Short's Mystery Stout | Short's Brewing Company

very good
206 Reviews
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Short's Mystery StoutShort's Mystery Stout

Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.40%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
*12 oz. bottles released in 2009 are 10.8% abv. The original 750 ml bottles from first batch were 12.5% abv.

This beer demands respect and respect it will have. Imperial Oatmeal Stout with cocoa and molasses. It is very strong and possesses rare flavor combinations which can overload even the most experienced beer connoisseur.  Capture every bit of its warmth and wisdom, as it will demand all of your attention.
12.5% ABV

Added by mcallister on 05-24-2006

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Reviews: 206 | Ratings: 374
Photo of KeefD
2.34/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a milky dark brown color but becomes black as night in the glass with no head or lacing. Aroma of charred malt, light cocoa, and not a whole lot else. Taste is a little off for me. There some alcohol heat up front, follow by what can only be described as burnt plastic, and an odd sweetness to finish things up. There's some chocolate flavors going, and maybe a hint of coffee from the roasted barley, but it's overpowered by that odd plastic flavor. Medium-full bodied with almost no carbonation. Burns the throat and stomach on the way down. No thanks.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
2.65/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle opened on 1-22-12.

A - Pours a dark brownt with a dark tan head. Good retention.

S - Chocolate, wheat, and oats.

T - Bitter chocolate, that's about it.

D - Low carbonation, and a light body.

O - Gross. What the hell? Is this a bad bottle, or a bad beer.

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Photo of SFLpunk
2.8/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz pry-top bottle, 2010, thanks to Andrew84.

Pours a thin black with some very very thin off-white suds. Nose is muted oat flakes and stale coffee. Palate is thin, dry and bitter. Flavors of stale coffee, cigarette butts and bitter baker's chocolate. Not super pumped about this brew. Can't find much more to write.

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Photo of BMoney575
2.85/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Sampled on 12-28-09

Pours completely black, with a bit of red/brown around the top edge. A tan head settles quickly, leaving a slowly moving ring af tan lacing.

Smell is very malty, strong notes of chocolate and vanilla, a little anise, a little smoke, and a slight booziness. Very good.

Taste is super sweet malt, a slight fruitiness, and big-time alcohol. Way too sweet, way too boozy, and way too fresh.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, with lower carbonation.

Drinkability is poor, the sharp flavor and lacking mouthfeel are a terrible combo.

Overall, I'm very happy that I have 2 more to keep in the cellar. Maybe another review in a year.

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Photo of corby112
2.87/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

12oz. bottle courtesy of ipa247. Thanks a lot Jeff!

Pours a deep dark hazelnut brownout of the bottle but appears pitch black in the glass. Completely opaque without even the slightest bit of lighter color edges. One finger chocolate tan head that quickly fades into a thin lasting ring. Not much in the way of lacing.

Nice roasty dark malt aroma with lots of bittersweet dark chocolate, lactic creaminess, oatmeal, burnt toast, toffee, honey, molasses, subtle coffee bean and licorice. Once again Shorts puts out a beer with an amazing aroma. Smells incredibly complex.

Very roasty chewy body that's on the fuller end of the spectrum. Lots of viscous bittersweet dark chocolate malts along with a strong oatmeal presence as well as some lactic creaminess, licorice, burnt toast, toffee, bitter earthy hops and a sweet honey molasses character. This beer is very hot and the high ABV is not well masked at all. Lots of stinging astringent alcohol throughout and especially overpowering in the finish. This beer is pretty flavorful but the strong alcohol presence makes it very hard to drink. Interesting but not very well balanced with way to much of a roasty and strong alcohol presence.

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Photo of GRG1313
2.93/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours black with a short and quickly fading medium brown head.

Nose is a light synthetic black chocolate and light roasted grain/coffee character but not rich; a bit of a "thin" nose.

Mouthfeel is light and thin; no creamy character.

Flavors are big but more like burned grain/burned coffee strong with an underlying kick of sweetness. There is no real cocoa character and more "burned" molasses than desired.

Finish is very bitter espresso. There is a short and almost citrus character to almost every aspect of this beer.

Extreme type of flavors but not real pleasant.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a reddish black that rubies on the edges. Just the slightest bit of tan head bubbled up for a bit before dissolving into some randomness on the top.

S - Cocoa, a lot of molasses, some char, oats and a little bit of licorice. Smells decent enough.

T - A lot of flavor, mostly char and licorice with heavy handed molasses. It's a combination that is a little too heavy for me. It doesn't taste bad, but it's not subtle and just gets kind of hard to drink. A bit of cocoa and dark fruit finish this one up.

M - Full bodied, alcohol is well hidden. Lower, but present carbonation.

O - Not bad, not great. It's a pretty hearty beer, and one that I don't care to necessarily have again. It was really, really hard to get through the bottle. It actually reminds me of a poor man's Double Black in some ways, but obviously not as potent or good.

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Photo of TKEbeerman
3.18/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Strait out of the bottle this looks like the start of a great stout. Dark and with a leather tan head, this brew looks better than many.

S: The aroma is a little lacking of some notes I'd like to hit. Molasses takes over. If you ever had a Russel Stover's dark box of chocolates (the one with the molasses chocolate), this brew smells like that.

T: The flavor is way too much molasses up front and on the back of the pallet. The molasses needs to tone down from 11 to about 8. Subtle hints of chocolate and alcohol accompany the molasses.

MF: Mouthfeel needs to cream up a little bit. I would love to see some more roasted or caramel malt to stiffen this body up, and to tone down the molasses.

Overall, if molasses is your thing, this is your beer. I did enjoy this stout, but probably wouldn't commit to a 4 or 6 pack.

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Photo of Floydster
3.21/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

750 ml bottle, #161/500, thanks to Carlos to bringing this to the tasting, had been waiting for him to crack this open for some time now, 2006 vintage, reviewed from notes, poured into my Rader snifter

A-Pretty much black, 3/4 inch tan creamy head, some retention, minimal lacing
S-Chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee, roasty malts, charred accents, molasses, earthiness, and booze
T-Starts off dry and ends the same way, sweet in the middle with various malts, finish is too bitter for its style, dark chocolate, coffee, and hops plays a big role in that, some oxidization too, taste gets way to sweet later on but still dry
M-Dry, sweet, and roasted mouthfeel, full bodied, low level of carbonation, taste lingers a long time
D-Could drink much of this at all, flavor is too powerful, alcohol is not hidden, sweetness and dryness thgat jump out at you, few ounces is enough

Not the best beer from Short's by any means but does keep up with their unorthodox and interesting selection of brews, think it is hilarious that they do not even remember the recipe to this one, that makes it that much cooler if it is true because it would never be able to be replicated in the future, would drink again, recommended

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Photo of otto251068
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay chalice. No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brown, almost black, but not quite. Only the slightest hints of brown around the edges. It takes a while for the swirling, light brown head to rise. It peaks at about a fingers worth of densely packed bubbles, then fades to almost completely until only a ring clings to the glass.

Smell: Dark unsweetened cocoa, lots of it, also a deep molasses richness. Notes of lightly toasted malts, but really the cocoa dominates the aroma. There is a slight sourness coming though, along with a strong aroma of clear alcohol.

Taste: Toasted malts and burnt flavors hit right away, and continue throughout. There is a slight hint of molasses and brown sugar that provides some sweetness. Dark chocolate and bitter, unsweetened cocoa finish things off. More sweetness comes out as the beer reaches room temperature.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a medium level of carbonation. The carbonation level is a little higher than I was expecting, but still okay. This beer isn't too syrupy or thick, and has a pleasant texture which isn't a struggle to drink.

Overall: I like this beer, but the burnt flavors are a little too overwhelming. They drown out the molasses and cocoa, and really linger after the swallow. The alcohol level is very well hidden, and while this beer did grow on me, one is enough for a while.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into pint glass, from notes.

A - pours a light black with brown edging. Decent 1 finger mocha brown head. No lacing and head didn't retain long

S - Chocolate, coffee, grains, some roasted barley and vanilla

T - Lots of bittersweet chocolate integrated with a grainy oatmeal mix. I did not pick up on hardly any molasses but more along the lines of a caramel sweetness, however, fairly faint. Slight hoppiness that tastes a touch old. Good coffee and vanilla accents on the back end.

M - Semi thin, a touch unorganized and a bit hot

O - A decent enough brew. It could be a touch more creamy and a bit better organized/balanced. Not too bad though.

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Photo of seaoflament
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A big thanks to the generous hoppymeal for trading me this beer that I really wanted to try, you rock Derek. I took this one to the SeaofFloydster Tasting that took place on March 28th. Bottled in 2006, #161/500.

The color was like any other imperial stout, dark with a thin head.

Pretty good aroma, lots of roasted malts and chocolate malts upfront. Almost oaky with hints of almonds. Bits of chocolate covered raisins and figs. Some dusty cocoa powder.

The flavor was a bit odd. There were parts of it that I liked and parts that seemed out of place or just overdone. Dry roasted barley, dry bitter chocolate, cocoa, and with a really long and dry finish that was a bit too astringent. Some blackberry jam. A little sweeter later on but the finish is not that good, there was an astringent grain taste that combined with the dryness and roasted barley that didn't make it so pleasant. The first part of the beer was good with the chocolate, roasted malts, and dark fruits but the finish dragged this one down.

Somewhat fizzy yet low carbonation, medium dry. Couldn't drink too much of this one, especially when there were other beers to be had.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle served in my Old Stock snifter. Pours one shade shy of black with no head, just a khaki-colored cluster of bubbles around the edges and a soapy skim across the cap. Nose expresses cocoa, dark malts and ethanol. Taste consistent with nose with the addition of some lactose creaminess,roast and artificial sweetener. There's also a slightly metallic character that lingers between quaffs. Mouthfeel is medium-light with a lively carbonation and some residual alcohol heat. Texture also has a subtle creaminess. This beer falls a little short for me (no pun intended) flavors are a bit muddled and the metallic quality is somewhat off-putting. My third brew from Short's and I haven't been impressed so far.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.41/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. From semibaked. Thanks!

A: Pours a very dark, cola brown. It appears opaque in the snifter, but in smaller quantities it shows some clarity at the edges, though never at the center. While not overcarbonated, it does have a generous 1.5" of mocha-colored head that retains well. It takes several pours to get it all in the glass.

S: Nice notes of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a small element of prunes. Some earthiness and roasted grain. It's very expressive in the aroma.

T: It's dominated by dark chocolate and roasted coffee, though neither one is more overpowering than the other. Hints of prunes; I'm more secure in this association after tasting it than smelling it. Smooth and well-integrated. I'm not sure it's any sort of stunner in the flavor department, but it's tasty enough.

M: Medium-full bodied. Carbonation is on the lower end, and it works well to bring the most out of the beer. It's surprisingly smooth for something that's almost 11%. I'm not even sure I believe the label.

D: Immensely drinkable, and its flavor improves as it warms to just below room temp. I'd certainly go after it again, though it's not something that I feel is head and shoulders above other examples of the style.

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Photo of rallison
3.43/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #161/500. Sea O'Floydster epic tasting, post PP Belgian Fest. Thanks Carlos for bringing this bottle.

Molasses, carob and vinous qualities are strongly present. Some odd astringency is noticed as well. Some oxidation. Finish is meh. Too dry, without the rich, encompassing body that I was hoping for.

I really wish I had tried this fresh. The bottle we opened was a let down. Not horrid, but not great. Maybe the age, maybe the specific bottle, maybe just the beer itself.

Still, I'm really happy I got to try this - I'd been looking for this for a long time as a huge fan of Short's, so this was definitely one of my white whales. Thanks again Carlos!

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance on this one is dark and deep. It pours with a one finger tan head that literally disappears right before your eyes. Its color is almost black, but has caramel edges. Its oily, and leaves a medium leg on the glass.

Smells of dark fruits and coffee grains.

The tastes is actually pretty disappointing. On the first tastes there are bitter burnt coffee flavors with hints of chocolate. There is a strong alcohol breath throughout the entire tasting. Fairly astringent, it leaves the palate dry. I don't get any molasses, but I do get some licorice and dark fruits. Lots of bitter and burnt coffee tastes that drag down other favorable characters.

The mouthfeel is dry, but thick. I said there was an alcoholic breath, good carbonation. I like the way the brew coats your mouth in a way that reminds me of chocolate covered espresso beans.

The drinkability is good, a bit of a sipper. Overall enjoyable with a bit much on the burnt coffee.


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Photo of andrewinski1
3.47/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Sean9689 for this one!

Poured into my trusty Portsmouth Brewery tulip with a small amount of head that eventually all but disappears leaving a black liquid that is caramel at the edges. The smell is sweet and hints at cocoa (of course) and all malt. The taste is very bitter. I immediately get a lot of coffee flavor; maybe more than would make for a balanced beer, but I could see a coffee stout lover being really into this. A few sips later reveal layers of cocoa and a bit of vanillaesque sweetness. I'm warming up to this. Not a huge body on this one which ups it's drinkability but this is ultimately a sipper. Not bad, but not something I'd jump towards given other options.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to J.R. for this one. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Blue Point snifter

A: Vigorous and drawn out pour barely yields an upwar cascading .5 finger coarse, chocolate colored head with poor retention. Beer is opaque black. Lacing is web-like with great stick and leaves a pattern all the way down the glass.

S: Nose is rubbing alcohol, coffee, licquorice, a slight chocolate, toffee, caramel, and molasses in the background. Extremely complex and pleasantly sweet but sadly, mostly covered up by the alcohol presence.

T: Sweet molasses and big, roasted coffee notes upfront surrounded by a sea of alcohol. This beer lets me know its 10.8% and I feel every little bit of it. Chocolate sweetness in the back along with an odd soy saucy saltiness. I've never had that before but it works... Alcohol takes over towards the end and persists till the finish, leaving a slightly sour burnt malt aftertaste that lingers a bit.

M: Medium bodied, carbonated, and a bit coarser than I would like. Slightly oily in the mouth but a bit too lively due to the carbonation. Finish is messy and lingers a touch.

D: Just slightly above average, there's no mystery going on in this stout... just alcohol and a ton of it. Great complexity but its so covered by the massive booziness that I can't experience the good parts. Perhaps this one needs a year or two to calm down, but as is, its worth a try, but probably best to wait and be patient.

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Photo of prototypic
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to hoppymeal for this one.

Mystery Stout pours a very dark, mahogany brown color. It's damn close to opaque, but a few burgundy are highlights are noted at the edges. A mocha tan crown sits on top. It's lucky if it rises to a finger. Retention was short and lacing light.

The nose is a little weak and would benefit from more strength. Roasted and chocolate malts seem to be the centerpiece. The chocolate variety adds a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor. Black licorice and molasses come through loud and clear. Frankly, they seem to be a little too prominent in the mix for my taste. I'm getting a little coffe, but it's very light and subtle. Alcohol isnoticeable. I don't know the exact abv on this, but it doesn't quite smell 11% plus.

The flavor is interesting. It's not bad. Roasted and chocolate malts seem to present in equal parts. Bittersweet, dark chocolate seems to grow more and more pronounced throughout. The most interesting aspect of Mystery Stout is probably what I like the least. It's the strong black licorice and molasses flavors. They're not exactly mysterious, but area little too much for my taste. Coffee is subtle and light, but is a welcome flavor in the overall mix. Alcohol is noted, and runs a tad hot. It finishes chocolately, with the interesting licorice-molasses combo lingering.

Mystery Stout has a medium body that seems to grow thicker with warming. Carbonation seems light. Overall, it is smooth. Drinkability is rather average. The flavor's okay, but I'm not in love with it. It goes down rather easy for such a big beer, but there's no question it's big. Damn big. I'll finish this 12 oz. bottle, but it's taking some work.

Short's is a very intriguing brewery that really blazes its own trail. I like their beer, and always look forward to every opportunity I have to try more. Mystery Stout is definitely a novel effort. I like it alright, but can't say that I love it. There's just a little too much black licorice and molasses for me. Those flavors would work better if they were concentrated a little more. All in all, it's definitely worth a try. But, go for a single bottle.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

09 bottle into a glass.

Shorts Mystery stout pours almost burnt oil in wad and is a dark ass stout, black if you want to get specific, the cap on top is creamy and dark tan looking, spots.

Smell is straight forward stout with roasted malt up front on top of semi choco/cocco, with remains of a oatbath. A bit of roast but no apparent coffee.

Taste goes down rich and creamy like, with traces of lactose with a lot of roasted malt, piled on slight espresso with vanilla and molasses. The mystery to me is the aftertaste.

Like said smooth up front with a rocky middle, the feel is smooth and creamy, yet after it's down the hatch I get heat, just a slight warm fuzzy heat, it reminds me of Canaynne pepper or maybe traces of chili pepper. Either way it's one of those, if there is indeed a mystery.

A good beer to go to, I could not taste the alcohol, but indeed this is a 10%er, The aftertaste killed it for me though. Chill on those additives.

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Photo of OddNotion
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split bottle poured into my Captain Lawrence stemmed glass.

Appearance: Pitch black, no light penetrates even when held up to the light. One and a half finger tan head that recedes to about a quarter finger.

Smell: Strong boozy smell with some roasty flavors behind it but really this smells like a booze bomb, a little nervous for the first sip.

Taste: Not as boozy as the nose (thank god). A lot of roastiness, I get a strong vegetable type flavor, kind of odd. Alcohol is present and warming but not overwhelming. Later on in the sip the roastiness gains a sweet flavor, not bad but nothing impressive.

Mouthfeel: Fine for the style, heavier bodied but could be thicker, nice carbonation but maybe slightly high.

Overall: Not bad but there are much better examples of the style. I was hoping for more of a chocolate presence.

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Photo of mdvatab
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle (received in a trade w/ a Michigan BA) into a snifter.

Aroma: Sweet, malty, fruity goodness. I catch powdery cocoa sweetness, as well as fruity blueberry. Great start!

Appearance: Pitch black body. Light tan 2 finger head slowly settles to 1 finger. Decent lacing.

Flavor: Sweet blueberry, cocoa, and strong bitterness lingers at the end. The hoppy (and partially alcoholic) bitterness unfortunately does not blend very well with the malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium low, creamy carbonation. Slight warming sensation from alcohol.

Overall: Not a bad imperial stout. (I've definitely had worse!) A bit too much bitterness at the end, and I'm led to believe that this one might mellow a bit over time. It might just be a subjective dislike, as I've heard great things about Short's. Looking forward to trying my second bottle!

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Photo of Telix
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This is a review of the 12 ounce December 2009 release. Poured into a DFH chalice:

A: It's a deep deep dark brown/black, with a 1/2" head that quickly disappears, even with a quick, hard pour.

S: Roasted nuts and sweet cocoa, with a decent strength.

T: Creamy smooth malts, with an nice use of oats to smooth the initial flavors, but there is a big level of alcohol heat and fairly high IBUs that overwhelms the oat presence, especially on the finish - which is long and sharp, with a roasty character. It's a bit reminiscent of their Cup A Joe without the coffee, really, but this makes it a bit too much like a chocolate syrup beer.

M: Thick, rich, smooth, with some tongue bite from the booziness and hop presence.

D: Another Short's brew I could have stopped drinking halfway through the bottle.

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Photo of mikeyv35
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Date: 07/01/2010
Type: 12oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2009
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Pored a dark brown mahoghany in color, w/ a small white head that left minimal lacing on the glass. Appears a bit thin for the style. Nose was of coffee, oatmeal, molasses, and roastiness. Taste was of coffee and molasses up front, w/ a finish of solid hop bite, charred bitterness, and a touch of booze. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and as it appeared, a bit thin. The drinkability was not that good, as the charred bitterness on the finish started to get to me rather quickly. This would definately be a one and done.

Overall, pretty disappointed by this one! Nice flavors and pretty complex, but the charred bitterness was just too much to deal w/ and ruined it for me.

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Photo of alexgash
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle.

Very dark chocolate brown. Small, dirty khaki head doesn't last long. Some lacing. Nose is a mix of chalky, roasted malts and ripe dark fruits (plums and grapes?). Notes of dark chocolate, peat, and caramel. Also a little alcohol.

Starts off with some woody, herbal bitterness which quickly becomes more of a roasted coffee bitterness. Chocolate, caramel, molasses, and boozy fruits (plums?) combine mid-palate. There's some milk chocolate sweetness, but it soon gets overwhelmed by dark chocolate bitterness and tobacco earthiness. Rather hot finish with lingering dark chocolate bitterness and fading notes of sweeter malts. Full-bodied with a mouthfeel that starts off a little thick and ends somewhat chalky. A little boozy and rough; could maybe use some age.

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Short's Mystery Stout from Short's Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 374 ratings.
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