Black Flag Imperial Stout | Beer Valley Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
86
very good
233 Ratings
Black Flag Imperial StoutBlack Flag Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
233
Reviews:
146
Avg:
3.82
pDev:
12.3%
 
 
Wants:
24
Gots:
25
For Trade:
0
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Ratings: 233 |  Reviews: 146
Photo of franksnbeans
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Glugs out jet black with a big mocha head. Lots of lacing. Coffee, chocolate and big hops in the nose. Taste is huge on hops. Hoppiest impy stout I have ever had. Very roasty, a little smoke and big bittering citrus rind hops in the finish. Thin in the mouth. ABV is not even close to being felt. Defies the style and a tasty brew.

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Photo of biegaman
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Flag has a menacingly opaque appearance, a warning sign for a stout that is over 11% alcohol and over 100 bittering units. Equipped with darkness and an ink-stained foam that gloomily adorns the glass like cobwebs, it looks daunting enough to instill cowardice in the fainthearted (and excitement in the stout lover).

I thought it a tad funny that the brewery sprawled "American Style" across the label in bold, capital letters. It starts to make more sense after smelling it though - the hoppiness not only towers as tall as a coast redwood but also inspirits the leafy, resiny characteristics of the forest. It is herbal and minty, exquisitely blended with a coffee-and-cream roast.

Black Flag drinks something like a gourmet Oreo cookie that's been injected with pine serum, flower petals and citrus piths. With the oiliness and bitterness of coffee, the richness of a chocolate truffle and the delicate sweetness of Madagascar vanilla, it is a full-bodied, fulfilling stout that is, frankly, ridiculously too quaffable for its (supposed) strength.

The combination of Warrior, Chinook, Columbus, and Cascade leaves hardly any stone unturned in the realm of hop flavours. From sticky, sappy resins to sharp-cutting citrus to leafy, botanical florals, there isn't a single part of the palate untouched by some form of hoppy taste or texture. And all this despite the use of ample roasted and dark malts.

Black Flag is hidden treasure. Like most Oregon microbreweries, Beer Valley brands are rarely found outside of the state (and is easy to overlook within it). Rest assured, however, it is pure gold and every bit the beer as Great Divide's Yeti or Founder's Breakfast Stout (both of which it reminds me of). A stout to truly shiver yer timbers! Damn fine grog!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."

--H.L. Mencken

Closed casket black beneath two fingers of dark brown sugar colored foam. Since crown cracking produced a barely audible 'pffft', I gave the beer a vigorous pour. Retention is fairly good and glass coverage ain't too bad either... especially given the ABV.

The aroma is chock full of all the good things that result when barley is roasted to within an inch of its life. I can appreciate dark chocolate fudge, a shot of espresso, blackstrap molasses and citric hops. Let's see how many of the estimated 100+ IBUs are still kickin' after close to one year in the bottle.

Black Flag is good beer. Maybe even very good beer. But it isn't great beer because the malt:hop ratio is slanted too much toward the latter. Not that this American double stout is too bitter, but there's a grapefruit juice quality that gets in the way of the malt love. And beer of this style is all (or almost all) about the malt love.

Although the malt backbone is big, it isn't... shiver me timbers!... big. The fruity flavor of the hops (Warrior, Chinook, Columbus and Cascade) is too prominent, which leads to a malt profile that is less than complex. Beer Valley might have invented the world's first Black DIPA. That's good news for us hopheads. Not so good news for the rest of you.

The alcohol is impressively well-buried. Only the beginnings of tongue numbing and gullet warming betray the double-digit ABV. There's a great deal of mouthfilling volume, without a ton of thick and chewy stickiness.

Black Flag Imperial Stout would be better if Beer Valley Brewing eased back on the hops and added a bit more malt. It isn't "a beer drinking experience like no other other malted beverage on the planet" (website hyperbole), but it is a delicious stout if you're a quart low on lupulins. Just be prepared for a hefty shot of grapefruit juiciness.

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Photo of arizcards
4.11/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber back in late October at AJ's for $10.99.

Beer poured black as night with a small dark brown head that is not retaining well. Nose is a very good combination of sweet malts, heavy dose of chocolate, and a little hint of coffee. Taste is similar to the nose. Starts off on the sweet side with a generous amount of the sweet chocolate malts and is nicely balanced by a 100 IBU blast of hops that are not that overly noticeable. Mouthfeel is extremely smooth and the beer is medium to full bodied to give it a nice chewy feel. Overall drinkability is good. I went into this beer with some reservations about the 11.5 abv but the alcohol is pretty well hidden. This is definitely worth a try but the price tag is prohibitive for any repeat purchases.

Second Review 1-1-08

Score
A=4.5
S=3.5
T=4.0
M=4.5
D=4.0

Purchased a bomber of batch number 2 in late August at AJ's for 8.99.

Beer poured black as night into my snifter. A nice creamy brown head evolved, leaving a stick lacing behind. Nose is extremely malty with not many other notes detected. Taste is an over the top blast of malts and hops, with a hoppy and creamy coffee like finish. Alcohol is warming in the after taste. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but is extremely smooth. Drinkability is good considering as the high abv is not noticeable on the palate. This is a pretty nice beer that is worthy of a try.

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Photo of Buebie
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A friend brought this home from Orogon to share.

Poured from the bomber into a pint glass. Black in color, 1 inch of off white head. Very thick, long lasting head that finally settles after 10 minutes to a half inch cap of retention. Thick full coverage lace.
Black in color, no light penetration.

Aroma is full of sweet chocolate extract, cake batter and a mild boozie after dinner drink. Very Mild hops.
Taste is much more robust, providing a large unexpected burst of piney hops that just keeps coming and bitters to the very end!
Chocolate upfront with roasted grains and some warming that just goes into hop explosion. Amazing brew.
Hempy, pine resin deliciousness.

Feel is slick with mild creaminess and modest carbonation.

This is one beer that completely took me by surprise. Very good.

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Photo of janubio
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml. bottle, bought in 2d2despuma in Barcelona. Black colour with a big brown foam. Smell of coffee, liquorice and chocolate, with spiciy notes (pepper, nutmeg? Full body, thick palate. Taste of coffee, liquorice, bitter almonds and spices. This a great one.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not much fizz when opened. poured into a DFH snifter. Jet black in color. Very slight cocoa head on top. Decent aroma-quite hoppy and fairly citrusy that I wasnt expecting. A lot of hops for the style flavor wise. Good deep roasted flavor. Lingering hop bitterness in the finish. Really good mouthfeel considering the abv-almost hard to believe. Very drinkable. Maybe a bit too heavy handed hop wise for an Imperial Stout but still a damn fine and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Strong aroma has a firm overtone of sweet chocolate, like getting a good whiff of a Hershey bar, along with smoky, coffee and nutty hints. It pours a mouth-watering sable that is opaque save at the very edges and has a thick, fluffy, persistent light tan head that leaves some substantial lacing. Smoky flavor has tones of coffee, licorice, molasses and nuts and is subtly sweet - and has quite the alcohol kick! Texture is fizzy and lively, a little oily, very pleasing. This one is worth seeking.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.06/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another one I received courtesy of Unclejedi that I had been waiting to try out. This weekend decided to pop it open and see what it was made of. The pour was jet black as night. With a thick look to it as it sludged into the glass. A very nice three finger high tan head of lace then rose up over the top and hung on forever. Really thick looking with tons of side glass webs and a sticky presence to it. Very nice look here.

The aroma was very complex with a rich mix of malts and alcohol. The alcohol came across very clearly, and you had to let it warm to really be able to get the full depth of this one in. Lots of dark baker's chocolate, hints of vanilla and roasted coffee were mingling around in it. The flavor followed suit almost perfectly. The start was a nice rich chocolate and coffee like flavor that quickly became over run with unbalanced alcohol. A little harsh, but they cannot all be blended well. The subtle flavors underneath did not begin to show themselves for a quite a little while later, with some nice touches of licorice, vanilla, and molasses starting to come through. This was a very sweet stout, just a little to hot right now. The finish was filled with a musty bitter bite that was kind of odd and ill placed, but there was not much you could do about it. A very full-bodied stout, there was certainly no lack of carbonation here, as it never felt as though it was flat in any way. I did polish off this bottle, however it was a little rough. This one clocked in at over 11% and you felt every last drop of it. Really a very big stout.

Overall, this was not bad at all, though there are certainly better examples of the style out there. On looks alone though, this one is awesome, I just think there were a little too much hops thrown in the finish and the alcohol was very distracting, not being as mellowed as I thought it would be. Nevertheless, it was still a very solid beer, and if you have it around you, I would go out and try it.

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Photo of akorsak
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 650 mL capped bottle courtesy of boolshot.

A: The ale is quite dark, dare I say it is pitch black. The ale opened with nary a hiss and revealed little carbonation on pour. As it settles, a cappucino-colored haze develops on top of the beer.

S: The scent is strong on thick, bread-like chocolates and deep wine-like complexity. The aroma makes you anticipate the taste.

T: The taste is quite acrid and bitter initially, providing a bit of tartness (not a brett-like tartness, mind you) that transitions into a burnt malt chocolate flavor. The dry malty flavor has a compliment in a bit of hop bitterness that seems to have a medicinal amarillo hop presence. I find the hops to be rather strong, although well blended into the malt body. The lasting aftertaste is a slightly bitter hoppiness mixed with burnt malts. I am pleased primarily because other reviews were uninspiring, causing me to expect something worse.

M: The mouthfeel is hoppy and burnt, a combination that exemplifies an American double stout.

D: The big abv makes one bomber enough for one night, but I'd gladly snag another bottle if given the chance. The beer has the ability to hold its own with bigger, more sought-after stouts.

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Photo of rkuhnel
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz bottle this poured a black color with a fat rich an head, nose of roasted malts and chocolate. Mouthfeel is smooth and medium. Flavor is dominated by smoky roasted malts, some chocolate and lights hops. Dry finish and some alcohol. Overall quite enjoyable and good to the last drop.

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Photo of Jredner
4.04/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very nice aroma has hints of beef stock, molasses, dark chocolate, rum soaked raisins and blueberries and espresso. The pours is almost silly...gloppy like engine sludge. No head even bothers showing up. Would look so much nicer if I could tease a small head out of it. The first sip reveals very low carbonation, but fairly strong flavor presence, black chocolate, beef stock, burnt grains galore, more rummy blueberries, but the raisins don’t show up. Big esspresso/chocolate blast in the finish with a solid salvo of hops adding a seperate, but equally intense, flavor point. The far aftertaste reminds me of those dark chocolate Cadbury bars with the blueberries in them.
<P>
The utter stillness isn’t a plus for me. A dose of carbonation, even a tad...(this beer is 10 year old barley wine still)...would greatly improve this beer. Despite that the flavor concentration and range is pretty damn decent and this could be many people’s idea of a great Imperial as it grabs your tastebuds and slaps them around pretty roughly, but with a certain sense of style. Personally with a little more carbonation this gets 5/5 for mouthfeel, 4.4 to 5/5 with a head and another 2 points in overall. This could have been a phenomenal stout.

Makes you wonder how this would age...it can’t get stiller. I almost want to force carbonate it and see what I get.

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

Great Label! It's black, and aggressive, just like the beer!

As might be expected, it pours an opaque black body beneath a thick finger of light tan froth that recedes into a 1/2" thich creamy cap. The head retention is excellent, and it maintains a solid surface covering throughout the pint. The lacing is almost as good. It leaves wide curtains of patterned lace with the first settling of the head, and then thin creamy rings that blend into an almost solid curtain as you go.

The nose offers a deep roastiness that's just a bit charred, a mild note of red fruitiness, and some restrained grassy/piney hops.

The flavor is much fuller than the aroma suggests, and it's kind of flip-flopped. It's loaded with American hops that are piney, softly citrusy, grassy, leafy, and even a bit herbal and minty. Combined with the roasted malts, they also lend a delicate note of black licorice.

It starts hoppy, in a big way, and the maltiness takes a back seat. You almost don't even get the roastiness at first. Then, in the swallow, it's dark caramel and roasty side becomes more apparent. The hops stick in there a bit, but they're faded enough that you can get the malt notes.

It's anchored by a bold bitterness, and that cuts through it and lingers in the finish.

Overall I find it an interesting and compelling beer, but at the same time its "take no prisoners" aggression is a little bit much for extended drinkability.

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

Pours a two finger light brown head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Very dark brown color, no highlights. Nose is baked chocolate. Flavor is baked chocolate with hints of molasses and caramel. High ABV is hidden. $9.99 for a 22oz bottle from Liquorama Upland, CA.

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

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.

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

A; Poured a deep brown almost black but in the light as it poured it was dark brown. Had a nice tannish head which looked very good.Lots of bubbles and lacing

S: Chocolate, sharp booze notes on the nose, roasted malts, coffee

T: Toasted and burnt grains, cocoa, sharp booze feel, the end has a battle of chocolate and coffee, not your fufu coffee either, more like my gramps Folgers!

M: Nice carbonation, warming, full bodied

D: Great drink and easy to drink.

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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.

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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.

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

2008 vintage - how did this one get lost in the cellar?

A - Pours black - simple - no highlights. Mocha colored head formation, about 1 to 2mm - lots of lacing.

S - Bittersweet chocolate, a little bit of roast. Overall fairly restrained.

T - Starts off light, sweet, smooth, some chocolate flavors and just a hint of grainy/husky flavors. Mid-stream brings it into balance, a little bit of bitterness but not much hopping. Still very chocolate like. Finishes sweet, sticky, and a hint of alcohol in the aftertaste.

M - Full bodied with light to moderate carbonation. Very sticky, huge malt bill here. Alcohol warmth is there but light for a 11% beer.

O/D - A worthwhile stout - I like it. Now I wonder what it would have tasted like if I hadn't let it age so long. Not very filling, a surprise for the size of this beer.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz brown bottle, 240706 21 D1 1855 inkjetted beneath the front label.

Imperial Stout, American Style. Brewed and bottled by Santa Fe Brewing Co., Santa Fe, NM. Beer Valley is currently contract brewing their flagship beer while awaiting the arrival of their brewery equipment.

Thick, viscous pour of solid, oily black. Minimal group of soapy, off white and caramel bubbles. From the depths of the glass a shimmering, oil slick color arrives on the surface before transforming itself into a fine cast of head dust. Gauzy lace spiderwebs the glass. Rich aromas of coffee, bittersweet chocolate, granular sugar, and toffee. Viscous and sweet, deep roasted coffee spiked with liquid sugar up front and a long lingering sweet bitey roasted bitterness in the finish. Warming alcohol underneath it all pushes along the bitter chocolate. Whole pine cone sappiness meshes with the roasted bite in the finish. The carbonation is severely lacking, as in virtually nonexistent, and this lends a slackness to the otherwise full bodied chewiness. This is big and bold, but perhaps a tad sweet. Had the carbonation level been bumped up, it would have worked to address this. Black Flag is not inexpensive, $11, but has lots of promise and I admire the balls it takes to lead out with an Imperial Stout as the flagship. I am looking forward to future bottles if the carbonation issue is addressed and am wondering what Beer Valley has in store next.

Big thanks to the AW from Oro Valley, AZ for securing the last bottle on the shelf. You know who you are.

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Photo of shelby415
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Reappropriated
4.01/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is a very good beer, with layers of solid flavor that is often lacking in other stouts. I would definitely recommend this beer, as you get hints of chocolate and spice, with a little earthy vibe, then the a definite hoppy flavor on the back-end. One of the things I complain about is stouts sometimes being boring and one notes, but this is not one of them, this is loaded with flavors, both subtle and not so subtle.

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Photo of olradetbalder
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev +4.7%

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