Jackie O’s Brewery – Dark Apparition Review

Dark ApparitionAll You Need to Know

Brewery: Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery
Style: Russian Imperial Stout (RIS)
ABV: 10.5%
Cost: ???? (12oz)
Glassware: Snifter
Temp: 55°F
Availability: Various Times
Purchased@: Beer Trade Extra

Quick Take: Dark Apparition is in a different class of RIS, being a drinker instead of an intense sipper. It isn’t battling for the top spot in my RIS-loving heart, but I would gladly buy a case to get me through those fall evenings without hesitation. Dark Apparition is simply delicious and another reminder of why I love dark beers.


Brew Facts: In addition to brewing beer, Jackie O’s runs Barrel Ridge Farm where they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, and a bakery where they originally made pizza from the spent grains. You can buy their produce and breads at a local Farmer’s Market not far from the brewery in Athens, OH.

Appearance: Pours dark with a cola brown ring around the edges when held to the light. Thin, creamy tan swarms of hugging bubbles collect around the glass, but never organize into a head. At best, the bubbles make fractal like chains of islands on a black sea. This has classic “dark beer is dark” looks.

Aroma: A quick sniff reveals candied sugar and dark, roasty malts. The sugar goes a bit deeper with chocolate and hints of caramel. A deeper inhale and concentrated search finds slight tobacco and anise, but the lovely malt and dark fruits are front and center. The malt aroma isn’t quite heavy or thick enough to have any smoke. A nice RIS aroma that favors the sweet over the savory.

Taste/Mouth Feel: A drink surprises with a mouth feel that is just a touch thin compared to a Russian Imperial like Founder’s Imperial Stout. That simple factor makes this a different beast as the lighter body makes Dark Apparition a little less of a sipper and more easy drinking than some of its RIS brethren, but still has those classic flavors. The front has some dark fruit and plum that surfs along the dark malt wave and eventually gives way to some candied sugar. It has the peaty, moss and roast malt flavors you expect, but the intensity is dialed down. After the wave of sweet recedes, you are left standing on the shores of coffee and tobacco. This isn’t the dark, bitter coffee flavor that screams for creamer, but the smooth roast coffee mixed with a packet of real sugar. Wood or smoke flavors are minimal to nonexistent. My lips are a bit tingly after drinking this cheek warmer (face, not butt, at least not yet), but the booziness is under control. The warmth is tongue hugging, like a comfortable sweater on a chill evening.

Final Thoughts: Dark Apparition is in a different class of RIS from other beers I’ve had. Typically, I relish the heavy malt body, in your face anise, chocolate and tobacco with an oaky booze bomb of a finish to cap off the flavor richness. This pulls back on the booze taste even though the ABV is in the double digits, and makes for a RIS that is just light enough to be a drinker, not a sipper. It isn’t battling for the top spot in my RIS-loving heart, but I would gladly buy a case to get me through those fall evenings without hesitation. Dark Apparition is simply delicious and another reminder of why I love dark beers. Thanks to redditor Slaughterama for this beer trade extra.

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