Dark Star is a Sussex based brewer that started life nearly 20 years ago as a brewpub and has grown to be a fairly large brewery – the second largest in the county - with an impressive range of beers.
Sadly (for the bottle-buying drinkers) most of their production goes into casks, but a small range does make it into a more widely available form, including today's beer.
This is their Imperial Stout, a serious beer at 10.5%.
It certainly looks the part, such a dark brown in the glass that it's virtually black. It's almost flat, with virtually no head and very few bubbles in evidence; no bad thing in my book! The nose is full of roasted coffee, deep rich toffee and a hint of dark chocolate. Despite the strength there's no hint of the alcohol to come.
In the mouth, the first thing you get is rich berries, and then a slightly burnt tang with a sweetness that builds with the alcohol and leads to an almost sherry like warming finish. It manages to pitch the balance between the burnt bitterness, the sticky sweetness and the alcohol heat just about perfectly; this is a damn good Imperial Stout.
For a 10.5% beer it also goes down worryingly smoothly, and in no time the too-small bottle is empty...
This review was originally published 18th November, 2011. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.