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Peak XV Imperial Porter - Black Diamond Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Peak XV Imperial PorterPeak XV Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

54 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 54
Hads: 113
Avg: 3.12
pDev: 39.74%
Wants: 0
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Black Diamond Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: 1759Girl on 08-01-2010

A smooth drinking, dark porter brewed with raw cacao nibs and hand-cut Madagascar vanilla beans. Balanced between a coffee-like bitterness and a rich malt character, this ale is deceptively drinkable for an Imperial.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 54 | Hads: 113
Photo of Sammy
3.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from Augustgarage, thanks for another good one. Fresh yet lactic. Big head on black body. Some roast, malt, sourish. Not bang on the imperial porter style, as it advertises,and consistent with the high abv, though works better as a regular porter.Sourness and lactic affects drinkability, better at room temperature.

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Photo of womencantsail
1.34/5  rDev -57.1%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A: The wax was nearly impenetrable, but after finally getting through it, I popped the cap only to have tan foam come climbing out of the bottle. The pour is a dark brown color with an enormous tan/brown head. Infection?

S: My fears are confirmed on the nose. Slightly acidic roasted malts along with coffee and...peaches. Some other sour fruit notes like lemon and green apple, but the amount of peach aroma is quite startling.

T: It's even worse on the palate. The flavor opens up with broccoli stalks before moving on to the peach flavor. The tartness is subtle, but this is a friggin imperial porter, not an oud bruin. Roasted malts and coffee are still there.

M: The body is light to medium with a high level of carbonation for this style of beer. Most likely a byproduct of the infection.

D: This was just all kinds of bad. I don't have any desire to try this again.

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Photo of mactrail
2.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Chocolate smell and more chocolate in the taste. So sweet and flavorful, it's like a chilled mug of cocoa. Rather sweet. An odd aftertaste of some bitterish stuff. Looks nice enough, with coarse bubbles and a copper-tinged brown.

I guess this is one of those love of hate beers. I hate it. The chocolate is so strong, and there just seems to be no actual flavors of malt or hops. The bubbles are pleasant enough. It is well made, and the mouthful of sweet cocoa is a nice enough flavor. But it starts with a smell of potting soil and ends with a harsh bitterness. Good chocolate, though. It needs food to take your mind off the flavor.

From the 22 oz bottle.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.85/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Acquired at a local beer store for $6.49. 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Belgium goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, California. Expectations are above average; I really liked this brewery's IPA and I'm a big fan of vanilla porters. Although current ratings are quite low.

Served after a warming period after being taken out of the refrigerator. I was looking over the current reviews and noted a tendency toward infection, so I braced myself for beer surging...

...and luckily there was none. I guess other reviewers had waxed caps? Mine is standard, no wax, and there are no surging issues.

A: Pours a half finger khaki-tan colour head of lackluster cream, decent thickness, and bad retention (<30 seconds). Colour is a solid dark black (not quite jet black). Nontransparent / opaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Looks okay for the style.

Sm: Cocoa, booze, artificial vanilla, overdone malt sweetness, and roast. Not real well balanced. Victory At Sea this is not. I'd even go so far as to say there's a hint of whiskey. An average strength aroma.

T: Artificial vanilla up front carries into the second act and then dies at the midpoint. The bitter roast keeps going, though, even overstaying its welcome through the finish. Quite imbalanced. Dark malts form the unobtrusive foundation. Strangely sweet on the open. A bit of alcohol is evident on the climax. I get oak more than chocolate; in fact chocolate is eerily missing. Frankly, this is just a simple two note beer: first half - vanilla; second half - untamed roast. To be constructive, the vanilla isn't bad up front; in fact, this wouldn't be too bad if the whole profile was just that surging vanilla cream.

Mf: Creamy up front, but it hits the brakes when it delves into the third act's dryness and coarseness. Doesn't really suit the flavours, though it mirrors their imbalance. Carbonation is slightly high. Thickness is good.

Dr: There are good elements here, but the balance is just off. I have faith this brewery could fix make this into a great beer with some work; the vanilla does work well here. All things considered, though, it's quite a disappointment. Might be better on-draught. I'll be sticking to Victory At Sea for my imperial porter fix, but this wasn't an awful effort from Black Diamond, and the price could be worse.


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Photo of Slatetank
3.26/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I poured this slightly colder than chilled into a nonic, the bomber was shared with Kasey.

The color is dark walnut brown with light tan cap with fine bead and spotty lace pattern is left on the glass. The smell is mildly vanilla with some light cocoa and subtle toasted accent in the nose. The feel is not especially great, but it does have a light nuttiness with subtle tannin from the nibs and mild yeast element which adds to the tanginess and moderate carbonation with some dry aspects in the finish with low alcohol presence.

The flavor is lacking in the respect that the yeast tanginess is out of place, perhaps it is a tannin from the cacao nib but the vanilla and malt suffers in the taste as a result and it is not a flavor that you want to linger since it has a vegetal element that doesn't meld well with the mild toasted malt flavors. overall it is a good beer but not great considering what what into it. I won't say I wouldn't get it again because overall this wasn't terrible, but it is not the first vanilla bean and cacao nib beer I would reach for if you know what I mean.

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Photo of drabmuh
2.83/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer tastes like a wet dog. Seriously disgusting, on draft at the Meridian pint, serve in a pint glass.

Beer is black / brown, hazy with a thin tan head, moderate to low carbonation, low retention, minimal lacing, looks fine.

Aroma is a little sweet, a little vanilla, a little malt, minimal roast.

Beer is light in body, watery and thin, the midpalate opens up to this wet wool / dog bathwater sort of flavor that makes me want to stop drinking immediately. So I do.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.95/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, the beer is a very dark brown with auburn highlights on the fringes. A slight, thin filmy tan head sits upon the viscous pour. Aromas of coffee and milk chocolate, with barrel/vanilla scents, also. The beer initially tastes smokey, with underlying dark chocolate and heavy roasted
coffee. Sweet caramel and vanilla essence sneaks in at the end, especially after the beer has had a chance to warm and settle. Very smooth and creamy body helps to carry the bitterness that the chocolate and coffee
flavors leave. Leaves a slight lacing on the glass as you drink, but not overly thick; usually expect a little bit more body from a Porter. The aftertaste is slightly bittersweet, and a littly boozy. Crisp, bittering finish that begs for more. Tasty brew, and would be amazing on a cold day. I would be willing to bet this would age well, also.

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Photo of Zorro
3.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Clear dark brown colored beer with a tall light brown colored head. Extremely strong head formation took 15 minutes to feel the glass.

Smells sweet with a strong aroma of patent malt. Detectable ethanol and a faint carrot stick hop scent along with a fair amount of coffee scent.

Starts out neutral sweet and strong on the patent malt. This is a beer very big on the patent malt and it pretty much is the only flavor here. Slight chocolate but this beer is all roasted malt.

Mouthfeel is good.

This is pretty much a one-flavor beer; patent malt isn't enough to interest me for that long.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.75/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown with brown highlights that had a finger of fluffy head and left nice blotchy lacing sticking to the glass. The nose was pretty decent consisting of coffee chocolate aromas with some roastiness but had faint grain, vanilla, and cocoa notes as well. The flavor was roasty coffee chocolate upfront with cocoa vanilla accents but had slight malty, booze, and grain notes. The brew was medium body with too much carbonation which had a roasty, sweet, and slight creamy finish. It drank really well but was overly carbonated and made it little hard to actually enjoy the full flavor of the beer on every sip.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.18/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Jeez, guys, I get it. You can put wax on your caps. But seriously, it's unnecessary for a crown capped bottle, and whatever you're using is ridiculously difficult to remove.

When I finally do extricate the beer from the shattering plastic of the cap, it fizzes violently, leaving an obscenely large, overcarbonated head a good 4 inches high, above a dark reddish black coloured body. Head is quite a deep beige colour, but is far too big - even a gentle pour gives me something I need to wade through to get to the actual beer.

Decent dark characters on the nose, with a sweet vanilla note that is almost unfortunately wiped out with a faintly vinous acidic presence. I think there's something funky going on here, because underlying everything are these very pleasant choc-vanilla notes that scream as though they want to come through as soft and sweet. But the acidity ruins it.

The acidity is less pronounced on the palate, but it does feel like there's something skewed a little weirdly here too. Fortunately, the pleasant nutty and vanilla characters stream through more robustly here, especially on the back, leaving a round and sweet afterpalate. Through the centre, there is a rather pleasant dollop of roasted, charred grain bitterness which adds some depth to the palate. Feel is a little thin for such a strong flavoured beer, but it's not too bad.

There's something a little off about this beer overall, and even if it got everything right, it wouldn't be a stellar example of a flavoured American Porter. But it's drinkable enough. More like credible homebrew than credible commercial craft though.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.58/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich, nearly black hue which lets ruby through when held up to the light. Head is two fingers of pillowy tan foam which leave a nice lace on the glass. Not bad!

Smell: malty, chocolatey aroma which has an edge of harshness to it. There is vanilla in there, which might contribute to the harsh edge, but overall I think it's actually an interesting and intriguing aroma.

Taste: vanilla and chocolate definitely play a part here, but at least some of the chocolate seems malt-derived. There's a bit of a vegetal edge toward the end, which is unwelcome but is part and parcel with most dark beers. Bitterness is a bit harsh, possibly do to both spicing and dark malts.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body with a good carbonation and concomitant creaminess. I like it!

Overall: this is a somewhat bizarre porter, but I kind of like it. The vanilla adds something which I appreciate.

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Photo of 22Blue
3.96/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 22 ounce bottle. Pours almost black with a decent tan head. Aroma of malt, chocolate, and vanilla. Taste is roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and some coffee. Hides the 8% very well. Nice

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Photo of maximum12
1/5  rDev -67.9%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Thanks to a well-meaning good trader for throwing this into a recent deal.

Unfortunately, this turned into a debacle. After struggling to negotiate the diamond-hard, but pretty, golden wax, the top finally popped off - & out came beer. All over the countertop, floor, my slippers, the bottle, opener, everything. Gusher!

I thought maybe I'd done something, but no. One whiff of this beast verified a serious problem - sour, disgusting, vile fruit flowed up from the neck of the bottle. I even tried to pour it, but got an ounce or two of beer with a full snifter full of angry white foam. A sip or two confirmed a foul infection. My wife took one sniff & refused to let it touch her chaste lips.

Infected. Drain pour. Disappointed, this one sounded good.

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Photo of popery
3.6/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

These Black Diamond imperial porters have been all over the place for me. I loved the normal keg version, disliked the barrel-aged one and this bottle is just pretty good, so far. The beer pours a very, very dark ruby, essentially black, though it's just barely transparent with enough light and some color is evident. The head is creamy and beige. A morass of fine bubbles. The aroma improves significantly as it warms up to room temperature. Roasted malt, vanilla and chocolate fight it out for domination. I like it, particularly the vanilla, but there's a funny lactic note hanging around that nearly spoils the party. The flavor also suffers from this nearly sour note. I appreciate this flavor in some porters, but it's just holding back the richer flavors here. Chocolate and roasted notes seem poised in the background, but they don't come off nearly as creamy and rich as they should. Carbonation is also a problem. I would have preferred much gentler carbonation. It gets better if you let it sit, but the fizziness robs the beer of the thick, creamy feel that I got from the old keg version. I like this beer, but it's kind of a let-down. That said, I appreciate seeing a bolder bottled beer from Black Diamond and hope that they keep it up.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.06/5  rDev +30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. cool label, but no date.

appears not quite black, dark brown in the corners. cream colored head. big milk chocolate aroma, very nice.

slightly sweet chocolate flavor in the taste, a touch of caramel. balanced by a bittersweet dry finish. smooth velvety mouthfeel, medium thickness, lower carbonation.

overall - very good, maybe could just be a bit thicker.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.73/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #50 (March 2011):

Faint crackle from the head; dark mahogany color. Aromas are a bit faint—vanilla and cacao nibs are there with yeast, even more faint acrid roasted grain and currants. Vanilla drops some sweetness, and roasty flavors pull on the palate a bit but don’t really flesh out. Yeast tone clashes with the roasted character. Beef broth? The finish becomes a little less desirable with the yeast coming to the forefront as well as a bitter tone from the lingering roasted flavor. A cleanup job is needed here.

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Photo of Fatehunter
2.66/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Nice finger and half of tan head on a black body.
The aroma is chocolate with a touch of vanilla. It's nice but tough to distinguish any other smells.
Well, this combination of porter, vanilla beans and cacao nibs is a bad idea. There's a bitter/sour/chocolate taste throughout that ruins the whole thing.
The texture is thicker with low carbonation.
Not recommended unless you'd like a sour chocolate porter.

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Photo of kwjd
3.61/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with tan head. Smell has lots of chocolate and roasted malt, but there is a lactic flavour in there. I get some coffee in the aftertaste more than upfront. I think bottle may be slightly off, but it could be what the brewer intended. It was still fine though.

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Photo of flexabull
3.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color with a pretty good white head.

Aromas are of cocoa, light vanilla, some coffee and cream. Smells good, but a little bit unnatural.

Taste is not as strong as I thought it might be. Soft and creamy up front, cocoa, and hints of vanilla. Finish is crisp, with some warmth and a really roasted malt character.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, smooth, and actually a touch light.

Drinkability is not bad. It's a pretty good porter, doesn't seem like an "imperial" beer though.

I wonder if this is a reworked batch, no wax, and isn't nearly as bad as prior reviews suggest.

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Photo of n2185
4.04/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not for sure why this beer has such relatively low scores, but I enjoy it. Nice mix of vanilla and bitter cacao. The body is a little thin, but that's about the worst that I can say about it.

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Photo of Overlord
1.26/5  rDev -59.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Pours brownish black with a gigantic, overflowing, insane head. I mean, it's just ridiculous. I immediately suspected infection. Yeah, it was just starting to take hold. The ten inches of foam per one inch of beer was a light tan.

Smells like roasted malt, slightly sour/infected yeasty coffee, and ... ugh. SMells bad.

Tastes bad, too. Some light fake-y tasting vanilla, a bit of chocolate, but mostly it's an enormous sourish charcoal roasted astringent/acrid mess.

So. carbonated.

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Photo of snaotheus
2.77/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle poured into a large stein. Can't find a best by or bottled on date.

Pours black with a bug luxurious head, which fades very slowly, and is supported by a healthy amount of carbonation. Smell is chocolatey, a little vanilla, yeast.

Taste is chocolatey, vanilla, sweet. Some cherry. Too sweet. I expect a lot more roastiness from a porter. Something about this makes me think of a chocolate soda. It is not bad, but not what I want from a porter.

Mouthfeel is thick but has an oily slickness. Overall, this is not a well conceived beer.

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Photo of SpdKilz
1.61/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Appearance - After chipping at the damn bottle for a good few minutes trying to open it (note to Black Diamond Brewing Co. - never ever use this material again) the bottle was ready to pour. After reading about infections I was crossing my fingers and hoping for the best but alas, with an extremely mild pour there was five fingers of head with two fingers of beer. Great. Head slowly dissipates and leaves good looking lacing at least. Beer pours a chocolate color with hints of light showing through the edges of the glass.

Smell - Metal, disgusting vanilla extract (again Black Diamond...splurge a bit and use legit vanilla extract not this obvious fake junk), slight coffee, and chocolate, and of course, a distinct infected tartness aroma. I'm in for a treat here aren't I?

Taste - Ug. As the reviewer below me noted, the infection is not horrible in the sense it is the only thing you can taste. Oh no...there is still plenty of gross five day old coffee ground flavor, along with the overbearing artificial vanilla. The infection comes in about midway and continues on to meld ever so nicely with a metallic aftertaste. I've had two sips of this and am about to drain pour it.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, though on the lighter side, insane amount of carbonation, dry, metallic finish.

Drinkability - There is none. I am in the process of drain pouring this. I would say avoid until the next batch to make sure there is no infection, but the artificial vanilla flavor is enough to never make me want to try this again anyways. Yuck.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
2.5/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

standard 22 ounce bomber
A - a thin looking dark but not black with no head.
S - I don't smell much of the advertised vanilla or chocolate but do detect just a hint of smokiness.
T - malty weakness with no real backbone aside from some sweet smoky flavor.
M - thin, very thin.
D - definitely a one time purchase.
extremely sweet diluted soy sauce anyone?

update:(10-15-2011) I've read from various places that some of these bottles may have been infected.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
1.59/5  rDev -49%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Note: When I got this bottle my assumption was that the gold coating was wax, however I came to learn that it's in fact some kind of resin-based peanut brittle. WTF?

Appearance -- Pours a deep dark brown with ruby highlights and an abundance of foamy, saison-like head. Not bad but...weird. Infected? Big bucks, no whammies...

Smell -- Ruh-Roh. Plastic, coffee, artificial vanilla extract, dark chocolate, tart cherry. Signs point to infected.

Taste -- Fortunately the infection isn't as terribly present as I had initially feared. The principal flavors are ground coffee, well-roasted malt, dark chocolate, and artificial vanilla. Still, the infection is clearly building up with notable industrial plastic flavor and tart cherry. Lasting flavor of coffee grounds, sour cherries, and burnt plastic.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-light in body with high carbonation. Dry and tannic in the finish. Also waxy.

Drinkability -- Not great. It seems that, had I drank this when I first got it two months ago, it might have tasted fine, although something tells me I would've have necessarily been bowled over with all of that fake vanilla flavor.

If you have this in your possession, by all means open it now. If not, definitely pass on this one.

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Peak XV Imperial Porter from Black Diamond Brewing Co.
74 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.