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Black Albert - De Struise Brouwers

Not Rated.
Black AlbertBlack Albert

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,503 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,503
Reviews: 815
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 9.65%
Wants: 319
Gots: 364 | FT: 21
Brewed by:
De Struise Brouwers visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Originally brewed exclusively for Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, ME.

(Beer added by: brewandbbq on 08-23-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,503 | Reviews: 815 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BgThang
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%

An aggressive pour leaves a big ass head on this of rusty mocha color.

After waiting for several minutes I finally took a taste of this hyped beer. The quadruple comes out at first then it finishes like everyone else says a roasty stout. Very interesting beer.

The alcohol is apparent on the nose but after the initial taste it almost completely disappears.

Although this is a unique beer (with an identity crisis as one put it) I personally was felt let down a bit.

This is a nice beer and you should at least try it.

BgThang, Jun 23, 2008
Photo of johnnnniee
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%

Had on tap at Ebenezer's, Thanks for the opportunity Chris!

Pours a dark brown/black with a tan head that sticks around for a bit. The aroma is amazing. Chocolates, vanilla, dried fruit, spicy citrusy hops, a bit of alcohol too. Taste is smooth chocolate, followed by some roasted grains, then a lingering coffee and hoppy aftertaste. Does have a bit of an alcohol hotness, but that melds into the whole experience quite well. Very Creamy mouthfeel. Ample carbonation, thick bodied. Excellent brew all around, makes me want to pay eBay prices for some bottles.

johnnnniee, Jun 22, 2008
Photo of aerozeppl
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%

Thanks to drseamus for the opportunity.

A: Just short of black. Quite a bit of brown on the edges of the glass. One half finger of mocha head.

S: Molasses sweetness. Brandy. Not the burn but the pleasant smell.

T: Sweetness caramel, smoke, roasted grain, coffee, chocolate and a slight hint of fruit. Incredibly complex.

M: Lighter body than you would think. My only real complaint about this beer. Would have liked the body a tad bit thicker.

D:Damn. This is up there with choklat in terms of dumb amounts of drinkability. No hint of the 13% at all. This really is a great beer that in most ways lived up to the hype. Other members of the group compared this to Dark Lord. haven't had the pleasure yet but that is good company. Would definitely have again if it didn't involve selling organs.

aerozeppl, Jun 17, 2008
Photo of apearce
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%

My wife and I split a bottle of this fantastic beer and we both loved it, although we both tasted different things in it. I tasted smoke right away, which immediately gave way to chocolate. She tasted coffee at first and then chocolate and candy.

As it warmed up it got even better. I could really taste the candy and the flavor of dark cherries. My wife commented she could taste some kind of liquor and thought maybe it was barrel aged.

I am curious how well this will age. It did not have a strong alcohol flavor at all and it seemed very well rounded already. I think it's perfect now.

apearce, Jun 16, 2008
Photo of drseamus
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%

A: NOT jet black like it should be, but still pretty dark. When held to the light a significant part of it lets a brown/tan light penetrate. I'd rather see nothing from an RIS personally. There was a nice bit of lighter mocha head on the top. A pretty good looking beer unless held to the light really.

S: Nice caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and dark fruit aromas. There is also a nice brandy character but without the alcoholic aroma. A touch of yeast ester tops it off. It could have been stronger although once it coats the glass it is a bit more robust.

T: It is certainly a damn good beer. The intial flavor is a blast of rich coffee and dark chocolate with that brandy fruitiness popping up again. Great dark roasty notes throughout and finishing with a great clean, slightly bitter dark cocoa powder note. Full flavored from the time it touches my tongue through the aftertaste.

M: Nice and thick with great creaminess. Incredibly smooth and not a whisper of the ABV coming to say hi. Perfect body.

D: Very excellent all around. World class but still slightly over-hyped.

drseamus, Jun 16, 2008
Photo of thickerfreakness
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%

Many thanks go out to bgramer for the chance to try this beer.

I poured this into a chalice with a little too much vigor at first and I had to wait for a few minutes for the head to die down to pour the rest. The color was absolutely black with a fluffy mocha colored head. Pretty much one of the darkest beers I've seen with only a very slight hint of ruby around the edges when held up to the light.

This does indeed smell almost exactly like a mix of a quadrupel and imperial stout. Tons of prunes, raisins and dark fruits from the quad side and a bitter roasty, chocolate, coffee edge from the imperial stout side. I also get some breadiness, yeast, and a bit of brown sugar.

The smell was great but nothing can quite live up to this taste. As someone said a review or two before me it is almost too much to comprehend. If there was a bit more of the imperial stout in the smell it sort of fades to the back in the taste. It begins very quad-like with tons of ripe dark fruits and chocolate with a sweet belgian yeastiness and bread. Then in the middle of the taste I get an amazing tart-like vinous taste that just overpowers my palate. It finally ends with quite a bit of bitter roastiness and coffee along with some more dark chocolate that just lingers on my tongue for minutes after each sip.

The mouthfeel is so silky smooth and there is hardly any notice of the alcohol for a beer at 13% ABV. Silky smooth, pleasantly carbonated, tingly across my palate.

Aside from the high ABV this one is just stellar. One of the best of beers I have had and definitely not easily classified into a style. As others have said this is one that is definitely worth the hype and one that you should seek out. The first and last thing that came to mind with this beer was the just "wow." Thanks again to bgramer for the chance to try this one.

thickerfreakness, Jun 15, 2008
Photo of hoppymeal
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%

Pours a dark cola brown to black in color with an average sized medium tan head that fades to a ring. Sweet and fruity aroma, grapes and aged pruniness. Chocolate, a strong belgian yeast, tangy alcohol, and a breadiness in the aroma as well. Taste follows with the chocolate and fruity sweet maltiness mixing together very nicely, grapiness comes thru well, a decent tanginess leads into a slightly dry finish that shows a little of the alcohol. Mouthfeel is fairly full and sugary, a hint of pepper on the tongue, a bit of drying and warmth in the finish. A very tasty beer, definitely does not fit into the ris category. I had read some of the belgian stout posts before trying this so expected it to fall outside those lines and it definitely does. Would fit better in the belgian strong dark imo. Alcohol is very well balanced for its strength and it seems that this is a great candidate for some longer cellaring, look forward to trying it again after a year or two.

hoppymeal, Jun 15, 2008
Photo of Habanero58
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%

And so to the beer that shares its acronym with Beer Advocate!

I was initially a little cynical about this new beer on the block when it arrived sweeping all before it, and doubted I'd ever get to try it for myself unless I made the journey from Kent to Ebenezer's in Maine, but thanks to a well known auction site 6 x 330ml of Black albert arrived on my doorstep earlier this week.

I can understand why many other reviewers have been unable to really nail Black Albert into a definite category as you can't really. It proclaims itself as a Royal Belgian Stout on the bottle and it's appearance would certainly support this with midnight hour blackness and a rusty tanned head.

It's the taste where BA becomes hard to place
It has a complexity that matches Westy 12 (no mean feat) whereby one sip just amplifies in the mouth and cascades into such a myriad of flavours that your brain (well, my brain) just loses the plot and says "this is pure heaven in a glass"
I would agree with those who have mentioned it tipping into quad territory as my main thought afterwards was that was like drinking a botte of Westy 12 that had had an identity crisis and had decided it wanted to be a Russian Imperial Stout. The stout flavour is strongly apparent but with the rich chocolatey fruit cake qualities of a good quad there as well.

Mouthfeel was excellent. Very creamy with just the hint of an exciting fizzz. This beer is a valuable addition to Planet Earth and long may it buzz!! It should end up cementing a place in the top five at the very least.

A final word for the label. A design award surely with regard to matching the external bottle presentation to the quality of the beer within.

Habanero58, Jun 14, 2008
Photo of brdc
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%

Thanks stoutsNipas for this one, small capped bottle poured into a snifter. Best before 2013.

I will admit there was a strong bias before trying this one, but I can also see perfection, even through all my preconceived notions.
Pitch black, but shiny, with an amazingly thick, fluffy and long lasting head for a beer with this amount of alcohol.
Like some that reviewed before me, it is hard to classify. The delicious aroma starts closer to an oatmeal stout, evolves into something a bit closer to a quadrupel or strong dark ale, and eventually shows notes of an imperial stout (which this one is certainly not). Chocolate, coffee, candy, fruits, caramel, molasses, yeast, bread and a few other notes can be picked up.
It comes across the tongue and throat as smooth as possible, and I am still having a hard time believing the ABV stated on the label; there is no heat whatsoever in the beginning, with some showinhg at the end as it produces a somewhat dry finish. It actually goes down quite easy considering it is 75 F tonight (there is no way I could have waited for the autumn).
The complex flavors also run the gamut suggested from the palate.

brdc, Jun 14, 2008
Photo of rudylaw
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%

Bottles straight from Belgium... delivered this morning.

OK, first off I'm having a very hard time classifying this beer. It looks like a Russian Imperial Stout, smells like an RIS but tastes lighter than a stout... similar to Stone IRS for me. I would say this is halfway between an RIS and a Quad. Does that even make sense? Jesus, get to the review already!

It pours very dark... perhaps quarter to midnight dark. I've seen darker, but not by much. When I look at the pour out of the bottle, it looks almost like blood. Creepy cool! I wish I had a gold chalice for the occasion. There's a very nice tan head that forms and some of it stays the entire time... and we definitely have lacing. Not very sticky, but it's there.

My first sip is pure heaven. This beer is refreshing (a little light up front like Stone IRS, but the alcohol kicks in later), complex (sweet & strong) and flat out delicious. I am picking up chocolate, figs, nuts, grapes/plums and it all has a candy-like coating -- candy that comes from the scoops and not a wrapper. I get a grape soda taste immediately. I just read the reviews below and they both mention the same thing. It's a subdued grape soda from a fountain, with all these other flavors competing for your attention. The mouthfeel is silky and baby's butt smooth. I've never had a beer that glides down so easy as this. It smells and tastes like no other beer I've ever had. If this is what a Belgian Stout is, than god dammit, people need to start making Belgian Stouts!

When I finished this beer, my tongue threw up the white flag. It's done tasting anything until breakfast. I'm not even brushing my teeth tonight.

rudylaw, Jun 12, 2008
Photo of bgramer
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%

I was lucky enough to get a case through a friend out in Belgium.

This beer pours black, but I swear that with the aroma smelling sweet, and like raisins and grapes, that this would be a dark dark purple color like a grape soda but darker. There's some head retention but that quickly goes away leaving a tan ring that leaves a carbonated sticky lacing around the glass as you swirl it.

Tastes sweet like candy - dark fruits, some coffee, a little caramel. It's borderline to an RIS style but could be compared to a quad too, or even an American Stout. It's uniqueness and complexity prevents it from falling completely into one category or another, instead it reaches out into all these at one time or another. Amazingly complex.

The alcohol is slightly noticable but not in a bad way because of it's freshness. Imagine how amazing this could be when aged over the years.

This is a world class beer which deserves to be in the Top 5.

bgramer, Jun 10, 2008
Photo of milwaukeeclassic
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%

Had this one a while ago, on tap at Erasmus in Brugge in early March 2008. I agree with some earlier reviewers that this is not as heavy as some imperial stouts I've had. I remember that there was tremendous head retention. Coffee notes in the aroma and the taste. Great satin mouthfeel. The alcohol level was not overly (negatively) noticeable. I can't wait until I can get more of this back at home.

milwaukeeclassic, Jun 04, 2008
Photo of ggaughan
4.95/5  rDev +16.5%

On tap at the Struise farm thanks to Urbain.
The beer poured a deep black, opaque color, no light going through. The head was a deep tan, almost orange color, very thick bubbles. The aroma has strong malty, sweet notes, some dried fruits.

The taste, very nice. I got some very pleasing malty sweet notes up front, complimented by a chocolate and coffe-ish taste but not as heavy as other imperial stouts. There was an excellent balance of the strong coffee tastes with the subtle yet sweet malt. There were also some yeast notes on the back end of the beer, a bit earthy but it melds well with the overall quality of the beer.

The beer started off a bit cold from the tap but as it warmed in my hands the taste and aroma intensify. The high abv comes through more on the backend and compliments the malty sweetness very well. Overall this beer has a nice full body but doesn't weight you down like other imperials I have had.

ggaughan, May 14, 2008
Photo of Cedromar
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Sampled on tap at Ebenezer's Pub, thanks again Chris! Aroma is chocolaty, with some vanilla and coffee mixed in. Appearance is a beautiful black with a 1 inch head. Flavor is a wonderful mix of bitter chocolate and coffee with caramel notes to help make it extra smooth. Mouthfeel is amazing as well. I cannot get enough of this brew smooth with small carbonation.
Overall the best RIS I've ever had.
It beats Kate, Darklord and Darkness all in the arse. When it finally is available in bottle I will be buying up every bottle I see.

Cedromar, Mar 25, 2008
Photo of SacoDeToro
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%

Sampled at Annual Woodshop tasting. Special thanks to Ebenezer's for supplying the 3L bottle.

The beer poured a deep jet black with a minimal off-white head.

The aroma was of black roasted malts and dark dried fruits. Some notes of tobacco. Also in the aroma were some faint hints of acetylaldehyde - not good. For a 13% beer, the alcohol didn't really pop out in the nose.

The flavor of the beer had an intense roasted malt flavor with notes of bittersweet chocolate and some malty sweetness. The hop profile was neutral, but assertive. The flavor of the beer went somewhat flat in the finish - not terribly dynamic. It just didn't seem as complex as the others we sampled that night such as KtG and DL.

The carbonation was dialed in well and the mouthfeel was somewhat creamy although the beer finished reasonably dry for the style, which aided its drinkability.

Overall a bit disappointing. It just lacked the complexity that I personally needed for it to have been great.

SacoDeToro, Mar 20, 2008
Photo of HopasaurusRex
4.83/5  rDev +13.6%

Sampled on draft at Ebenezer's Pub:

Dark brown, approaching black in color. Opaque. Off-white head of tiny bubbles recedes quickly into darkness.

Nose of Belgian dark chocolate, vanilla, and toasted almonds. Some woodiness and oaklike tannins present. It smells almost bourbony although I know it is not barrel-aged.

The first sip is smooth and chocolatey just as suggested in the aroma. Vanilla, coconut, and roasted barley meld together nicely. Some fusels due to presence of high alcohol. Vinuous legs. Nice notes of oxidation and dried fruit. Dry roasted espresso beans in the finish.

A subtle, complex, and refined Imperial Stout. The only thing Belgian about it is the brewers. No phenols or funkiness.

Cheers to Ebenezer's and De Struise for this fantastic and delicious collaboration! The only complaint I have is that I wish I had a bottle to take home and savor by a crackling fire.

HopasaurusRex, Mar 17, 2008
Photo of crowellr
4.8/5  rDev +12.9%

I usually don't like darker beers, however this one definitely broke the mold. Me and a friend were at Eb's looking for different beers to try. Talking to Chris he recommended a few and then had us taste this.

Like I said, I do not like darker beers, as most are coffee flavored, and I'm not a coffee drinker. So my thoughts when trying it were not that great. The taste was perfect, lil bit of chocolate, definitely hops and just a smooth finish.

I wish I could of bought an entire bottle or even a glass, but I only got a small sample. It was however, simply the best overall beer I had ever had. I am young, not as experienced beer drinker as most, but I do live 5 miles from Eb's, so I can safetly say I have had my share of beer.

crowellr, Feb 23, 2008
Photo of NoLiberty
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%

Enjoyed this lovely beer with grassrootsVT at Erasmus in Brugge.

App: Pours into an Erasmus goblet bold and black with a beautiful, full, rich dark head. Consistent and thick lacing. Really wonderful.

Aroma: Smell is actually mild for the strength (13%) with not much alcohol presence. Solid chocolate and nutty characters, with some vanilla and warm rum.

Taste: Chewy and delicious. Chocolate and roasty nuts. Some vanilla and mild rum alcohol characters. Flavor finishes with a touch of burnt bitterness and crisp hoppiness, but full roasted chocolate dominates.

Mouth: Really, really nice. Velvety and smooth, like a warm fleece blanket. Gorgeous. Full carbonation but it's delicate and satiny.

Drink: Yeah, this is incredibly drinkable especially considering the alcohol strength.

NoLiberty, Feb 15, 2008
Photo of jscondon
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%

here is the review i am providing for black albert! i have got to tell you that it is true, being a beer advocate pays off. jen told me they were not serving black albert due to its depleted stock, but i got some on the condition that i would rate this beverage on the beer advocate. a wonderful world we live in, eh?

the beer is dark, i am talking shut the car lights off on a moonless back road in the middle of no where dark. the smell is very subtle, i got a lot of chocolate, a hint of hops and a nice malt touch. there was a slight tartness up front without an overpowering presence of alcohol. the middle has some hop flavor and a very slight a hint of cherries, finishing with a good grain flavors. the mouthfeel is one of the best i have had.

DAMN! this is one good beer. I only had a taste and can't wait to get back for a normal sized serving. In fact even thought the tap list is one of the best i have seen, i would get this beer every time i went to ebenezer's (and i definitely plan on going back).

jscondon, Jan 30, 2008
Photo of kaos14
4.85/5  rDev +14.1%

Edit: This review ONLY applies to Black Albert had on tap. Out of the bottle it is entirely different and not deserving of the lofty numbers in this review.
---

What can I say that hasn't already been said...

First off this is most definitely NOT a Russian Imperial Stout that someone just decided to call a Belgian stout just cause it is brewed in Belgium. It is clearly a different breed of beer with it's own individual characteristics. The most similar beer that I have had (and I am by no means an authority on the subject) is the Russian River Salvation. They have an extremely similar flavor while each provides a different presentation.

Appearance: midnight black with .75" of dark tan head, a crimson intermingling of the beer and the head shows as the beer sloshes around the glass

Smell: I enjoyed the smell, I found it to be earthy with hints of what I would expect from a belgian strong dark. I have a terrible sense of smell and this is my least reliable rating category.

Taste: Just fantastic. Honesty, I enjoyed the taste too much to sit there breaking down the deferent aspects. It was complex and dark, a little boozy and warming, but WITHOUT the bitter coffee and sugary molasses you would expect in other "Imperial" stouts.

Mouthfeel: Pleasant carbonation with a lovely full stout body that steered clear of being cloyingly thick

Drinkability: Impressive for a beer with that kind of ABV to go down so smoothly. I have had a lot of beers that were astonishingly smooth for their ABV but I think this one is right up there with the very best of them.

All in all I am already looking forward to my next trip to Maine and another taste of this fine beer.

kaos14, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of WoodyOBeer
5/5  rDev +17.6%

I was up in New England for vacation over the Holidays and made a point of going to my favorite “beer bar”…Ebenezer’s…in Lovell, Maine. While there, I had the honor of trying one of the best beers I have ever tasted. For the past 14 years I have sampled over 3000 beers. Because I had developed my own rating system long before I even knew about BeerAdvocate.com or RateBeer.com, I do not post my ratings on either site (it would be like keeping 2 sets of books). But “Black Albert” impressed me so very much that I felt that I had to let everyone know how truly amazing it is! With over 3000 beers tasted & rated, I have only ever tasted 3 to which I would give a perfect score…and this is without question, the best of those 3!

By coincidence, I had just held a Stout tasting event the night before. Among the beers we sampled were some of the best: Bell’s “Expedition”, Bell’s “Double Cream”, Bell’s “Java”, and Moylan’s “Ryan O’Sullivan’s Imperial Stout”. As great as these beers are, “Black Albert” was even better. It is the most complex stout that I have ever tried. The color is black with a light-brown, lacy head (about 1 finger). The initial smell is malty, with notes of coffee & fruits. The taste is smooth & rich (but not too creamy)…there is an initial taste of coffee, which dissipates, and later returns. The taste lingers…and changes…for a long while. While sharing this amazing beer with a few others, I heard the comment “I died and went to heaven”. I could not agree more with this. “Black Albert” was as religious of an experience, as you could ever hope (or pray) to have!

WoodyOBeer, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of granite
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Reviewed from notes taken at the 2007 Ebenezer's Belgian beer fest.

First I would like to thank Chris for his generosity in sharing this with me.

I was talking to Urbain from De Struise about wild yeast and the owner of Ebenezer's, Chris hands me a globe of Black Albert on the house.

First off this was the darkest stout i have ever seen. I took my glass out to the sun porch to try and see if any light would penetrate. Well the sun did not stand a chance, I have no idea what the srm was but it had to be 60+. It had a thick, creamy brown head that was long lasting. The aroma consisted of chocolate and roasted malt with a slight touch of port in the back ground. The flavor was very rich and warming. Started off with a fresh roasted coffee taste. Vanilla beans and nobel hops in the middle and finished with an amazing chocolate aftertaste. The alcohol was perfectly balanced with the malt and the bitterness. It was warming but never hot and slightly sweet but not cloying. Urbain said the final gravity was 1.030 so he was able to achieve really good attenuation for a 100% malt bill. No sugar or adjuncts in Black Albert. The mouthfeel was very full and smooth. It is the best stout RIS or BIS I have ever tried hands down.

granite, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of n0rmann
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%

This is simply a wonderful beer. I had no idea until I logged onto this site about the high ABV. The alcohol is well-hidden.

Pours midnight black, with a slight chocolately smell. Tastes very good, with a mixture of coffee, roasted malts and a slight chocolate taste, matching the smell.

It's very creamy, and goes down nice and easy. I wish I didn't have to drive for more than two hours to have another one of these.

n0rmann, Sep 27, 2007
Photo of tendermorsel
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%

I was lucky enough to get this off the tap at Ebanezer's Belgian beer fest.

Great jet black color. The head looked like the crema on a good shot of espresso.... a thin layer of brownish foam. It had a wonderful oder of sweet chocolate

There is so much going on with this beer. Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate notes. The finish was superb. Unlike some of the other high powered stouts this one did not stick in your mouth. In fact I had no problem transitioning to a Lou Pepe as my next glass. Truly a hand crafted beer. Very drinkable also as despite it's 13% alcohol content went down real smooth. A sipping beer for sure.

Definitely recommended.... If you can get it. I wish I could get a bottle or two to age or maybe a barrel aged version would be nice. I have a hunch that this gem would be even better with age.

tendermorsel, Aug 28, 2007
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%

Sampled on tap at Ebenezer's on Chris' Birthday.

Without question one of the top beers I've ever had.

Drawn with a two finger head, the appearence was black as night.

Smell was dark chocolate, green piney hops, sweet roasted malt and expresso.

Taste was otherworldly. A perfect balance of fresh, green hops and roasted malt. Notes of toffee, chocolate, malted milk balls and vanilla.

Mouthfeel was exceptional. Plenty of viscosity but the 13 percent alcohol remained at bay.

I could easily drink two or three of these in a sitting.

A very unique beer that, to me, comes across as a blend of a fresh hop IPA and an Imperial Stout.

Rochefort10nh, Aug 25, 2007
Black Albert from De Struise Brouwers
95 out of 100 based on 1,503 ratings.