Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Black Flag Imperial Stout | Beer Valley Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
146 Reviews
Black Flag Imperial StoutBlack Flag Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Beer Valley Brewing Co.
Oregon, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by hopsaplenty on 11-09-2006

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 146 | Ratings: 233
Photo of weeare138
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears pitch black with a thick, 2 finger head of dark tan that retains nicely. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of roasted grains, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, and some ripe, dark fruit.
Taste echoes the aromas with more of a raisin flavor coming through, along with the husky graininess that carries some charred, roasty flavors.
Mouthfeel is somewhat bitter with the roastiness dominating the palate that is already on the thick, chewy side.

 471 characters

Photo of MadeInOregon
2.51/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

I acquired a bottle of this interesting sounding beer at the end of 2007 and was saving it for a special occasion. Well, such a moment came recently so I finally cracked it open, only to be disappointed. I have to agree with the others who gave this one a low rating.

The pitch black sludge slopped out of the 22oz. bottle into my stemless wine glass with absolutely ZERO head--a peculiar sight which I found quite entertaining. After pouring what I felt would be a good amount to start with I looked at it sitting in my glass and realized: "this stuff looks like used motor oil!" That should've been a turn-off but I'd never seen a beer so thick and dense before so I was very intrigued.

The smell was basically that of other strong imperial stouts: alcohol and roasted barley. The taste, however, was crazy. This is definitely the most intensely flavored beer I've come across. After the first sip I sat there stunned at the coffee, licorice, and chocolate flavors that were all simultaneously present and at a strength I've never tasted in beer. It was literally all these at once and in abundance. It tasted yeasty and roasty too, but the intensity of the sweet flavors (coffee, licorice, chocolate) and the bitterness of the hops quickly overpowered everything else.

I initially enjoyed this beer because it was so dang interesting and intense. Yet as I slowly sipped my way through my first glass I realized I was going to have to share the rest of the bottle, which I did with my wife who could barely finish her half-glass. By the end of the bottle, sometime later, I was honestly beginning to have a gag reflex every time I had a sip because of the bitterness and intensity of the licorice flavor. A perfect analogy for those thinking about trying Black Flag would be Jägermeister; very intense, very tasty, but too much is kinda disgusting. I couldn't get myself to pour it out so I ended up finishing it all...but if it were a cheaper beer I probably would've poured out the last 1/4 of the bottle. Bleck!

PROS: Treating this beer as a liqueur and only drinking an ounce or two in one sitting would probably make this pretty enjoyable, especially with rich desserts. This beer has some really interesting flavors going on so I think it would serve Beer Valley Brewing Company well to bottle it in something much smaller, say, like the bottles Samichlaus or Gulden Draak come in. As it stands, a super intense beverage put into a 22oz bottle that can't be re-corked is inappropriate--heck, even a 12oz'er would probably be pushing it!

 2,550 characters

Photo of trenten
3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Everything a RIS should be, viscous, black as night and with a nice creamy beige head.

Smell- dominated by coffee but there's also a good amount of toffee and dried stonefruits very reminiscent of classic barleywines. No hiding alcohol aroma in an 11% beer so don't expect it to be absent.

Taste- very mellow up front, the deep espresso flavors hit you first folllowed by some subtle hints of sweetness that are then overwhelmed by prolonged drying bitterness and finally the alcohol warmth on the back of the throat. The aroma implies that it woudl be sweeter than it really is. That's a pleasant surprise but the alcohol isn't as mellow as some other beers of equal strength (eg Abyss)

Mouthfeel= Carbonation is low enough to taste the full weight of this one but high enough to lighten up the dense alcohol flavor. Could be a bit creamier but not too shabby.

Drinkability - With the alcohol in this one and the way the coffee lingers around for about 5 minutes after every sip there's no need to rush it but you probably could if you wanted to. I'd say its not the smoothest of RIS's that i've had but adhere's to the style decently.

 1,153 characters

Photo of bovinecrusader
3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz bomber into a oversized wine glass.
Note: Stamp on bottle mentioned 2008 Hop Harvest Edition

Pours a fluid molasses color, with almost zero opacity. Great head retention, leaving a light khaki crown of decent lacing. Nose reminiscent of shortbread with a thin layer of milk chocolate, with light hints of fresh cherries hinting at the hop forward nature of the stout. Palate is very surprising... Hops add pepper, pine, lots of espresso, with a hint of raspberry acidity. Malts are secondary, adding a graham cracker-y, toasty support for the hops. Finishes dry, yet smooth, with lingering fruity hops on the back palate.

Drinkability? Well, I'm very impressed...most failed attempts at Imp. Stouts leave so much cloying residual sugars that it becomes warm, room temp coffee. However, the hops really help lift and lighten the stout, making it almost crisp with its delicate hop acidity. Drinks more like a hopped Scotch Ale, or a hopped Porter...

Great find and very surprising beer. Furthermore, everytime I've seen it in stores, its under $4.99 a bottle. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

 1,099 characters

Photo of Viggo
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle I picked up at a BevMo in San Fran. Day 2 of epic DrJay visit tasting.

Pours a very dark and opaque brown, some ruby red highlights in the corners, huge latte coloured head forms, tons of lacing on the glass, settles to a thin ring, looks okay. Smell is nice, perfumy, burnt sugar, toffee, brown sugar sweetness, chocolate and roast, oats, cracker, not bad. Taste is nice as well, milk chocolate, big roastiness, oats, woody astringent middle, burnt sugar and milk, some floral and light fruit, decently balanced in the finish, neat stuff. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, sugary, low carbonation, some warmth going down. Not a bad stout but nothing spectacular, although it was in pretty good company that night. Hides the alcohol well, but doesn't drop any bombs.

 774 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is what this beer was like when I drank it. I can only compare it to an experience that I had once.
This goes back to high school. I was rolling around naked with this girl and she was so so hot. She wrestled me down to the bed and slapped the shit out of me, right across my face. I was so stunned and turned on at the same time that I just went crazy.

This beer has a great pour, a dark brown pour and what really sells the overall look is the brown head. My personal pour only came to about half a finger with a very aggressive pour. I AM NOT SURE IF THIS IS THE SPECIAL HOP VERSION OR NOT.

The smell is of liquor, hops, bitter chocolate, awesomeness.

When I first tasted this specific brew it was like getting slapped right across the face. For me the alcohol was one of the first things that I tasted and it just warmed up my entire body. The next thing that I tasted was a bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavor, but really the alcohol really takes over.

The mouth feel is amazing, like drinking a really good stout, because it is a really good stout.

I like drinking stouts on cool winter nights. This beer makes me feel warm and excited. I love Imperial Stouts because they are so strong.

Overall a good beer. If I see it in the store I will buy another one. I will never drink two back to back, they would just overwhelm me. Good brew for a cold night.


 1,382 characters

Photo of bkilpatr
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a mug. 12/30/08.

Pours a deep black color with about three fingers of thick brown head. The head receded slowly leaving all kinds of sticky lacing around the glass. Aroma is roasted malt, chocolate, and hops.

Taste is intense with roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and slight coffee. A generous dose of bitter piny and floral hops kicks in for the finish. Slight grapefruit and dark fruit in the taste as well. The alcohol makes its presence in the taste.

Feel is thick and full-bodied with plenty of carbonation. Leaves a bit of stickiness around the mouth. Slight warming from the alcohol. Drinkability is pretty good for such a big beer. I wouldn't want more than one bottle though, 22 ounces is enough for me,

Overall, a pretty good stout. I'm not usually a fan of well-hopped stouts, but this one isn't bad.

 851 characters

Photo of tpd975
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to SeaBass for this one.

A: pours a very deep dark black hue with a nice dark brown head. Okay retention and some spotty lace.

S: Tons of over roasted malt. Doses of chocolate and coffee. A big hop character pushes through as well.

T: Rather bold, and nice. Big charred malt up front. Waves of chocolate and coffee come next. Light touches of dark fruit and a big bitter hoppy finish. I like it.

M: Rather full in body, smooth with a touch of alcohol burn.

D: Rather good.

 485 characters

Photo of jdklks
4.14/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a pint glass from a 22oz bottle.

A- dark black with a small medium brown head that dissipates quickly.

S- excellent. the best aspect of the beer. roasted chocolate and malts with a slight hint of coffee.

T- A very good example of the style. the roasted chocolate and malt flavors definitely stand out. The 11% abv is easily perceptible but not in a bad way. a roasty, chocolate with alcohol aftertaste. the second half of the bottle i started to notice an increasingly strong licorice taste. it seemed weird but it definitely added to the complexity and my enjoyment of it.

M- Very thick and full-bodied. smooth on the palate but a little less so going down.

D- like most all stouts, and certainly most imperials, this is a beer that you probably wont want to drink more than one or two of in a sitting. very filling and very warming.

i would certainly recommend trying out this stout, and putting one away to age for awhile.

 946 characters

Photo of raiser
1.66/5  rDev -56.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Ick! I believe Black Flag is an ant and roach spray.
I think I may have grabbed the wrong stuff by mistake.

I tried 3 separate sips of this, thinking I must be off, but I still couldn't stomach it. Every other "bad" beer I have tried has been fixable via mixology. This beer went straight to the drain. This was my FIRST ever drain pour. I couldn't fathom a way to save it. Honestly this is my favorite beer style, and the reviews are stellar, so I figure I have to have had a bad bottle.

I recall seeing one around here that said "fresh hop" on it, so I double checked to be sure this one did not and am filing this review under the normal variant. I must have drank the fresh hop version with no ill side effects because I can't seem to locate it, and I never wrote a review on this beer before.

The Color was fine for an IS, and the smell was not noxious. But I can't even begin to explain the taste. I imagine if you were to drink gasoline (or ant spray) you might get something close. I didn't keep it in my mouth long enough to gauge the mouthfeel. Ick!

 1,063 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle brought back from Las Vegas by a lady in April.

A: Mostly black with a hint of brown around the edges. A half finger of mocha head with some lacing.

S: A nice mix of chocolate and toffee. A little bit of booze as well.

T: Sweetness and chocolate up front. Tons of roasted malt. It really does not have anything to stand out and make it remarkable but it is a nice beer.

M: Full body with a syrupy body. Sticks to the back of your throat.

D: Not a bad drinker at all. The ABV is an anvil but splitting a bottle was easy enough. If you can grab it I would recommend picking up a bottle.

 596 characters

Photo of DrJay
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2008 Biergotter Tasting - Day 2. Viggo contributed this one. Thanks!
Very dark brown with garnet highlights and a giant, fluffy, dark tan cap. Pillowy head with chunky, thick lacing. Floral hops in the aroma, almost to the point of perfume, plus some citrus, roast, caramel, and nuts. Solid bitterness that ended up just a bit acrid in the finish. Lots of malt sweetness, roast, caramel, mellow hops, and alcohol towards the end. Medium bodied, a little thinner than expected, with low carbonation. Smooth, but a bit lifeless. Easy drinking for a big stout with well controlled alcohol.

 586 characters

Photo of Bung
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black/dark brown pour. Dark cream head that remained for quite a while. Lacing throughout the beer. Burnt and roast malts, baker chocolate aromas. Almost creamy mouthfeel, but enough bittering coffee and hops to keep it a bit more lively than creamy. Tastes similarly with very roasty malt and coffee. Some chocolate and very little dark fruit and charcoal. Quite full bodied. Alcohol very well hidden. Very good example of the style, without add ons like barrel aging.

 469 characters

Photo of grub
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 Biergotter Tasting, Day 2: Stouts and Belgians. Viggo brought this one, so thanks eric!

22oz bottle. sampled nov 28/08.

pours deep dark brown, not quite black, with a huge cascading light brown head. the big fluffy head drops slowly and leaves lots of clumpy lace behind.

aroma is good. light alcohol. fresh hops, more citrus than pine. bread. biscuit. big floral character too.

taste is good. just over medium bitterness level. espresso. bittersweet chocolate. bread and biscuit. a bit one-dimensional and underwhelming after the last few bottles it was compared against.

mouthfeel is good. medium carbonation level. just over medium body.

drinkability is good. decent balance, but not hte depth and complexity i was looking for.

 741 characters

Photo of magictrokini
3.1/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Oily black with brown ring on the edges. Roasted cocoa, burnt coffee, cream, and caramel. Taste is more of the same, but the hops give it a little bite. Some soy sauce tanginess, but agian, somewhat watery. Alcohol is well hidden, but still felt thin. Left me wanting more.

 273 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle acquired in trade with FlacoAlto (thanks!).

Poured a black color with brown edges and a small sized tan head. Aromas of chocolate, roast, light coffee and I was getting some orange peel. Tastes of chocolate, roast, some dark fruits, coffee, and vanilla. Light alcohol in the finish.

Notes from 8/21/07

 317 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
4.24/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ive had this beer in the cellar for about 6-8 months now and figure with a slight chill in the air it is a good time to drink it.
Pouring at cellar temp into a snifter.
The beer pours a pitch black hue with 3 inches of creamy tan head foaming up and creating a deep spongelike layer in my glass. The aroma is apparent from across the desk with some dark fruit, plums raisins wisping across. Plus I get some roasted malt notes and hints of molasses and chocolate as well. Fairly complex and robust nose on this one!
The first sip reveals a fizzy and lighter than expected body with a slightly sticky texture to the beer. The flavor is malt and booze from the start with molasses, coffee grounds, and plums mixing and letting some slightly astringent peppery alcohol on the finish. There is a little warming on the swallow and a lingering coffee bean flavor as well.
The beer is a sipper due to the booziness, but is well constructed and enjoyable. I am glad to have sampled this beer, just beware it is not for the faint of heart.

 1,030 characters

Photo of popery
4.6/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big stout with a fantastic burnt malt flavor.

The beer is one percent brown and the rest black. The head is a mocha cushion that puffed right up in my glass. I poured a good sized head that stuck around well.

The nose is sweetly burnt malt. The notes are burnt toast, bitter dark chocolate, sweet whiskey and sugar.

The flavor is brilliantly burnt malt, smoky and warm like good whiskey. The alcohol is present but meshes very well with the smoky malt flavors. The malt is bready and sweet. There might be a lingering citrus flavor. It's burnt but smooth. Marvelous.

The feel is very good. The carbonation goes well with the style and there's little stickiness from the alcohol. The drinkability only suffers from the intensity of the beer's flavor. I very much enjoyed this big, complex stout.

 800 characters

Photo of joe1510
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber

A big thank you goes out to JohnGalt1 for sending me a couple of these in a recent trade, thanks again Toby! Black Flag fills my snifter with a deep dark liquid that actually allows some light to shine through when backlit creating mahogany highlights. The beige head grew to two fingers on the pour and is dense and creamy while leaving sticky lacing down the glass after each drink. The lacing this beer leaves behind is impressive for such a high abv.

As soon as I popped the cap on this big stout I could smell the huge hoppiness. Of course there's a large stout underneath, with a solid roastiness and mild day old coffee grounds, but the Pac NW hoppiness is what takes this beer over. The stout body, although it seems a little thin, lays down a nice base for the big grapefruit pith hoppiness and spicy alcohol. This is like a black IPA on steroids.

The flavor ends up following the aroma stride for stride. I really enjoy this beer with all the great big hoppiness and would have given it a higher score if the bottle was labeled differently. For a big stout I'd expect a lot more roastiness and all around maltiness, for a "black IPA" this fits the bill. The roastiness seems to be a little toned down for the style while the grapefruit hoppiness leads the way. There's even a drizzling of caramel here and there.

The body of this stout is on the bigger side of medium with a hop bite that will stomp on your tongue with each sip. The bitterness grows and grows as this beer disappears. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

The hops in this stout are doing a number on me and I really can't get enough but the alcohol will catch up to you in a hurry. These couple glasses are going fast.

I heard this beer was big on the hops but I never expected this. I really enjoy this beer although I think it's slightly mislabeled and could stand for a little more body and roastiness. Thanks for the treat Toby, I'm anxious to see what some age does to this beer if I can keep the other bottle long enough.

 2,020 characters

Photo of BretSikkink
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Super dark black, with a tanned head. I poured aggressively and was rewarded with a couple of inches of tight foam. I'm impressed with retention, lacing is okay.

Very strong aromas of roasted barley. Plenty of dark chocolate and coffee. Hops are citric, though buried beneath the layers of malt.

Very bitter, both from citric, piney hopping and from roasted coffee malt. Good, creamy mouthfeel that coats the palate and mouth, leaving a bitter residue.

Alcohol is hot and full, although not terribly abrasive - the drinkability is lower than the best of these super-thick black beers, but not poor at all.

Solid if a little harsh - consider this is a DIPA with roasted malt rather than caramel.

 700 characters

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: snifter. pours a black-like brown. nice half inch dark tan head. great retention level and wonderful lacing.

S: coffee, toffee, some bitter chocolate, huge roasted malts. some big hop bite in the nose.

T: very sharp bite with this one. tons of roasted malts, coffee, toffee, very bitter but pleasurable. great bitters from the hops.

M: big and bold, full-bodied brew. carbonation is a little higher than I would like.

D: at 11% more than one would be rough, but it is very enjoyable if you like hoppier stouts.

 518 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque darkness with a huge double finger stiff tan head that decomposes like an ice cream float with sheets of lacing in it's wake. The smell borders on timid but is classic double stout with rich malty roasted characteristics and boozy cherry vanilla notes. Lightly carbonated, the mouth feel is full bodied with a solid tangy barrel aged character. The 11% ABV is apparent without being distracting. This one will certainly get you there. Really glad that i had the opportunity to consider this one from Jubilation Liquors in ABQ, NM.

 546 characters

Photo of DIM
3.69/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a: This was dark brown with ruby edges. It poured with probably the prettiest head I've ever seen. An extraordinarily long lasting, frothy, creamy, light mocha colored head.

s: Strangely, piny, lemony hops dominate. Some sweet chocolate malts and molasses do manange to peek through. As it warms, the 11% abv becomes apparent.

t. This reminds me of one of those new fangled black IPAs. At first this briefly tastes like an imperial stout with flavors of sweet, roasty chocolate malts. Then a huge wave of piny hops with a little lemon completely takes over. There is a little heat at the end, but not enough to suggest an 11% abv. This is by far the hoppiest stout I've tried.

m: The body isn't all that thick, but the super creamy head gives this a great feel overall.

d: After the initial hop shock wore off I began to really enjoy this. Still, have you ever reached for a glass of what you thought was water and taken a big gulp of milk? Even if you like milk, the shock can be off-putting. Overall, as tasty as this was, it was out of balance and off-style. Thanks to JohnGalt1 for the chance to try this strange brew.

 1,126 characters

Photo of cswhitehorse
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Black Flag came out as dark as night with an aggressive pour and head profile. It came through as a 3-4 finger head with some good retention. It gave the appearance a little later of the root beer float of the ice cream floating in the top of the liquid. Pretty cool.

The aroma was a dominant coffee smell with some hints of chocolate in the back drop. The taste was again up front dominated by that bitter coffee maltiness. It has a really sharp bite in the mouth for the feel as it lets you know who is boss on the way out. The abv is pretty apparent in this one. Not a bad brew but did not provide the depth of flavor I look for in a an Imperial. Definitely worth the look over though.

 693 characters

Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark and thick. Breathing in chocolate and roast and C-hops. The drink is lunch itself and so very dangerously drinkable. The throast is coated with coconut and oatmeal, roast and some chocolate and coffee. The hops are there and provide some delightful citrus but altogether undistinguishable. Full mouthfeel. Very good IS.

 330 characters

Black Flag Imperial Stout from Beer Valley Brewing Co.
3.82 out of 5 based on 233 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!