This month always seems to lead people into the dark side of things. Maybe it’s the shit-filled love fest, maybe it’s the winter gloom, maybe even the financial repercussions of spending all your hard-earned Christmas dough on a couple of assholes in your life that didn’t bother to bring beer back home from out of state. All are possible answers, but I hope this set of reviews will help you embrace the darker side of things, especially when they hit your palate. At least the booze will soothe the pain until it passes. While you reflect on that, here are the reviews:

Epic Double Skull Doppelbock
Brewery/Brand: Epic Brewing Co.
ABV: 7.7%
Serving: 22 oz Bottle
Description: This bomber pours a deep amber color with a thin white head. After a couple huffs, this doppel opens up into some sweet toasted malts, yeasty dark fruit and some nutty malt. On the palate, you taste sweet toffee, more caramel from the aroma and a drying fruit/malt finish.
Overview: Another style checked off the Epic list, and another well put-together lager by these folks. The sweet malt character and soft fruity linger, backed up by the booziness, makes this well suited for this time of the year. Definitely a must try from their lineup. To add some icing on that cake, Epic is now open Sundays thanks to a glorious food-serving loophole. So fret not, you can now pick this guy up at Epic and drown those sorrows in the comfort of your own home.

Barrel of Russians

Brewery/Brand: Squatters Pub
ABV: 10.5%
Serving: 750 ml Bottle
Description: This long awaited brew pours a viscous black/brown color and gives a small brown head. The nose is a complex load of whiskey heat, chocolate, vanilla and roasted coffee. The taste starts off with a richly balanced amount of chocolate, roast and robust fruits. After all that sets in, it finishes with a well dried lingering of rye whiskey and roast on your palate.
Overview: This is one of my new favorites from Squatters Pub. Its original birth came from Outer Darkness, but this modified version was aged in High West Whiskey barrels since last summer. What sticks out most for me is that this brew has that heavily viscous body that comes with an imperial stout, but the whiskey barrel and good age on it gives you that heavy body and a very dry,
flavorful finish.

4-Play Porter
Brewery/Brand: Shades of Pale Brewing Company
ABV: 4.0%
Serving: 22 oz Bottle
Description: Off the pour, this beer is a deep opaque brown with a small beige head. The aroma is sweet, with notes of caramel, chocolate and nutty roast. The taste is soft, with characteristics of baker’s chocolate, toffee and some grainy toast coming through on the end.
Overview: This traditional English-style porter was brewed as a tribute to aviators and a good friend of the brewery, who happens to be an acrobatic pilot who flies a plane rightly named “4-Play.” This homage brew is my new favorite to come from SOP—it has a well balanced malt character and enough girth at 4% that made me guzzle a couple down. Frankly, it left me wanting to see more SOP on taps around town!