Mar 9, 2015

Starr Hill Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout

It appears as though I was on a bit of a chocolate stout kick when I purchased this bottle of Starr Hill’s Shakedown. Last week’s South Street Anastasia was good, but this 8% ABV counterpart is that much better. Packaged back at the end of October of last year, my bottle of Shakedown wasn’t particularly fresh, but it’s also not at a point in its lifecycle that I am overly concerned about any sort of degradation — especially for a big stout like this.

Much like the Anastasia, this brew carries a good bit of cocoa character, but is far from what I would call a desert beer. It’s not overly sweet and the injection of cherries during fermentation gives Shakedown that little something extra to set it over the edge. I believe that the cherry presence has probably faded a touch over the past few months as there isn’t much of a tartness as described by the brewery. This isn’t a big concern as the fruitiness of the cherry does just fine on its own.


The brew pours opaque black in color with a rocky stack of brown foam.

Starr Hill Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout photo


Cocoa and a soft roast fill the nose immediately as hints of coffee, distant cherries and a touch of anise following quickly behind.


First off, for as big as this beer is, alcohol-wise, it’s deceptively drinkable. Dark chocolate, roasty coffee, a moderate sweetness and a hint of tart cherries fills the mouth donerfully, riding along a full-bodied texture. The fruit shines through more as the beer has had a chance to warm in the glass. With all that is going on here, the beer is nicely balanced and goes down dangerously easy — the alcohol is masked well.


I like this beer. I’m not sure that it’s my favorite imperial stout that uses cherries within its dark depths, but Shakedown is darn tasty nonetheless. I’ve always enjoyed a Starr Hill beer, but these big, one-off and seasonal brews are really starting to show what the company can do, and ultimately bring me back more and more often to try new releases.

Rating: 3.75/5

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