Review: Dark Horse Brewing Co. Plead the 5th Imperial Stout

Like anything called “Plead the 5th” should, this beer’s label tells you nothing not required by law, other than the brewery and beer name. No explanation of the product, no fancy descriptions of the malts, nothing.

Thick and black as it pours into the glass, it forms a thin caramel-colored head that dissipates within a few minutes, and virtually no lacing. The nose has a nice balance of sharp hops and firm, robust malt.

And then you take a sip.

The strongest note, the one that hits you immediately, is dark Turkish coffee. Or at least what I imagine dark Turkish coffee would be like if it were served cold. There is a surprising hint of sweetness that almost disappears if you take too much at once or if you swallow too fast. If you let it linger in your mouth, it feels as if it is foaming up. (I didn’t open my mouth to find out, for fear that I would look like a rabid dog and send a beerfall into the laptop.)

This is, of course, an imperial stout. These have a higher alcohol content than regular stouts, and you can taste it — but not in an imposing way like many other imperials. It doesn’t taste fortified; the alcohol flavor either blends well or is hidden by the extremely full malt flavor.

I don’t recommend having more than one of these at a sitting — partially because it could easily mess you up, partially because if you’re drinking it without a meal it would start to get to be too much, and partially because if you’re drinking it with a meal, you’re going to be full.

It’s a meal in a glass. If you’re iffy on stouts, stay away. If you love a good thick imperial stout, this one needs to be on your list of beers to try.

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