Dark Horse Brewing – Plead the 5th (Bourbon Aged)

Plead the 5th
Forgot to take a picture, but trust me, it looks dark.

All You Need to Know

Brewery: Dark Horse Brewing
Style: Russian Imperial Stout (Bourbon Aged)
ABV: 11%
Cost: ???? (12oz)
Glassware: Snifter, Teku
Temp: 55°F
Availability: Fall/Winter
Purchased@: Beer Trade

Quick Take: Going into this beer, I had a good idea that I would like it. The base beer is one of my favorite Russian Imperials and few beers get worse when rubbed up against some bourbon barrels. With the confidence and craftsmanship to add woody vanilla and spicy, almost pepper-like heat to a near perfect RIS, Dark Horse’s BBA Plead hits huge and satisfies as a layered, full-bodied body warmer. Fantastic RIS and an all time favorite.


Brew Facts: BBA Plead the 5th is available at the annual 4 Elf Party that Dark Horse throws at their brewery. Beer order forms are handed out at 6 am, doors open at 11am, and 51 beers are on tap for your enjoyment. Last year, 642 cases of BBA Plead the 5th were sold at $130 a case. There may be an 18 hour round trip in my future.

Appearance: This pours a thick and strictly adheres to the dark beer is dark mantra. A dense, creamy mahogany head barely crops up on an agitated pour, but the glory is fleeting as it quickly bubbles down to a calm, still pool of deepest, darkest black. Impenetrable by any form of light, just how I like my theoretical areas of space and my Russian Imperials.

Aroma: My nose finds those insane dark malts, molasses, and brown sugar notes of Plead the 5th, mixed with the wood and buttery marshmallow notes that comes with bourbon aging. This is on the sweeter side, turning a blind eye to the savory tobacco of a beer like Founder’s Imperial Stout. A fantastic RIS aroma, just like its barrel-less brother.

Taste/Mouth Feel: I will admit that thoughts of Plead the 5th float around in the back of my mind as I take a sip. I want to evaluate this BBA version on its own merits and not let my feelings cloud my judgment, there will be booze to do that for me soon enough, but I’m going into this with higher expectations than normal. The mouth feel is heavy and smooth, with little carbonation to get in the way. The heaviness leads into deep, chocolaty malts that blend well with the oak vanillin and spicy heat. Huge roast/char, cream and sugar notes round out the body and give it a stickiness that can weld your fingers to the glass if you aren’t careful. Some dark fruits hang around, but are beaten down by all the creamy sweets sliding across the tongue. The finish is slightly dry coffee/espresso, but not chalky. It’s clear that malty sweet heat is the name of the bourbon aged game here and in that regard, this RIS satisfies.

Final Thoughts: Going into this beer, I had a good idea that I would like it. The base beer is one of my favorite Russian Imperials and few beers get worse when rubbed up against some bourbon barrels. For me, the gauge of success here was if Dark Horse could turn a great, chocolaty sweet RIS that shuns the savory/smoky, into an even greater RIS without making it a boozy mess. It turns out that Dark Horse can and did. With the confidence and craftsmanship to add woody vanilla and spicy, almost pepper-like heat to a near perfect RIS, Dark Horse’s BBA Plead hits huge and satisfies as a layered, full-bodied body warmer. Fantastic RIS and one of my favorite along with Black Note, even if it doesn’t quite hit the Parabola level of love for me.

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