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Barrel Noir - Almanac Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Barrel NoirBarrel Noir

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

412 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 412
Reviews: 74
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 8.85%
Wants: 70
Gots: 70 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Almanac Beer Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Trilogy31 on 02-14-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

This oak-aged ale is our love letter to bourbon barrels. Barrel Noir is a sumptuous, inky ale that celebrates the velvety texture and subtle heat that only Kentucky charred oak can impart. Born from a blend of American imperial stout and Belgian-inspired dark ale aged in bourbon barrels, this rich brew can be paired with braised beef dishes and dark chocolates. Enjoyed best in front of a warm fireplace.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 412 | Reviews: 74
Reviews by mxchap:
Photo of mxchap
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottled in Winter 2012, enjoyed in January 2014.

Appearance: Black, no surprise here. Tall light-tan head with great lacing. Certainly looks inviting and a bit mysterious. [5/5]

Aroma: A lot going on, but it meshes well together. The most notable aromas are of the bourbon/vanilla, but the dark fruit (figs) from the Belgian side of the blend are also quite noticeable. Bitterness in the form of cacao is also detectable. [3.75/5]

Flavor: The Belgian dark ale is most assertive, and the bourbon barrel shines through very nicely. This tastes similar what the label describes: 50% Belgian dark ale aged in bourbon barrels & 50% American imperial stout. I would say it's closer to 60-40 in favor of the Belgian though. There is a stout hiding in there, and it asserts itself in the manner of cacao roastiness and fruity esters. A little metallic on the finish, but it doesn't detract much from the enjoyment.
[4.25/5]

Feel: A little thin for being 10% ABV, but I'm guessing the BSDA finished rather dry. Carbonation is a little high initially. The stout flavors linger for a bit, but no flavors are cloying or long-lasting. [3.0/5]

Overall: A nice dark ale hybrid. I haven't had too many Belgian style stouts that I really enjoyed (other than black albert), but this blended beer essentially pulls it off. Nicely done Almanac. [4.0/5]

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.76/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Jeff for cracking this one. Pours very dense and nearly black with the smallest, deep-brown skin at the time, a pretty long cry from being called a "head", even after a straight-down pour. No real lacing or legging of any sort, just a fairly dark and still, troubling looking beer. A little more carbonation certainly wouldn't hurt.

Somewhat musky and deep roasted cocoa beans are the first things to jump out and hit my senses. Quickly following is a brigade of woody and oak notes; surprisingly enough, the bourbon isn't that strong - actually, it's hardly even noticeable in the aroma. Light caramel and sweet, sticky brown sugar softens the finish, coupled alongside some plums, dates, and even a touch of apple skins. Solid barrel-stout aroma with a nice finishing sweetness at the end.

The first sip is pretty heavier up-front - a bit heavier than the smooth aroma would have you guessing. Boozy and strong, but not quite akin to smooth bourbon. It's more of a sharp and abrasive booziness; think straight Jack Daniel's whiskey. It hits hard up front and haunts the palate from start to finish. I'm typically a fan of some nice boozy flavors in my beers, but this one could use some time to mellow out.

Other actually flavors from the profile include some lightly milky chocolates, molasses, nuts, and a strong, woody, polished finish. Barrel Noir leaves your palate a touch sticky and coated with a nutty-oak flavor that's been soaking for days in a vat of Tennessee whiskey. The mouth feel is pretty nice - big and boisterous, heavy bodied and full of itself, and even slightly creamy due to the low carbonation.

I feel that if the bourbon character of this one was toned down a bit, it would be pretty damn great. As it stands, it's simply a good barrel-aged beer that is a little to boozy to enjoy for any prolonged beer drinking period of time. Perhaps waiting this one out is a better route.

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Nose: bourbon, chocolate with fruit, prunes and raisins.
Pours brilliant deep ebony, ½” finely bubbled tan foam cap. Lacy.
Palate: Starts with chocolate and bourbon, followed by prune and raisins with light espresso in the background mixed with bourbon and chocolate. The aftertaste is long and lingering.
The body is medium full to chewy but it is moussey and foamy due to the fine, soft natural carbonation.

Photo of ehammond1
4.19/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle (2013)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
san Marcos, CA

A delicious, refined, roasty, earthy barrel-aged imperial stout. The aroma comes packed with loads of chocolate and an integrated bourbon barrel character. It actually reminded me a lot of Parabola's aroma. The flavor isn't quite as successful, the but the usual players are all here and are delicious. Everything Almanac puts into barrels turns into gold. Another winner!

Photo of 01001111
4.66/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A: Deep, cola brown. Cloudy but neither very thick nor oily.

S: Let it warm. The vanilla, caramel, and bourbon notes strengthen as it heats up a little.

T: Strong bourbon up front with a coffee roast and mild bitterness on the back; like a bourbon barrel Yirgacheffe drip coffee.

M: A bit thinner than I had expected with only a touch of syrup.

O: As this warms I keep increasing my score. Not the absolute best bourbon barrel aged stout but one of the best; an amazing feat given that this is their first iteration. Another great beer from Almanac.

Photo of dirtylou
3.72/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

on-tap, brouwers

I've really liked some of the farmers reserve beers, but this one didn't do it for me. Not much of a RIS, though I'm not really sure that was the intent. Cocoa powder, strong sweetness, trace bourbon, vanilla, chocolate covered cherry, a bit of oak. Just average.

Photo of flayedandskinned
3.29/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Bottled on 1/30/13
Poured into a standard tulip glass.

Appearance: (4)
Pours a midnight black with a nice, 2 fingers tall khaki head that has some nice retention. The head eventually falls to a nice quarter finger cap, leaving no retention behind.

Aroma: (3.75)
Rich aromas of sweet dark fruits waft up to your nose as soon as you pour the beer; mostly plum, cherry and fig. Building right alongside these sweet tones are impressions of coconut and vanilla from the bourbon barrel. As the beer warms, the barrel character begins to fade and more of the sweet fruit undertones, paired with a creamy chocolate presence become apparent. Underneath this sweetness, there is a very subtle astringent coffee tone.

Taste: (3)
Similar to the nose, your palate is struck immediately by waves of sweet fruit; mostly plums, cherries and figs. Underneath these fruits is a light streak of bitter coffee and chocolate. The beer finishes watery with lingering notes of chocolate, sweet fruit and coffee. There are some nice notes of coconut and vanilla from the barrel. There is a sizable alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel: (3)
Thin, a tad watery with moderate carbonation.

Overall: (3.25)
I had hopes for this beer; A Dark Belgian Strong aged in Bourbon barrels and then blended with an Imperial Stout? This should be awesome! I was expecting a very robust, creamy ale and what this turned out to be is a thin beer with some decent barrel character. After trying Almanac's Farmhouse Reserve No. 3, and I had bigger hopes for this.

Photo of emerge077
3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to WST for this one! BBQ victory winnings finale, shared with Aaron.

Pitch black, some tobacco-stained chestnut highlights when held to the light. Thin vein of tan foam, spotty flecks of lace around the edges.

Anise in the aroma big time, licorice and roasted malt comprise the main elements, with some barrel heat as well.

Roasty char, malt sweetness, chocolate syrup, sweet pipe tobacco. Full bodied with a bite from the bourbon barrel, finish is a bit thin though. Werthers butterscotch candy and milk chocolate. Dry finish, fairly smooth. Overall it's pretty good, but is lacking a certain something to make it unique.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.52/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Monk's Kettle

A -Deep ink black with a thin layer of light brown head and excellent lacing. Beautiful!

S - Intense bourbon and vanilla aromas accompany a big sweetness. Chocolate, roast and hints of dark fruit.

T - Sweet bourbon and vanilla along with charred oak up front as the barrel notes shine through. Chocolate, roast and light espresso. Gets smoky as it warms.

M - Medium body but a touch watery at times. Light carbonation.

Photo of nataku00
3.79/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a tulip. Beer is a dark opaque cola brown color with a thin tan colored wispy head. Head dissipates to a collar of bubbles quickly, leaving some light lacing. A decent amount of fine carbonation visible at the edge of the glass.

Nose has a bit of milk chocolate, dark fruits, cherry, plums, dark bread, some yeast spiciness, clove mainly, some light oak notes, mainly vanilla and a bit of toasted wood.

Taking a sip, there are more roasted notes than in the aroma, mainly roasted malt with some mild coffee, more lighter milk chocolate, yeast spice and esters. Not as much dark fruit in taste, there but just an accent in flavor. Finish is medium, with lingering roasted malt, toasted oak, vanilla and bourbon.

Lighter side of medium body, plenty of fine carbonation sharply pricking at the tongue. There are some interesting flavors here, but the lighter mouthfeel prevents the flavors from really being prominent on the tongue.

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours a very dark but translucent brown with a fine two finger light brown head with good retention and massive lacing. The color is closer to a dark strong ale than a imperial stout, perhaps reflecting the blending. Excellent bourbon aroma with dark toasted malt, chocolate, maybe a bit of cherry, but that might be the bourbon esters. Very interesting flavor of dark toasted malt blended with sweet nuts, dark and light fruit an vanilla. Bourbon infuses everything but is not dominant. There is a lot going on here, with fleeting flavors that I can't put my finger on. Yet everything is melded nicely. Warming with a hint of the high ABV, but there is too much to favor to dwell on it. Medium bodied; a bit thinner than I'd expect from something this complex and high ABV. This is an amazing beer that defies categories; it's not really an Imperial stout, but closer in spirit to a strong ale with stout and Belgian influences. I'm liking this a lot. I just found out that Almanac will be available in my area now and I will getting more of this and trying their other offerings. Excellent.

Photo of RaulMondesi
4.11/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Usually Almanac can get away with their 10.99 single bottle prices for their sours (because they are off the hook) but Raul wishes he could say the same about Barrel Noir. Now, don't get the main man wrong; Raul would take a 7 out to dinner and a movie at the independent theater any day of the week; but would he buy that 7 lobster? Hell no! Raul's thinking Burger King!

It's a nice beer; Raulsky picks up those oak barrel characters, and as a stout, overall it is nice. Where it is lacking though is its Olympic Gymnast mouthfeel; I mean, for being 50% barrel aged this thang is thin! It's definitely not bulimic, or anorexic at that, but this sucker definitely needs a Porterhouse to fill it out.

Peace!

Photo of rlee1390
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, black when pouring as well. One finger off white head.

S-Bourbon, chocolate, darker fruits.

T-Nice balance. Bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, good deal of dark fruits and some burnt notes.

M-Medium to heavy, some carbonation, tad creamy with a pleasant alcohol heat.

O-Another great beer from Almanac. Their bigger beers seem to all be must tries.

Photo of ThickNStout
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

375mL bottle from j47paco (much appreciated!). Bottled winter 2012. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours black with a finger and a half of soft tan head. The froth lingers but then settles to a thin cap, leaving small islands of lace.

The smells of smooth chocolate and sweet barrel dominate. I say barrel because the bourbon, vanilla and oak all seem to play in to one harmonious, inviting aroma that plays well with the chocolate, brown sugar and what seems to me like a hint of oats.

No surprises in the taste after that nose. Subtle bourbon, cocoa, slightly charred oak, vanilla, creamed coffee, mild roast malts, brown sugar and a touch of alcohol. A rounded and supple barrel aged stout that is quite easy to drink.

Creamy, smooth, medium body with soft carbonation. Aftertaste of bourbon, dark cocoa and hints of charred oak with a vanilla tinge.

I'm assuming that the 15+ months of age is what makes this such a soft and rounded imperial stout. Ultimately (and ironically) I think the smooth lack of edges that I like most in this is also what holds it back from truly standing out. A tasty and enjoyable brew but without anything to really raise it above the higher echelon of barreled imperial stouts out there.

Photo of DJQ
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 375ml bottle. Impressed by other Almanac offerings, I have been eager to try this one for a while.

A: Pours dark brown, with half a finger of dense head.

S: Bourbon, oak, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and caramel. The smell is very enticing.

T: Same flavours as the smell, very tasty. Very smooth and quite complex.

M: Surprisingly thin for this style. Low carbonation.

O: A great beer for a chilly winter night. Tastes better as it warmed.

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.06/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown 375ml bottle with etched label.

A: Pours dark brownish black with an initial 2-inch mocha head which fades to the rim and thin cap leaving web lace.

N: Cocoa, bourbon, oak, dark cherries, roasty char and brown sugar.

T: Dark chocolate, vanilla, roast with some charred oak, dark fruits and malt.

M: Full body and moderate carbonation. Creamy, slightly sweet fruit with roasty dark chocolate finish.

O: Roasty oak and strong flavors invite another sip. A bit muddled near the end.

Photo of DmouthCaliBrewz
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip because I was too lazy to switch to a snifter.

A: pours about a shade away from opaque...still a little bit brown and some light coming through but not much. Thick head that recedes quickly to nothing more than a ring around the edges that stay for the remainder of the beer .

S: Bourbon, chocolate, and strong notes of vanilla.

T: Bourbon and wood up front, with a subtle funk and some sweetness on the end. Not as much as I thought would be going on here, but as it warms it got exponentially better. Slight booze on the finish, but this is mostly bourbon and wood with a slight woody smoke and some hints of belgian yeast and funkiness. Finishes with some dark fruits and more bourbon.

M: A tad thinner than I would have liked, but it balanced the funk nicely...this ain't dark lord we're talkin here..definitely a good amount of carb but not enough that it was off-putting. I think for the style, (blended BBA belgian stout?) it was quite appropriate.

O: Yes this isn't top notch compared to some BBA impys, but this isn't trying to be. It is a blended belgian stout, and I think it does absolutely everything it is intended to. The bourbon is perfect...I hate it when the barrel character is overdone, but this beer does it right. And while I would have liked just a little more mouthfeel, I recall that this is "50% american imperial stout, 50% Belgian Dark ale aged in bourbon barrels" and so I tell myself i need not expect motor oil. This is beautifully executed for the obscure beer that it is, and I would be lying if I didn't enjoy every sip. Almanac has been hitting home runs lately, and of those, I would consider this in the middle of the pack.

Photo of cbutova
4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Consumed on-tap at Stone in Escondido. Reviewed from notes.

A- Poured from the tap to an 8oz taster glass. Black as night with a small light tan head. Bubbly ring leaves spotty lace after the head falls fairly quickly.

S- Light barrel whiskey with oak and vanilla, smoothed out and not abrasive. Dark roast malts, strong dark red fruity yeast notes, spiced raisins and some cocoa.

T- Barrel comes to life a bit more in the taste. Rounded out Bourbon, vanilla and oak wood peek through a roasty, Belgian base beer. Aged caramel, intensely dark burnt grains, raisins, dark fruits, cocoa, fig candi sugar and Belgian yeast spice. The fruitiness reminds me of an Old Ale, perhaps a tiny bit of oxidation.

MF- Creamy and silky texture to a medium thick body. Alcohol provides a nice warming at 10% and carbonation is at a medium-high level. Goes down smoothly.

Grows on me with each sip. The Belgian yeast feel works with the Bourbon barrels and dark roasty malts, not an easy thing to do.

Photo of Rifugium
3.74/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

My first beer from this brewery. Cola-brown pour with a small tan head that retained moderately and left minimal spotty lacing. In the nose, dark malts, dark dried fruits, esters, yeast, oak. Hmm...well, really no bourbon, and all things considered, there were some traces of possible infection noted; nothing overly offensive, but something didn't seem quite right. Unlike the aroma, I did get some bourbon and vanilla in the taste, barrel, dark malts, plum and red grapes. Some astringent and estery off-flavors crept in towards the end, leading me once again to believe this beer (or this bottle anyway) was on the verge of being infected. And yet it was still at a point where I found it tasty. Medium body, which makes sense when you understand this is only 50% stout. Despite its "flaws" or whatever may have been going on in this bottle, it was still an interesting brew, and I'd like to try it again for a second opinion.

Want more from this brewery. Trade please.

Photo of WillCarrera
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375 ml bottle, bottled Winter 2012, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a dark brown, topped with a thin khaki head, recedes to a collar and leaves spotty lacing.

S- Chocolate, dark fruit, wood, pretty simple.

T- Chocolate, roasted grain, lots of oak with some subtle char, bourbon and vanilla. A bit of fruitiness as well, but for me the char, chocolate and wood are what really stand out.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth feel with a dry, oaky finish.

O- An interesting beer, very barrel-forward but it works pretty well, glad I picked this up.

Photo of Davepoolesque
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out into a teku, black with a fluffy khaki colored head. Smell up front is lots of vanilla and oak. Getting very little roasted malt. Taste is vanilla, a subtle roasted malt flavor, oak, almost a milk stout sweetness, and a bit of bourbon. This one is creamy and super smooth. No rough edges at all but it's on the thinner side for a stout. Kind of reminded me of a less complex Abyss.

Photo of portia99
3.99/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle poured into an Idle Hands tulip.

A - Pours an opaque black color with no light coming thru at all around the edges. Two fingers of dense creamy head shows excellent staying power and a beautiful mocha color. Thick lacing is left on the glass completing this very good looking stout.

S - Lots of dark roasted malt with some char and licorice making a first impression. Combination of chocolatey aromas from sweet milk chocolate thru bitter dark chocolate. Smooth bourbon takes a bit of a background position, sweet vanilla and a tiny bit of tartness mixed in too.

T - Very smooth, but not very assertive flavoring. Touch of vanilla up front with slightly warm bourbon. Burnt malt, a bit of char, dark chocolate, touch of coffee. Touch of bitter hops and maybe a bit of caramel on the finish especially as it warms in the glass. I'm surprised how subtle the flavorings are here.

M - Very smooth, warm bourbon that leaves a bit of a burn on the throat after the swallow. Medium bodied with a tingly mid-level carbonation. Quite mild flavors, especially for the style.

O - Absolutely beautiful beer in the glass with an aroma that is really nice and inviting. Nothing wrong with the flavors, just not enough there. If the flavor matched the aroma in intensity and complexity this would be truly outstanding. Still a good beer, but had so much more promise.

Photo of fishdog
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Darkness engulfs the glass, a thin layer of foam is on top. A little lacing covers the sides.

S: Boozy, bourbon, and cocoa notes are the main notes.

T: Smells exactly like it tastes. A boozy notes burn the tongue followed by the bourbon with a hint of chocolate on the finish.

M: Lingering taste. This is a sipper beer or for after dinner.

O: Excellent brew! Its hot outside now and this double stout is excellent. All the main notes share a equal performance on the palate. A well thought out beer and a simple yet complex one.

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark brown with a thin off-white head leaving very nice lacing throughout. Aromas of charred oak, vanilla, chocolate, cocoa beans, and light notes of bourbon. The flavor profile suggests some caramel, light brown sugar, plums, oak, and silky chocolate bourbon goodness. Velvety texture in the mouthfeel with a polished, yet subtle heat finish that only Kentucky charred oak can only seem to pull off. Overall, a very nice beer and I want to keep trying those Farm to Barrel series from the brewery!

Photo of ianw87
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Overall a great beer. Nice oaky, caramel, almost caramel corn nose. Nice dryness from the stout that battles the sweetness from the dark ale. I really like it.

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Barrel Noir from Almanac Beer Co.
91 out of 100 based on 412 ratings.