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Black Buffalo (黑牛) | Mikkeller ApS

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Black Buffalo (黑牛)Black Buffalo (黑牛)
BA SCORE
3.95/5
Very Good
76 Ratings
Black Buffalo (黑牛)Black Buffalo (黑牛)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Mikkeller ApS
Denmark
mikkeller.dk

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 19.30%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels.

Added by bark on 07-18-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
-
Reviews:
34
Ratings:
76
pDev:
15.95%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
22
Gots:
23
Trade:
1
HISTOGRAM
 
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Ratings: 76 |  Reviews: 34
Photo of mtbdonn
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of kojevergas
3.69/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

BOTTLE: 12.7 fl oz format. Green glass. Unbranded pry-off crown cap. Appealingly understated label art. Brewed & Bottled by Mikkeller at De Proef. Imported by the Shelton Bastards. 2015 vintage.

19.30% ABV. "Stout ale aged in bourbon barrels."

Served chilled into a snifter and allowed to come to room temperature over the course of consumption.

HEAD: At its beastly 19.30% ABV, I'm shocked this has a head at all - let alone such an appealing one. Khaki in colour, with nice froth and creaminess. What bowls me over is its incredible retention; this head sticks around a good 10 minutes. Shockingly robust for such a monstrously alcoholic brew, yet soft in appearance. Leaves both lacing and brandy-like legs when the glass is tilted. Sure, it could be a more appealing dark tan hue and could have a gilded shining complexion, but that this head even exists is impressive.

BODY: True to style, it's an opaque jet black. No yeast/lees visible within.

Appears well-carbonated. Terrific looking for its high ABV, but it's worth nothing the best expressions of the style do look better.

AROMA: Odd to say the least...I'd figure it for a red wine barrel aged stout given the grape, prune, cranberry, and date aromatics I'm picking up on. Gooey dark malt and chocolate malt sweetness does make it into the mix, and there're subtle hints of barrel char and barrel sugars, but this is lacking the rich white oak, vanilla/vanillin, and toasted coconut I'd hope for in a great bourbon barrel aged stout.

In any case, the fruit-emphatic aroma is appealing if unexpected, and it doesn't seem cloyingly sweet like many stouts in the ABV stratosphere nor does it seem bludgeoningly boozy like Mikkeller Black.

Aromatic intensity is average, but under the circumstances I think it's quite mild.

Roasted barley additions as well as more pungent bourbon barrel character is needed to elevate this aroma, but it's certainly appealing.

No overt hoppy or yeasty notes. No off-notes.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Depleted barrel vanillin does make an appearance (though it was absent in the aroma), guiding the beer's third act and lingering into the finish. Hints of subtle toasted coconut also emerge, as well as a kiss of oak and some barrel sugar sweetness along with some countering barrel char bitterness.

Specialty chocolate malt, roasted barley, and heavy dark/schwarz malt sweetness give this brew its robust backbone and gooey feel, playing to molasses-like thickness and sweetness without going too far; the roasted barley and barrel char balance the beer's sweetness with bitterness, never needing any overt hop bitterness to lend aid.

I'd refrain from calling it a boozy or hot beer, but there's no doubting it has some alcohol warmth - even if it's subtle on the palate, it hits you in the stomach. I'd call it a pleasant and apt alcohol warmth - just a bit of heat to play to the bourbon and accentuate this beer's winter warmer vibe.

It's a bit harsh mouthfeel-wise, tending a bit rough along with its appropriate dryness. I like that it's gooey, but it could do with a softer creamier feel to take the edge off all that bourbon barrel aggression. Heavy on the palate and even a bit sludgy at points; I'd expect this to turn to sludgy motor oil with substantial aging (5+ years or more).

Dark fruit weaves in and out of the flavour profile, lacking the prominence I expected given the beer's fruit-forward aroma but still delivering additional complexity to this already intricately built stout: prune, date, raisin, and grape.

I'm reticent to call the beer balanced since it seems to oscillate between an almost acrid ashen bitterness and a borderline fudgy sweetness at different points in its structure, but frankly those oscillations work for me, teasing the drinker with a rollercoaster ride of diverse flavours. Were its depth of flavour more impressive, this could be a world class brew.

Flavour intensity is high. Flavour duration is substantial.

Carbonation is slightly high. Full-bodied. Thick and weighty.

It needs more expressiveness in terms of malts and more pungency in terms of barrel character, but it's well built overall. There isn't quite an ideal harmony of texture and taste, but the beer delivers in terms of complexity and boldness. Not the booze-bomb I feared, nor the syrupy dessert beer it could have been.

OVERALL: I'm shocked how drinkable it is given its monstrous ABV; it's not that it drinks like its ABV is that much less - there's obvious alcohol warmth - it's more that it uses that warmth in service of the flavour profile so well the ABV doesn't matter. It's a remarkable imperial stout from the brewer who changed the landscape for the style in the 2000s with beers like Beer Geek Breakfast and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to others (especially those who unfairly dismiss Mikkeller as "too expensive" whilst happily buying The Bruery's beers). Mikkel isn't always on, but when he's on he's fucking on, and this ain't no exception.

B (3.69) / GOOD

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Photo of Resuin
4.7/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 375 mL bottle into a tulip. T

A: Pours black and leaves a finger + of tan head. The head leaves some nice lacing and lingers for a while.

S: Chocolate fudge brownie, caramel, marshmallow, woody oak. Wonderful aroma.

T: Chocolate brownie, caramel, tons of oak, marshmallow, alcohol heat. Very nice flavors combined with the alcohol heat which doesn't dominate but compliments.

M: Full body, low to medium carbonation.

O: This is a really delicous beer. Tastes like a dark chocolate caramel brownie with a bit of alcohol.

 538 characters

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.93/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12. 7 oz green bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Comes out of the glass dark brown but (appropriately) black as it fills up the glass. Nice slightly darker thank kaki colored head, various sized bubbles that stick around a while. There's a skim at the top that states the entire time and a ring of small bubbles that stay at the edge of the glass. Decent lacing, but the lacing from the head goes away after a little while, there's still the syrup like coating on the glass. the whole session.

Smell is outstanding. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, and maybe some cinnamon/cocoa blend. There's a slight sweet nutty aroma too not quite a hazelnut, but a nutty aroma. A little roast, but not quite smokey.

Taste is amazing! Tons of sweet roasted malt, some slightly bored caramel almost charred, vanilla, bitter-sweet chocolate and of course bourbon. Some nuttiness and maybe a little bit of molasses on the back end. Everything about the flavors are absolutely huge and are perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel is perfect for the style. Full bodied with lots of lingering flavors after each sip. It starts sweet and maintains smooth throughout and has a bittersweet warm finish. Crazy drinkable, it makes absolutely no sense that this beer is 19.3% it drinks more like a 12% beer, it's so good.

 1,312 characters

Photo of Gasc0igne
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of nathanmiller
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of olradetbalder
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of krl2112
3/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of Lare453
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of ChaseTheAce
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of pathman
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.03/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

375 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Vigorous pour yields a small mocha head. Then nothing. Glass-staining and very leggy.

Smell - Raisins and booze. A little bit of chocolate. And then more booze.

Taste - Really alcoholic. Raisins. Bourbon is present, but it's difficult to discern between bourbon liquor flavors and the alcohol from the stout. Intensely roasty malt. Very acrid and burnt finish.

Mouthfeel - Acrid, bitter, rough, and very alcoholic. Well carbonated, though.

Overall - Some interesting flavors, but one of the most unpleasant finishes I've ever experienced in a beer. I kept going back for more, though.

 660 characters

Photo of appetiteforparis
5/5  rDev +26.6%

Photo of afsdan
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of M1A2
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of scott2269
4.75/5  rDev +20.3%

Photo of DangerDawg
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

Photo of wesley14
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of JackieTH
2.65/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

The appearance is brown-black, opaque, with a thin tan cap of foam that sticks to the edges of the glass. It looks inviting. Scents of burned oats, charry grass, burned coffee grounds are detected before being overwhelmed by the smell of grain alcohol. Wow it burns the nasal passages a bit as well. Taste is atrociously grainy, alcohol, burning. Background notes of dirt, burned tobacco, bitterness like spent coffee grounds. Not good. Mouthfeel is burning. It's medium bodied. A friend and I were splitting a 375mL bottle, but just two mouthfuls were more than enough for us and the rest went into the fireplace with a rewarding burst of blue flames! Wow this one wasn't good.

 678 characters

Photo of egrace84
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of Duff27
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of DarthGuitarHero
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

Photo of Mattys21
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%

Photo of doktorhops
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Well it's review #250, and I thought for this one I would review something rare and unique: Mikkeller Black Buffalo. At 19% ABV it is nearly double the strength of the previous strongest ABV beer I've ever tried (Gulden Draak in case you were wondering). It is also the first Danish beer I have tried, and the first American Double Imperial Stout. That's a whole lot of firsts right there.

Poured from a 375ml bottle into a brandy snifter.

A: Deep black body - can't tell if it is cloudy but I suspect so. The head is a light brown and settles down to a ring of lacing.

S: Big aroma, actually has a pervading vegemite scent all over. There are notes of roasted chicory, fresh dirt, molasses and a hint vanilla thrown in as well. A dark and moody aroma all over.

T: If you like insanely bold flavours then this is the beer for you! Roasted chicory, coffee grinds, molasses and bourbon are the primary characters of this brew. Thankfully the vegemite is just in the aroma because as much as I like vegemite it would not go down well in a beer. There is a smoky note in there as well, and a sugar hit? Of course - in a beer of this intensity it is unavoidable, however it doesn't cloy as much as in a Belgian Tripel, which of itself is quite an achievement. The finish is well-balanced between dry and bitter.

M: Heavy bodied, vinous and with a light dense carbonation. Oily as hell, but again this was expected.

D: This is not your everyday beer; in fact while writing this review and finishing my first glass I am already beginning to feel the alcohol hit the bloodstream - point is if you're going to polish off a bottle of this you are spending the night in. Other than that it is a rare special occasion treat that really shows how well a beer can be crafted outside of the comfort zone (or ABV) of a normal brew. Overall an amazing feat of brewing.

Food match: You might want to forego eating anything with Black Buffalo - the flavours are too powerful, it's more an after dinner drink anyway.

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Black Buffalo (黑牛) from Mikkeller ApS
Beer rating: 3.95 out of 5 with 76 ratings
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