Apr 23, 2015

Sunken City Brewing John Henry’s Hammer

There’s really not much information available at John Henry’s Hammer, Sunken City’s imperial stout — besides the Wikipedia entry on the folk tale this beer is named after, which I hadn’t heard until preparing this review. Man vs. machine stories aside, about the only thing I can tell you about this brew is it’s ABV (8.3%) and that it’s got a 2014 bottling date.

Beyond that? Of the few beers I’ve had from this Hardy, VA based brewery, it’s by far and away their best.


John Henry’s Hammer pours a near black in color with a mahogany edge and dense cap of brow foam that fell slowly to a full ring around the surface.

Sunken City Brewing John Henry's Hammer photo


The beer carries a solid earthy tone with a ton of dark chocolate notes, roast coffee and a hint of licorice. Essentially, it smells like a stout should.


The flavor is more robust than the nose hinted. There’s more coffee and earthiness here than there is cocoa, which I’m totally cool with. The dark chocolate is in the mix and has got a nice richness to it, but it steps back a bit for the other elements to shine. There isn’t much astringency from the roast malt as is often the case with big stouts and a moderate sweetness lingers. The finish is long lasting and slightly drying as there’s just a hint of alcohol late.

Sunken City Brewing John Henry's Hammer photo


I do love a full bodied stout, and Sunken City have a decent one here with John Henry’s Hammer. It’s not the most refined beer, but I do enjoy its robustness and earthy character. I’ll be on the look out for this one next year.

Rating: 4/5

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