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The Beer Circle » Barrel Aged, Beer, Bourbon, Dark Horse Brewing Co., Imperial Stout, Reviews » Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th

Originally released an extremely limited quantities, Dark Horse’s Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th recently saw a much-appreciated re-release to help spread the love. Normal Plead the 5th is the fifth and final entry in Dark Horse’s stout line and easily the most highly regarded. So what is the next natural step for hyped imperial stouts? Barrel aging, of course.

Dark Horse appeased the masses and we are graced with convenient, wax-topped 12oz bottles of bourbon-barrel nectar. We’ve heard the hype, we’ve seen the bounties offered in trade, we’ve procured a bottle.

Let’s dig in.

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th
Pours an absolute pitch black right out of the bottle. It is a color that kind of puts crude oil to shame and as it settles into the glass, it doesn't appear to show any give toward anything less than complete blackness. It slowly builds a small, dark mocha head that only grows about a finger in height, if that, but it has some decent retention to it and leaves a thick, foamy ring around the perimeter. There isn't a whole lot of lacing here, but there are random smatterings.

The nose is slightly salty, like a pinch of soy, before turning into something a little more decadent. Dark chocolate, slightly bitter but still sweet, and a big bourbon influence are here in spades.
The taste is almost exactly like the nose but even more bold. The saltiness is still here, which mixes with an almost burnt quality to give it some char and a faint reminiscence of smoke, but this is balanced nicely with a huge chocolate note, like a dark chocolate mixed with fudge. As in the aroma, the bourbon carries the flavor about midway through as a hot, alcoholic burn, but slowly dissolves into a smooth finish.
Mouthfeel is moderately heavy-bodied with okay carbonation. This has the body of a great imperial stout while still having enough carbonation to make it enjoyable to drink.
Drinkability is pretty high. Intense flavors and excellent mouthfeel... pretty much the only thing holding this back is a somewhat alcoholic bite that makes this hard to fully enjoy.
I was lucky enough to be able to snag this through a trade for some locals, so dollar for dollar, this ranks pretty high on my list. Considering this didn't see wide distribution, those far from Dark Horse probably need to resort to trades, which increase the cost. But if a reasonable opportunity comes along to get this, I'd recommend it.
Overall, this is a great complement to the base beer. While normal Plead the 5th is an excellent imperial stout, Dark Horse goes the extra mile with the barrel-aged version. Holding true to its successful roots, it still manages to separate itself into a higher tier.

Beer Stats
Style: American Imperial Stout
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 14.00%
BA Score: 98
RB Score: 100

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Written by Greg Bruce

While studying at Penn State, Greg learned that beer could serve a much better purpose than a means to an end for a good party. Delicately brewed Belgians acted as a stark contrast to the almost watery beer that had been so popular and began the journey towards craft beer. From that launch point he always seems to land on something new. Greg approaches each beer, whether it is an aggressively-hopped West Coast IPA or an English bitter (and everything between), with a clear mind and open opinion, ready to analyze, compare, and ultimately, enjoy. While always fond of stouts (especially barrel-aged) and IPAs, Greg is slowly but surely drifting towards various soured beers. Find Greg Bruce on Google Plus

Filed under: Barrel Aged, Beer, Bourbon, Dark Horse Brewing Co., Imperial Stout, Reviews · Tags: , , ,