Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout StoutGreat Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

400 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 400
Hads: 1,660
rAvg: 4.33
pDev: 8.78%
Wants: 1,337
Gots: 340 | FT: 37
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Dogbrick on 11-29-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 400 | Hads: 1,660
Photo of TheBrewo
3.71/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

We pour a brew a color completely deserving of the name “Blackout”. It sits oily and jet black, letting zero light through its center. It holds a one finger head of big coffee colored bubbles, showing decent retention, and receding at a medium pace into a big aggregate covering most of the liquid’s surface. Punctate spots of lacing stick all around the glass. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears relatively active. The aroma gives massive bourbon from the very first whiff, mixing with warming and drying oakiness, milk chocolate nibs, thickly roasted chocolate and brown malts, sweet vanilla cake icing, ethanolic sting, and black cherries. With warmth comes enhanced char, whisky burn, and melted milk chocolate. Our first impression is that the flavoring is very robust, charred, and much more booze-forward than expected. As we sip, the taste opens with the darkest roasted coffee and chocolate malts that give smoke and charcoal, soured acidity, and inherent grainy sweetness. The remainder of the front is filled by dried oaky woodiness, moss, those aromatic, syrupy dark cherries, and white sugar sweetness. The middle comes to a peak with the union of bone chilling booziness, rock salt, and hugely soured char of fire-ruined malts. Pulling to the finish are notes of authentic bourbon heat, rumbles of charred coffee beans, those continuous flashes of white sugars, roasted chocolate malts, rotten molasses, and green grassiness. The aftertaste breathes of bready malts, rum soaked fruitcake, bourbon, charred coffee and chocolate malts, soy sauce, baker’s yeast, and drying wood barreling. The body is full, and the carbonation is lighter. The mouth is coated with oily slickness and sugary stickiness is brushed across the lips, with the booze and burnt malts eventually sucking much of the moisture from the palate. Each sip gives nice slurp, smack, pop, and froth, with slightly lesser creaminess. The abv is appropriate but warming, and the beer is definitely a slow sipper.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was the huge, warming, and inviting nose. While this component of the beer approaches comparability to the top of the heap beers like Bourbon County, the taste strays a bit, focusing much more on the outright presence of booze, and seeing how roasty and charred we could go with the malts. This swings things out of that perfect balance, with loss of necessary sweetness, and what are essentially burnt malts. Sadly this beer marks the rare case where the standard base beer is considerably smoother than the barrel aged version. That being said, this guy sips wells, is certainly palatable, and is a treat for any enthusiast. (2,690 characters)

Photo of Gtreid
3.72/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pretty much black, with slight reddish hues around the edges. Big wet sand colored head, probably close to 3 fingers.

A: Lots o whiskey. Big buorbon notes followed by a complex malt profile that consisted of chocolate, roast, and earth.

T: The forward whiskey flavor leads way to chocolate, vanilla, caramel, earthy hops, and a slight coffee note. Finshes pretty boozy, sweet, and slightly dry.

M: Way too high carbonation here. Very sharp on the palate, not nearly smooth enough. Heavy body.

O: Although this is a solid BA stout, it is not near the top of the list. I liked it, just didn't love it. The overcarbonation was the brews downfall. Skal. (693 characters)

Photo of dukedevil0
3.72/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this 2009 release bomber from a nice new trader shrxxm216, thanks brett!

A: Pours a dark black color though slightly thin with a slow arriving khaki colored one finger head that reduces down to just a tiny rim and not really any lacing.

S: Smells awesome, like a triple chocolate cookie, milk and dark chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, oak, even some nutmeg, tobacco

T: Tastes similar to the smell, but not nearly as pleasant - lots of chocolate both milk and dark, roasted malts, but less vanilla, oak, tobacco flavors - a slight boozy taste...this really just tastes like a mess of flavor

M: This is my biggest disappointment with this beer and maybe it would be better on tap, but it's so much thinner than I would ever want a top notch imperial stout to be. This is close porter territory for me. I'm guessing that barrel aging thinned it out some. The carbonation is so low that this is almost like a cask ale.

D: It doesn't really feel like a BIG beer, but there is a slight alcohol flavor and it just doesn't hold up to my expectations for flavor and mouthfeel (1,079 characters)

Photo of Ryan011235
3.73/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 1/1611

2516 Series

Pours a cola brown that settles dark. When held to the light it reveals deep hues of ruby; similar to grape juice in that respect. One and a half fingers of loose, tan colored foam that immediately began to fizzle out from the inside. Thin skim of retention. Good lace.

Though it doesn't smell bad, the nose seems of the timid order. Musty oak & soft vanilla permeate an otherwise restrained base beer. Hints of earthy hops in the mid-section. Moderate roasted notes lie beyond with subtle undertones of chocolate, coffee & a tangy twinge. No booze.

One sip brings an array of clustered, disheveled flavors all clamoring for attention. Let's see if I can make some sense of the madness. The base beer is in good standing, offering familiar notes of smooth, roasted chocolate, modest earthy hops & hints of coffee. Possibly the barrel is what's muddying up the mix; what with charred oak & sweet whiskey heat that carries the finish. The stout & the barrel are uncomfortable bedfellows in this instance. The culmination is too sweet.

Full bodied & appropriately viscous with gritty underpinnings. Moderate carbonation for the style; has a bit of a kick but isn't too prickly or brash. Finishes hot & slick with barrel & roasted chocolate at odds once again.

Honestly, I am a bit bummed with this one; it's sorely lacking integration, in my opinion. This is the first time I've had this beer so I have no prior vintage by which to compare. Perhaps some time will put it at ease; then again, perhaps not. As is, it's good but far from great. (1,604 characters)

Photo of punkrkr27
3.73/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky black pour with a small, short lived, tan head. Mildly chocolaty aroma with a hint of dark fruit and bourbon. Rich milk chocolate flavor with hints of espresso, dark fruit, toasted almond, and a nice smoky bourbon kick on the end. The body is wonderfully full, velvety and decadent with soft carbonation. Not immensely complex, but great balance. (351 characters)

Photo of tarheels86
3.74/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

651mL 2009 ed courtesy of beeranddogs. The pour is clear cola, not black, with ruby highlights. The beer is almost the opposite of normal Blackout in that you have to really coax a head out of this thing. Even swirling, pouring from ten stories high; the head is about a quarter inch of yellowish tan foam that has okay retention and leaves little swathy lace. I understand that barrel aged beers may have less carbonation and head retention, but after the beer is finished in the barrel, it gets put back into the brite tank for conditioning in the bottle. So it should have good retention and rise up healthily. But the pour is dismal, making it hard to get a big aroma out of the beer. The muted bourbon first comes across a bit oxidized, slight red apples, lots of cocoa butter, and marzipan. As it warms, the nose comes into play with big bourbon, coconut, vanilla. It is quite mellowed out but very apparent. The taste is thinning, a bit watery. Really lacks the richness and bitterness of normal Blackout. There is definitely milk chocolate, warming bourbon, slight oak, lots of vanilla and cream. But the body is not well integrated. Very little carbonation doesn’t help the mouthfeel and lack of bitterness makes the body rely on vanilla and bourbon with no drying oak, no spicy oak, no spicy alcohol even. Just sort of a sweet mess that is hard to fall in love with. 11/8/2010 8/3/7/4/15=3.7 (1,403 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.75/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Ethan for bringing this over to our pre On Photon tasting...2010 bottle drank into an Orval glass...Dark brown pour with a disappointing lack of carbonation, a light tan head is there for a second then gone...The aroma is full of peat on the front, and just incredibly sweet, molasses with sugar, no depth...The taste is also sweet but a typical barrel aged sweetness of bourbon or vanilla, just sugary sweet. You can't even tell this is barrel aged except for a slight wood finish. A little roasty helps the boringness.

I was really excited to try this but came away disappointed. I had the 09 on tap and it was much better. Would like to try to more to see if 10 just sucks or its just better on tap. This is an above average RIS but a below average BA RIS, doesn't add anything to the beer. (804 characters)

Photo of BearsOnAcid
3.76/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep dark brown pour with a small khaki head.

Bourbon hits first on the nose mixing in with sweet roasted malt and milk chocolate.

Milk chocolate and roasted malt come forward the most in the flavor. Creamy, lightly carbed mouthfeel. Moderate bourbon kick and easy drinking. Slight oxidation note.

Highly drinkable BA Impy Stout but not incredibly complex in the flavor/aroma. (380 characters)

Photo of gueuzedreg
3.77/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2014 12oz. I have had this a bunch, first review

A- Pitch black to dark brown. Transparent around the edges, but full in the middle. Minimal coffee lacing with low legs. No sticking to the glass, very watery like a CW BA Stout,,,, blah

S- Burnt toffee>sweet malt>dark fruits> and finally the barrel. Thin smelling.

T- Burnt sugar and toffee> sweet malt> barrel> dark fruit.

M- Just fn thin. So sick of thin midwest ba stouts. Central Waters crushes thin BA stouts, Great Lakes has crushed every vintage... whatever, this was an extra. Tastes good when you think of it that way.

O- Just done with Central Waters and Great Lakes. I invite Founders and Goose Island. (689 characters)

Photo of readbaron
3.77/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out very dark with a bit of tan foam. Looks a little thinner and less viscous than I like my stouts.

Smells pretty good - lots of smoke and burnt notes, with a good deal of sweetness, malt and a nice splash of bourbon.

Taste is surprisingly boozy for the relatively low (9.5%) abv. Poured it out cold, and initially there was a ton of burnt and smokey character that mellowed out a bit as it warmed. Lots of bourbon notes and malty sweetness as well. This is my third time trying this one, and I've been underwhelmed each time.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin - but pleasantly carbonated.

Overall it's thinner with more burnt and smoke flavors than I like in my stouts, but still a decent barrel aged stout. (709 characters)

Photo of Gyle41386
3.79/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes:

2516 Series.

Pours a cola color. Decent head, retention, and lacing.

No mistaking this is a BA stout from the aroma...big time roasted barley, bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, espresso, etc etc. Slightly nutty quality, too.

I hate to give this beer a 3.5 for flavor, but it was just a little too hot. The 9% ABV made itself known early and often. Some time in the cellar would do good, but this is still a damn good beer. It's got all of the elements of a dynamite imperial stout, but just a little too much heat. Will hopefully be re-visiting this one soon. (587 characters)

Photo of beerandcycling88
3.8/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

More of the notes from the Southsound gathering.

A Pours a dark brown with a tanish head.

S Some bourbon, dark chocolate, a bit of vanilla.

T Pretty much the same as the nose with bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate and a bit of wood.

M Seemed a bit thin but alright I guess.

Overall an excellent stout just nothing mind blowing. (336 characters)

Photo of Realale
3.83/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Black. Very fine light brown head stays throughout the snifter, leaving some lacing.

Nose is a whiff of alcohol, followed by coffee, dark chocolate, caramel, and a touch of ash over rich, brown bready malt. The bourbon influence is thankfully pretty restrained, and well-integrated.

Medium full in the mouth. Really mouthfilling stuff. Malt, malt, malt. Chocolate, bready, and yeasty. Touch of bitterness to balance. Again, the bourbon influence is quite subdued - there's a touch more caramelly sweetness, and a hint of bourbon flavor. Well done, but I believe I prefer the regular version.

Mouthfeel is bit more highly carbonated than I'd prefer. It seems to work against the body of the beer rather than with it. Quite drinkable for what it is, but the snifter was more than enough for me. Kudos to Great Lakes for not going over-the-top with the wood or bourbon flavors. (884 characters)

Photo of jdklks
3.84/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

An aggressive pour yields a small light brown head that dissipates quickly and is quite thin. The body is black through the middle with amber/brown edges and looks a lot lighter than I've come to expect or desire from the style. The smell is fantastic. Nice and strong like I like the aroma eminating from the glass. Hints of chocolate, roasted malts (which is reminiscent of dry coffee beans), the slightest hint of the barrel aging, caramel, and maybe some licorice.

The flavor is very good, but the beer is under-carbonated to a fault. sweet malts up front, plumb and cherries. Bitter chocolate and a little vanilla through the middle along with some wet oak barrel flavors that give way to a slightly burnt bitter coffee finish and an alcoholic burn in the esophagus and aftertaste. Maybe a hint of molasses, and definitely some licorice. Flat cola. If this beer was better carbonated, the flavors would explode, and it would truly be a treat. Still good though.

Mouthfeel is both thin and undercarbonated, and this is a less than pleasing combination. The drinkability is okay for the style, and the flavor is good enough to keep you reaching for more, but the lack of carbonation is detrimental to every category except the aroma. (1,240 characters)

Photo of jmarsh123
3.85/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with almost no head and some lacing clinging to the side of the glass.

Lots of roast in the aroma. Some vanilla, oatmeal and a bit of bourbon, but not as much as I'd like.

There is much more bourbon in the flavor. A little sweeter and less roasty than the smell would indicate. Lots of vanilla, oak and bourbon with some chocolate and just a bit of roast. Bourbon is actually a tad overpowering as it warms. It's good, but not terribly well integrated.

Creamy mouthfeel and proper carbonation.

Overall fairly solid although something about the bourbon integration is a bit off for me. I'll definitely drink this again, but if it's a choice between this, KBS, BBPtF, etc. this one probably comes in last. (719 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.85/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to bpfrush for trading me this beer! Thanks Brian! This beer has been on my radar for a long time; it good to get some closure! lol.

Vintage 2010.

650ml bomber poured into a CBS snifter.

Appearance: Black motor oil colored beer with very thin cap of white head that settles quickly to ring around the snifter. Spotty lacing on the side.

Smell: A surprisingly weak nose on this beer. Faint roasted malts and some smoke. U get just a hint of barrel notes in the nose. Also a faint metallic smell is noted from the beer.

Taste: The taste of this beer is also very subtle just like the nose. The beer has two phases when you taste it. It starts off tasting like the regular blackout stout and finishes with the barrel notes becoming more evident. When you first taste this beer it starts out with a mild to moderate roast like a bigger version of blackout stout. Then the roast just builds in the beer with every sip. Close to the end of the beer you get more of the roast because it just continues to build. Smoke is noted in the middle of the beer and it almost like the smoke makes the base beer transition into the barrel notes. In the finish you get subtle notes of oak, vanilla, tobacco, molasses, black licorice, and some booze that is gone as quick as you sense it. I also taste a chocolate covered coffee bean and a lactose note in the finish. The bourbon is the last thing that you taste and its sweet with a barely noticable sour note. Fairly decent complexity, but I wish there was stronger flavors in this beer. The beer gets sweeter in a "chocolaty bourbon" kind of way and the roastiness almost becomes "expresso like" and both become more pronounced as the beer gets closer to room temperature.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied beer with low end of moderate carbonation levels. The beer is thin for a barrel aged stout. I think the beer is well carbonated and it really helps to make this beer taste better.

Overall: It reminds me alot of a Barrel aged Milk Stout brewed with coffee. Its just not a really strong flavorful barrel aged beer. Its a solid beer that has decent complexity, but I was underwhelmed by the nose, taste, and mouthfeel of this beer. Even though I was fairly critical on this beer, I still did enjoy drink this beer. My recommendation is to drink this beer at room temperature because this beer really needs time to open up so you can get the most enjoyment/flavor out of this beer. I am also thinking that this beer might be better to drink fresh. (2,495 characters)

Photo of WesMantooth
3.86/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This is one of a few barrel aged beers in which I prefer the regular version better. Looks and smells outstanding. I just think it drinks way too sweet and the body has a little bit too much carbonation giving it a soapy feel. I would guess that this is a Jack Daniels barrel beer. It tastes like cheap whisky instead of good bourbon. I also notice a lot more black licorice than in the base beer. Still above average, but pretty disappointed. (443 characters)

Photo of PaulyB83
3.87/5  rDev -10.6%

Poured into a nonic pint glass at Local Roots in Powell, OH.

A- Black, small off-white ring of head, very slight amount of light coming through on the edges.

S- Unripe banana, chocolate, slight dark fruit, coffee, slight vanilla.

T- Chocolate covered cherry, coffee, some alcohol coming through.

M- A bit on the thin side for a barrel aged imperial stout.

O- I was really lucky to find this on tap while I was in Columbus for the weekend. I was a bit disappointed by this one, not a that big of a barrel presence to me. I might even say I prefer Dragon's Milk to this. (578 characters)

Photo of camil1mj
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 12 oz bottle received from Misterhops in a trade. Served at cellar temprature into my Founders snifter.

A: Deep black. 2 finger foamy head that quickly dissipates. Moderate lacing.

S: Bitter dark chocolate with hints of whiskey.

T: Like the smell: immediate punch of bitter dark chocolate. I get more of a whiskey flavor, instead of the bourbon flavors I get out of some of my favorite -bals.

M: The barrel aging thins this out in comparison to the non barrel aged version. Well carbonated.

O: Average barrel aged stout. Not my favorite by any means as it missing the heavy, sweet flavors I love in this style. (621 characters)

Photo of DmanGTR
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Joe for breaking this out at our little tasting. Review from notes on 4/3/10. 2009 vintage.

A - Poured very dark brown, almost black (but not quite) with a light tan bubbly head. Looks actively carbonated. Decent retention. Mahogany hues in the light. 4.0

S - Wow, bourbon overpowers everything. Bourbon all over the place. A bit of ash, dark fruit, and roast somewhere in there but somewhat lost. Could use a bit more balance I think. But still, a pleasing aroma. 3.5

T - Actually, this is a bit different from the aroma. The balance is there and actually very nicely executed. You can tell this beer has been aging in bourbon barrels for a while; highly assertive vanilla, charred oak, and deep blackberry tones. However, there is a characteristic ashy flavor of Blackout Stout that I don't appreciate as much and it is noticeable in the BA Blackout. 4.0

M - Decently big body, but I would put it more in the scale of medium bodied. Very smooth carbonation and a slight prickle on the palate. 4.0

D - Very nicely drinkable. Again, that distinct ash is hindering me a touch but overall, a nice beer. (1,115 characters)

Photo of rye726
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

650ml bottle, aged for one year. Poured into a snifter at cellar temp. Pours near black, nice head. Notes of bourbon, oak, chocolate, caramel, molasses and vanilla. Good, but lacks complexity. Body a bit thin for teh style. Decent stout, lacks depth. (250 characters)

Photo of Metalmonk
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

"2516 Series," which I guess is the same as the 2009 bottling. A million thanks to kels for facilitating this one. Have held onto it as long as I possibly could--it was screaming to finally be released from its glass prison...first sip is a big "cheers!" to Kelley.

Pours a midnight black with super-subtle rust-brown and ruby hues. Head is a light tan but doesn't hang around very long. Turns to a thin crown quickly.

Aroma is a mixture of dark fruit (esp. fig and raisin), touch of alcohol, freshly cut wood, and spent coffee grounds. There wasn't much chill on this, but even with warming it started to recall whiskey each time I brought it to the nose.

Upon the tongue the wood is prominent, and together with the warmth of the alcohol it gives the impression of being as much aligned with whiskey or other spirits as much as it belongs to the beer family. But everything balances out pretty well -- there are liqueur-soaked dark berry, fig and plum elements, a nice helping of vanilla, and a watery milk-chocolate vibe. Leaves a lasting finish, yet again favoring the alcohol and wood.

Texturally it's a smooth, gliding, slick kind of thing...not as thick as many stouts, not as chewy, which makes it particularly easy to drink. A little sticky, and without much carbonation (fine by me).

If I think this was a little underwhelming, that's only because it's ranked so incredibly high on this site. A little too woody and alcoholic, could use more big gooey chocolate, thick sweet cream and coffee characteristics--the stuff of my favorite stouts--but still a good stout? No doubt about it. (1,601 characters)

Photo of Florida9
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Black, but with just a little bit of light shining through on the side. Forms a thin, light tannish head on the pour. No lacing.

S: Obvious aroma of bourbon and vanilla followed by the sweet smell of dark malt.

T: Okay, there is now no mistaking the barrel-aging on this one. Taste is virtually all bourbon, vanilla, oak, and alcohol, with dark malts, molasses, and brown sugar playing a supporting role. Quite full flavored.

M: On the lighter side of heavy with appropriate carbonation.

D: Too brash and in-your-face on the barrel aging for my tastes. Maybe this beer will improve with age, maybe the bourbon qualities will tone down and reveal a more subdued and complex beer. I don't know, but in it's current state, it was just too much for me to consider overly enjoyable. (788 characters)

Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

i believe this is the 2012 batch.

poured into a snifter, just a shade lighter than black, negligible though. thin tan head. nothin crazy, looks like an imperial stout.

nose:slightly overdone oatmeal raisin cookies soaked in bourbon, touch of coffee.

dark fruit, coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon is present but doesn't really over whelm. could use a touch more roasted character, still a solid beer.

mouthfeel is a touch lacking. still a solid beer. (466 characters)

Photo of Spider889
3.92/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage: "2516 Series"

The snifter of this that I had at the release party seemed underwhelming, but I interpreted it as a rushed keg (I want to say they kept pushing back the release date due to space/tank availability issues. The carbonation was low and the beer seemed lackluster and soapy to some extent (but still desirable).

This bottle rectifies that, and falls more in line with past releases...

A - Poured into a Cigar City snifter. The beer is a dense black. Blackout Stout has never been the thickest of beers, 2011 vintage more than I remember in years past, even. But somehow this bottle of BA Blackout seems thicker than the base beer (normally I find this to be the reverse). The head is rather short, a greyish cream color, but has decent enough staying power over time. Only the slightest hint of lace feebly clings to my glass.

S - The aroma is the best part of this beer - at least this year's vintage, at this point in the aging process. Vanilla and oak are huge here, and appreciably make this one to inhale over and over again.A slight roasty chocolate notion falls in line behind the luscious vanilla, and as I dig deeper still - often by literally getting my nose deep into the snifter - I can find ripe bourbon whiskey character. It's slightly fruity and a little boozy with a dollop of honeyed sweetness on the back end.

T - The bourbon is really prominent this year. I find it slightly off-putting for my tastes. The bourbon is not hot by any means, but just potent. It masks much of the base beer which disappoints. The fruity character of the bourbon almost tricks me into thinking that there's a tartness to the beer, but closer inspection tells me that yes, this is only the prominence of the barrel. Charred oak and mild ash hints to what this beer once was, and a subtle sweet chocolate note foretells what this beer will one day become if cellared. In any case, this beer is still delicious, but needs some extended age for me.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Sticky texture with a nice mocha coffee finish/aftertaste.

O - There's a reason this is one of my favorite beers - Great Lakes knows their stuff. This year's vintage is simply more whiskey-forward than I remember from last year. Ought to age very well. (2,271 characters)

Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 400 ratings.