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Notes of a Beer Nerd: Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops

October 27, 2010 1 comment

It's a secret...

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at timperial@beerblotter.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 10/20/2010

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Beer: Black Ops

Web: http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/

Presentation: 750ml – Blown Glass Bottle – Corked and Caged

Vintage: 2009

Style: Imperial Stout

Barrel: Bourbon

ABV: 11.6%

IBU: N/A

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Tulip…ish

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Commercial Description:

Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist. However, if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery. Supposedly “Black ops” was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oat notes. They say there are only 1,000 cases. We have no idea what they’re talking about.

Food Pairings: Grilled meat, ice cream, brownies

Cheese Pairings: Aged Gouda, Cheddar, Parmesan

Music Pairing: Small Black from Brooklyn

Beer Advocate: A- (4.25)

Rate Beer: 100 (4.00)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Background.

Being from Philadelphia, I have had pretty much every beer that Brooklyn makes.  Well, at least the ones that were available before I moved to Seattle three and a half years ago.  In PA, there are some very odd laws based around beer.  As a consumer, you have to buy any beer that you want to take home with you from either a bar (six-packs only) or a distributor (full cases only).  You cannot buy beer at a grocery store, convenience store, etc.  There are a few bottle shops around that sell individual bottles, but they are few and far between.  With this in mind, many larger breweries end up producing “variety” cases, almost exclusively for PA consumers.  Most of the time, these include 4 different six-packs, but sometimes there’s even more variety.

Brooklyn was one of the breweries that offered the variety case and I purchased it quite often.  For me, this was one of the few variety options where I liked every beer, even the lager, and that fact stuck with me.  I have always respected Garret Oliver and Brooklyn since those burgeoning days of beer nerdiness.  As that nerdiness reached full bloom, I abandoned the variety case all together and exclusively shopped at the bottle shops, despite the inconvenience.  Those days allowed me to find Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout.  To this day, that beer is one of the beers I most miss from the East coast.  It’s just like what you think it would be like, chocolatey, sweet, smooth and warming.

Once I heard that the brewery that made one of my favorite East coast stouts was doing a limited run of bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, I flipped out.  But, alas, I quickly excepted the fact that I would probably never get a chance to try it, being so far away from the distribution area.  But then, the other 2/3 of beerblotter took a trip to NYC.  I said to them before they departed, “If there is one bottle that you return with, for the love of god make it be Black Ops!”  Yadda, yadda, yadda, here we are today.

Appearance.

This monster pours with a huge head of brown and a slight hint of clay color.  It should go without saying that the liquid itself is oil black.  As the head dwindles, which takes quite a while I may add, there is some serious lacing left on the glass that seems to be caramelized or heated to crystallization on the inside of the glass.  It’s a sight to see!  The head never does fully dissipate, leaving an impressive 1/8 of an inch to the very end.

Odor.

The scent is outrageously smooth and complex.  Notes of bourbon, pretzels, vanilla, white cookie or white cake batter, wood, tobacco and a medicinal booziness exist.  As it warms, there is a sense of saltiness that is produced in the nose, possibly a suggestion from the pretzel connotation, or possibly the other way around.  Maybe the scent really is of salt and the baked, malty notes bring pretzels to mind.  The world may never know.  Also uncovered: Burnt sugar, creme brulee, brown sugar, rum, almond biscotti…did I mention that this is complex?

Mouthfeel.

This is smooth without being too cloying or syrupy.  The champagne yeast is not as active as I suspected it would feel in the mouth, but it must play a massive role in the body, which is super unique.  The use of champagne yeast in beer is rare, but it has produced fantastic results here.

Flavor.

Many of the bourbon flavors are realized on the tongue, which I feel is unique – I generally just get the odors.  The dark, roasted malts seem to be most prevalent near the end of the flavor profile.  They impart a chocolate nib bitterness, but there is no dryness to be found.  Vinous and a bit juicy (read: not drying) with an intense mouth watering nature, but not overly sweet.  It’s perplexing how the flavor lingers forever and is not dry but it’s simultaneously not very sweet.  Many of the flavors associated with the scents listed above come and go as the liquid washes over the taste buds.  The experience is like eating a slurry of every desert ever made, and it’s awesome!

Aftertaste.

There is a whole butt load of booze in the aftertaste, which makes it a bit challenging to pinpoint the subtle nuances.  There is definitely some licorice in there, I did get that.

Summation.

This beer was shared amongst the three beerblotter members, and each one of us was completely smitten by it.  It is, without a doubt, one of the best bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts we have ever had.  This beer is not easy to find, especially on the West Coast, but hear me now: do WHATEVER you must to get this!

If you like Brooklyn Black Ops, you should try…

Deschutes Brewery‘s The Abyss; Big Sky Brewing‘s Ivan the Terrible; North Coast Brewing‘s Old Rasputin Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Events Week of March 22, 2010

The taps at Birtch and Barley in Washington, DC

Ok, we are back, wishing we weren’t and jet lagged. But we are ignoring our heavy eyelids in order to bring you events for this week. Enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mikkeller Single Hop Draft Bonanza: Washington, District Columbia

4:00PM-12:o0AM @ Birch and Barley

Come and enjoy 10, yes 10 different single hops by Danish brewery, Mikkeller on tap- MIKKELLER SINGLE HOP CENTENNIAL IPA; CASCADE IPA; AMARILLO IPA; NELSON SAUVIN IPA; EAST KENT GOLDING IPA; TOMAHAWK IPA; NUGGET IPA; WARRIOR IPA; CHINOOK IPA; SIMCOE IPA. This is a great event to truly learn about the various hops and their individual flavors.

Terrapin Kick Off Night: Mount Holly, New Jersey

7:00PM-10:00PM @ High Street Grill

Be one of the first in our area to get a try at the Terrapin Beer Co brews during this beer tasting at High Street Grill. Several beers from the featured brewery will be on tap for your pleasure and enjoyment. Report back!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Big Sky Brewing Co. Party: Grand Rapids, Michigan

6:00PM-12:00AM @ HopCat

Tonight Hop Cat will feature several Big Sky Brewing beers on tap, so come down and have a few with the men behind the brews.

Dogfish Head Triple Threat Tapping: Las Vegas, Nevada

5:00PM- 10:00PM @ Aces and Ales

Stop by and you shall receive Dogfish Head’s ‘Monster Limited Edition’ beers in 12 Ounce Goblets of ‘Burton Baton 10%; the Red & White 10% ABV’ and the ‘Black & Blue 11% ABV!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Avery Experience: Shawnee, Kansas

7:00PM-9:00PM @ Barley’s Brewhouse

Adam Avery with Avery Brewing is hosting the Avery Experience which will consist of 5 flights (15 beers) with food. Call Barley’s at 913.268.5160 to reserve tickets! Tickets $35/person.

Stone Brewing Co. Growler Madness: Charlotte, North Carolina

7:00PM- 10:00PM @ Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, The

Available this evening will be 2 Litre commemorative Stone Brewing Co growlers full of their delicious and award winning IPA. Buy it, share it among friends, and then take your empty growler home for future fills of….BEER! Growlers are on a first come, first serve basis and are limited.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Big, Bad Beer Sampling: Indianapolis, Indiana

7:00PM- 9:00PM @ United Package Liquors

We always like to include free events, so here it is- enjoy a free tasting of Founders KBS,Nemesis and Double Trouble. Lots o’ beers from Stone Brewing Co., Great Divide and more.

Founders Tasting and Meal Pairing: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

7:00PM- 9:00PM @ Harris Grill

In keeping with our love of Mid-western beers and more importantly Founders’ beers, we encourage you to stop by this event. This is a FREE beer tasting and food pairing where a special tasting menu will incorporate and highlight 4 Founders products, including an excellent rarity. Attendees will receive a ticket good for $1 off any forunders product on draft. RSVP is requested but not necessary.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Night Flights: Florence, Kentucky

6:00PM-7:00PM @ Party Town

This event is only one hour, so plan to get there first! A weekly event were at least eight brews, a special barrel or two are poured to coincide with the event. This Friday from 6-7pm Party Town will be opening a selection of beers from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

Troegs Firkin Tapping: Spring House, Pennsylvania

5:00PM – 12:00AM @ Drafting Room

Pouring tonight from the draft tower are special beers from Troegs (sounds cool)- Troegs Nugget Nectar; Troegs Pale Ale and Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat.

Saturday, March 28, 2010

Brooklyn Home Brew Tour: Brooklyn, New York

1:00PM – 5:00PM @ Brooklyn Brewery

A hands on experience to say the least. You will venture inside the homes of the city’s finest amateur brewers to see their set-ups, discuss their craft and, most importantly, sample from their stashes of superlative beer–Rye IPAs, barleywines, saisons, Belgian pale ales and coffee stouts are all on tap. There will be three stops; bring a Metrocard. $25 pp includes samples.

Second Annual Cask Conditioned Festival: Bedford Heights, Ohio

1:00PM-4:00PM @ The Winking Lizard

The Cask Conditioned Ale Festival for 2010 will feature a staunch line-up of some hard to find or specially brewed ales such as Avery Dry Hopped IPA; Thirsty Dog Orthus with Cherries and many more! $30 per person ($25 for 2010 World Tourists) and will include a buffet!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Help for Haiti: Hudson, Massachusettes

3:00PM – 6:00PM @ Bacon’s Wine and Spirits

We have 4 tables of beer vendors and 6 tables of wine vendors, each paired with a restaurant matching food to beer/wine. Both sides (beer & wine) are joining forces for a good cause as all proceeds from the event will go via the American Red Cross to benefit Haiti. Beer vendors in attendance are Berkshire Brewing, Smuttynose Brewing, Mayflower Brewing, and Atlantic Importing. Tickets are $25 and are very limited.

So, its 6AM in Belgium and we are still awake/its time to attempt to get back on Seattle time. Much more to come on our Belgium trip this week on beerblotter.com. As always if you have been to an event, want us to post an event, have a comment about going to an event or just want to profess your love of beer, leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com. Cheers!

The Beer Blotter Guide to Beveridge Place Pub’s Bacchanal 2010

February 24, 2010 1 comment

The facade of Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle - the site of the Annual Bacchanal of Barleywines

Beveridge Place Pub’s 7th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal kicks off this Friday, February 26th, with over 40 barleywines pouring for a week straight from 24 taps.  That’s a lot of big bold brews to choose from.  Since there is clearly more beers than taps, there will be a constant rotation of kegs a flowin’.  As one blows, another will replace it, and so on.

The folks over at the Washington Beer Blog were kind enough to post the complete list for all to slobber over. Below you will find the entire list.  Clearly, all are barleywines, and thus, all are going to be packed with copious quantities of both malt and hops.  All will be fairly high in alcohol, and chances are good that all will taste pretty darn good.  Your main fear should be a harsh, young vintage.  Sometimes these fellas just need some time to mature and mellow out.  Too much bitterness and not enough sweetness can make your barleywine experience akin to being strangled by a hop vine.  There is no question, if you read this site with any regularity, that Beer Blotter holds great respect for Father Time and his agile hand at improving beers of many kinds, especially barleywines.

For Beer Blotter, the older the vintage, the more excited we are to try it.  Both rare and refined, these pours should improve your evening no matter who brewed them.

So our first overarching tip to you, “age is all the rage”.

But we need more detail than that.  Let’s dig deeper.

The biggest challenge of the Bacchanal is the barrels-to-taps ratio.  The rotation system will make it difficult to have a clear game plan for your visit, whatever day you choose to attend.  You will never really know exactly what to expect, which, granted, offers its own brand of excitement.  Your best bet is to pre-create a list of b-dubs that you’re most excited to taste, and chances are that no matter what day you decide to venture out to West Seattle there will be at least a few of them available.

Perhaps a look at the Beer Blotter list could assist you in creating your own list.  Below, as promised, is the unadulterated list.  Below that, the Beer Blotter list.

Complete List:

Alaskan, Barleywine ‘06, ‘07,’08

Anacortes, Old Sebastes ‘07

Anchor, Old Foghorn ‘06, ‘07, ‘08

Anderson Valley, Horn of the Beer ‘09

Avery, Hog Heaven ‘09

Big Sky, Old Blue Hair ‘06

Boulder, Killer Penguin ‘09

Boundary Bay, Old Bounder ‘09

Deschutes, Mirror Mirror ‘09

Diamond Knot, Icebreaker ‘09

Dick’s, Barleywine ‘05, ‘09

Dogfish Head, Olde School ‘09

Elliott Bay, Old Portside ‘09

Elysian, Cyclops ‘09

Fish, 10 Squared ‘08, ‘09

Fish, Leviathan ‘06

Flying Dog, Horndog ‘09

Full Sail, Old Boardhead ‘06

Full Sail, Old Boilermaker 98 (yes, 1998)

Hale’s, Rudyard’s Rare ‘06, ‘09

Hopworks Urban Brewery, Noggin Floggin ‘09

Hood Canal, Breidablik ‘06, ‘07, ‘09

Lagunitas, Old Gnarleywine ‘04, ‘06, ‘07

Laurelwood, Old Reliable ‘09

Left Hand, Oak Aged Widdershins ‘07

Lucky Lab, Old Yeller ‘09

Mad River, Old Barleycorn ‘07

New Old Lompoc, Old Tavern Rat ‘08

North Coast, Old Stock ‘07, ‘09

Pike, Old Bawdy ‘07, ‘08

Port, Angel’s Share ‘09

Port Townsend, ‘09

Rogue, Old Crustacean ‘08

Schooner Exact, Old Sinking Ship ‘09

Scuttlebutt, Old #1 ‘06, ‘08

Sierra Nevada, Bigfoot ‘08

Skagit River, Shiver Me Liver ‘09

Speakeasy, Old Godfather ‘09

Stone, Old Guardian ‘07, ‘08, ‘09

Three Skulls, Wreckage ‘09

Victory, Old Horizontal ‘09

Walking Man, Old Stumblefoot ‘08

Beer Blotter List:

Alaskan, Barleywine ‘06, ‘07,’08

-This is a “must” if offered at the time of your visit.  A Northwest Masterpiece.  Alaskans know how to warm up with Barleywine.  This guy ranks very well in any festival that it is involved in.  In the last 5 years this brew has placed in the top 3 at Brouwer’s Hard Liver Barleywine Fest 3 times, and the ’07 vintage was number 1 last year.  A warning though…chances are high that these will only be available on Monday, March 1st or Tuesday, March 2nd when verticals are offered.  To try all three vintages side by side would truly be a treat.

Lagunitas, Old Gnarleywine ‘04, ‘06, ‘07

-In Beer Blotter’s humble opinion, there is not many Barleywines being made in the world better than Gnarleywine.  The ’08 vintage was awarded 3rd place in this years Toronado Barley Wine Festival, and chances are, the older the better.  Do not skip this one, any vintage.  Another warning: 3 years offered…look to vertical night for these.

Speakeasy, Old Godfather ‘09

-Though this is young, the ’06 got second place last year at Brouwer’s.  Expect this one to be high in alpha…it’s the Speakeasy way.

Stone, Old Guardian ‘07, ‘08, ‘09

-If you read Timperial’s review of the ’07 vintage you would know, this beer is sickly good.  Astounding balance, even through time.

Victory, Old Horizontal ’09 & Dogfish Head, Olde School ‘09

-With the exception of a few CO representatives, these are the only 2 offerings that aren’t from the West.  Reason?  They are astounding beers made by two of America’s best breweries.

Fish, 10 Squared ‘08, ’09 & Leviathan ‘06

-Both of these beers are incredible and hard to come by, even in their home state.  10 Squared was probably my personal favorite from last years Hard Liver Fest and old vintages of Leviathan, like this ’06, are pretty much legendary.  The barrel-aged version of Leviathan is in the top 10 on ratebeer.com’s list of barleywines.

Port, Angel’s Share ‘09

-It would be silly of me to leave this one out since it is literally one of my favorite beers of all time.  Number 9 on ratebeer.com’s barley wine list.

New Old Lompoc, Old Tavern Rat ‘08

-Beer Blotter recently had this from the always-impressive taps of Uber Tavern and really enjoyed it.  Very nutty if you’re into that.

Boundary Bay, Old Bounder ‘09

-Seattle does not see enough Boundary Bay.  Maybe if we drain this keg quickly the “will of the people” will change that depressing fact.

That’s a pretty healthy list for you, and honestly, I could go on an on.  There is A LOT of really good stuff on this list, and even a few that Beer Blotter has never had and looks forward to trying (like Lucky Lab, can we please have more of their beers in Seattle?).

Anyone and everyone within striking distance of Seattle should never, EVER miss events like this.  We are so lucky to have beer bars that put so much time, effort and money into aging beers for years and organizing such exciting festivals.  Beer Blotter sends a massive hug to Gary and The Bev for making this happen year after year.

Find us in West Seattle, raise a glass, it’s barleywine season!

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