Drake's Jolly Rodger 2013 Imperial American Black Ale - Drake's Brewing Co.
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3.91/5 rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Poured out of a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. Split with others. Bottling date was "11/24/13," and this was consumed about a month later.
Pours a pretty darkened black ale - almost opaque, save for the brownish tinges that round up the sides of the glass when held against the light. Contains an off-khaki head that gives this the appearance of some heavily viscous porter, or something similar. The lacing on this is tremendous given the hilariously high ABV, and, perhaps due to the expected dank dry hopping this beer apparently has, leaves behind some sticky foam at the sides of the glass in a pretty remarkable way. This is definitely up there with some of the more memorable looking American black ales I've had to date, to be honest. Then again, it's a relatively untapped style, so it's good to see Drake's try it out exaggeratedly!
Sweet Jesus! This is really intense. Granted, I should have expected nothing less from Drake's at this point, but this is really not your typical black ale, as indicated by the aroma. Huge dank pine, minty notes, coated with caramel, roasted chocolate notes, as well as raisins, figs, molasses, and anise. Contains a spicy, herbal profile here in addition to the pine and anise, containing peppercorns, green pepper, flower stems, black tea, and slightly charred elements that you'd normally find in barrel aged beers, yet still comes through in a similarly tannic manner. Aggressive and unforgiving, and it doesn't help that it's slightly boozy at the nose as well. It's one of the most complex black ales I've ever whiffed upon, but it's really oppressive in the same manner a fresh American barleywine is.
And with one sip, I find my palate battered and numbed with an intense bitterness, roasted character, and intensity of herbal spices that I'm pretty much convinced that this is the very first "black barleywine," if that is to be a style, that I've ever tasted. Huge roasted grainy notes, with charred dark chocolate, coffee, black tea, as well as prunes and molasses coated with licorice, pine, and mint. Peppery at the finish, yet mostly bitter and assertive, with dried orange rinds that are charred and simultaneously caramelized. Finishes spectacularly bitter, with huge grainy notes, as well as tons of heat from the alcohol and a strong prevailing earthiness. This is seriously crazy stuff. Very astringent and intensely flavored - I'm seriously glad that I split this, because more that 6-8oz would seriously be too much.
Wow, this really pushes the boundaries for what Drake's has made in the past - complex, flavorful, but very, very difficult to wade through due to its huge bitterness and booziness. I didn't mind it, and I'll praise it for its unique qualities, but I have no clue what to do with it. It's very bitter, herbal, and soapy as a fresh barleywine, but laying it down may cut off all of the herbal and citrus qualities I'm enjoying it for. Wish I would have gotten an extra bottle to test it out, but I was glad to be part of the experience!
Serving type: bottle
03-10-2014 02:44:35 | More by magictacosinus
Drake's Jolly Rodger 2013 Imperial American Black Ale from Drake's Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 74 ratings.