Brooklyn: Black Ops (USA: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)
Visual: Black. Moderate coffee brown layer on top.
Nose: Vinous. Sour grapes. Vanilla. Chocolate dust. Bourbon. Bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Hazelnuts. Creamy ice cream. Vanilla and chocolate. Slight chilli warmth.
Body: Hazelnuts. Caramel. Frothy. Bitter chocolate. Molasses. Vanilla toffee. Grape and white wine notes. Sour cream. Light black cherry.
Finish: Coffee. Chocolate ice cream. Hazelnuts. Vanilla. Toffee. Bitter chocolate. White wine.
Conclusion: Yes, I am blasé. Very blasé when it comes to Imperial Stouts, but despite that Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout holds a place in my heart. No it isn’t perfect, yes it is boozy, but it is just so damn earnest. Rough as a badger’s arsehole at times, but such a kick of flavour.
Anyway, that’s a review for another time – I bring it up as I was expecting the base of this beer to be roughly similar, instead this thing is smooth as silk. Froths up easily and feels very easygoing for 11.5% abv. In fact it has an almost ice cream or milkshake chocolate character in both feel and taste. There’s a big bitter chocolate flavour that comes in after as well, mixing luxury chocolate with that cheap guilty joy of thick unhealthy milkshakes.
The bourbon notes in this are actually quite subtle, it comes across more as vinous, white wine like notes than anything I would usually associate with bourbon. I mean there are vanilla and toffee notes, but nowhere near as heavy as I would have guessed. It gives a surprisingly fresh feel to the beer. The strange things is that the vanilla, while not a main note, can still gain an almost cloying edge near the end of the beer, not quite sure how it manages that.
It is very nice, very big, big bitterness, big roasted character and subtle oak ageing. The usual problem with beers this price comes up. For example, quality wise, this one is in the same ballpark as, say Bristol beer Factory’s Ultimate Stout, or the whisky aged variants of their Russian Imperial Stout. Those on the other hand are much cheaper and just as good. I repeat, this is nice, smooth and complex to a great degree. It is well worth trying, just be aware for the cost you can get quite a few similarly good beers.
A very chocolate, roasted and subtly oak aged beer that makes great use of its milkshake like texture. Not the best, but very complex and very nice.
Background: Didn’t think I would find this in the UK, but once again Independent Spirit of Bath came through for me. I love the bottle label text on this
“Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist. However, if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery. Supposedly, “Black Ops” was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oak notes. They say it’s vanishingly rare. We have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Anyway, that pretty much explains what it is. This was drunk with friends, while being very amused at my friends’ confusion on playing Antichamber for the first time. Oh that game is a complete brain fuck.