Beer, bourbon, coffee. Three things that quite possibly are ranked 1, 2, and 3 on my culinary must haves if stranded on a desert island. Thankfully, I would be able to add some food on that list because Fremont decided to make a brew with all three of my favorite liquid treats. Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star: Coffee Edition is something that comes out every fall for Seattle based Fremont Brewing. It’s an oatmeal stout gone wild and is something that I’m willing to tame. Will this brew be desert island quality? Time for them numbers…
Smell: Big coffee nose with a light bourbon smell and some roasted, charred grain coming through. There is no mistaking this for a coffee stout. I also get some oaky tannins from the wood, but am surprised that I’m not getting more bourbon. Fremont has a way to subtly let you know that their beers are barrel aged off of aroma.
Taste: Oh my goodness. This stout is incredible! First thing I notice is vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel. The toasted oak really imparts a lot of flavor in here without it being overly bourbony, although you do get a meaningful bourbon presence on the back end of this beer. The bourbon and the booze found in this brew leave you with some heat in the back of the throat, but what else would you expect at 29 proof? The coffee makes its way into the beer imparting some bitterness and additional roast, and its a little more subdued than the smell would suggest, but it’s definitely there. The whiskey really rounds things out here – as mentioned before, it does not at all dominate the flavor of the beer but adds a lot of character with oak, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon flavors.
As alluded to earlier, this beer is a massive 14.5% ABV. It drinks a little hot because of it, but it does not distract from the rest of the brew. The mouthfeel on Coffee KDS is nice and silky with the addition of oats, and something that trumps BCBCS. The carbonation is fine (if anything it’s lacking a bit) but I’d prefer that in a big ABV stout. All of the factors combined makes this beer fairly drinkable, but the heat makes it a 2+ hour beer for sure. I’m confident that I’ll finish it in one sitting, but it’s likely best to be shared.
Overall: This is one heck of a BA coffee stout. The flavors from the wood, the coffee, and the bourbon really come together and make this a memorable beer. There are several of these blue waxed beers hanging out in my cellar, but I wanted to drink one fresh just for kicks; I am certain with age this beer will only get better. It’ll be interesting drinking one of these with a few years on it. All said and done, I have to give this Fremont an A. Had this review taken place a year from now, it may get a different rating, but I’m judging with what I have in front of me. Fremont shines again, and they can do no wrong.