US Beer Review: Fore-Smoked Stout

Recently I’ve been very impressed with the offerings of a little-known brewery up in Michigan, Founders Brewing Co. Has this northern state got a good thing going on in the craft ale business? Time to sample the goods from another relatively young Brewery from up there!

Today’s pick is “Fore-Smoked Stout” from The Dark Horse Brewing Company, which has  been  boasting brewing with quality ingredients in Marshall, MI since 1997. Time to see if I’ve backed a winner…

Straight of of the gate (err, I mean bottle) it pours black as oil.  If you have ever looked at the oil that is  drained out of your car after  4,000 miles in your engine you’ll get the picture. Yes. It’s BLACK. Even the head is dark, and it  makes a swift disappearing act without trace or lacing. Poured into the right sized glass you couldn’t blame anyone for mistakenly assuming you were safely quaffing a Coca-Cola.

Inhaling the beer gives you sweet notes of chocolate and caramel and maybe just a hint of the malty smokiness that the name promises.

First taste tells a different story. It’s smoky all right but not over-poweringly so.  It’s actually surprising how salty and savoury it tastes, thanks to the malted barely. It’s mild carbonation gives way to a  barbecue flavor, almost like soy sauce yet the chocolate is still there. It’s complex but strangely it works.

It’s a Winter seasonal offering which is a shame because I’d class this as a great summer campfire beer to be enjoyed with outdoor food.

The ABV remains a mystery as it’s not printed on the bottle and I got no clue from the brewery website. If this is a sloppily written review then it’s because the ABV is high and I’m on my way to legless after a half pint of the stuff. A more realistic guess for a stout of this caliber would be 8% so pace yourself. It’s no session ale.

Verdict: For an attempt at a stout it passes with flying colours. Not overwhelmingly smoky but thats not necessarily a bad thing.