Tasting: December 21, 2011
Style: Stout (Imperial)
Everyone seems to be releasing beer aged in â€œusedâ€ bourbon barrels. It certainly makes me wonder — are there really that many idle bourbon barrels out there? The answer is yes. There are some specific rules regarding the production of bourbon – one of which is that bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. Since these barrels canâ€™t be recycled for future use in bourbon production â€“ craft beer brewers have seized the opportunity to their advantage. The bourbon influence lends a strong woodsy vanilla flavor. This offering from Brooklyn it is the fourth year that the New York brewery has released this bourbon barrel offering. It’s aged for four months in the bourbon barrel and is available in very limited supply. From what I’ve read, there were only 1,000 cases released a couple of weeks ago. At a price of $20/bomber — it’s steep by beer standards. I loved Brooklyn’s Chocolate Stout – so I’m anxious to try this one.
I love the name — Black Ops — which in case you didn’t know is short for Black Operations. In the military, black ops are clandestine missions that are planned to leave no trace and no culpability if the operation fails. In business, it has similarities – but it involves a rogue employee that supplies an idea and materials while the company supplies the equipment. Of course, the company reaps most of the spoils. I’m not sure if this black ops involved any brewery tank takeovers – but I like the concept. Rounding out the niceties – I love the cage and cork bottle and simple black on black label with silver trim. One other note – this one is 10.6% ABV and the label suggests that it can be aged up to five years.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I’m half way through this bottle. I have to say I’m disappointed. I was expecting decadence of flavor only to find a rather meek offering. Yes, you get the bourbon flavor of vanilla and earth, but it’s delivered through a thin body and it simply overpowers any coffee, chocolate or other flavors that might act as the back bone. Really no balance or depth of character here — it’s boozy and warms the bones for sure, but for the price, I want to be wowed. I’ll put it at 83 points.
Happy Winter Solstice everyone.