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Black Whole - Cigar City Brewing

Not Rated.
Black WholeBlack Whole

Educational use only; do not reuse.

40 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 40
Hads: 110
Avg: 3.65
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 12
Gots: 19 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing visit their website
Florida, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: VaTechHopHead on 07-24-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Black Whole is a multi-dimensional ale that takes many twists and turns similar to our daily lives. It has a big chocolate expression with moderate caramel notes, complex toasted to biscuit notes and hints of clove and black licorice.

Black Whole is a tribute to El Chupa Cobras, a mathy indie band from Montgomery, Alabama.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 40 | Hads: 110
Photo of lanamj
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A- Pours a creamy black color with a heavy to finger soapy head that seems to hold very strongly.

S- Chocolate, coffee and some cream. I also get the roasted malts and soap. It has a faint saison presence but a porter back bone.

T- What a trip. It starts like a saison, but holds and finishes like a porter. Lots of roasted flavor with smoke finish. I get the coffee and cream at the end as a residual flavor and some how the soap is hidden in there.

M- Lots of carbonation. nice and creamy at the end and not to thin at all. It is quite a road trip for you mouth it takes you all over. I like it but at the same time not what i would always want from a porter.

O- I'm glad i tried this one very interesting indeed. I'm going to cellar my last two and see what happens. I think the carbonation is a little to aggressive for this style but the body and smell is fine. Not my favorite from CCB but still a interesting beer.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: black, single finger head

S: licorice and sugar

T: chocolate and a little dark fruit. cinnamon and licorice. Coffee bitterness.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: I am not a fan of licorice and therefore this one wasn't for me. The flavors didn't blend well for me.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


Thanks to Andrew for sharing.

A: Dark brown bordering on black with a beige head.

S: Lots of roast with accompanying dark chocolate and a little molasses. Smells sweet.

T: Cocoa, dark chocolate, and moderately roasted malt. Lightly toasted malt with bread and a moderate sweetness.

M: Lower medium body with moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is a little thin.

Overall: Just okay.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.11/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Thanks to CurtisMcArthur for this one

Look: Black with red rings and a huge 1 inch mocha colored head with good retention but no lace

Smell: Sour cherries upfront and I hope this one is not infected. It does carry some bitter chocolate on the backend

Taste: First thought is that of an ashtray and it does not seem to be infected but I still have my doubts. It is slightly sour and has traces of coffee caramel and chocolate

Mouthfeel: Is horribly carbonated. There is so much carbonation that is makes this one hard to drink it has a medium body and is slightly dry

Overall: If there is not something wrong with this beer then it is just not very good. The flavor is brash and honestly just a mess. The mouthfeel is so badly carbonated that you have to struggle with the carbonation bubbles wrecking the top of your mouth. Not recommended

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Photo of womencantsail
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for the bottle, Chip.

A: The beer pours a dark brown color with a rather sizable khaki head.

S: It's very roasty on the nose with a mild metallic character. Notes of coffee and chocolate (a lot of chocolate, actually), along with some molasses. It's surprisingly sweet.

T: The flavor is also very sweet, too sweet for me. Molasses and chocolate with a fair bit of roasted malts. It's a touch thin/watery and that comes through on the flavor.

M: A little bit thin, especially for an 8% beer, with a medium to high carbonation.

O: Too much sweetness and a little too watery for my tastes.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.49/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into nonic.

A - Pours black, big pillowy tan-colored head, sticky lacing, thick cap.

S - Sweet dark fruit sweetness, slight coffee, toffee, roast. A weird mix of sweetness and roast, but not a chocolate sweetness, more like a herbal/fruity sweetness.

T - Roast, chocolate, bitter hops, some weird herbal sweetness of some sort, bitter dark chocolate finish. I enjoy the roast, chocolate, and hoppy bitterness but the weird sweetness is kind of off-putting to me.

M - Medium body, rich and smooth, creamy finish.

O - Like a porter in some ways, unlike one in others. A very weird beer, to say the least. While I do enjoy a great porter, this one isn't amongst my favorites. It's different, which it's necessarily good. Just okay.

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Photo of nickfl
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - A black body, topped by a small head of brown foam. Good retention and lace.

s - Caramel and cinnamon up front with a little bit of clove.

T - Dark caramel and licorice with lots of strange spice. Clove, anise, cinnamon, and other things I can't quite identify in the middle. finishes with earthy notes of licorice and chocolate.

M - A medium body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - Kind of odd, really. It comes off as very spicy, but it is also quite dry and this combination hurts the drinkability for me.

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Photo of Gtreid
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into my bruery tulip

A: Opaque dark brown. The pour left a cap of light tan foam that retained rather well.

A: As per the usual with Ccb, I get notes of roasted malts, sweet caramel malt, and a unique hoppy bitterness. I also get notes of black licorice and candi sugar. Interesting.

T: more roasted grain followed by a caramel, candi sugar sweetness. Really interesting flavor profile, more notes of black licorice, coffee, toffee, and grassy hops. It finishes very bitter and sweet.

M: I'll go with medium body and pretty aggressive carbonation. Rather tingly on the palate.

O: Another extremely original offering from Ccb. I am not a huge fan of black licorice, infact I'll just say I hate it. But it seems to take a bit of a backseat to the roasty and coffee flavor on the beer. Not something I would go out of my way to get, but glad I got to try. Skal.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Chimay goblet. No date-stamp on this "multi-dimensional ale."

A: The beer is almost black and certainly impenetrably opaque. A really nice, creamy head settles to almost a finger.

S: Lest my nose deceive me, I detect traces of a Belgian yeast. Tripel-y. Also some roasted malt, sweetish. Powdered milk chocolate?

T/M: Wow. Let's see...where to start. The mouthfeel hits me first, puckery without being sour or particularly dry, lots of tingliness and a surprisingly light body. The beer is full of flavours, more or less what you'd expect to find in a porter, if a bit strong. The aftertaste is the most typical and is bitter, as if of coffee grounds, and almost ashy. The maintaste reinforces my Belgian impression, with a fruity-spicy yeastiness amidst the anticipated chocolatey-roast malt. Really complex and really good.

O: I think this is a pretty grand beer -- I may go out and buy some more (didn't realise it was a limited release). Highly recommended, and very interesting. Look forward to puzzling through another.

EDIT (3 October 2011): I did go out and buy some more. I was not disappointed.

EDIT (10 June 2012): Blackberries on the nose, otherwise my initial opinions are confirmed.

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Photo of Reaper16
4.29/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle served into a tulip glass

Pours a very dark brown, like molasses-dark. It’s more a cola brown at the very edges of the glass, but that’s as light as this beer gets. Two fingers of soft, consistent mocha colored head on this pour. The foam is not dense at all, despite how much of it there is. Think the head on a bottle or can of Guinness. This is more than adequate for a porter.

Oooh, now THIS is something different. The initial wave of aroma is very much in the porter tradition: it is roasty as all Hell, with loads of bitter chocolate notes. There is a small but not insignificant amount of Earthy hops (Fuggles, maybe?). But Black Whole soon starts to get all Belgian on you. Notes of wild cherry and clove invite comparisons to Dubbels. Black pepper starts to come out as the beer warms. The overall effect – smoky, peppery, slightly fruity -- is not too dissimilar from a steak grilled over fruitwood.

While Black Whole is, in the nose, more porter than anything else, it leans towards Belgian ales on the palate. Wild cherry washes over the tongue immediately, their juicy sweetness undercut by the spice character (clove and black peppercorn, mostly). Chocolate sauce finds its way out from underneath the Belgian yeast character, as well as the significant char from the roasted malts. The finish sees brief bursts of anise, vanilla, and European hops before the roast and black pepper take back over. Scoring this beer is tricky because is straddles this line between styles. My score might be an outlier for this beer. To me, the cherry flavors compliment this level of dark caramel maltiness, and the heavy roasted malt works in tandem with the peppery yeast character. If you love roast and bitterness as much as I do then you should love this beer.

Scoring the mouthfeel is also tricky. It’s not as thick as the porter character would normally call for, but seems appropriate for a lighter Dubbel. It’s also quite prickly with carbonation. What elevates the mouthfeel, though, is its surprising amount of dryness. Black Whole is fermented with a Saison yeast strain, and it definitely works to dry the beer out. I’m very interested in seeing what age does to this beer, in seeing how that yeast strain affects the beer long-term.

Overall, this is a splendid experiment. I find that the marriage of Dubbel and Porter works quite well. I’m going to have to buy a few more to stash away for a year or so. I’d suggest that you run out and buy this, but its pretty rate. Black Whole was limited to only 144 cases, and it is sold ONLY in the state of Alabama (well, and the Cigar City taproom in Tampa, FL). The beer is named in tribute to Alabama indie rock band, El Chupa Cobras, so Alabama gets pretty much all of the cases. If you like porters or like dark saisons or just like wildly experimental brews then you should find someone in Alabama to trade with.

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Photo of STKPICR0720
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Okay I am not a huge porter fan but I had to try this brew considering it is limited only to Alabama and the brewery. I poured into a tulip this brew is pitch black. This brew can easily be explained as cold coffee. It is sweet, bitter and a little hoppy. The beer looks like the darkest coffee ever brewed and drinks like a coffee that has been in the fridge for an hour. A great brew but not necessarily for my taste. Allthough this is another great brew from CCB.

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Photo of ncfranklin
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz into a tulip. A beer for a Alabama indie band? I like this already.

A: Pitch black, very bubbly two finger brown head. Doesn't seem to have all the consistency of such a big dark beer.

S: Notes of chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, and a sweet pungent candy overtone. That must be the licorice.

T: Straight after the nose. large chocolate and burnt toasty malt before caving to a tangy licorice candy flavor. Quite distinct.

M: Highly carbonated for the style. Unique tackiness i'd expect with a porter, while still alot of fizzy bubbles in the mouth.

D: CCB continues to entertain with this offering. While it's not something I'd necessarily crave, it's certainly unique and enjoyable. An indie beer for a indie band.

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Photo of taylocd
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cigar City special release brew limited to 144 cases and only available at brewery tasting room, and select locations in Alabama. Poured from 12 ounce bottle into snifter.

A - black body with no light peering through; small mocha head dissipated somewhat quickly and left no lacing but only a small but dense ring of bubbles at the rim

S - only faint coffee and chocolate aroma.

T - starts with semi-sweet chocolate flavor, middle almost has toasted nut (almond maybe - I can't pinpoint this aspect) finishes with very nice burnt coffee bitterness

F- medium thickness to body, with surprising carbonation; almost light for a "summer porter" if there exists such a thing; as it warms, the alcohol (8 percent) burn becomes just perceptible

O - enjoyable and very drinkable; good to very good, but not great.

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Photo of dnrobert24
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Prior to cracking this, I felt it paramount to put the ipod on and turn up the volume. Now for the notes.

Special release in Alabama only. Woohoo! We actually get a beer that other states won't get. This is something new. I guess it pays to have relationships with the brewery as this beer is a tribute to an Alabama indie rock band, "El Chupa Cobras," whose frontman is long-time friend and former band member of the head brewer of Cigar City.

Black Whole is a perfect example of a tasty beer that refuses to be pigeon-holed to any specific style guideline. Word from the brewer is that this is supposed to be a cross between a Belgian Dubbel and an English Porter fermented with a French Saison yeast strain. Yum.

At the crack of the cap, I smell porter. Roasted robust dark malts come out as I pour. The beer itself is pitch black with ruddy brown at the far edges. From the glass, I pick up plum notes. There is an initial stout-like quality to this brew. It is a bit thin (perhaps because of the more attenuative saison yeast?) with burnt notes on the front end and leather on the back end. As it warms, I pick up a brown sugar notes and spicy yeast phenols that I might expect in a dubbel. As I reach the very end of the glass I finally catch the self-described black licorice.

Overall this beer is what it claims to be--a dark beer that you can get lost in as layers of flavor reveal themselves. But don't drink it in silence, the music really adds something too.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a pretty viscous dark black with a light white head that fades over time. A little opaque and no visible carbonation.

S - A rich subtle chocolate aroma is detected first, followed by a nice black licorice smell. There is a sweet caramel note in there as well complimented by a bready finish.

T - Not as robust as I was expecting but very nice for a porter. The primary flavor is a rich dark chocolate with a semi-bitter licorice flavor in the aftertaste. In the middle there is a faint malt flavor with roasted grains and biscuits.

M - A little thin on the body for my preference but the carbonation is very nice. Finishes semi-dry and sort of tart and the flavor fades quickly on the palate.

O - Not a bad beer and it's a nice twist on a classic style. The flavors work well but don't "pop" as much as I would have hoped due to a thin body, but still very easy to sip.

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Black Whole from Cigar City Brewing
83 out of 100 based on 40 ratings.