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Black Albert - De Struise Brouwers

Not Rated.
Black AlbertBlack Albert

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,590 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,590
Reviews: 823
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 9.41%
Wants: 320
Gots: 379 | FT: 25
Brewed by:
De Struise Brouwers visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: brewandbbq on 08-23-2007

Originally brewed exclusively for Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, ME.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,590 | Reviews: 823 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of popery
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very good Russian Imperial Stout with a big flavor and good alcohol heat. This beer pours black and opaque with a light brown head. It's certainly a good looking stout. The nose is a bit milder than expected, but nice toasted malt notes come through. The flavor is big and strong with some alcohol heat. It is a very malty beer with smoky chocolate and caramel flavors running roughshod all over the place. This beer might be able to garner a perfect flavor score with a bit of age on it. I envy anyone with vintage bottles. To be fair, I have no idea if Black Albert iis old or new, so that could be impossible. The feel is slightly sticky but very good. It's very drinkable given the high abv, but at 13% and relatively fresh, it's still a bit too hot. It pairs well with sweet, ripe Cornice pears.

Photo of bluemoonswoon
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a thickish, brownish black with a dime's worth of toffee colored bubbly though just the slightest bit creamy head. Give it a few swirls and it coats almost the entire glass in a thin sheet of beery goodness.

Smell is rather subdued very rich and very dark dark fruits. Dates, rasins, caramel and candi sugar, licorice and slight coffee.

Taste does not at first seem to match with the complexity of the aroma. Very sweet, licorice, cherries rolled in rum, slight herbal hop bitterness mixed with bakers chocolate and closes with a very pronounced alcoholic finish. Feel is pretty lively, shows a lot of carbonation for a beer its size and is not nearly as coating as other beers of similar size, so in this respect it does not seem too much like a RIS and more like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, still good but seems to be a bit misplaced.

The drinkability suffers because the flavors seem a bit muddled and the finish is just a bit too hot for my liking, but I'm guessing this would be an excellent candiate for cellaring for many a year.

Photo of roadhouse
4.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance is pitch black as expected with a one inch creamy tan head. Retains very well, especially for a snifter and leaves some nice lacing.

Aroma is full of dark fruits - plum, black cherries, and figs. Smells like more Quad than stout. Roastiness is not present, surprising for a stout.

The taste begins with the dark fruit character from the aroma but it is quickly blended with some dark chocolate flavors. In the finish some roastier coffee flavors come out along with a pretty heavy hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium in body with an extremely creamy texture that is surprisingly soft on the palate. While it's not as thick and viscous as many of the RIS are that I love, this makes up for it in that aspect.

Overall, this was disappointing, mostly because it was not what I was expecting. I would take many American RIS over this one but it's still an interesting beer. I'm not gonna say it's worth the hype, or the cost, but it's certainly good.

Photo of inhoc00
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black Albert on tap at Binny's South Loop

A- pours a dark black with minimal head and good lacing.

S- Nice roasted malts, chocolate.

T- Really delicious and simple. Good stout taste without being too much ,,,,anything.

M- Not too thick. Decent carbonation.

D- Unbelievable that this stuff is 13%. Almost no alc. detected. This stuff is not overly done which makes it so nice. Drank this stuff really too quick and really felt it afterward. Excellent stuff but a bit too expensive to try again.

Photo of waltonc
3.93/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown, not black, with tan head.

S: Coffee, chocolate, dark fruit and cherries.

T: See above under smell. Somewhat sweet, and fruitier than some RIS I have had. This reminds me a bit of both Darkness and Expedition Stout for that reason.

M: Medium to thick body. Not super thick by any means. Carbonation is medium and just right.

D: At 13% ABV, this isn't crazy drinkable, but give credit to De Struise for putting this in the right bottle size. Not necessary to force people to buy bombers of it.

Overall a good stout, but too expensive for me to buy again when I can buy equally good and similar stouts for much cheaper.

Photo of taylorhamrick
3.53/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got to enjoy half a bottle of this rare one. Split it with my brother.

Pours out black with a pretty decent brown head. The bubbles stay around, there is not much lacing, but the bubbles cling to the sides of the glass. Smells a bit sweet and roasted, and you get a bit of alcohol smell. The taste is a bit sweet, not much fruit like some others in the style, but you get a nice bit of bitter roastedness, which I love. Then there's a hint of the black malt and chocolate sweetness. The tastes are all sort of muddled, maybe from the yeast. I kind of wish it were more bold and assertive -not harsh - but I think the yeast made it hard to really distinguisg flavors. But I enjoyed it, if not for the rarity. For the style and the ABV, this one was surprisingly drinkable. Maybe I only wanted more because I only got half of a 11.2 oz bottle. The cost may limit me buying it, but if I ever get a shot to have it on tap from the source, I'll take it.

Photo of theboozecruise
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass as recommended by BA. The appearance is dark... lives up to the name 'Black' Albert for sure. There is a hint of crimson perhaps, and a brownish head that didn't linger too long. Just a hint of lace on the rim of the glass.

Smells like a stout... dark chocolate with a hint of spice as accompaniment. The taste is more rich than the smell... the chocolate taste is still dominant but it's like a mixture of coffees and chocolates. This tastes like what I'd imagine the storeroom in a chocalatier's shop would smell like.

The taste stays with you for a while after each sip. The alcohol is definitely present as you go.

All in all, a very tasty beer, certainly not a session beer, and I don't feel that it lives up to the $10 per small bottle price tag. That's not to say it's not delicious, just a little underwhelming.

Photo of brewcrew76
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Solid black with ruby highlights when held to the light, 2 finger mocha head that dissipates immediately to a thin ring.

S - Light aroma except for dark chocolate. Spicy Belgian yeast, burnt malts and a slight touch of dark fruits.

T - Mixture of dark and milk chocolate, intense roast and burnt coffee, figs and plums, some bitter hops with some lingering alcohol.

M - Rich with lower carbonation and warming from the alcohol. Slightly slick.

D - Nice Belgian twist on the style. A very nice beer but not sure it is worth the price/hype.

Photo of Atron67
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle from steve's on university.

anyway comes out of the bottle with a quickly built and fading brown head and a deep dark body. head quickly falls but thats pretty much a given for a beer of this abv. strong roasted characteristics, not much 'belgian yeast spicyiness on the nose as i might have expected. can already begin to smell the tartness resulting from the compelx sugars. lighter in body than i would have expected, nice strong roasted and stout characteristics. definitely tastes like an RIS, however its interestingly lighter body allows for it to go down smoother.

pretty interesting, its main 'uniqueness' factor being that it maintains the complexity and flavor of the top RIS's however with a much lighter body. not different enough to creat a new style, but a definite great beer.

Photo of Monsone
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an deep black with a big dark brown head. Leaves a bit of lacing.

S - Sweet malt, soy, coffee, alcohol, dark roasted barley and slightest dark fruit. Not what I was expecting out of this beer. Quite muted.

T - Starts with sweet malt, with a bitter middle and a alcohol finish. A some hops and coffee in there too. Not as intense of flavors as the other RIS I have had. Kinda different with Belgian qualities (think Quad or Strong Dark). Just not what I expected.

M - Medium bodied and a lot lighter than I thought it would be. Just doesn't have that thick viscous feel that the other top RIS's have. More carbo than I expect out of a RIS too.

D - This is probably the most drinkable RIS I can think of. It is expensive though as 1 bottle cost the same as a 6 pack of Expedition Stout.

Overall, I am glad I tried this beer. It quite good and is a different take on the RIS with Belgian qualities. But ultimately there are quite a few other RIS that would pick up before this one.

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A RIS? Huh, struck more as a Belgian quad than anything else. Obviously, like everyone else, I'd heard a ton about this beer before actually trying it. In fact, I'd even looked for this beer during a trip to Belgium a few months ago, albeit unsuccessfully.

This beer struck me as distinctly quad-like. Color was dark, head was minimal, aroma was faint (which I would blame on it being served far to cold at The Terminal), and flavor started with a touch of roastiness, but to me offered a lot of dried fruit, like raisins and dates, with maybe a touch of cognac flavor. Mouthfeel was pretty good.

I thought this beer was good, but not exactly up to the hype. I really enjoyed it, but I thought it honestly inferior to some more widely distributed Belgian beers such as Rochefort 10 or Achel 8 Brune. I would recommend, but I also wouldn't recommend driving for hours or paying huge quantities of money to obtain it.

I had this on-tap, and served far too cold, at The Terminal, near the airport in Milwaukee.

Photo of kmeves
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a molassses brown topped by a thin and dense tan head. Aroma is medium sweet with star anise, roast, some cocoa, cinnamon and light alcohol. Flavor is cocoa, herb, vanilla and alcohol . Medium to full full body, smooth texture. Very dry finish.

Photo of sfreshnock
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I am very susceptible to beer hype. Just have to know what the big stink is about. Black Albert, my latest buy in, is indeed worth the endless praise. Poured nice and slow into a tulip style glass, the head was immense for a 13% ABV beer and it stuck around for some time. Fantastic looking beer, period. The smell on the other hand was dull and acrid, not overly phenolic, more like like flat pepsi. Flip Flop again. Taste is full of flavors that easily come to life. "Caramel Sundae Syrup" at the tip and back of my tongue intertwined with sour cherries and raisins. Aftertaste is much like a Flanders Red. Black Albert does noy give his ABV away in the mouth. Mouthfeel is sticky and leaves my teeth wet with an oily film. Very drinkable for a high ABV beer. I could drink another if it was cost effective.

Photo of Jablonski
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: as others have said, its an opaque black; the head is tan, and leaves a very slight lacing along the glass

S: coffee, dark chocolate, spices, and alcohol; only wish the smell was a bit stronger

T: the flavor is intense with chocolate, caramel, and dark fruits followed by a spiced aftertaste; it is only slightly bitter and there is no alcohol apparent in the taste

M: carbonation is perfect; definately does not feel watered down

D: at 13% alcohol any more than two drinks is excessive, and one may be the perfect number

Overall, its a great beer. I would definately buy again and will once I start making the money to afford it more often.

Photo of tedpeer
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to corby112 for the trade.

Poured into a tulip/snifter.

A - Pours black with a huge head that quickly subsided to a thin layer. Has some lacing.

S - Dark Fruits and a bit of alcohol.

T - Roasted up front, with dark fruits in the middle. Slightly bitter finish with some alcohol warmth.

M - Medium body with high carbonation.

D - A good beer. The alcohol is well hidden.

Photo of Jeffo
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the De Struise webshop.

From a bottle into a snifter.

On the label: "One out of a dozen ales that is as black as hell, filthy rich in the nose and with a massive spoiled taste."

Let's see how spoiled this one tastes.

APPEARANCE: Pours out black, almost sludgy, and produces a larger, three finger, medium-looking, tan head with good retention. Black, thick body and zero carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a good wisp, leaving some immediate clingy lacing. A ring and splotchy wisp remain, leaving some touches of lace down the sides.

SMELL: Some roasted malts and lots of dark fruits up front, including raisins and prunes. A good dose of cocoa powder and pure chocolate in there, with some alcohol notes in the back. Medium strength and very nice.

TASTE: Roasted malts, and some dark fruits in there, including raisins and dates again. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate show up again through the middle into the finish. A bold and lingering aftertaste is full of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and spicy yeast notes. Some alcohol is present the whole way through as well. Complex and interesting for sure.

PALATE: Full body with medium carbonation. Smooth and creamy on the palate, goes down smooth and has a little alcohol bite on the end, but well controlled for the ABV. Finishes slightly mouth-coating.

OVERALL: If this one has a "spoiled taste," then spoil the heck out of me. I've had this brew many times and it never ceases to impress. Definitely some Belgian in this Imperial Stout, with the spicier yeast notes involved, but I wouldn't hesitate to call this the best non-barrel aged stout in the low countries. Very good brew. De Struise makes some great stuff, and this is one that ranks right up there. Thanks again gents.

Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nearly opaque dark brown color with ruby highlights; the tan head never quite reaches the anticipated Belgian standards and descends rather quickly, leaving some dots and dashes of lace

Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate, charcoal, tobacco and dark fruit

Taste: Starts with a blend of dark fruit (figs and prunes) and coffee, with a bit of dark chocolate thrown in for good measure; by mid-palate, the fruity hops start to assert themselves but, after the swallow, they seem an afterthought, taking a back stage to the roasty charcoal malt flavors; lots of tobacco on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate to high carbonation; a bit thinner than I expected, but that is the Belgian character

Drinkability: With all the hype around this beer, I was truly expecting something different; I would say that this is still quite a good beer, though it should not be judged head to head against the best US-brewed Russian Imperial Stouts - it has some subtle, Belgian elements that add a nice twist

Photo of MMAJYK
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Black and opaque. Head is tan colored, simply fluffy and welcoming.

S. Coffee, licorice, plums, currants, touch of cream and roast.

T. Coffee, plums, a Belgian yeast strain, touch of dates. After the sweetness wears off, I can get some roast and smoke.

M. Lighter in the mouth than most RISs I've had, but I like it, and I like the higher carbonation, too

D. Not too high, very rich and "Belgian-y" but a pleasure to sip on.

Photo of easement
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from bottle in pint glass.

A: Black and opaque. 1/4inch head and light lacing.

S: Chocolate, Molasses, Vanilla, Caramel, Coffee, and spices.

T: Chocolate and coffee.

M: Syurpy. Not as thick as ten-fidy, but think.

D: It's a pretty heavy hitter and masks the alcohol really well. I could have a couple of these in a session.

Photo of davedahl
3.45/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good - but not up to my expectations based on the hype surrounding it. I had a 8oz pour in a sherry glass for $10 at Binny's in Chicago's south loop.

The pour was far too cold but produced a completely black brew with a creamy chocolate-milk type head of tight tiny bubbles. Slight lacing.

Taste was chocolate malt, roasted malt at the front; dark fruit (dark sweet cherries plums) in the middle; and little hop balance and alcohol burn in the finish.

Nose - nothing. Seriously partially because how cold this beer was there was zero aromatics. After I warmed it a bit in my hands I detected rich dark malt and sweet cherries - but you really have to search for them.

Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, alcohol bite, viscous. The 13% alcohol is hidden well.

So hmm. This was good, but not great. I had this only once previously, about a year ago with BA member bgramer and I recall getting a lot more out of it at that time. I think this is probably better bottled and aged than on tap.

Photo of grub
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Viggo shared this one. thanks eric!

330ml bottle. sampled dec 14/08.

pours very dark brown, a shade away from black and pretty much opaque. a small brown head forms, dropping slowly and leaving spotty lace behind.

aroma is great. caramel and toffee. bit of butterscotch. dark and milk chocolate. bit of coffee. toasted white bread. bit of cracker. light alcohol. earthy. touch of belgian yeasty character in there too. raisin and date.

taste is great. just over medium bitterness level. bit of alcohol. dark and milk chocolate. bit of coffee. loads of caramel. date, raisin, bit of fig. earthy and a bit woody. lots of sweetness in the caramel and fruit. bit of toasty white bread. cracker. little biscuit. bit of anise. not much of the roast i'd expect, leaning more towards the belgian fruit and yeasty character. the bitterness comes across mostly as coffee/chocolate and doesn't come on too strong.

mouthfeel is good. nice big body. medium carbonation level.

drinkability is good. fairly balanced, leaning a little on the sweet side. definitely a belgian twist on the style, but it works. i'm curious to see how this one would change with some time in the cellar, but happy with it now too.

Photo of Viggo
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Voonder for sending this one my way in a recent trade. 12 oz bottle.

Pours a cloudy and murky dark black, some red in the edges, thick tan head forms, drops some solid lace spots on the glass, and settles to a thick layer and ring, looks good. Smell is wacky, red wine, chocolate, yeast, molasses, wood and earth, figs, dark fruit, sour fruit, rye bread, sourdough, intense roast, interesting stuff. Taste is similar, very dry roastiness, chocolate, figs, wood, kind of astringent, red wine and fruit, brown sugar, yeast, very fruity, nice bitter roast finish, very dry. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, alcohol is very well hidden, pretty smooth and easy to drink. Hyped up for me but still a really nice beer. Thanks Alex!

Photo of abfraser
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at City Beer Store in SF. The announcement was met with quite a few people there. There is certainly a hype around this beer.

A: Black as night. Not much really going on other than that. There was a smallish head but nothing notable.

S: Was super cold when first served, so didn't really get much at first. After 10 minutes or so or wrapping my hands around it the aromas started to come out. They were intense RIS-like. Chocolate, coffee, some spice. I didn't think this smelled too terrible different from the top echelon of American RIS.

T/M: Intensely flavorful. Coffee, dark chocolate, definitely some spice notes on the end. There was a lingering bitterness, which first I thought only hops could create but after getting something with the Abyss too, I'm thinking this comes more from the chocolate/coffee. Mouthfeel is thick and somewhat oily. This is top notch stuff. But I don't find it too terribly different than what's already out there.

D: A sipper for sure. Next time, I plan to spend a bit more time lingering with this one (picked up a couple bottles as well). The lack of availability hurts this score, though.

Overall, top notch Russian Imperial Stout. I don't know if it lives up to the hype (there are really few beers that ever do) but I'd put it on par with the other excellent examples I've had recently, like Surly Darkness and the Abyss.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The long-rumored kegs, all three of them, arrived in Oregon and one happened to land at our neighborhood watering hole, Concordia Ale House (thanks to libertygrails for the timely posting of this news). We arrived early on a Friday evening, my wife and I each taking the $9.50 plunge for a snifterful of this rarity.

A: Impenetrably black; for reference, look to the left and right margins of this page. No real head to speak of - just a wisp of gauzy film and a pencil-thin ring of cinnamon orange. Oily - almost seems to trail 'legs'. Leaves no lace.

S: Ugh, why is this served so cold? C'mon CAH! On a chilly December night, the last thing I wanted to do was wrap my fingers in a death-grip around this frigid glass for 10-15 minutes. Aroma in those first minutes: nothing. After ample warming, the spicy Belgian yeasts and dark fruit overtones start to develop. Dark chocolate, sugared coffee, raisins, anise.

T: Roasted coffee, chewy dried fruit (raisins, prunes, figs, cherries), bittersweet chocolate with a fading hint of lactic tang. The spices grow with warmth: that clove/licorice sparkle that elicited a 'this tastes just like Pannepot!' from my wife (high praise). I found the flavors elusive, changing from chocolate bar, to sweet/tart fruit to iced coffee to a slightly oaken bourbon booze at its warmest. Interesting brew, though not really a 'Russian Imperial Stout' in the truest sense - an RIS/Quad hybrid?!?!?

M: Terrific feel - rich, smooth and enveloping. The coating isn't too clingy, grabbing on to the tongue and relenting slowly. Not too heavy; a seemingly lighter body than some of this style. For such a strong beer, the warmth is mellow and the alcohol well-concealed.

D: Plenty of hype surrounding this beer and, for the most part, it lives up to it. Terrific drinkability as a sipper, a fine take on my favorite style with that added 'Belgian' twist. We changed our dinner plans tonight specifically so that we could try this beer. Worth it? Yep.

Photo of ejquin
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Deeply black with two finger brown head. Fades after a bit and leaves decent lacing

S: Nicely phenolic like a nice belgian quad, but with much more espresso and dark choclate. Some figginess and a nice fruitty sweetness as well with some candy sugar

T/M: Mouthfeel is medium, perhaps would have liked it heavier. More carbonated than an average stout, but I suppsoe that's the "Belgian" part of the Royal Stout description. Amazingly clean for a 13% abv beer. I get some anise up front, which fades to a figgy coffee flavor, and then a crisp hop bite, then I get even more figs and a grape and rasiin taste. Going on over all of this is a white pepper spice and a malty sweetness. It's not unitl you've sat there for a good four or five seconds after the finish that alcohol becomes apparent.

D: Pretty damn good considering the alochol.

Ovr: In a year that has brought me Dark Lord, Darkness, Abyss, and now Black Albert, I'd have to say this is right up there. Much more drinkable than the heavier stouts, but as complex. If you forced me, I'd go Dark Lord, Darkness, Black Albert, Abyss

Black Albert from De Struise Brouwers
95 out of 100 based on 1,590 ratings.