Rodney A. Tillinghast's picture

Black Ops

January, 2016
Judges Rating: 
95
Aroma: 
23 / 24
Appearance: 
5 / 6
Flavor: 
39 / 40
Mouthfeel: 
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

I poured this obsidian-colored stout into my standard Belgian snifter and let it sit for a few minutes to warm towards room temperature. Surprisingly, I recognized its bourbon aroma from across the room while preparing my review notepad for use.

The beer’s aroma comes across originally as a boozy “large and in-charge” imperial bourbon barrel aged stout. At the onset, I was wondering if I’d need a roll of dental floss to get through all of the anticipated chewy imperial stout goodness.

Then I tasted it.

Though still boozy (in a silky smooth bourbon sense), Black Ops features complex vanilla, dark cocoa and marshmallow flavors, supported by a very restrained amount of hop bitterness and flavor. Lightly fruity, but also blended with an aggressive but well-crafted bourbon barrel element.

The fruity note did persist through the finish, however, and for a beer of its size, it finished pleasantly dry, which lent a drinkability factor to it that I had not expected. At over 10 percent ABV, I do not suggest sampling massive quantities of this beer at one sitting. However, this beer ends up being one of the most intriguing that I’ve tasted this year, and one that should be on the wish list for anyone seriously trying to expand their palate concerning barrel-aged beers.  

This is a beer not only to sample today, but one that would also benefit from extended cellar aging. Do not miss it.

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