Hey folks! It’s currently day three of Providence Craft Beer Week, and you all have managed to catch me on a day where I’m brewing beer! For those of you who don’t know anything about homebrewing, it involves science, a little artistic flair, and a lot of waiting. Some months back, before the idea of starting a blog even crossed my mind, I spotted this gem of a beer on the shelf of my local liquor store. Knowing the beer’s reputation, I decided that I had to snatch it up. Considering the fact that Beervana is a craft beer festival noted for its strong barrel-aged beers, sour beers, and otherwise extreme beers; I decided that, considering much of brew day is filled with a lot of waiting, today would be the perfect day to sip on a bourbon barrel aged stout to get myself in the mood for Beervana. Here’s my take on Brooklyn: Black Ops (Vintage 2014):
Beer Name: Black Ops (2014)
Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Brewery Location: Brooklyn, NY
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Black Ops pours a jet black, opaque color with a tan head that dissipates quickly as you drink it (most likely from the high alcohol).
Bourbon, vanilla, oak, and a lot of alcohol are the most pungent flavors perceived here. The beer likely has some roast characteristics (most stouts do), but is dominated by the flavors listed above.
Taste & Aftertaste
With the very first sip, a distinct and assertive burning alcohol flavor is apparent. Just as one perceives with the aroma, the dominant flavors of this beer are bourbon, vanilla, and oak (from the oak barrels). For me, I got the most bourbon when I breathed out through my nose with each sip. This beer is thick and creamy, like one should expect with a beer close to 12% in alcohol (oh man), BUT the beer actually finishes very dry considering the style (many high alcohol beers tend to leave behind more residual sugar, leaving behind a sweeter aftertaste). That said, this beer has a maple syrup like quality considering how thick and rich it is- I could pour this beer on my pancakes and be happy with them. This beer does not try to hide it’s alcohol- there is definitely a strong warming quality that comes with every sip of this beer. I do pick up a faint hint of chocolate and caramel (especially as it warms), however this note is, by and large, overwhelmed by the bourbon, vanilla, and oak characteristics. Plus it’s dangerously smooth. Approach this beer with caution!
Good lord, this beer is fantastic! I have been sitting on this beer for a few months waiting for the right time to open it. This beer is rich, bourbon-ey, with strong notes of vanilla from the oak; and yet dangerously smooth when one considers that this beer is above 11% alcohol. My top recommendation to anybody who encounters a bottle of this beer is to age it. I have not had this beer fresh before, but beers of this strength and assertiveness require aging to mellow out the strong alcohol and oak flavors. Age will mellow out harsh alcoholic and oaky flavors in beer (more often than not), and considering that those flavors are still very apparent in this beer (which is a two year-old vintage, mind you!), this beer can stand up to some age. If you see this beer, grab it. You won’t regret it.