***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or comments***
Enjoyed on 10/20/2010
Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Beer: Black Ops
Presentation: 750ml – Blown Glass Bottle – Corked and Caged
Style: Imperial Stout
Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees
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)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
After the holiday week, Beer Blotter is back on track and ready to plan your New Year’s Eve night. Celebrating the new year amongst friends, beer lovers and great beer seems like the obvious thing to do. So we present you with a list of beer bars to stop by or beer events to attend tomorrow night, December 31, 2009. The focus will be on 2 cities, Seattle and New York City (where we were and where we are now) Check back on Monday for Beer Blotter’s regular weekly event posting.
Uber Tavern will have beer specials galore on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, so bring your sleeping bag and crash there. A list of specialty beers from our neighboring state, Oregon on tap for the occasion include Cascade Blackberry Nightfall ($4.00/goblet); Cascade Sang Noir ($5.00/goblet); Old Lompoc Old Tavern Rat ($3.00/schooner); Old Lompoc C-Note ($3.50/pint); Old Lompoc LSD ($3.50/pint); Old Lompoc Holiday Cheer ($3.50/pint). Enjoy your brews along side a smorgasbord of cured meats, cheeses and chocolates.
Fremont Brewing is hoping to entice Seattleites that may over indulge on New Year’s Eve to join the Resolution Run 5K and Polar Bear Dive. That will cure a hangover! After a 5K run and an OPTIONAL Polar Bear Dive into Lake Washington, Fremont Brewing will provide participants (over the age of 21) with unlimited beer and chili to warm them right up.
New York, New York (home to a beer lover’s dream NYE)
Blind Tiger Ale House will have unlimited beer and food from 9:00 PM-2:00 AM for $120.00/person.Call 212-462-4682 for reservations and details.
Rattle-n- Hum features an amazing tap list and karaoke to usher in the new year. Patrons have the option to pay-as-you-go, or buy a $150 open-bar ticket, which includes all beers, liquor and a Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops toast at midnight.
Beer Table is a modest establishment in Brooklyn, New York and is hosting the Past, Present and Future Dinner with two separate times to dine. The special menu includes three beers (from the past present and future) paired with spicy black eyed pea salad, Bamberg onion (stuffed with pork and topped with bacon) and potatoes, and Bayley Hazen Blue with honey and hazelnuts. The two sittings are at 8PM for $45 and 10PM for $55.
Then start start 2010 off right with Schneider Aventinus Eisbock from a gravity keg and butter beans with bacon.
If your in the mood for some R and R, some Dick Clark and beers in the warmth of your own abode. Then check out these winter warmers and Christmas beers, chosen by Timperial Stout.
The ice bock, also known as “Bavarian”, owes its discovery to a coincidence. According to the chronicles of the Kulmbacher brewery, some time around 1900 an apprentice forgot on a cold winter day to carry two barrels of bock beer into the brewery cellar. The barrels stayed outside, were covered by ice and snow and weren’t discovered until the following spring. The barrels had burst and the apprentice was reprimanded. But the carelessness was a stroke of luck because under the thick ice coat, a bock beer extract remained, strong tasting and high in alcoholic content. Even if the dark, tasty speciality is not produced in this spectacular way anymore, the chance that gave birth to this beer became a tradition. Today this beer rarity is brewed in a modern brewing and freezing process, but the incomparable taste is still the same and can always be enjoyed in winter months.
Mikkeller – To/From
From the website:
The second Christmas porter from Mikkeller. A spiced porter with fine malt background and lovely hop aroma and flavor. The label is designed as a ‘From To’ card – fill in the names and put the bottle it under the Christmas tree. The perfect give away gift for the lazy man/woman…!
Ingredients: Water, malt (pale, smoked, cara-crystal, brown and chocolate), roasted barley, dark cassonade, hops (amarillo, saaz and cascade), spices (star anise, clove, cinnamon and coriander seeds) and yeast.
The Bruery – Two Turtle Doves
From the website:
2 Turtle Doves is the second in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Services. We decided to take our inspiration from the name and base the beer on the “turtle” candy, brewing it with cocoa nibs, toasted pecans, caramelized sugar and a lot of caramel malts. Somewhere between a Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale and an Imperial Porter, this beer is designed to take the journey through time until 12 Drummers Drumming.
Alesmith Brewing Co.- Yulesmith Holiday Ale
From the website:
For the winter season, YuleSmith is brewed as an Imperial Red Ale. This version is maltier, more balanced, and darker in color than the summer version. Although quite malty, big hop flavors and aromas are abundant making this an unforgettable winter warmer. Winter YuleSmith is packaged in traditional holiday red and green.
Ommegang – Adoration
From the website:
Ommegang Adoration, brewed in the authentic style of Belgian winter, or noel beer, is dark, strong, malty and assertively spiced. At 10% abv Adoration is not a lightweight beer, and is best sipped before a roaring fire, or on a sleigh ride over the hills to Grandma’s house. (But let someone else drive.) It would also be a tasty accompaniment to dark roasts and wild game. Even at the strong abv, the beer is well-balanced and not at all hot or fiery. The dark malts give it lush, malty flavors and aromas, strongly complemented by the five spices, including coriander, cumin, mace, cardamom and grains of paradise. Hopping is modest, as befits such a beer.
Troeg’s – Mad Elf
From the website:
The Mad Elf, a cheerful creation to warm your heart and enlighten your tongue. The combination of Cherries, Honey, and Chocolate Malts delivers gentle fruits and subtle spices. Fermented and aged with a unique yeast, this ruby red beer has significant warming strength that underlies the pleasant character of this intriguing yet delicious Ale. The Mad Elf, a jolly and delicious beer for the Holidays.
Nogne O – Winter Ale
http://www.nogne-o.com/ (website is having some technical difficulties)
From the website:
A dark ale brewed specially for the Christmas season, with a rich, complex taste of caramel. This is a strong, dark and rather sweet Christmas Beer – just the way we think a Christmas beer should be.
Recommended serving temperature 12°C/53°F. Great with cheese or nuts. Ingredients:Lager, Munich, caramel, black, and chocolate malt; Chinook, Columbus, and Centennial hops; English ale yeast, and our local Grimstad water.”
Jolly Pumpkin – Noel de Calabaza
From the website:
Noel de Calabaza – Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.
Port Brewing – Santa’s Little Helper
From the website:
Each and every year, the Jolly Old Fatman sits down and compiles a list of who’s been naughty and nice. It’s curious that he never knows which list to put our brewers on as this is one naughty but incredibly nice beer.
Originally brewed at the Pizza Port in Solana Beach in November of 1997. As dark as the biggest lump of coal Santa can deliver, this beer has earned a dedicated following and is code named Satan’s Little Hangover by those who have indulged in a holiday like manner from time to time.
Originally shipped from London to the Czarist rulers of Russia, Imperial Stouts are stronger, richer and more robust versions of traditional stouts. The increase in alcohol content means that literally, many of these beers are a meal in a glass all on their own. Made from copious amounts of Roasted and Black Barleys, our stout invites you to share a silky black body with hints of freshly pulled espresso from the coffee house, melding with dark bitter sweet chocolate from a Belgian Chocolateer and the ash of a smoldering fire on a dark winters night.
Just remember that somewhere out there, the jolly old fat man is making a list and checking it twice. He knows who’s been naughty and nice… Might we suggest that you forgo the Milk with the cookies this year and leave him of bottle of something incredibly nice- Say like Santa’s Little Helper? Mrs. Clause would probably like some as well. That is if Rudolph doesn’t drink it all himself. Bad Reindeer.
Malts- Two Row, Wheat, Domestic and English Crystal, Roasted, Black and Chocolate Malts
Hops- Phoenix, Challenger and East Kent Goldings
Yeast- White Labs California Ale and Proprietary Yeast Strains
Most importantly, while enjoying yourself at home or out on the town, be safe, have fun and HAPPY 2010!!!!
After a 6 day whirlwind trip through NYC, Beer Blotter is excited to be back in the Pacific NW. Check back with us later tonight or tomorrow for posts on all of our beer excursions and amazing beers we had back East. We purchased a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops, we drank an amazing Rauchbier, at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, stopped by the Blind Tiger Ale House and Rattle- n- Hum and even indulged in some Weyerbacher beers.
We are back and ready to blog!