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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 spycow
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of BEERchitect
3.72/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Riding on the heels of the original Black, Mikkeller's Buffalo Trace-infused version pommels the taste buds into submission with an absurdly intense bourbon flavor and feel that's as intimidating as it is curious. Even coming from a staunch bourbon appreciator, I was taken back by the bourbon effect that's on display here.

Black Buffalo decants with an oily consistency that provides a mirror-like gloss of depth and clarity. The head builds like densely on the beer but reduces to a film across the surface before eventually succumbing to the rise of alcohols. As the sandy head colapses into the beer, The lace is replaced by inky legging that stains the glass with dark brandy-like appearances.

Bourbon, cocoa, espresso, toasted walnuts, and scorched molasses all fill the nose with equally high intensity but alternating with each visit of the nose to the glass. Roasted grain, rummy licorice and vinous red grape must gives a nearly sweet and smoky woodiness to accompany the alcoholic notes as the beer warms.

There's no doubt of the prominent flavor of this crazy-stupid stout- It's the undeniable taste of Buffalo Trace bourbon. In contrast, the smoky sweetness of scorched molasses superscedes the roast. Espresso and cocoa follow closely behind but can never command the forefront of flavor beyond the shear taste of bourbon. Oily walnuts, vanilla, caramel, burnt woods, and sherry-like wines give a sweeter and fruitier edge to ride along side of the roast and bourbony sweetness- often in contrast. Delicious but somewhat unsettled as the fusal flavor of alcohol becomes the highlight of the beer while hot and taking away from the subtle interplay of esters, oxides, roast, and caramelized sweetness.

Absolutely brutal to the mouth as an exploratory sip is immediately met with extreme alcohol heat, palate numbing, and sharp stinging of fusal distilled spirits. Undoubtedly full in body, but the beer's thinning alcohol forbids any appreciation of texture or finesse. Past the enormity of bourbon, the roast and barrel astringency continues into a very long and developing aftertaste.

Black Buffalo is an absolute beast that may be appreciated best when taken an ounce at a time from a shot glass. Facetious of course, but the take away from this beer is that it must be appreciated much more as a cordial or replacement for straight spirits as the beer rivals the amount of alcohol that's normally reserved for milder spirits and liquors.

 2,460 characters

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

 4,993 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

Photo of olradetbalder
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

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 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 womencantsail
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black in color with a very small tan head. Strong vanilla and bourbon aromas along with some booze. Quite a bit of roasted malt, maybe a little char. Sweet sugar and caramel with a touch of coffee and dark chocolate. The flavor is sweet with a touch of bitterness from all the roast. Brown sugar, caramel, and a dark chocolate maltiness to go with lots of bourbon and vanilla. A light booziness and still plenty of roast/char flavors.

 434 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared by dreadnaught33. Thanks Jonathan!

The beer is near black with a thin beige head. The aroma offers a large and in charge malt character, followed by some roast notes. Whoa! The flavor will kick your ass. Oh mama...this is a sadistic, wonderful beverage. Alcohol is over the top rope, but it hurts so good. Hooray beer.

 326 characters

Photo of stakem
2.79/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

375ml green bottle shared with friends and poured into a matching Mikkeller Teku. The brew appears black in color with a tan cap. A full wall of tan head leaves faint spotty lacing effect sticking to the glass.

The aroma includes notes of fruity alcohol esters. Some roasty coffee to strong burnt grain. As more sniffs are taken, it becomes dominating with solvent booze that burns the nose.

The taste is straight burning. Just a huge inclusion of solvent alcohol coupled with raw oak and alcohol like vodka. Some earth and tobacco with bitter roasty elements and just a sheer amount of numbing alcohol. The more you hold this beer in your mouth and try to pick out flavors, it honestly burns and dulls your senses.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. That alcohol is atrocious. Just outrageous and too much without seemingly any other character to take in. This could have been aged on dirty toilet seats and firemans boots instead of buffalo trace barrels and none of us would be to the wiser. To this brews credit, I was drunk after drinking my pour.

 1,086 characters

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

Photo of Duff27
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Lare453
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of MasterSki
3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from West Lakeview Liquors.

A - Dark tan foam lingers as a solid cap, leaving behind specks of lace; pretty impressive carbonation for nearly 20%. Black body, with a vague hint of brown at the edges of the glass.

S - Intense chocolate fudge, vanilla, roasted malts, bourbon, cloying brown sugar and dark fruit sweetness, and some overt alcohol and chemical notes. The latter seemed to bother my friends more than me, but it's still pretty hot.

T - The taste is significantly rougher, with a mix of cloying sweetness and charry ash. Unlike the Cognac edition the barrel-aging doesn't mask the elements I dislike in the base beer, although it doesn't intensify them like the whisky version did either. Jumbled mix of chocolate, licorice, vanilla, tar, ash, oak, and Buffalo Trace.

M - Medium body, grainy and tannic texture, with a lingering sticky finish. Loads of boozy, alcohol heat here, although nothing excessive for the ABV. Carbonation is low, but style-appropriate.

D - Everyone else despised this, but I thought it was merely OK. Manageable in a 2oz serving, but probably needs years to calm down. That being said, the Cognac version went off the rails after about 2 years, so who knows if this will improve over time. Maybe worth trying if you're really desensitized to booze like I am, but not for the faint of heart.

 1,339 characters

Photo of afsdan
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of pathman
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of bluejacket74
4.07/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12.7 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head that stayed around a little while. There's also a lot of lacing left on the glass. Aroma is sweet and malty, the brew smells like chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, roasted and burnt/charred malt, caramel, and a bit of dark fruit. It tastes like bourbon, bittersweet and milk chocolate, vanilla, burnt/charred malt, booze, coffee, molasses and some licorice. The alcohol is noticeable, but it's not as hot as I was expecting it to be considering it's 19.3% ABV. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's slick and coating and has a moderate amount of carbonation. I think it's a good enough brew, and it would be interesting to see how this one ages. $13.99 a bottle.

 754 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of egrace84
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

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 AgentMunky
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 375mL bottle into a Koningshoven chalice. Stamped 4791202. I've been holding on to this one for about six months.

A: Utterly opaque, and just a shade or three short of black. The sparse bubbles that serve as head are brown and cling desperately to the sides of the glass.

S: Huge, raisiny, and estery. Overwhelmingly sweet, with a dead-flat yeast that I associate with old barleywines (think J.W. Lees 1994). Compared to the original, the ginger is still present, but any smoke or meatiness is entirely absent. Perhaps the bourbon sweetness killed faint peat? Definitely a strong beer.

T: Mmm. This is a huge, creamy, smooth, deceptive sort of beer...to start. Then you take a tiny swallow and BAM! it goes down like Alabama moonshine-- Harsh, fiery, and delicious, with a kick that goes immediately to the head and intoxicates after a single half-ounce. The fore/maintaste is full of coconut and chocolate. The aftertaste has all the smoke that was missing from the nose, with a healthy dose of over-ripe, fermenting peach.

M: A touch withdrawn, or flat, but compared to everything else, it pales.

O: An insanely powerful, hugely flavorful, eminently enjoyable beer. Mikkel seems drawn to extremes, and this one is definitely that. Recommended. Will have again, if I can ever find one.

 1,304 characters

Photo of atone315
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of jeff1973
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Dope
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pitch black pour. Huge effervescent very dark brown head. Excellent legs. Fades slowly, eventually leaving some really nice bubbly lacework behind. Decent retention too.

S: Potent boozy bourbon with HEAVY roasted malt. Loads of chocolate and char primarily. Big, sweet and boozy. Delicious.

T: Wonderful mix of bourbon and roasted malt up front. Lots of caramel, chocolate, toffee and vanilla. Sweet and heavy through to the middle. Sweetness fades into the finish, turning it into a heavy acrid char and baker's chocolate. Super boozy and harsh acrid in the lingering aftertaste.

M: Heavy but not syrupy. Very acrid and drying on the back end.

O: This one is a really tough call. Up front it is sweet and a wonderful bourbon and roasted malt mix. On the back end it is super drying, super harsh alcohol and very acrid. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Very strange. Maybe if you sat on it for a few decades it might smooth out. Right now it's very boozy and sharp for sure. I averaged out the scores to account for a really good beginning but really bad end.

 1,069 characters

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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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