Review: Muskoka Brewery Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

It's finally here.  Muskoka's vintage 2012 double chocolate cranberry stout has arrived.  We got our hands on a couple bottles as soon as we could, and here I am to drop a quick review on it.  Essentially, the fine folks down at Muskoka took a handful of their hit stout from last year and aged it for us.  The result?  Let's find out.

This comes in 750mL bottles and goes for $13.95 at the LCBO.  It's a heavy stout, weighing in at 8.0% alc/vol.  Since it's such a big bottle and a big beer, you may want to consider having a friend over to share it with.

It pours a jet black with a couple fingers worth of beige head.  The head retention is low, dissipating quickly and leaving little in the way of lacing.

The aroma is of rich dark chocolate, deeply roasted malts, some sweet and sour cranberry notes (more like cranberry jam than fresh cranberry) and some very light coffee undertones.  You can also smell the alcohol fairly well.

Flavour is huge.  Big and bold roasted malts balanced by the dark chocolate and cacao up front.  Once that dissipates, it's replaced by a light coffee bitterness.  And then it finishes with a slightly tart and sweet cranberry taste.  All flavours flow very well and balance each other out quick well.  The alcohol burn is also there, underneath everything, and definitely builds up over time.  I can see why people would call this a winter warmer.

The mouth coating is quite nice.  Smooth, creamy and full-bodied.

Overall, being a stout kinda guy, I have to say this is awesome.  Having aged over the last year or so, I really felt that there was a lot more balance over having drank it last year, everything just blends together better.  The booziness really had some time to build up, too.  Go out and grab a couple bottles.  This is definitely a comfort beer that will get you through those cold winter nights.

-James