Barrel Noir - Almanac Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Barrel NoirBarrel Noir

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

415 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 415
Reviews: 74
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 8.85%
Wants: 72
Gots: 66 | FT: 9
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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Ratings: 415 | Reviews: 74
Photo of SteveTheDog
3.34/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I like wine & drank this our of an oversized wine glass and it looked like wine, albeit a little dark & with a good head on it. I got hits of cherries and some dark chocolate in the nose - big fan of that. The taste was a little underwhelming though - it tasted a little on the dirty side but with a clean aftertaste. It was nice once, but I don't plan on having a second.

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

Winter 2012 batch.

A: Pours a hearty dark brown, not quite black. Big fizzy medium brown head. Fades slowly with nice retention. Moderate but thick chunks of lacing left behind.

S: Whoa, very big and very sweet smelling. Dripping with sugary fruits and caramel from the barrels. Almost overly sweet.

T: Sweet, sweet caramel and dark fruits up front. Lots of chocolate now, like some hershey's syrup mixed in. Touch of anise too. Get a little cocoa powder and metallic notes in the finish. Drying finish with a bunch of oak, boozy bourbon and a little bitter chocolate.

M: Nice full body, smooth and silky. Touch dry as mentioned.

O: Really nice bourbon barrel stout. Honestly I'm glad this wasn't 100% barrel aged because the bourbon is just right as-is (maybe that's why they went 50/50). Super sweet and silky, loaded with dark fruits. Very belgian stout-ish, which I'm not sure if it is. But sure seems like it.

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 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 litheum94
4.39/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375 ml bottle, with a bottle date of "Winter 2012."

The body is jet black, with a fizzy, brown head. It crackles out quickly, leaving a trace of foam on top.

Rich aromas of chocolate, slivered almonds, plums and toasted coconut. There are also some slightly sweet Bourbon tones. Smells amazing.

Flavors start off with dark chocolate, coconut and almonds, with a dash of vanilla. Dry, roasted coffee tones come in, as well as some dark fruit sweetness. There's a lot more barrel characteristic to the body than the nose hints at, with woody, oaky flavors. The finish has some milk chocolate and a warming alcohol bite.

The flavors don't quite live up to the nose, but this is still a great beer, and a great job with barrel aging and blending.

Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark black with just a hint of brown and a finger of frothy khaki-chocolate colored head. Fades fairly slowly.

S - Roasted dark chocolate and dark caramel malts, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, dark fruits, coffee, black licorice, candi sugars, vanilla, Belgian yeast, and a hint of booze.

T - Roasted dark chocolate and dark caramel malts, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, dark fruits, roasted coffee, candi sugar, Belgian yeast, black licorice, some earthy hops, and a hint of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and creamy with a sweet, roasted, and warming finish.

D - Fantastic balance and complexity. Spot on.

Photo of vfgccp
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A – Dark cola body with light brown highlights. Light tan head with nice retention and ok lace.

S – Rich milk chocolate, raisin bran, toasted whole wheat bread, sweet anise, worchester sauce, chocolate covered prunes, malted milk balls.

T – Incredibly complex. The flavor profile ebbs and weaves through thick dark chocolate sauce, bourbon, balsamic, honey, oak, sweet plums, dry cocoa nibs, coconut, chocolate cherry cordials, and nutella.
M – Smooth, medium body. The carbonation is a little light, but otherwise it’s spot on for the profile.

O – Outstanding flavor profile; complex, well balanced, and delicious.

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.48/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Bruery chalice, body is dark black with a tan head of foam. Good retention with some lacing.

Nose of roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, marshmallow, and bourbon.

Tastes as the nose suggests, but all these flavors are nicely integrated, making for a very tasty whole. The bourbon is pretty strong, and their is some fusel alcohol tastes, but this is matched by intense tasty malt and hop flavors. A marshmallow sweetness rounds it all out without being cloying.

Medium body and round carbonation. Very smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Coats the tongue, enveloping the tasty flavors. Finishes more on the dry side.

This is a very nice stout, sort of like a liquid Belgian praline with bourbon. My only reservation is that it is a bit boozy with a touch of alcohol heat; may benefit from extended aging.

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 brentk56
4.49/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color capped by an inch of foam; the retention is not great but there is some decent lacing left behind

Smell: Quite a lot going on, with chocolate and charred oak dominant; vanilla, dark fruit and marshmallow underneath

Taste: Opens very roasty, with the charred oak and chocolate flavors from the aroma dominant; in the middle, the vanilla and marshmallow flavors build, along with some earthy hops and walnut flavors; the aftertaste brings out a bit of the Bourbon as well as a nice blend of the various elements

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A really nice blend of what tastes like an Old Ale aged in Bourbon barrels and an Imperial Stout - I think Almanac is on to something with this brew

Thanks, danwho, for the chance to revisit

Photo of DovaliHops
4.29/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black color with a medium sized, khaki-colored head that goes down rather quickly. Scent is heavy on the chocolate and dark fruits. A little more dark fruits than chocolate, however. Fresh dates with some raisins and heavy fig aroma. Some subtle bourbon aromas with a good amount of oak. Light vanilla and a tiny hint of anise. As beer warms, it begins to smell much more like a Quad than a stout. Taste is dark fruits up front with subtle bourbon and vanilla. Lovely fig and date flavor with some tasty bourbon and oak flavors. Some charred malt and roasty flavors with some dark chocolate. The flavors in this beer are quite complex. Good mixture of a Bourbon Barrel Stout and Bourbon Barrel Quad. The flavors mesh impressively. Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with good carbonation. Drinkability is VERY high for 10%...scary high drinkability. Overall, this is another success for Almanac. So far, their Farmer's Reserve series beers have been incredible.

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 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 mactrail
3.66/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Local Habit in San Diego. At first glance it's a total blackout in the snifter, but after some drinking it appears dark brown with a ruby glint. Just a brief rising of foam that settles down to an oil slick. Rather prickly on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is a little on the goopy side. Hugely rich with a lot of sugar taste. Deeply toasted malt is the backbone, with just a little sharpness coming through eventually. Big burnt sugar taste provides some bitterness but hops are virtually absent. Dark fruity flavor of dates and a whiff of vanilla in the nose. A relentless and robust brew that is more like a too-rich dessert than a beer. Worth a try, however, for barrel aficionados.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours black with a medium tan head, some solid lace left over.

S: Lots of bourbon and vanilla. A cleaner smell than most bourbon barrel aged brews. Notes of dark chocolate and a hint of dark dried fruit.

T: Dark chocolate and vanilla dominate with secondary notes of plum and date. Definite high residual sugar count in this, but well put together. A lovely big stout.

M: Creamy, full-bodied, smooth as silk. Definitely easy drinking for its style.

O: I've been hesitant to try Almanac's beers due to the price point, but this was $6.50 for 12 oz. at happy hour so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Good stuff here and a great starting point to get into BA stouts.

Photo of popery
4.24/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours coffee black. It's a very dark brown, lightening at the edges. Can't really tell anything about clarity. No apparent murkiness, anyway. Small brown head. The bubbles dissipate relatively quickly. Lots of chocolate in the aroma along with a healthy dose of caramel malt and some pleasant roast. Good barrel character. I tend to like the more subdued, meshhed spirit aroma of partially barrel-aged beers. There's some excellent vanilla and other bourbon notes. Lots of stone fruit bouncing around, as well. It blends into the stout and barrel flavors quite nicely, but there's a background of plums, dates and molasses. A bit like a sweeter, more caramel than raisin quad. The sweet and fruity notes push the spirit flavor in the direction of quality, Jamaican rum. It smells like a blend of dark chocolate molten cake, bread pudding, bourbon and rum. Taste is pretty sweet, but the beer never gets cloying. There's enough woodiness and roast bitterness to tame the sugar. Lots of caramel and fruit upfront. Fades into dark chocolate and roast. Then, settles into vanilla, warming booze, roast and a sorta minty hop flavor. Mouthfeel is smooth and full. This is probably my favorite Almanac beer, so far. It's great to see them making strides with this beer and the two recent Farmer's Reserve sours. I was getting a tad pessimistic about their beers, but I'm back on board with this one.

Photo of AgentMunky
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 375mL bottle into a brandy snifter.

A: Dark brown with light head and scattered lacing.

S: Fantastic. Bourbon and dark chocolate. Hugely potent; the smell alone is intoxicating. Touches of fruit (perhaps Belgian yeast).

T/M: Rich, sweet, and thick. It's lightly carbonated, lightly spicy, sweet, and spirituous. Very complex and rewarding. I love it.

O: Great beer, highly recommended. Would have again. An imposing, delicious, heavy beer.

Photo of Pecan
3.34/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours dark brown/black with small tan head.

Hints of spice, oak, and dark fruits on the nose.

Slight malt taste in the beginning, but is quickly overpowered by an astringent, spice taste with dark fruits replacing the caramel beginnings. Barrel flavor is significantly diminished. Some bitterness lingers at the end along with a subtle dark fruit aftertaste.

Mouthfeel begins nicely, but finishes with too much carbonation combining with the spice and bitterness.

This wasn't awful, but seemed significantly influenced by Belgian dark ales and not so much by bourbon or stouts. Judging based on that, it is certainly unique, but does not hold up to other Belgian style quads. Doubt I would buy this again, but certainly a unique beer that I'm glad to have tried.

Photo of kojevergas
2.9/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

50% Dark Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels. 50% American Imperial Stout. 10% ABV confirmed. Cast was $10 USD for a 375ml brown glass bottle with a branded pressure cap and a fancy etched label. Oak-aged according to the label. Served into a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are average given the brewery. Acquired at a local SoCal beer store; I've seen this around Westwood.

Served straight from the fridge but allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Paired with salted pretzels.

A: Pours a cola-esque khaki-tan head: quite thin, lacks substantial cream, but retains well (~5 minutes, pretty impressive for 10%). Body colour is a solid dark black; not a jet black or silky but black. No yeast particles are visible; it's nontransparent and opaque. No bubble show. Light thin lacing as the head slowly recedes.

Sm: Chocolate, chocolate malt, dark malts, buried roast, a bit of vanilla, light plum/stonefruit, and caramel. Not real bourbon-y, with the vanilla and caramel ringing distinct rather than as part of a whole. A bit of oak wood. No yeast character comes through. Alcohol is well concealed. Bready and a bit burnt. It's evocative but not very deep in terms of flavour depth. I'm excited to try it. A mild strength aroma.

T/Mf: Hrm. It feels like a messy blend of two different beers - probably because that's what it is. Bourbon-y oaky dark malts collide with competing plum notes, biscuit malt, and light vinous character. No balance here at all. The mouthfeel is a mess too; silky and artifically smooth up front which coarsens and dries as it hits the lees-like Belgian dark feel. Carbonation is good. Light oak is a highlight but lacks depth. Alcohol is evident. Heavy thick caramel and bready notes. A bit roasty on the finish, with hints of cold pressed generic coffee. Overly sweet, with artificial vanilla hitting on the climax. Hot and gushed. There's definite boozy warmth here. It doesn't lack body, but it's inconsistent and unfocused. Boy, this one isn't doing me well.

Dr: Something of a sipper, with boozy character warming the stomach. Its messy unfocused flavour profile coupled with its scattershot mouthfeel make it a tough one to drink compared to other beers in the style. This one misses the mark a bit; I feel like either of the two constituent beers would be better on their own. Priced high for the lack of quality. I wouldn't buy this again. I'm distrusting of Almanac now; I've had too many underwhelming beers from them. A very average beer.

C

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 dubinsky
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First of all, let me say that the bottles that Almanac put on the selves are by far the best looking that I have ever seen.

375ml bottle poured into a Crate and Barrel snifter.

A – The beer poured a thinish dark brown with a khaki color foamy head that quickly receded settling to the edges of the glass, leaving some nice lacing behind.

S – The bottle describes this being aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and the bourbon characters are pretty evident, with nice wafts of Vanilla, popcorn, caramel and bittersweet chocolate. Very nice smelling, but not as in your face as some of the big BBA behemoths like KBS, Eclipse, etc…

T – The first sip has sweet milk chocolate, toffee, prunes and some phenols. Although it’s definitely an Imperial Stout, it has moments when it reminds me of Belgian Dark Ale. The bourbon characters are nice and spicy and slightly warm as they go down.

M – Light body with medium carbonation. A bit thin for an imperial stout for my tastes. Nice warming effect with a nice dry finish.

O – I really enjoyed this beer, however at times I was a bit confused. Was I drinking a bourbon barrel stout or Belgian Dark Ale. Perhaps they used some Belgian yeast strains? Who knows, and who cares! When it think of craft beers, it doesn’t get much craftier than this.

Photo of elNopalero
4.69/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This has a solid layer of foam atop a opaque black colored brew. Great aroma—there’s a light whiskeyed alcohol sweetness balancing out the roast and thick stone fruit aroma. There’s stone fruits on the flavor: raisin, plums, and some rummy characters. Makes me wonder what kind of barrel it’s aged in. Like a Belgo-quad characteristic almost with the combination of the yeast characteristics, barrel-aging, and layers of flavor.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at mhksuccess' tasting.

Bottled Winter 2012.

Pours a murky dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that fades to nothing. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, brown sugar, smoke, char, and bourbon. Taste is much the same with a fruity flavor and alcohol kick on the finish. There is a medium amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a great smell and some tasty flavors.

Photo of Trilogy31
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a deep dark chocolate brown letting in very little light. Nice tight finger of mocha foam that leaves a wake of small islands. Nose has caramel popcorn, thai coffee, milk chocolate and dark roasted nuts along with a slight bourbon caramel sweetness. Taste brings rich milk chocolate, light coffee shadings, tootsie roll, spicy bourbon barrel notes, charred oak. Very nicely done finishes with a dry bite of oaky tannin, nicely carbonated as well. I seemed to perceive a lot of sweet flavors yet this beer finishes up nice and dry even a touch astrigent. Reminds me somewhat of an EW eclipse, just maybe a touch thin but a very nice beer.

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Barrel Noir from Almanac Beer Co.
91 out of 100 based on 415 ratings.