Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quick Sips: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Aside from Sierra Nevada's classic Bigfoot,  there are few beers that have been an annual tradition in my life the way Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout has been. I don't even remember when I had my first. The late 1990s, maybe. I just remember it was INTENSE in a way beers had never been before.

I've been around the block a few times since then, but even so this remains an intense, complex, and utterly delicious beer.

First, take note: This beer is NOT made with chocolate! The "chocolate" in the name is all due to the roasted barley used in the beer. Once brewed, it takes on an amazing chocolate quality, but no real chocolate is present. The taste is just a miracle of the brewing process.

So anyway,  this amazing annual tradition, this big giant nearly 11% ABV stout that can last for years in your cupboard, how does it taste?

The nose is rich with dark malts and alcohol, with warm chocolate tones very, very faint beneath it. Smells boozy and sweet. And yeah, the taste follows through on the expectations. Big, fat dark malts with touches of chocolate throughout.

When it's fresh, you can taste the HELL out of the 10% ABV. A lot of modern American craft beers mask their alcohol content pretty well. Not Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout. When fresh, this beer tastes potent. Not a lot of roasty, coffee-like flavor here. Some dark chocolate, a lot of rich, black malt. and (when fresh) loads of booze.

But here's the thing: This beer ages well. It will keep wonderfully in your cupboard. In fact, having had this many times with six months, a year, or several years of age on it, I can say with experience that it only gets better with age. The alcohol mellows and the burn subsides. What comes out are rich chocolate tones, roasty cocoa, and more.

This beer is DELICIOUS. It's complex but young when fresh.  Buy a four-pack, but don't drink it until the NEXT year. You'll thank me for it. And buy the following year's four-pack while you do it!

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