Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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.

409 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 409
Hads: 1,704
Avg: 4.33
pDev: 18.01%
Wants: 1,356
Gots: 340 | FT: 39
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: 409 | Hads: 1,704
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jmacdaddy2008 for sending me this one!

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown color with a 1 inch khaki head that fades to an oily cap. Random thin streaks and spots of lace dot the glass on the drink down. Smells of bourbon, vanilla, wood, and cocoa powder. Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, cocoa powder, and slight coffee. There is a definite alcohol warmth felt in the back of the throat with each sip. This beer has lower carbonation and is a bit flat with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good RIS with some nice bourbon qualities but it's not as good as I thought it would be. I am glad I got to try this one though.

 645 characters

Photo of Raj
3.93/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 bottle. 12oz pour. Aged at room temp.

A: black with dark brown highlights. Minimal head. Leaves a little coating on the glass but not vicious.
S: upfront fudgey, chocolate. oaky, light vanilla, dark fruit (very dark cherry or prune), cola. Some bourbon on the nose, but more dominated by chocolate and oaky notes.
T: taste is very similar, starts with bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, oaky notes, dark fruit. Pretty smooth. Some roast and slight bitterness to balance. Still has the cola flavor. I do get some bourbon and slight alcohol burn toward the end.
M: medium, but a little thin compared to what I expect from a BA stout.
O: solid BA stout. Nice balance of the expected flavors, do wish it was a little thicker and less cola.

 743 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
3.93/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The appearance on this one is dark dark black with a one finger mocha tan colored head. It is a fluffy head that leaves a light lacing on the glass. Although the lacing does not last forever, it has some grainy legs that like to creep on the sides of the glass. A good looking Imperial Stout.

The smell is of chocolate, bourbon oak barrels, ABV heat, burnt and roasted grains, earth.

The taste is a little thin, which is a common problem with barrel aged imperial stouts. The barrel thins out a base beer making everything else a little light on the palate. This beer has lots of burnt and roasted grains, earth, chocolate and bourbon. I am not sure if this bottle is a blend of barrel and un-barrel beer, but it is not very intense. Everything is somewhat muted, and I think it is because this beer is going through its transitional period. It is turning into something different and better, and we popped the bottle a little early. I can see this turning into something great, but not now.

The body is light and a bit hot with some graininess. It is a bit hot and incredibly astringent. Sucks your palate dry, the glass of water was refilled a few times by the end.

This is a good beer, but I opened to a bit too soon before its full transition. I am not sure what this would have tasted like fresh, but a year or so is going to be this beers time to shine.

 1,370 characters

Photo of ricke
3.94/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown, quite pale for the style, with an off-white head.

The aroma is lightly roasted with notes of milk chocolate, bourbon, toasted almonds, ashes and salty licorice.

The flavor is quite sweet with delicate malty backbone of roasted coffee, caramel, fudge and chocolate. Bourbon, almonds, vanilla and some light smoky notes. The finish is lightly bitter with lingering notes of oak, bourbon and salty licorice. Medium body, smooth carbonation.

I had high expectations on this one, and unfortunately they weren't really met. A decent barrel aged imperial stout, no more.

 581 characters

Photo of marvin213
3.94/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It has essentially no head. Though black as a country night, little foam suggests a thin body. The smell is nice. As I had, hoped, this seems like a testimony to the oak barrel--no sweet bourbon or other such influence--just a nose of rustic oak on big RIS. It's a deep, consistent, chocolatey, raisin-liquid. There are malts and anise, and there is oak barrel in a barn, untouched and virgin.

So why do I feel guilty about missing the bourbon? Do I compare this among all barrel-aged brews, or just non-bourbon BA brews? There's a difference! Oddly, I can't help but wonder what it'd be like aged in a Buffalo Trace barrel. It's good, but underwhelming. It's that flatness I feared at the outset! I'd like to have it again, but I am unlikely to seek it out.

Edit: After reading other reviews, I see it is indeed bourbon barrels. I'm shocked. I really don't get bourbon. Maybe this one's not just flat...but flatlined? But how wouldn't I get more nose? Perhaps I started too cold. I suppose I get it more as it warms, but I do not get a well-blended bourbon beer. I smelled goodness, and can get some of that (goodness), but for me the good bourbon has left the building.

 1,174 characters

Photo of n2185
3.94/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours black with a finger of tan head that recedes into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: lots of sweet cocoa with vanilla, oak, and bourbon dominate. There are also notes of toffee and sweet chocolate.

T: sweet cocoa and bourbon dominate with vanilla, toffee, and oak also very prevalent. The finish is lightly boozy and sweet.

M: thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is nice and lively on the tongue.

O: a good beer, overall. Not terribly complex, but quite tasty nonetheless

 490 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
3.94/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11/06/10- Had this one on-tap at the GL brew pub.
A: Pitch black, brown hues, thinner cream collar.
S: Nice vanilla bourbon, molasses, light cigar, clean, not woodsy.
T: Sweet, cigar, molasses, smokey burnt, close to DL with vanilla and oak.
M: Sticky sweet, with some carbonation.
D: Pretty good for a couple glasses.

 318 characters

Photo of khiasmus
3.94/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It is the rhythm of the night. The horns blaring, jarring lights glaring in the corners of the eyes, a cold wind whipping the streets far below, swaying the building, and only black when he looks up. Well, almost only black. The city's dank glow cast a hint of brown about the edges of the field of vision, a few small puffs of soap-bubble cloud drift by at eye level, then he is left with the cold, lonely blackness.
The aroma of the city drifts upwards, the massive amounts of bourbon from the distillery many long stories below. The city is rank with it, dripping with it. It is tearing apart families and building empires, creating both pleasure and misery, heartbreak, fatigue... The shoppes, then, a leather-shoppe, mingling with the bourbon as he kneels on the edge... A cream-sweetness, the old ice cream place, vanillins, the oak barrels of the fire-water plants, the warm stench of alcohol, burnt, spent grain.
And the flavours of that city... as many as the aromas, if not quite as piquant. Bourbon, of course. The cornerstone. World-class licorice, vanilla fudge, sweet oak-alcohol, alcohol, alcohol in the finish, and the burnt grain that wafts through, it's necessary for the plant, necessary for the city's survival, the constant burnt grain floating down the river, children laugh and play...
It's thin, though. warming and dry, wry humor, the humor that is built upon deep despair. Low carbonation, as any good distillery town should have... Few bubbly people, there's far too much to be somber about, too many bloody faces walking the streets, too many children without fathers.
The city is enjoyable for a tourist. You wouldn't want to live there, you wouldn't want to drink it constantly as the locals do, it will draw you in. WATCH OUT! It will draw you in, you'll never escape, you'll grow old and red, your world will become an endless dreamscape.

 1,871 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottles courtesy of both Sliffy and JSquires. An imperial stout yes, not a Russian. Another good example of a bourbon barrel aged. But I would like some other tastes besides bourbon. The stout is black, the head is off-white and gourgeous with bubbles. There is active carbonation. Seems a slice thinner than the non-barrelled.

 327 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.95/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

BA review #700. Poured in to CBS Snifter.

A - Black with half a finger of bubbly light brown head that very quickly receded to a ring around the glass.

S - Huge bourbon aroma up front with vanilla and oak complimenting it. Some roasted malts and chocolate in the background.

T - Bourbon, vanilla and oak up front. Toasted oats, chocolate an some sweetness in the middle. Warming alcohol and bourbon returning in the finish.

M - Medium body. A little thin at times and definitely thin for the style. Moderate carbonation that was a little heavy for my liking.

O - This was very good but missed the mark for me (based on expectation). Needs more body and less carbonation. Mouth feel got considerably better in after about a half hour in the glass.

 754 characters

Photo of angelmonster
3.95/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Reviewing 2013 vintage, been on my want list for many years.

Pours a black body, head is tan in color. Head retention was slightly below average and lacing was above average.

Smells of sweet bourbon, vanilla, chocolate malts, and a hint of honey. For 10% abv, I definitely got a good whiff of alcohol.

Taste is a mix of a classic imperial stout, deep roasted malts, combined with sharp bourbon notes. Surprised at the raw ethanol characteristics of the beer, at almost two years old the beer still has a kick to it. Chocolate and burnt malts offset that unpleasant heat. Beer finishes with some vanilla sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated. Head died fast and unfortunately didn't contribute any.

Overall this was a good beer but it was a little underwhelming. The hype surrounding this beer as one of the top 250 in the world probably raised my expectations somewhat. Bourbon was pretty pronounced but all the other flavors were kinda muted. Glad I got to try it but It wasn't anywhere close to the top barrel aged stouts out there.

 1,063 characters

Photo of kbutler1
3.95/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Thanks to Peter for opening this one up from the most recent release. Poured into a tulip glass a dark brown color with a slight tan head. The aroma is very subtle with slight hints of roast and booze. Medium mouthfeel. The oak is pretty subdued with notes of vanilla. The one thing I would say is that this beer is very smooth and easy drinking. I wish it had more of a oak barrel flavor to it but it does have a fair amount of vanilla flavors. The appearance of this really upsets me, there is no head and no lace, booo.

 530 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
3.95/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Black with browning around the edges. finger of head.
The aroma and flavors give off vanilla, i am kinda surprised by how much on the palate actually. good stuff. there is a solid roasted malt backbone through the center of this holding it all toghether and it has aspects that remind me of coffee a bit. Chocolate is here too but melded with bourbon into a creamy concoction. Good stuff all around. I wish the mouthfeel had a bit more viscosity....but i say that about every stout. :)

The flavors are best in show here, good stuff. If this got a bit more body, and a bit more aromatics, it would be more awesome...er.

 620 characters

Photo of SirSketch
3.96/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Firm tan head that stays. Primarily black in color with just a small amount of deep red highlights.

S - Mainly bourbon in the aroma and a strong oak character. The whiskey works well with the roasty/burnt smell in the beer. Great vanilla aroma, too.

T - Thankfully, the bourbon and malt flavor contributions are more balanced than in the aroma. Big on the chocolate and french roast coffee flavors. Maybe a bit of astringency from the dark grain. One of the better bourbon characteristics I've had in a beer.

M/D - Very smooth, buttery mouthfeel that makes this beer a pleasure to drink. Overall, a great example of bourbon barrel aging.

 644 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.97/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Curran last night.

This one pours a moderately dark black, not the darkest I've ever seen, with a quarter inch head, and not a whole lot of lacing.

This one smells like cookie dough, chocolate, and some light sweet bourbon.

This is one of more balanced, lighter BA stouts out there. It tastes really good, but it seems to lack the general oomph I'm looking for in this style. It's got a lot of cocoa powder, cookie dough, and vanilla flavors, with a milder bourbon presence than expected. If I were to guess, this is probably blended and not 100% barrel aged.

This is a bit thin for the style, but that's probably a part of the 9.5% ABV- a few notches lower than the typical BA RIS. It's got a very creamy mouthfeel, with a lower level of carbonation.

This is not quite at the level of other big name BA stouts. It's also

 843 characters

Photo of Wasatch
3.97/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to unclejedi for this brew.

22oz. Bomber
2009 Vintage

Poured into a chalice a black color, some carbonation, not much of a head at all, a couple of tiny islands appear. The nose is malty, with some oak notes, chocolate, toffee, some spice. The taste is malty, nice oak note, chocolate/toffe, with some spices. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a pretty tasty brew, but not what it's hyped up to be.

 414 characters

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.97/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Waited till my birthday to crack my first one of these. Poured into a snifter.

A- Its very difficult to get any head on this beer at all yet somehow there are tons of pearls of lacing polka dotting the glass. I must say that the beer didnt look very thick on the pour (at least by BA RIS standards.)

S- Oak is quite strong here giving the beer a smooth vanilla smell. Bourbon is there but it brings a boozy smell more than anything else, I would like more character from the bourbon. Milk chocolate and a shot of anise intermingle with currants and mulberries.

T- While not the heaviest on bourbon, this one does allow the boozy stuff to jump out at you. The bourbon and alcohol are certainly the last flavors left in your mouth, and boy do they stick around. Do they over stay their welcome? Thats subjective, but it could be the case for many people. Lots of barrel notes of wood and vanilla. Since the barrels dominate I have to poke around the flavor profile to find the Blackout Stout beneath. Its there, with its nice chocolatiness, but it does like to give you a run around.

M- Low carbonation, as the pour already had me thinking. Thats no worry though, a BA stout that has a lot of carbonation either has a problem or isnt executed to my liking. This is thin as compared to lots of it's peers.

D- 2010's batch is feeling much higher than the listed 9.5% even though my bottle says 9% even. Im having a hard time believing either. Place this blind in front of most people and they would guess around the 11% mark.

The verdict: A good beer, one for the cellar. I didnt put myself too far out of the way to obtain my allotment and for that Im glad. As it stands, I wouldnt do much more for some of this. We will stash one and see what it becomes. I have a feeling it will be a late bloomer.

 1,807 characters

Photo of ShogoKawada
3.98/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ah, goin' through the review notebook. Got this one from a BIF, I do believe. Mucho thanks to the fine individual who sent this along.

A- Nice motor oil pour with a brown sugar, thick 2cm head that has tremendous staying power (and visual appeal). Wow, that's a nice pour.

S- Big bourbony sweetness. Vanilla and caramel, pretty light, not much char.

T- A lot stronger roast malt presence than I found in the nose. Bitter chocolate and a bit of molasses, def. oak presence and straight bourbon are noted too. Explosive flavors- very agressive, and well-executed. I'm impressed.

M- Lower than average carbonation, but since the flavors are on point, I'll suffer through it ;)

D- Moderate. b-bal stouts are a dime a dozen these days, but it takes more than a barrel and a stout to make a good beer. This one is just that- a (very) good beer. I would not hesitate to drink this one again. Impressive.

 904 characters

Photo of Skrypt
3.99/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Swamp Head snifter. Bottled 2013. Served at 55F.

Pours a thick beige head that dissipates quickly, but that's probably due to this glass having been run through the dishwasher.

Really faint nose. Not really picking up much of anything outside of a little smoke, bourbon and vanilla.

The front is a really subtle light, floral hop taste that lasts for a second and is followed by a coffee-like bitterness and milk chocolate. The finish is dominated by bourbon.

This is a nice full-bodied stout that has a really surprising softness in the mouth, as if it were carbonated with nitrogen. Medium carbonation overall, though. There's a pretty good bit of alcohol heat.

Overall, this is a really enjoyable brew, but the barrel aging actually took away some of the subtlety that makes the original so good. The barrel characteristics haven't integrated very well. I'm going to let my second bottle sit in the cellar for 12 months or so and see how it compares to the regular Blackout then.

 1,018 characters

Photo of CharlesDarwin
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bottle. Rambling aroma of thinning nuts, fire and marshmallow. Coffees come forth, but fade quickly. Subdued and absent. Pours deep brown with ruby corners and a rim of tan. Light carbonation. A machismo of coffee rubs against the grain of background wood and toothy sugars. Chewiness absent. Bright and nostril burning. Fairly dry and not overly heavy. Nutty dry. Smack excels in this beer with a never ending carousel of left over coffee tannins, chocolate dust, chipotle and edges of earth. Thanks for sharing, Andy!

 524 characters

Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bourbon, vanilla, oak, light pineapple, chocolate and essresso all appear in this very intense aroma. The body is deep black and holds a diminishing, wispy mocha head.

Smooth roasted dark chocolate in the fore is followed by a heavy bourbon blast which then rolls toward vanilla, roasted/burnt malt and milk chocolate flakes and creamed coffee. It almost seems less intense than the original as far as the base flavor, but barrel aging can sometimes alter beers in odd ways. I’d actually say i like this version a bit better than the original.

 548 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from '10 bomber into tulip glass. Pours opaque dark brown color with a small off white creamy head. Smells like chocolate liquor, vanilla, brown sugar and molasses. Initial taste is a medium body that coats the mouth with caramel and roasty smokiness. Quite a lot of warming from alcohol. Finishing with chocolate and warming alcohol presence. Flavor hangs around for a while, but doesn't quite match up to the regular blackout stout that I really love. A still good beer nonetheless, but I'd rather get a six pack of the regular one which is much easier.

 562 characters

Photo of cpetrone84
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is dark brown with a tight toffee colored head. Nose is light bourbon and wood, fair bit of sweet milk chocolate, hints of anise and chewy caramel. Taste has more wood, lots. Fairly forward bourbon notes, lots of rich milk chocolate and some sweeter caramel type malt. Full bodied, thick and creamy with strong carbonation and some alcohol burn through the finish. Heavy on the bourbon and wood side.

 405 characters

Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle shared by Thirstybird. 2009 vintage. Pours 2-3 shades shy of black with zero head; just a few clusters of bubbles. Nose is malty, suggests artificial sweetener and cocoa (reminds me a bit of BA IST). Taste is much better than implied by the nose. There is a suggestion of spirits, but this is not a bourbony BA beer. Flavor profile reveals chocolate, roast and some earthiness. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style - body is medium-light with a mild, easy carbonation. All and all, a very drinkable and approachable beer but lacking some of the bolder characteristics of the style.

 595 characters

Photo of kawilliams81
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a. 12 oz bottle into a 8 oz snifter. 2011 vintage.

A- pours black with a 1 finger dark tan head. Small blotches and trails of lacing.

S- big coffee nose, roast, vanilla and some bourbon.

T- bitter coffee and dark roasted malts. Bourbon and vanilla come into play in the middle. Finishes with a abv, bourbon note.

M- full body and medium carbonation. Drinks easily with a sligh bitter bite near the finish.

O- nice BA stout but not one I will seek out every year.

 479 characters

Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 409 ratings.