McNeill’s Dark Angel Imperial Stout was one of the bombers that I picked up last year on a trip I took to Southern Vermont. I try to sample local beers when possible, and McNeill’s is about as Vermont as you can get. The big bombers are just about anyplace you look up there, and for the most part the price is quite reasonable. From what I can recall, they were less than $5 each.
Not to worry though. I’ve had a few of their offerings and would rate most of them, like their Oatmeal Stout in the solid 3-star range, which is certainly respectable in these parts. 😉
Its interesting to me that just recently, I’ve seen some McNeill’s beers here in New Jersey, but I just haven’t found myself buying them here!
I’ve got to have something to bring home from Vermont!
Anyway, considering its just about Halloween, I thought that the McNeill’s Dark Angel had the spookiest beer theme going in The Brew Club beer review lineup, so I hope you aren’t too scared by its spookiness.
What is spooky? What about the label? Who designs this stuff? I guess the look is part of the whole Vermont folksy thing, but I would rather see labels that consist of masking tape with crayon writing than these things! Seriously guys! With all those art students running around naked up there in Brattleboro, I’m sure there’s someone up there willing to design new labels for a few beers.
So now that I have that out of my system, let’s talk about the beer!
Let me preface this section by saying that I’ve been on something of an Imperial Stout kick lately. This is good for me, not as good for Mr. Dark Angel there. On its own, this would be an OK beer, but I had it in the same week that I tried the Sam Adams Imperial Stout, Sam Smith Imperial Stout, Stone Russian Imperial Stout, Victory Storm King, and the North Coast Old Rasputin. Eventually, we’ll review all these beers, but in context, the McNeill’s fell a little bit short.
It starts out well enough, inky black ale with an impressively foamy head that managed to lace the glass nicely to the finish.
The aroma was a little less impressive to me. Again, I had a few real winners in this category just recently to compare, and the McNeill’s just didn’t compare! It had a nice malty character as one might expect, dark fruit, molasses, maybe coffee or bitter chocolate. It was balanced by what might be described as a slightly burnt rubbery, medicinal and alcohol character. It just didn’t seem quite right somehow.
The taste, thankfully, was lacking in the burnt rubber qualities that the aroma had and all considered it wasn’t bad. I thought it was mostly bitter chocolate, dark fruit (raisin, plum etc) and unfortunately, an unbalanced alcohol flavor comes through as well. I thought the beer was on the thin side for a stout, and the alcohol was very prominent in the finish. Yeah, I know. At 10% ABV what can I expect? Well, I don’t mind the warming, but I just think that the alcohol in this beer isn’t as much complimentary to the rest of the flavors as it is more of a bully in the bottle. Again, that’s just my take on it.
So we wrap up our Halloween beer review a little underwhelmed. In light of having some really good Imperial Stouts recently, the McNeill’s ‘Dark Angel’ Imperial Stout is a great value, but not really a great beer. I did manage to finish the bottle, but I don’t think I’ll be buying it again either in VT or NJ!
Based on our beer review rating system, I’d have to give Dark Angel 2 Stars – Drinkable, and not unpleasant, but not something I’d take to a friend’s house either.