The 500mL matte black bottle of Moksa’s Grasp of Darkness, adorned with glossy black artwork, immediately poses a challenge in readability. The label’s aesthetics, while intriguing once deciphered, may struggle on store shelves. Poured into a snifter/tulip hybrid, the sepia-colored liquid transforms into a predictable ink black, crowned with a substantial, micro-bubbled, khaki foam that lingers for several minutes.


A powerful aroma emanates upon opening, dominated by toasted marshmallow, sweet milk chocolate, hints of black licorice, and a touch of amaretto. The initial olfactory experience promises a complex blend of decadent sweetness.


The aerated, whipped texture of Grasp of Darkness impresses from the first sip. Straying away from the expected coffee-centric notes, the flavors lean towards chocolate cream pie, dark chocolate mousse, and muscovado sugar. Surprisingly, the Modern Times coffee addition does little to boost bitterness, with the overall bitterness rating at a modest 4/10, while sweetness takes a prominent role at 8/10.


A standout feature is the beer’s ultra-silky mouthfeel, elevating its aesthetic appeal. Despite its high ABV of 12.5%, the beer offers a soft and inviting experience. However, the elusive vanilla addition, though present, works subtly in the background, avoiding the cloying character often found in similar stouts. Bitter cacao nibs, usually prone to a chalky, rough mouthfeel, remain well-hidden.


Grasp of Darkness, while excelling in mouthfeel and aesthetics, may disappoint those anticipating a bold coffee-forward profile. In the realm of dessert stouts, it leans heavily towards sweetness, emerging as the sweetest among the Moksa stouts reviewed this year. The call for a more robust coffee addition for balance is evident, especially for enthusiasts seeking a bolder flavor profile. Best enjoyed as a shared indulgence rather than a solitary sipper, this imperial stout provides a promising foundation for future experiments.

In the broader context of beer reviews, it’s essential to strike a balance between critical analysis and constructive feedback. While Grasp of Darkness falls short in certain flavor expectations, its strengths lie in its texture and presentation.

Reflections on Beer Reviews

Reflecting on the broader perspective of beer reviews, it’s crucial to acknowledge the dual purpose they serve – benefiting both consumers and businesses. Critical reviews, when approached thoughtfully, offer valuable feedback for improvement rather than mere condemnation. It’s a symbiotic relationship where businesses should view critique as free quality control, enhancing their product’s overall quality.

In the contemporary beer landscape, online reviews play a pivotal role in a brewery’s success. They provide instant feedback, shaping consumer perceptions and influencing business growth. Striking a balance between critical evaluation and respecting the intelligence of the reader is vital. While producers may initially resist critical feedback, embracing it as a tool for improvement is key to long-term success.

The struggle in critical reviews lies in maintaining honesty without veering into disingenuous sugar-coating. Constructive criticism serves as a guide for both producers and consumers, ensuring transparency in the evaluation process. Aligning personal preferences and acknowledging the subjectivity of taste further enriches the review process.

In essence, a well-crafted critical review should be seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a deterrent to sales. It fosters a culture of continuous improvement, benefiting both producers and consumers in the dynamic world of craft beer. Cheers to honest feedback and the pursuit of exceptional brews!