Labor Day always marks the unofficial end of summer and to go out with a bang I invited two friends over to drink a pretty special beer. Jay aka http://youtube.com/jjrudy41 drops by for his first official guest appearance in about 10 months! Plus Chris, a mutual friend of ours, is back only 48 hours since he last did a guest review stint.
Anyway, this is a pretty special and rare beer. Brooklyn Black Ops is Brooklyn's most exclusive brew. It's their Black Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels for 4 months, then bottled with champagne yeast to re-ferment it in the bottle. Only 1000 cases were made that year so it's difficult and expensive to find. This bottle was graciously donated to the show by my friend Patrick, who works locally in the craft beer industry. Thanks Patrick for the beer. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bottleandcellar
4.2AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
I received a 2099 vintage bottle as gift from a friend (thanks, Patrick!). I split it with two friends and poured mine into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Completely opaque black - no carbonation visible. Forms a fairly large, dark brown, sudsy head that retains and lacing well.
Smell: Prominent bourbon aroma of vanilla, oak, black cherry and alcohol. Very sweet, although I have smelled even more pungent beers of the style.
Taste: Imperial stouts aged in bourbon, Scotch, or whiskey barrels have become a trend over the last few years and while they all tend to rate very highly on the various beer geek databases they also tend to taste pretty much the same. That’s certainly the case of Brooklyn Black Ops which is a very complex, robust, but highly drinkable imperial stout.
Up front I get a rich, sweet taste of black cherry and a hint of sour red grape, followed by a slightly bitter combination of medium coffee and high end dark chocolate. The aftertaste kicks with a sweet, smoky flavor of rich vanilla and wood with a hint of bourbon or whiskey. The bottle indicates it’s re-fermented with champagne yeast but I get no such qualities in the palate or the drinkability. The sour grape intensifies as it warms, but it’s very tolerable and doesn’t go to the extreme of being sticky and syrupy like many other Russian Imperial Stouts seem to do. A very pleasant drinking experience overall, but it’s missing a certain something to put it in the Hall of Fame category for me.
Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, but not syrupy; minor fizziness; slight alcohol warmth on the tongue and in the throat.
Drinkability: My beef with huge beers like Brooklyn Black Ops is that as great and complex as their palates are, they suffer from a lack of drinkability. This 2009 vintage doesn’t have that problem as it’s very comfortable in the mouth with only a slight dry, bitter aftertaste. The 11.6% ABV is invisible all around, although I don’t think I’d be able to drink the entire 750ml bottle myself. This is a great dessert beer to split with someone who really deserves it.
Overall, Brooklyn Black Ops is a great beer, although I think it suffers a bit from hype and reputation. Still, it’s fun to drink and I’m glad I got to try it.