Preface: This 12 oz. bottle of Magic Hat Heart of Darkness was sent to me by the folks at Magic Hat a week before Thanksgiving 2012.
The following notes are made after a mouth wash with room temperature sparkling water. These notes have not been influenced by reading promotional material or any other review of this brew.
I am including this preface to inform the reader of any and all circumstances that might be conceived of as creating a biased review or a conflict of interest regarding the choice of words used in the following review. I could go on and on with semi-legal jargon but I guess you will just have to trust me eh?
The following are my tasting notes:
Appearance: They call this a stout and it surely is as opaque as it could be. The deep brown, almost black, brew throws together a loose mocha-colored head of small to medium bubbles. The lace is thin and loose.
Aroma: There is a deep roasted grain aroma that first greets the drinker. The second visit finds a hint of prune in the softer aromas. The third nose-dive finds some thin impressions of chocolate.
Mouth feel: This is a full feeling brew and at 5.7% abv it should be.
Flavor: The first impression is, after the refreshment, is a prune flavor that is quickly followed by a dusty chocolate sensation. The second sip finds more of a sour cherry flavor that flirts with the prune plum first impression. The chocolate has moved to the aromatics. The third swig finds the flavor receptors passing over the previous flavor components and searching for a slightly phenolic whisper of an ester. Not finding it they relax back into the prune/cherry/coffee sensations.
Finish: There is a rather quick finish that lingers just long enough to be noticed.
Comments: This looks and tastes like a traditional Irish Stout (Guinness about two years ago) without the “dusty” impression that Patent Malt brings to the brew. The extra alcohol is interesting but they could save some money and not harm the flavor at all by knocking it down to 4.5% abv. The extra warmth keeps it from the dinner table and relegates it to the cheese and nuts course where it would be welcome at any time.
The Brewery: Magic Hat