Pouring into the glass, Fremont’s Dark Star exhibits a cola-brown hue, clear at first, but transforming into an opaque black within the glass. The almond-colored foam, assertive and almost eager, threatens to spill over the rim if not poured with caution. Remarkably resilient, the head maintains its structure for over a minute, presenting a soufflé-like appearance. The tightly packed microbubbles contribute to a glossy sheen, making Dark Star stand out as one of the most visually appealing stouts in recent memory.


Lifting the glass, Dark Star envelops the senses in a captivating medley of creamed coffee, waxy dark chocolate, smoked meat, black Beldi olives, and hints of black crayon. Impressively integrated, each note harmonizes seamlessly, preventing any one element from overpowering the others. The aromatic experience sets high expectations for what’s to come.


The flavor profile aligns closely with the aroma, yet Dark Star surprises with a slightly higher level of bitterness than anticipated. The dominant presence of waxy dark chocolate, with bitterness peaking at a 6 out of 10, is complemented by a sugar level matching it at 6/10. After a few sips, a subtle spiciness from the alcohol emerges, although never crossing into boozy territory. The persistence of super dark chocolate, intertwined with robust dark roast coffee and delicate hints of smoke, creates an incredibly satisfying taste.


While the oats promise a silky smooth mouthfeel, Dark Star falls short of delivering a distinctive oatmeal character. Surprisingly light-bodied, it lacks the richness often associated with oatmeal stouts. The mouthfeel is notably proteinaceous, leading to a semi-dry finish. The roasted malt imparts a pleasant sting, accentuating the rush of bitterness. In contrast to prevailing trends in craft beer, Dark Star embraces a “no-frills” approach, avoiding the extremes and maintaining a straightforward profile.


Dark Star may not steal the spotlight as the most thrilling beer on the scene, but its flawless execution captures the classic essence of its style. The beer’s preference for a bitter and semi-dry profile distinguishes it from others in its segment, which often succumb to booziness, excessive sweetness, and reliance on adjuncts. In a craft beer landscape filled with experimental twists, Dark Star offers a refreshing return to a traditional approach.

In comparison to similar beers, Oskar Blues Ten FIDY shares a resemblance, brewed with oats and boasting a higher alcohol content at 10.50%. Dark Star’s unique position at 8% ABV sets it apart, with a closer match found in Firestone Walker’s 5.5% Velvet Merlin (now Nitro Merlin). These three stouts earn my commendation for their straightforward profiles at varying alcohol levels.

Dark Star, with its classic charm, serves as a commendable choice for those seeking a reliable stout that stays true to the fundamentals of the style.