Black Ops

Image courtesy of brooklyn brewery.com

Deep brown to black with a nice even head.  Slow-sliding lace.  Whiffs of cherry pipe tobacco, vanilla, heavy cream and an almost coconut curry note.  Black Ops from Brooklyn Brewery sounds like a checklist of things that I would like to put in my mouth.  Black Ops is a really complex and well-constructed bourbon barrel-aged stout, and an 11.5% ABV one at that.  It has a super smooth body and is dangerously drinkable, and is nowhere near as heavy as it looks.  The taste is very much like the bouquet, with an emphasis on the vanilla.  Creamy, luscious, milk chocolatey, unbelievable!  Almost as good as Very Mad Cow.

98/100 bourbon barrel-aged stout

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Baja Stout

Image courtesy of laregionindie.com

Image courtesy of laregionindie.com

Oatmeal Stout from Mexico?  What the???  Sure enough, and I thought the most flavorful beer Mexico had to offer to the world was Negra Modello.  Man, what an ignoramus I am.  Anyway, Baja Stout from Baja Brewing Company, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico is a nice oatmeal stout that pours dark brown with a evanescent head and leaves you some splotchy lace to remember it by.  Notes of coffee, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, wood smoke and just a faint whiff of vanilla can be detected in the bouquet.  There’s a touch of dry yeast as well.  The mouthfeel is velvet smooth, and carbonation is hardly detectable on the tongue, and the coffee and cocoa makes a return in the flavor.  Baja Stout is substantial but not huge, and the 7% ABV doesn’t generate much heat.  This beer is a meal in itself, and I could only handle one per sitting.  This would be better in January than it is in May, but if you’re offered one, accept and enjoy whatever time of year it happens to be!

By the way, the brewers are from Colorado, explaining why there is stout in Mexico.

Obsidian Stout

Image courtesy of Deschutes Brewing Co.

Image courtesy of Deschutes Brewing Co.

Sorry to ruin the surprise, but Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewing Company may be the best American Dry Stout I’ve had.  This black-as-tar stout sports a thick head that looks like chocolate mousse, being rich, creamy and brown and producing scads of lace that resembles a fieldstone stone fireplace.  Seriously.  There is a sharpness to Obsidian Stout’s bouquet that compliments the smokiness deeper down in the nose.  A little coffee too.  Obsidian Stout has a smooth, rich, velvety body and a very complex flavor profile.  I find bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream and coffee notes, and a little hop bitterness to balance the mild sweetness.  Obsidian stout ends with a touch of bitterness, but not with a long-lasting, drying sensation.  This is an EXCELLENT stout!

95/100

Cherry Stout

Image courtesy of Bell's Brewery Inc.

Image courtesy of Bell’s Brewery Inc.

Cherry Stout from Bell’s Brewery Inc., Comstock, MI, pours a deep, dark brown that’s virtually opaque, with a thin, dark beige head that displays a deep ruby cast.. Coffee, earthy, yeasty notes abound, and some smokiness is there as well, but no discernible cherry in the bouquet.  You certainly get it in the first taste though.  Dark chocolate-covered cherries?  The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but not to the detriment of the beer.  Cherry Stout is a bit tart, sweet, and not nearly as roasty, toasty and coffee-like as the bouquet leads you to believe.  I don’t call it deception, I call it artistry and alchemy, being able to cover a broad spectrum of smells and tastes with so few ingredients.  Theres some dryness in the finish and a little coffee aftertaste.

I’d call it good, but not something I’d seek out.

70/100 stout

70/100 fruit beer

Yeti Espresso Oak Aged Imperial Stout

Image courtesy of Great Divide Brewing Co.

Image courtesy of Great Divide Brewing Co.

Just in time for the cold weather, Yeti Espresso Oak Aged Imperial Stout, from Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Co.  It pours thick and black with a rich brown head, which, as it recedes, leaves a wash of lacing.  That lacing looks like the strata of the Black Hills as the glass is drained, I might add.  The bouquet is chocolatey, with some vanilla, coffee and dry, earthy spice thrown in.  The rich velvety texture is inviting, and more of the earthy qualities come through in the flavor, followed by more coffee and a dry, bitter coffee ground finish.  Yeti Espresso Oak Aged Imperial Stout has a little more of the coffee vibe than I generally like, but what do want from an espresso-laced stout?  At 9.5% ABV it’s a good gut warmer for a chilly October evening.

80/100 stout

Coffee Break Abduction

cbaCoffee Break Abduction, from one of Chicago’s newest breweries (Pipeworks Brewing Company, 1675 N. Western Ave.) has a lot going for it.  Let’s start with the crazy label art, reminiscent of a hokey B-Movie poster from the 50s.  Just look at it.  Then, how about the beer itself.  Coffee Break Abduction is an imperial stout with coffee and vanilla, and a weighty 10.5% ABV.  What a grand idea.  My bottle came from the legendary “Batch 72” and it pours black as night with a generous and oh-so-lacey head.  There’s a great coffee smell, roasted on the edge of burnt with a hint of clean paper.  The hops dry tang is there, but mainly it’s coffee bitterness, and vanilla in the exhale is a nice touch to wrap it all up.  The coffee comes from local craft coffee roaster Ipsento.  In spite of all the coffee notes, there is a good deal of sweetness that one becomes aware of in the finish.  A well-crafted, robust stout, and an overall enjoyable offering from Pipeworks.

Bonecrusher Stout

Image courtesy of beermenus.com

Image courtesy of beermenus.com

Brewed by The Schmohz Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, Bonecrusher Stout is a 6.4% ABV American Stout that pours like black syrup (well, almost) and shows off a generous tan/brown head.  The bouquet features coffee, chocolate and light wood smoke, and add a bit of sharpness to it and you have the flavor profile.  Dry and bitter, but not in excess.  Plenty of floral hops.  This is a big, flavorful stout.  The carbonation in this one led to a couple of deep-gut belches (I’m sorry, I’m just being honest) that taste of hop oils.

70/100 Stout