On the 10th day of RIS-Mas my true love gave to me…Dawn Juan laced with coffee!

In my self-imposed Advent calendar of Russian Imperial stouts, here is the 6th day’s festivities.  You can check out Day 1 (Deschutes Abyss),  Day 2 (Founders CBS),  Day 3 (Olde Hickory Event Horizon), Day 4 (Fair State’s Giantsbane), Day 5 (Chocolate Rain!),  Day 6 (Goose Island BCS), Day 7 (Dark Lord was a bust),  Day 8 (Firestone Walker Parabola), and Day 9 (Waconia’s BB Driftwood) as well to spread the cheer!


Steel Toe Dawn Juan

I first tried this beer several years ago at Winterfest or possibly Rare Beer…my memory of these events gets a bit spotty.  At the time, this was basically one keg of their Before the Dawn aged with coffee beans.  And it was one of my favorite beers of the year…even from that little taste.  This year it looks like Steel Toe Brewing is finally making a larger quantity to have on tap at the tap room and Sj and I met up there with our friend Josh to test out the batch!  Now Before the Dawn is described as a bourbon barrel aged black barleywine, but to my tastes it hits most of the notes to be found in a Russian Imperial stout so I’m counting it in my RIS-Mas parade!

Aroma: Strong and bright coffee right up front with a mix of chocolate and malt.  The coffee covers most other aromas, but is very eye-opening!

Appearance: Very dark in color, nearly black but with a slight see-through at the edge of the glass when held up to the limited light.  Light tan colored head with very fine bubbles is present and persistent–looking like a nitro beer at first.

Flavor: Very similar to what I get in the aroma: coffee!  Strong coffee, but medium roast, not burnt or charred (Starbucks I’m looking at you here!).  Dark chocolate bitterness and roasted coffee add a fairly sharp and dry-seeming finish.  Plenty of dark malts in this thing to balance.  Body comes off as medium and not the thicker body I usually get from the base beer.  The flavors blossom a bit as it warms up, bringing out hints of vanilla and oak, earthy hops.

Overall:  This is a fine beer.  With the addition of dark coffee it fits even more into the RIS class by my book.  This version seems a bit more bitter than I remember, but is still a stellar example of a coffee beer.  KBS’ got nothin’ on this beer.

Score (0-5): 4.5 Prancing Baristas


Oh, details here:  Day 7 was 7 Dark Lords Leaping into my drain since the 2009 bottle I had was pretty terrible.  And, I’m behind in my write-ups so you all will have to suffer through two more days posted after Christmas.