Mikkeller: Tequilla and Speyside Aged Black 黑 (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 18.8% ABV)
Visual: Black (No surprise there). Thick browned froth head.
Nose: Strong spirit. Vodka and jelly babies. Toasted teacakes. Milky coffee. Cocoa. Light cherries.
Body: Tingling. Sweet chocolate fondue. Jelly babies. Bitter chocolate hints. Orange liqueur. Noticeable alcohol. Toffee notes. Burn on swallowing. Pear notes and strawberry late on.
Finish: Spirity. Very bitter chocolate. Tongue numbing. Smoke. Brown bread. Crème brulee.
Conclusion: How big is too big? And no innuendo please. Mikkeller black was always an intense one, utterly bitter black chocolate with no compromises. Always single minded. This? Well it is different, but even bigger and more intense.
Initially it seemed too spirity – there is a definite alcohol harshness and prickle, which, along with the immensely bitter chocolate finish, makes for a very harsh way out for this beer.
What I find interesting is how the barrel ageing has altered the main body – previously the chocolate was bitter as hell – now it comes in sweet and with an almost chocolate fondue style – this makes for a much needed contrast to the very spirit heavy influence, especially the harsh tequila alcohol air and slight smoke.
It is an odd mix, once you get used to the harshness there is reasonable depth to the main body, with the varied ageing adding different spirit, sweet and fruity notes to the chocolate body.
The finish however is a clumsy mess of harshness, where the main body has quirks – rough edges but in a charming way – the finish doesn’t work. A pity as it lets down the rest of the beer massively – especially as the finish lasts so long so it will be what you are experiencing about half the time.
So, I think they went a bit too big here, all the elements are trying to shout all the time and that means half the time you can’t hear anything but the loudest voice. So, it still has the impressive base of black, but there is too much clashing here. Not bad, but not really a refined beer, nor worth the price tag, So, especially at the insane abv, it doesn’t give you a better beer for it
Background: For anyone wondering, yes 黑 is the kanji for black. If it wasn’t obvious. Anyway, I have had black a few times, but never got around to reviewing it, it is a very bitter chocolate and coffee beer. So when I saw a double barrelled aged version at independent spirit I grabbed one. Well technically I grabbed two, one as a present for a friend. So that may introduce some bias into this review. Drunk while listening to Against Me! White Crosses which continues to grow on me. In fact the beer took so long to drink at the abv that I also listened to the Guilty Gear soundtrack as well. yes I took my time with this one.