Thursday, March 25, 2010

268. Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout

“I’m not sure we should be encouraging the imperialism.”
Elli’s comment before drinking this beer; her term for the turn towards bigger and bigger beers—i.e. making everything into an imperial beer

Another in a long line of stout beers from both Dark Horse and Michigan; this is our fifth beer from Dark Horse—kinda fortuitous, huh?—and like our 876th stout from Michigan. Previous beers include Fore Smoked Stout, Too Cream Stout, One Oatmeal Stout and Crooked Tree IPA. We gave the cold shoulder to Tres Blueberry Stout, although in retrospect, we may feel a little bad about hurting its feelings.

Plead the 5th is an inky dark brown with garnet highlights; the brown head is pretty minimal—it barely gave us more than a ring on the glass. The nose is roasty with a bit of dark fruit and creaminess—the roasted aromas are not harsh, but rather smooth and rounded. Plead the 5th has a roasted and toasty malt front; the middle has some dark fruit flavors—some raisin, some currant, or maybe some grape—and the end is burnt and spicy with some alcohol that lingers along with the final roasted flavors. Heavy bodied and a bit syrupy, Plead the 5th has a thick and creamy mouthfeel. There is also a good amount of warmth in the back of the throat, although not as much alcohol flavor and feel for a 12% ABV beer as we expected. Excellent flavors, but a bit heavy on the mouth, and the lingering alcohol does increases with warmth—we’re not sure if this is an improvement on some of their smaller stouts. We’ll be interested to see how this beer ages, as it has the potential to become something quite delicious.

Update (3/20/2011): We pulled out another bottle to try. Let’s just say that the year in the basement has been very good to this beer. Flavors are smooth and even across the palate—much more than last year. As well, a fair amount of the alcohol flavor has disappeared; the emphasis now is on smooth roasted malt and creaminess in the finish. The body is still a bit sticky, but you’re not going to completely escape that in a beer this big, are you? There are also a lot more chocolate and coffee flavors, specifically in the front and middle, that blends well with the fruit flavors in the middle. The finish has a pleasant mix of roastiness mixed with molasses and brown sugar. The noise is a slight bit disappointing—there is roasted malt, fruit, and licorice, but all are very faint. We’ve been waiting for it to open up as it warms, but nothing much yet.

From the Dark Horse website: “It’s big and full bodied with lots of roasted malts and balanced with heavy hops to put this imperial in a league of its own.”

ABV: 12.0%

I think this ABV pleads the 5th...


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