Black Jacques

Brewdog: Black Jacques (Scotland: Belgium Strong Ale: 11.1% ABV)

Visual: Black with moderate beige loose head.

Nose: Liquorice. Rustic. Sour red wine. Wet oak. Pepper. Cola sweets. Herbal.

Body: Cola. Liquorice. Chocolate liquore, yet bitter chocolate. Sour cherry Slight earthy note and rustic yeast. Menthol. Sour cream and aniseed. Golden syrup cake.

Finish: Black liquorice. Sour wine sediment/Sour red wine. Rustic yeast. Earthy. Sour black cherry notes. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This is…odd. Lots of ideas running around my head, a sour stout, a rustic saison, menthol drinks, sour cherries, liquorice and cola drinks. What. The. Fuck? So, let’s see if we can make some cohesive narrative of this, ever in the brewers seem to consider that an optional extra.

The defining note for me is probably the liquorice, like those twisted black liquorice you get in all sorts, that slightly cloying taste and clinging. People who have been reading for a while may know this isn’t exactly my favourite element in a beer. Yet there is a real freshness as well, menthol and greenery that is as odd, but makes the beer seem not so harsh.

There’s aniseed notes, again not a favoured taste, sour wine like sediment. Hmm, in a way the beer feels like milk that is just about to turn. Ok, that will definitely need explaining. Every element feels just a hair breadth away from going off, there are those cloying and sour elements that hint at things about to go wrong, but for now it is riding the wave of where they are interesting rather than a flaw.

So, is it good? Erm. Give me a mo. Seriously it is odd as hell and fascinating. Cola sweetness coming in against the wine sourness and cloying elements with such definition that you could swear it had actual cola in it, fresh menthol yet grounded rustic yeast. Hmm, I’m digressing again, we already have decided it is interesting, but good? Is it?

Well, the liquorice is too heavy and unbalancing, and it isn’t a beer I feel a need to return to. But I am very glad I tried it this once, the knife edge between genius and insanity. There is a lot to it, a seriously complex and mixed up beer. The strength of it means that the red wine notes are only outside edges rather than dominating. I would say I highly recommend trying it.


Background: Brewdog call this an Imperial Black Saison. It could be, seriously I’m only just getting used to black saisons, let alone imperial versions. Anyway I’m going with the somewhat generic Strong Belgian Ale that ratebeer calls it. It is generic enough that I’m fairly sure it isn’t 100% wrong. This has been aged in French wine barrels, and was the beer I mentioned in my last post that was being released at 18:00 in Brewdog Bristol. So then I drank it. I have heard talk online that it a much better beer room temperature than cool, I took my time drinking this but it was still slightly chilled when I finished it, so may have missed its best qualities? Who knows? As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog Beers.