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Great Lakes Blackout Stout - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Blackout StoutGreat Lakes Blackout Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,933 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,933
Reviews: 1,125
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 8.55%
Wants: 425
Gots: 499 | FT: 35
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Wildman on 02-14-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,933 | Reviews: 1,125 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jrallen34
3.58/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I drank this from tap into a snifter.

The beer is black wtih a light tan that doesn't have much of a head retention or lacing.

The aroma is mostly just light hops.

The taste ups the antee on the aroma as it is mostly hoppy and lots of bitterness. Too much bitter for my liking in a RIS.

The feel is too light and watery not very drinkable.

Photo of boatshoes
3.85/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have had this in the bottle but providing my review off of notes from having it on tap at the Great Lakes BA Blackout release party this fall. The little brother of a stellar lineup had that evening.

Appearance- Pours an opaque black with a minimal ring of head around the edges of the top of the the beer. Little carbonation evident and a small amount of lacing left. Pretty good representation.

Smell- Lots of roastiness and a surprising amount of coffee come through strong on the nose. Surprisingly, there is also a touch of a sharp afterbite perhaps from alcohol as well. I don't detect a lot other than these elements, but they blend nicely and appetizingly overall.

Taste- Again, a very prominent roastiness with burnt coffee coming through strongly thereafter as well. Some mild astringency shows through. Good, easy-going stout.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- I find that the mouthfeel is a bit thin on this beer, highlighted by the slight alcohol astringency, which affected the drinkability for me slightly. Other than that though, it goes down nicely.

Overall, a good imperial stout. Not the best I've had, but a solid offering in a solid lineup.

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter. Best-by date of 7/28/09, but I've got a hunch this one will be A-ok.

Pours black with a one-finger, tightly-packed light tan head. Gets denser as the head recedes a bit, leaving walls of lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. Great lacing, great retention. Probably a 4.3 really, but we'll round it off.

Nose has loads of coffee and bakers chocolate, full and robust but refined - no rough edges, clean and well developed.

Taste is good - starts off with molasses, dark cocoa and an almost minty hop character, with an emerging roastiness that really only hints at coffee coming on. Finish is roasty, rich chocolate and more of that cool hop note balance perfectly, lightly bitter on the palate. There is an odd almost vegetal quality with the coffee on the finish that gives an impression of coffee grounds instead of fresh-brewed coffee that knocks a bit off.

Mouthfeel is medium to medium-full, lighter than expected but creamy and a bit dry towards the finish. Alcohol is pretty much missing, fantastic drinkability.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue II:

Brewed in dedication of the "Blackout Of 2003" which turned the lights off for about 50 million people. Pours off thick and produces a tight, tiny-bubbled tan lace. A shade or two from pitch black, some ruby highlights are noticeable. Aromas of burnt sugar, unsweetened dark chocolate, medium-roasted coffee and fresh black berries. Extremely smooth and creamy with a slick full body. Hop bitterness becomes pronounced right in the middle with suggestions of orange and mint. Maltiness drops layers of sweetness and roasted/burnt flavors with hint of chocolate cake, dark molasses and freshly-used coffee grounds. Ghost-like smokiness. Some alcohol warmth is present with some dark berry esters. The burnt character peaks toward the end but never becomes acrid or overbearing. Finishes a little sweet.

Wow, very impressive, and right on-target for the Imperial Stout style. A little deceiving, the alcohol is noticeable but clean and keeps this beer within a very drinkable state.

Photo of macktbone
3.52/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- as the name implies...it's dark. But it sure aint a Black Out. The edges are a mohogany hue and it has no noticable head, possibly due to the %9.00.

S-Nice chocolate/cocoa nose.

T- Nice flavor but closer to a porter than I prefer for a strong stout. Mossy and light chocolate flavors.

M- WAY TOO THIN. It looked thin during the pour and proved to be thin on the toungue.

D Nice to try and say I have buy not living up to the hype.

Photo of bmoney
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- a nice dark brown appearance with a thin head an scattered lacing

S- Sweet smell: Chocolate, toffee, and coffee smells upfront, some alcohol apparent in the background

T- Roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, ash, a little nutty, can taste the alcohol in the aftertaste.

M- Thin but nice and smooth, can't taste the hop bitterness but i can feel it.

D- very drinkable considering the alcohol content, goes down easy

Photo of CityBoy1986
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. It was bottled on 28 July 2009.

The pour is almost black with just a hint of ruddy hues around the edges.

The nose is mostly coffee and chocolate with just a hint of sweetness and some alcohol. The taste starts off with the chocolate before changing to one of more coffee with the sweetness taking on a bigger presence. The alcohol is still noticeable, but it is definitely not the forward flavour.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side for a stout. Drinkability is good as long as the drinker treats it as a sipper rather than a gulper.

A good example of a stout. I wouldn't keep it around, but every now and then it would be good to have.

Photo of projectflam86
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this yet. This bottle has about 6 months of age on it.

A- Pours a nearly opaque black color with a medium sized mocha colored head that leaves some scattered lace.

S- Full roasted dark malt aroma with coffee and cocoa. A bit of alcohol present.

T- Hearty malt flavor with roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate leading the way. Big roasted flavor with a bit of bitterness in the finish. Even after a few months the alcohol is fairly prominent with a gentle warming on the way down.

M- Full bodied with ok carbonation.

D- A really nice roasted RIS flavor that is easily to find around these parts.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade with nflmvp. Thanks Steve! Bottle dated 08/01/2007.

Poured into a Rémy Martin snifter.

Appearance: Poured out black and oily, though it showed glimmers of red when closely examined. A small, foamy, gray-brown head formed quickly on top, and then just as quickly departed. One minute into the tasting, it sits as a hair-thin, tan halo. Body is totally opaque, however I can still see gentle carbonation rising along the walls of the snifter. Mild lacing.

Smell: Smoked malt, toffee, and chocolate cake are the three strongest aromas, with roasted malt undertones appearing throughout. While I do get some flowery hop notes as well, this beer doesn't smell anywhere near the 85 IBU rating - not surprising given the two years of age. Still, this smells quite good; I enjoy it.

Taste: Roasted malt, barbecue smoke, toffee, and ash. This is my first time tasting this beer, but I'm guessing the 85 IBUs make Blackout Stout a palate-killer when it's fresh. I love palate-killing RISs. Unfortunately, age has not been so kind to this beer. The smoke, charred wood, and ash are still there, but the accompanying hop bitterness is gone. The balance - and the boldness to some extent - are now lost. I still think that this is a good beer, but I believe it would be way better fresh.

Mouthfeel: Oily, delicately carbonated (light - suits the style well), hearty, and still a touch harsh. Finishes dry, roasty, and warm. Aftertaste lingers for quite some time, which is a good thing - it's enjoyable. While I prefer creamy imperial stouts over oily ones, I like this one a lot. Very well done.

Drinkability: A very good RIS, but I believe it would be better fresh. I'd definitely buy more of this if it was available in my area. A great sipper.

Photo of natelocc787
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really good example. More milk chocolate than dark chocolate and the hops have been toned down some in the year and a half this one was aged. Alcohol well hidden and the mouthfeel is chewy and heavy with the booze in the finish minimal. Drinkability was close to perfect, great beer and it goes down well.

Photo of angelmonster
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This review is being done from a year aged bottle

Pours a nice two finger chocolate head. Body is pitch black. Head retention and lacing are good

Smell is of sweet chocolate malts. Roasted burnt coffee is also in there. Very light on the hops and alcohol.

First taste is of sweet chocolate malt, similar to the smell. It kinda reminds me of ten fidy but with more of a coffee presence. After taste is smoky, a bit nutty and has some of that prune/raisin flavor too. Aging of beer definitely has mellowed out the alcohol nicely and the hops arent what they once were

Mouth feel is nice and creamy. Body is slightly on the light side for an RIS but the head gives it some texture. Carbonation is good, lively but not over carbonated.

Drink ability is good. For 9% it drinks closer to about 7 percent. I dont know if its all in my head or what but this beer seems to have become much better with some aging. It seems more complex and smooth around the edges. Need some more of this

Photo of koopa
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle received as an extra in a trade thanks!

Appearance: Dark brown with a minimal off white head that shows little retention or lace.

Smell: Oh baby this is a nice display of charred malt, coffee, a hint of nuttiness.

Taste: Lots of roast malt with a nutty flavor throughout and a slightly tangy finish. A bit unbalanced but lively!

Mouthfeel: On the thin side of medium bodied which surprised me.

Drinkability: high abv but easy mouthfeel.

Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

guessing 2008 vintage.pours pretty dark,hues of brown.mostly black.not much of a head,still looks alright.

nose has alot of roasted malt,coffee,and chocolate.

flavor is smooth,notes of coffee and dark chocolate dominate,finish has some coffee acridity.

mouthfeel is lacking,not bad.but not full bodied like an RIS should be.

drinkability is good.there are other russian imperial stouts that i would keep in rotation before this though.

Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Smokestack chalice.

Pours only a ¼ finger of tan head. Not very good retention and pretty much no lace. Color is a deep dark brown, pretty much black.

Aroma: Chocolate, cocoa, licorice, dark fruits, coffee beans. Nose is a little weak, but good.

Taste: Chocolate, earthy hops, cocoa, coffee beans, licorice and dark fruits, cherries. Very similar to the smell. Roasted/burnt malts. At the very end I get a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Robust, thick, and burnt feel. Full bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Ends with a burnt malt aftertaste that I am not a fan of.

Overall, a pretty good beer. This bottle will give me know troubles. After having this one, I can only imagine how good the BA version is. I will be seeking that one out when it is released again. A good beer worth a try.

Photo of younger35
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received this brew from BeerTruth as an extra in a recent trade. I've had this beer many many times but never newer than over two years old. Drank from my Darkness snifter while watching the Raiders opening game (vs Chargers...).

Appearance- Pours a super dark black (darkest my girlfriends ever seen, she says) with a small dark tanned head. Basically after about 5 min there is no cap, no collar and no lacing what so ever.
Smell- Absolutely loaded with Heresy's milk chocolate and unsweetened dark chocolate. Pretty roasted as well but nothing crazy (like say Old Raspy) with a fairly stiff char. I can appreciate a bit of caramel in the background mixed with some coffee but honestly, this is almost all chocolate and char. Inviting nose.
Taste- A lot like the nose the taste starts out with a deep dark roasted burn that I would describe as a 'blackout' for sure. The malt is chocolaty and dark with a mix between raw cocoa and Tootsie Rolls. Definite hints of French roast and vanilla with a swift bitterness that seems to be half of the acidity from the malt and half from a bit of citrus from the hops. There is a kick of something fairly citric as a bite of lemony hops butts in toward the finish. The alcohol isn't crazy but it is fairly noticeable at times. Finishes with more of that smooth chocolate and a roasted linger.
Mouthfeel- Fairly thick and rich with a more aggressive bit of carbonation than I'd expect from the style.
Drinkability- Just an absolutely terrific brew. Like I said I've had this brew many time but they were all older. A random liquor store in Chicago had many 4 packs of this stuff covered with dust on its shelf. I think fresh it has a more brash, in your face taste, while older it was a bit mellower and the chocolate was more intertwined with everything. I really enjoyed this fresh but if I had to choose (new or old) I'd probably lean fresh. Thanks much Adam!

Photo of Reagan1984
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Bulldogp04 for providing this in trade.

Saved this bottle since receiving it in May. Have aged this one for a year. Bottle says "best before 9/4/08 but shows no sign of having degraded.

Just shy of creamy light tan head. Initially 2 fingers thick but quickly settled to a cap. Dark brown color with slight ruby highlights along the edges.

Aroma is fantastic. Chocolate, citrus notes..hops at this point?

Really nice flavor. Pretty complex. Dark chocolate, slight alcohol, still some nice hop bitterness. I get a lemon peel/citrus flavor. Dark roasted flavors and a touch of charcoal. Black Licorice comes out as it warms to room temp. There is a definite complexity to the dark roasted malts here. Very interesting.

Really silky smooth, very light carbonation.

Nice beer to slowly enjoy.

Photo of ibbjamin
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a 6 pack from Discount Liquor in Milwaukee, WI. Poured into a snifter to review.

Smaller murky brown head which dissipates quickly leaving what looks to be unstirred creme in coffee. The beer itself as the name suggests is black as night. Some lacing.

The nose is a nice blend of aroma including sweet, lightly roasted malt, vanilla, creme and coffee. Also has a mild bourbon-esque booziness to it.

Taste is rather intense in a very good way. Mocha coffee, sweet malt, creme and vanilla. Some very welcomed warming from the alcohol.

Full body with a long, malty finish. Moderate creaminess. Minimal carbonation.

A good RIS that I'd recommend for anyone to try.

Photo of alcstradamus
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pour a near black with deep red hues visible when held to the light. A nice, persistent finger of head forms and leaves some lacing and a collar behind in its aftermath.

Initial smell is roasted malt and hops, with sweet dark fruits and coffee also playing a part. A bit of alcohol burn is noticeable, I hope it is hidden a bit better in the taste.

Taste is a barrage of burnt maltiness. Some fruits in the background, huge bitter pine hops present also. This is what I consider to be a "classic" RIS taste. I wish there was more to it, because as good as this is it does absolutely nothing to impress really. Its just a good stout, and thats all its trying to be.

On the full side of medium bodied, this would be a great beer to drink in a social setting because it is flavorful yet easy to drink, but in the comfort of my own home I prefer to drink something a bit more exciting.

Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.43/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled after sitting down for about 8 or 9 months in the back of the fridge. 12oz bottle poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Lovely two inch toffee colored head with rows and rows of lattice work lacing that work their way down the sides of the glass though the drinking session. Head settles into a quarter inch cap and sticks around the entire time. The beer itself pours quite easily out of the bottle, looks like a bock kind of consistency coming out, a clear, deep brown with plum red highlights, very nearly black but not quite.

S: Licorice, still here after a few months aging, sweet coco caramel and coffee all mixed together that reminds me slightly of one of those Starbuck's frappes, a sweet, blended kind of aroma with no particular part coming out to define itself against the background of various chocolaty/coffee-like aromas. Still a little bit of a hop presence left in the nose, light and leafy with a slight alcoholic heat that can be felt at the back of the throat if inhaled too deeply.

T/MF: Surprisingly fruity, dried blackberries mostly, mixed together with licorice, coco nibs, bittersweet chocolate, dry earthy hops and a very mellow alcoholic warmth to close things out. Feels silky smooth on the tongue with a kind of weight that feels like a blanket with little pin pricks of carbonated to help add to the overall depth of character in this beer.

D: Not a bad beer by any stretch, the blackberries were something new, but the mish-mash of chocolate, tobacco and coffee feels oh so familiar to me.

Photo of ritzkiss
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained from Viggo, best before date of 08/02/08, so it has some time on it. Pours a dark black with hints of brown around the edge. A vigorous pour gets just a finger of mocha head but with each swirl there is generous bubbles which leave some lacing down the side of the glass.

Nose is a rich chocolate mixed with notes of dark fruits (plums), a hint of citrus, a touch of espresso and a generous dose of roasted malts that doesn't come across as harsh but blends in well.

A really full flavored stout that comes across smooth and well put together. Generous doses of roasted malt blend well with milk chocolate and bitter baking chocolate, hints of dark fruits, molasses, perhaps even a hint of anise. Not as roasty as some impy stouts, smoother and yet full. Creamy carb but still some there, slightly dry in the finish. A really nice drinker.

This is certainly a gem and I can see how BA this would add a nice layer. This is a great stout that I would gladly reach for again. Very nice, thanks Viggo!

Photo of jpalarchio
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle with an "enjoy by" date of 08/19/08.

Pours the expected pitch black although the head was a bit lacking and was missing that traditional tan color. Also missing is the usual oil-slick of the RIS that I've come to love.

Smell is great, not too harsh.

Taste isn't as heavy as others of this style; almost seems thin with a late hot alcohol flavor.

Alcohol is very evident and not hidden at all.

Overall, not my favorite example of this style.

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Black...a perfect color and what seems to be a perfect texture. No head at all, though, and that means no lacing either.

S: Nutty and smells strongly of roasted malts. A nice solid and potent mocha flavor is also there, for good measure.

T: Very strong on the malty front, and it has--as the nose suggests--a great roast to it. Not too hoppy and it doesn't have some of those other levels that my favorite RIS offerings have. The coffee flavor is a huge plus for this beer, and it really brings it up as far as intensity goes.

M/D: A great texture for a Russian Imperial Stout. Only a slight bit of carbonation is evident on the tongue. The beer is creamy and delightful. The lack of depth to the flavor was slightly disappointing, but overall, this is a very solid representation of the style, and I would drink it again.

Photo of HopHead84
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed on 8/16/2009 and poured into a snifter. 2008 vintage. Thanks for the bottle largadeer. Pours black (surprised?) with a one finger light brown and creamy head. The beer has pretty good retention and some lacing is left on my glass.

The aroma is very roasted. Notes of dark chocolate are evident with equally powerful coffee. I get some subtle dark fruits, but can't pinpoint anything specific. The extra roasted malt is definitely the prominent characteristic on the aroma.

The flavor is not surprising; it's very roasted with dark unsweetened chocolate. The black coffee flavor is strong and slightly astringent. The finish is ashen with a low medium level of bitterness and lingering coffee with some final heat.

The beer is full bodied with low carbonation. The mouthfeel is viscous, somewhat syrupy, and full.

Photo of rayjay
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage

Creamy frothy stout with a mocha head. Sticky retention.

Dusty chocolate malt aroma. The essence of it.

Flavors are quite complex, mostly playing off the dusty chocolate notes. Perfect subtle sweetness is just enough to ward off the roasted bitterness. Old school vibe. Well-rounded for such a big beer.

Creamy whipped mouthfeel.

Excellent drinkability for such a strong beer. One of the best in it's class. Cheers!

Photo of Pencible
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage. (I didn't actually have this on tap; I had it from a bottle. I just wanted to be able to make a second entry on BA, for the 5-year aged version.)

This poured an opaque black ruby with a little bit of tan head. It smelled like rich molasses and brown sugar and sweet dark chocolate, with a bit of roasted coffee and prune. It tasted like molasses and honey wheat and roasted coffee, with some bitter chocolate and raisin. It was slightly thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a smooth bitter aftertaste. Overall this was a huge improvement over the fresh bottle. My what five years have done! It had a great scent and taste that were super smooth and rich. It was somewhere between a sweet stout and a very malty barleywine, and it worked. The body was a bit lacking, but this was otherwise a great beer. Easy enough to gulp, but much more rewarding to sip.

Great Lakes Blackout Stout from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 2,933 ratings.