Dark Horse – Plead the 5th Review

Dark Horse 5thAll You Need to Know

Brewery: Dark Horse
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Cost: $20 (64oz Growler)
Glassware: Snifter
Temp: 55°F
Availability: February
Purchased@: Friendly Greek

Quick Take: This is a damn fine beer that has some depth. It really reminds me of Founder’s Imperial Stout with toned down tobacco and intensified chocolate. I’d need to do a blind tasting to really determine which I prefer more, but Dark Horse has produced an excellent RIS that needs to be tasted. Really looking forward to trying an aged bottle of this (I have one from 2013, so it’ll be awhile) and making it a mission to have the bourbon barrel-aged version.


Brew Facts: The bourbon barrel-aged version of this is ranked among the best in the world. I haven’t had the privilege (yet!), but this beer is perfect for barreling and I’d love to see Dark Horse try some rum and tequila ones as well.

Appearance: Dark, incredibly still vortex of blacky blackness. If asked how much blacker this beer can get, I’d have to say none. This beer can be none more black than this. The glass is coated in a muddy brown oil slick on swirling. Dark beer is dark.

Aroma: My nose hits a balanced blend of roast, coffee, chocolate, raisin tang, and licorice. There is a bit of smoky tobacco clinging to the roast that ties it altogether for a lovely, textbook perfect Russian Imperial Stout aroma. Elements of leather are minimal as this beer appears to be on the sweeter side. For everything this beer is putting into the air, the chocolate and licorice really come out strong. Great presence here.

Taste/Mouth Feel: This is definitely one you want to get as close to room temperature as possible, if you can hold off once you take in the smell. This RIS is thick and syrupy with next to no carbonation, just how I like it. It coats the mouth, throat, tummy and probably part of your upper GI tract with a slick warmth. When sipped, raisin and a cola like sweet hit at first, which comes into roast/coffee and dark chocolate. (Side note: My wife felt it was too roasty, but she is just starting to get into the heavy stouts.) There is a bit of savory tobacco and licorice on the finish that rides out the lingering alcohol warmth and chocolate malt. Some heat hits the back of the throat and there is a buzzy numbness on the lips. This has an great alcohol presence that really hits a nice spot of giving the richer mf without over doing the booze.

Final Thoughts: This is a damn fine beer that has some depth. It really reminds me of Founder’s Imperial Stout with toned down tobacco and intensified chocolate. Founders has one of my absolute favorite RIS’s and this is definitely up there. I’d need to do a blind tasting to really determine which I prefer more, but Dark Horse has produced an excellent RIS that needs to be tasted. The alcohol burn gets more intense as it warms, so gauge that accordingly as you drink it. Really looking forward to trying an aged bottle of this (I have one from 2013, so it’ll be awhile) and making it a mission to have the bourbon barrel-aged version. I’m pretty sure BBA Plead the 5th doesn’t make it to PA, so I’m open to a beer trading opportunity if any reader would be so kind.

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