A couple of beers from the darker side of the spectrum in today's BiR.
Leading off is Columbia, SC's own Conquest Brewing Company's Imperial Chocolate-Covered Cherry Porter. Now, this beer sounds like it could be a cloyingly sweet mess of a beer, but Conquest really made this work and delivered a terrific beer. The beer pours virtually pitch black and initially delivers a bit of an earthy note go along with a moderately sweet chocolate note. Now, I was impressed by the relative restraint of the sweetness in this beer--a sweet note is definitely significant, but is not even remotely close to overpowering, even despite the potentially sweet ingredients and a potential for some sweetness coming from the 9.2% ABV. There is just a hint of a cherry note; it was present, but I certainly could have used more, personally. There is a slight bite and maybe a hint of smokiness at the very end of the drinking experience and carrying over into the aftertaste. In addition, it gets a tad boozy as it warms. Really, not surprising given that alcohol level. But this is the best offering I've had from Conquest, and it's not even close.
Next up is a core beer from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville, NC, their Brown Ale. As expected, this beer has a powerful malt profile, using seven different malt varieties, but the strong hop additions (including Amarillo and Saaz hops) are unique to a brown ale. This Duck-Rabbit offering pours deep brown with cola highlights and has an ABV of 5.6%. I found the hops to push through a little bit with just a hint of hop bite, but the malt backbone and profile still manage to make a strong showing in this beer. It is a rich beer, with some chocolate notes. A caramel hint is also present among toasted malts and just a little bit of nuttiness. Duck-Rabbit deviates from the norm a little bit, but still puts out a very good brown ale.