachris
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Part of my last haul at the LC where I managed to pick up nearly every one of their winter seasonals I thought were worthy of purchase. A bit pricey, but I didn't mind dishing out the money to support a local brewery. I'm a big fan of these fancy 750's.

Its completely opaque ink black body is crowned by two fingers of frothy and rich mocha brown head that holds itself nicely. Poured into my snifter, this looks like a fine stout.

Generous portions of cocoa powder, bakers chocolate, and coffee grinds greet the nose immediately. I actually get hints of the cranberries as well, but I think I served this at bit higher than its recommended serving temperature, which based on other reviews, is where the berry notes begin to come out. A nice touch to a sweet and sturdy man of a beer.

Sweet and roasty are the first characterstics that come to mind. Big bakers chocolate and dry cocoa go nicely with the roasted malts, both of which impart a dry feel where pleasantly bitter coffee notes assert themselves. The cranberries do make their way in the finish, asserting their semi-tart character towards the back of the palate.

For the style of beer and ABV that goes along with it, I expected a bit more weight in the body; my only real qualm with this offering. Rich, balanced, and easily drinkable. The only hint of alcohol I get is a subtle warming feel in the back of my throat; the kind of alcohol presence that I enjoy, suiting the season perfectly as well.

Overall, a good AIS and a strong seasonal offering from Ontario. I really liked their fall seasonal and I'd say this one is on par. When breweries list an ingredient that they used on the label, I expect it to be well pronounced in the beer itself. For this beer however, this isn't case. The cranberries added a subtle tart character in both the nose and taste that furthered its complexity rather than being the star of the show. No complaints here, seeing how they did this well. The $9.95 price tag will probably keep me from buying many more bottles of this, put it's worth a try for sure!

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle from the LCBO's winter release, shared with my wife. I've been happy with Muskoka's other seasonals, especially their harvest ale, so this should be a treat. The hinged opener was a bit tricky, in that I somehow managed to rip the whole thing off, but fortunately the contents were still intact. Lovely bottle design.

Poured into a Chimay goblet. A rich, dark brew, with only the faintest chocolate hue around the upper echelons. Left behind about a half inch of dark mocha head that receded into a thin, sturdy ring. A few flakes of lacing.

Nose was a lovely blast of salted milk chocolate, cream, mild coffee and toasted malts. No berries here, but all goodness thus far.

Allowed to warm up to around 11C before consuming. Creamy, with lovely notes of milk chocolate and caramel. Slightly sour and dry to the finish. A bit of air and warmth did wonders for this brew, as towards the end of the bottle the cranberry-raspberry flavor finally snuck in, providing just a touch of puckery holiday goodness. The cranberry is very slight, and certainly isn't the brew's defining feature, but it's enjoyable nevertheless.

The body is a bit thinner than I'd like, but it coats the tongue nicely enough and has decent mild carbonation.

Very enjoyable brew on a blustery winter's night, especially when putting up Christmas decorations! I'm liking Muskoka's tall-bottle approach, and even though the price point is quite high (9 bucks a pop), the taste is certainly well worth it. A fuller body and a bit more depth would have really sent this brew into the stratosphere. Great stuff!

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Photo of StephenRich
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Its winter time now. We've got snow sitting on the ground, gusts of wind that will knock the warmth from your body, and holiday lights and festive songs are beginning to fill the streets and peoples homes. This is the time for comfy sweaters, warm family moments, and soothing holiday food and drink. This is exactly what the boys at theMuskoka Cottage Brewery had in mind when designing their newest seasonal release; the Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout. "Flavorful and warming" is how Muskoka describes it, which are the perfect characteristics for a seasonal beer up here in Canada.

Muskoka went to work here building a rich and creamy stout with chocolate and cranberry flavors. Chocolate stouts are popular all across the world, and have been fused with many different fruit flavors; but I don't know if I have ever seen cranberry before. It is a perfect fit for Muskoka. Very close to Bracebridge Ontario, where the brewery is located, cranberries are harvested fresh - these cranberries find there way right into the Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout (DCCS); melding together the freshness of the harvest with the sweetness of the season.

The DCCS is 8% and comes in Muskoka's new 750ml swing top bottles. I love the bottle design, but Muskoka really needs to cap or cork these bottles. The swing cap mechanism is not very sturdy, and I opened 2 bottles of the Harvest Ale (bottled the same way) that were totally uncarbonated, most likely due to leakage through the seal. The DCCS is available right now in limited supply at the LCBO for $9.95, making one of the more expensive holiday offerings.

I opened the Stout up cool around 10C (50F) and poured it into a deep snifter glass. The pour was smooth and silky originally building a black beer with no life. Soon though as the beer crept up the sides of the glass a mocha brown head began to build and eventually stood a good inch and a half on top of a glowing black beer. The head showed neatly tight carbonation and a soft almond brown color. At first the beer underneath was just black, but when held into the light obvious beams of golden brown, amber reds and bronze easily peered through. The body seems translucent, and dances with a clean array of blackened colors.

The nose is soft and warming, almost creamy. It shows up with smooth and obvious notes of cocoa and light roast with a hint of malt and sweet fruit. At 8% I wasn't sure if the DCCS would blast out at me or fade into its own. It is definitely not billowing a powerful aroma, but is rich enough to excite my nose, and warm in with bittersweet chocolate and soft malty fruits. Hints of dry hoppiness is gentle noticeable, and leaves an overall clean sensation.

The first sip was smooth and cooling to my tongue, and I instantly left the glass alone to warm up a bit. I could tell right away that this beer needs to be be at cellar temperature closer to 14C so that they flavors can unfold on my palate. Minutes later I went back to the DCCS and a silky and creamy wave of black stout melted soft cocoa and warm, bready malts across my tongue and cheeks. Up in the front, and way in the back is the distinct flavor of cocoa powder, not chocolate, cocoa powder. It has that smooth but dry sensation, and is not sweet but bitter cocoa all the way.

The malt flavors here are smooth and unobtrusive; they don't play a very large role in the beers development on your palate, but rather allow soft roast and hints of coffee beans and cocoa to evolve into your palate. An edge of fruity sweetness that showed up in the nose also comes through now in a gentle sweet aftertaste that makes its way across the top of my mouth towards the end of every sip. Cranberry? Maybe. It is very subtle, but is no doubt a fruity sensation.

The mouthfeel is silky and smooth, but somewhat thin and one sided - this goes for the beers itself also. The flavors that show up are genuinely delicious, but are one dimensional and show little if any complexity or depth. This is me just splitting hairs as a beer geek though, because this is a very nice stout with smooth distinct chocolate flavors and a generous fruity aroma. Enjoy the DCCS alone, or with spicy dishes, roast beef, cheese or chocolate desserts.

Pics at:

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Photo of bobsy
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Attractive 750ml bottle.

Dark brown pour borders on black, but betrays itself at the edges of the glass. A light tan head briefly liners before dropping to a film and leaving a few spots of lace. Strong cocoa powder aroma mixes with chocolate malt to provide a tempting bouqet, that's only brought down by the occasional bad breath note. While the flavour lacks depth it is well done, with layers of cocoa and light coffee roast. Cranberries and alcohol are notable only by their absence. Medium body and mouthfeel is fine.

A decent effort. I'd probably beef up the body and add some more complexity to take things to the next level, but this is a darn solid beer and a nice step forward for Muskoka.

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Photo of mrnobody
3.87/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750 ml swingtop bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours black with a tan ring of foam, a small amount of lacing.

S: Smells of dark chocolate. Not getting any cranberry.

T: Tastes of chocolate and coffee. Again no cranberry.

M: The mouthfeel seems a little thin and this has fairly lively and fine carbonation (sort of like mineral water?).

D: The drinkability of this is pretty good, the 8% ABV is nowhere to be found.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good chocolate stout. They should either drop the cranberry or make it so you can taste it and fix the mouthfeel. Otherwise, good job.

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Muskoka Winter Beard (Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout) from Muskoka Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 175 ratings