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Barrel Noir - Almanac Beer Co.

Barrel NoirBarrel Noir

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

317 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 317
Reviews: 62
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 9.14%

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:
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.

(Beer added by: Trilogy31 on 02-14-2013)
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Ratings: 317 | Reviews: 62 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of WillCarrera


4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2013 05:57:46 | More by WillCarrera
Photo of mactrail


3.69/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-20-2013 04:38:31 | More by mactrail
Photo of Halcyondays


4.13/5  rDev +2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-19-2013 20:35:33 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of popery


4.24/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2013 08:26:21 | More by popery
Photo of AgentMunky


4.36/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2013 07:12:38 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of Pecan


3.31/5  rDev -18.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2013 05:23:46 | More by Pecan
Photo of kojevergas


2.88/5  rDev -28.9%
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.


Serving type: bottle

03-01-2013 05:46:39 | More by kojevergas
Photo of nataku00


3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2013 03:55:36 | More by nataku00
Photo of dubinsky


4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2013 04:08:28 | More by dubinsky
Photo of elNopalero


4.7/5  rDev +16%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

02-21-2013 07:17:28 | More by elNopalero
Photo of UCLABrewN84


4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2013 04:19:23 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of Trilogy31


4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2013 02:55:02 | More by Trilogy31
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Barrel Noir from Almanac Beer Co.
90 out of 100 based on 317 ratings.