Dark Horse Brewing Company is located just east of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the home of Bell’s. My first taste of Dark Horse was their Crooked Tree IPA, which is distributed throughout Michigan. Crooked Tree wasgood enough to get me into some of their other offerings.
It wasn’t until this review, however, that I spent some time learning about who Dark Horse is and where they come from. To be honest, after reading their About Us page, I’m more confused than ever. Here’s a taste:
Can true patrons of quality, time and devotion deal with the inner workings of a mad-man’s psyche as he speaks of visions of smacking Umpa Lumpas with snow shovels, or allows the obscure drawings of lawn jarts and tinker toys to be hung on the walls of his establishment? They seem to…A madman’s passion for brewing comes out in strange ways indeed; where his employees and fellow brew house boys may know not how to deal with his tongue twisted ramblings and contortions of the face at first; where the same can definitely scare away newcomers.
I don’t mind the eccentricity as long as it’s not a marketing ploy. And they do make some decent brew.
In the fall and winter, Dark Horse releases a seasonal series of stout beers. There’s One, an oatmeal stout, Too Cream Stout, Tres, a blueberry stout, Fore, a smoked stout, and Plead the Fifth Imperial Stout. Tres is what I am reviewing in this post.
Here’s the description from Dark Horse:
A full bodied stout made with all malted barley and blueberry. Flavors of chocolate, roast malt and light blueberry make up the palate with lots of fruity blueberry aroma.
When drinking any beer with fruit flavor, I tend to get nervous because it is incredibly easy for a brewer to cut corners with artificial flavoring. In the United States, brewers are not required to tell you what’s in the bottle, so it’s nice when they do even though some will neglect to reveal everything.
When I read Dark Horse’s description, I’m looking for something that says real blueberry, but all it mentions is blueberry. There’s only one way to find out for sure.
Pours dark like other stouts, with a little bit of carbonation. For me, the aroma was dark chocolate and roasted malt with blueberry laced underneath. So far, so good, since an overpowering fruit smell would usually be an indication of fake flavors.
On your tongue, Tres opens up with blueberry, which is deceptively subtle next to some bitter malt. Moving across and toward the back, Tres hits you with more of the roasted flavors, chocolate, and perhaps coffee. As your glass or snifter warms up, the blueberry comes out a bit and you get stronger waves of flavor. Additionally, there’s just the right amount of carbonation to turn this from a heavier stout into a very drinkable medium-bodied brew.
I will definitely keep Tres on my list to try again.
Shaun, from Mark and Shaun’s Beer Blog, had a very similar take on Tres. Our reviews are nearly identical, though he brings his grandmother into it whereas I did not go that route.
This is such an agreeable drinkable beer. This is like going to Grandma’s house when you were a kid. Always fun, sweet, and you got everything you wanted without a fight with mom and dad. This is your sweet old Grandma in a glass! Kind, and eager to please you without getting overbearing. This is beer you could drink all afternoon without getting too sweet, too drunk, or burned out.
Legal Beer, a blog out of Minnesota, also notes Tres as a very drinkable beer (post dated in 2009).
The more I drink this beer the more I enjoy the additional flavors the blueberry creates (and the more I wonder if it really is only 4.5%). Probably not a beer I would buy too much of in the future but a damn tasty beer I would gladly consume if it were offered and am very pleased to have had the opportunity to sample and a wonderful example of how additional components can enhance a brew. Anyone who likes stouts and does not mind the addition of some real fruit will likely enjoy this brew as will those who may be hesitant to approach dark beers but enjoy chocolate and blueberries.