Black Albert | De Struise Brouwers

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Black AlbertBlack Albert

Brewed by:
De Struise Brouwers

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Originally brewed exclusively for Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, ME.

Added by brewandbbq on 08-23-2007

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Ratings: 1,777 |  Reviews: 856
Photo of clegolfski
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 0 on draft at Ebenezer's
Belgian Beer Fest

Review from memory and light notes.

Wow. I recently had a fresh Black Albert in a bottle and thought it was great. This however was mind blowing. It had all the flavor characteristics of the Black Albert I had but it was was cooled down. The big fruity dark cocoaness with the belgian yeast must was there. But the alcohol was present but not nearly as overwhelming.

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Photo of trbergman
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

330mL bottle poured into a cervoise.

A - Pours very dark brown with ruby highlights and a half inch of dense, mocha-colored head.

S - Aromatic, with cocoa, raisin, fig, and a whiff of alcohol.

T - Taste mostly follows the nose, with rich chocolate flavor and dark fruits - raisin, fig - and sour cherry. Hints of hazelnut, clove and cardamom, as well as some minor oxidation. Hop bitterness doesn't leap out of the glass, but it's quite assertive. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden.

M - Absolutely perfect, although what else would you expect for a bottle conditioned Belgian imperial stout?

D - A fantastic beer, although I don't think it has the same revisit value as other top imperial stouts. Nevertheless, a must try for fans of both stouts and Belgian beers.

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Photo of rawthar
4.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. This is NOT one of the two batch zeroes I picked up from the DeStruise schoolhouse brewery in Oostvleteren, but a bottle picked up from TJ's in Paoli a few months ago, aged in my cellar in the meantime. No datestamp, but I assume this is from a more recent batch, and has a slightly different label.

A- Cherry red light filters through the pour stream, but once settled a deep void of blackness forms in the glass, with an espresso-colored, nitrogen-like body of carbonation spontaneously combusting from the abyss to form a hearty, thick head, much more intense, stubborn, and lacy than one would expect from the high abv, which is what pushes this from the 4.5 default appearance that we all give to a RIS to a 5.0.

S- Sweet, sharp tsunami of a megamalty, boozy, spirit-like onslaught. I can tell that this is going to be the good stuff, even if the aroma calms a bit over time.

T- Uber boozy at first, but this mellows surprisingly quickly, nonetheless, this is a sipping brew with the intensity of an Avery Mephistopheles. No doubt this is an extreme beer. Lots of roasted black cocoa, sharp sweetness on the tongue is immediately overcome by burnt firewood bitterness. Pairs very well with Belgian chocolates from Neuhaus on the Grand Place in Brussels.

M- Thick and oily and enough alcohol sting to let you know you're drinking it.

D- As mentioned above, a true sipper, and yet this glass seems to be more and more empty every time I look at it, at a very surprising rate. I think my wife is sneaking sips as I watch Always Sunny and write this review.

Lives up to the hype, not that this is the most hyped beer, but it has its followers for sure. And if Batch zero is even better, I'm really looking for the right day to crack one. I also have extremely high hopes for my Cuvee Delphine.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich, dark black color with only a faint ring of brown head. Scent is very vinous with notes of dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and tobacco. Taste is more forward of the dark chocolate and coffee, dark fruit rounds out the taste along with an earthy quality. Both scent and taste are quite complex and offer different angles on the beer. Medium bodied, maybe a touch thinner than expected from the bold flavors, but still smooth. Overall a great tasting beer, that if it wasnt for the high price, would be a regular.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap poured into a Barik tulip at Ebenezer's Pub during the 6th annual Belgian beer fest.

Damn, black with a dark brown tight head with lots of bubbles. Nose is malty, rich & sweet with lots of coffee & Chocolate.

Very sweet and thick, malty with a bit of booze but it's pretty subtle. Sweet and drinkable. Better than the bottles I've had in the past. It's much creamier and more palatable I felt like some of the older vintages I had were a bit harsher.

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Photo of UnDeadly
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, pint glass. Lord I need a snifter...

Appearance - Pours black, though slightly translucent. Of course, in glass you cannot see through it. Beautiful, mocha brown foam that is persistent through drinking. Heavy lacing.

Smell - This is a stout, right? I get tart vanilla strongly in the aroma. Also notes of milk chocolate. But still, that citric tartness is very interesting. My girlfriend says it smells like one of those chocolate orange candies...I don't think she is too far off.

Taste - Geez, where to begin. Complex notes of bourbon and chocolate come through the front, melting sweetly in the middle with a nice, bitter finish. I can detect some light notes of orange-citrus and vanilla. Also a slight, SLIGHT sour note, its great.

Mouth Feel - Creamy, smooth, and does not burn at all like a 13% should. You can feel it slightly, but considering its 13%, I'm impressed.

Drinkability - ABV would be the only thing keeping me from drinking this puppy all night. Smooth, balanced, delicious.

Overall, this was very much a wow beer. Unique flavors, but without deviating too much from the stated style. I think I'll snag a few more and see how they age...

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Photo of nataku00
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into a snifter. Very dark beer that only shows tinges of brown when the glass is held up to the light. A small amount of brown head that clings actively to the glass. Looks very syrupy and thick while pouring, with minimal carbonation.

At 40°F out of the fridge, smells of dark brown sugar and dried plum and a bit of roasted malt. Not quite what I was expecting from a stout, but definitely some Belgian strong dark ale influence.

Good level of bitterness, with dark roasted coffee upfront, then some of the alcohol burn in the aftertaste. Very thick beer that really coats the inside of your mouth and tongue. As it warms, the beer sweetens up as the dark brown sugar softens the harsh bitterness, and gives you a little dark chocolate in the finish.

As with a lot of imperial stouts, this Belgian 'royal stout' is very much a sipping beer. I can only imagine this getting better if aged as the alcohol harshness was very present.

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Photo of doppelmeup
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My 250th review, and it was a good one! (The beer, that is...)

Incredible appearance-pitch black, half inch thick tan head that sits like a pillow above the brew. Slowly fades to a thin layer that sticks around.

Boozy aroma, with dark fruit, prunes and raisins.

Malty, sweet, dark fruits, chocolate, but also very boozy, especially as it warms.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for a beer of this magnitude. Crisp finish with some lingering cocoa-like flavors. Warm from the ABV.

Very impressive brew. Too strong to drink more than one at a time, but a great one to savor. Get it if you see it!

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Photo of nickd717
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review transcribed from notes dated 2-2-2009.

Paid $10 each for a couple of 330ml bottles. The "extreme beer" movement has really swept well-crafted but not over-the-top beers like this one to the wayside in a lot of people's eyes.

Pours black and fairly thick with a tan head.

Aroma is roasted malts, coffee, and some candi sugar.

Flavor is interesting. Markedly Belgian, yet still an imperial stout, with roast, molasses, Belgian yeast, bitter chocolate, slight vinous notes, and a bitter hop finish.

Fairly thick on the mouthfeel, and slick, with a good level of carbonation.

A winner in my eyes, but of course there are naysayers.

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Photo of kk73
4.41/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 330ml bottle into my glass.

A - Jet black and looks thick with a one finger coco colored head that dissipates very slowly. A slight reddish tinge as I hold it up to the light. Some lacing.

S - Aroma of dark chocolate covered cherries, raisins, plum, and dark roasted malts.

T - Wow, not what I expected. Very subtle, bittersweet chocolate and earthy notes. Deep, dark roasted malt with a very pleasant dry finish.

B - Creamy, and decadent mouthfeel. The abv is well hidden.

D - Very drinkable, almost surprised at how good it was to me. Read the reviews and maybe my expectations were low because many reviewers rated this between a RIS and a Quad. But this was top notch IMO. The heat if any was well hidden if any, but would still classify this as a sipper.

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Photo of BobZ
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz. Bottle poured into my Aventinus Eisbock glass.

Appearance: Almost black in color. Very little head both initially and over time; however, there is some very nice lacing.

Smell: Mild, hard to gauge, toasted malt comes through.

Taste: My god, incredible, rich and tasty, exceptional, malt, caramel, coffee, chocolate, the Struise Belgian yeast, and a perfect amount of bitterness. All of this in perfect, and I mean perfect, balance. Urbain has masterfully crafted a world class stout. The alcohol provides some pleasant warmth but is otherwise well masked.

Mouth feel: Extremely smooth and creamy, brilliant.

Drinkability: So smooth, so tasty, I could drink this beer all night!
The best stout I have tasted to date.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a one finger tan head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving traces lace. Black color, no highlights, ton of yeast left in bottle. Good carbonation and heavy bodied. Molasses and chocolate nose. Flavor is sweet and bitter molasses. Dry chocolate finish. Tastes better than the first tap at Ebenezers Pub in Aug 2007. High ABV is completely hidden. Way overpriced at $10.99 for a 330ml bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT.

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Photo of kirkpjr
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 14. Poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a thick black with two fingers of chocolate colored head. The color is pitch black but not quite oily thick. Head coats the edges of the glass in thick, creamy sheets - but little lace is left behind as the beer drinks down.

S: First thing I pick up is dark, sweet fruits immediately. The booze in the nose kinda tames into a maple pancake-ish smell if that makes sense. Raisins, figs, and molasses are notable scents. Very rich, but not too hot for the ABV.

T: What an interesting stout! The Belgian yeast strain (I assume) lends spice and a subtle sweetness typical of other Belgian Strong Darks and Pales. Just the right amount of chocolate and dark fruits fill in the rest of the sweetness. Also an apple twang in the finish that is a little drying. Very tasty.

M: Slightly thick in body with moderate carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

D: Dangerously drinkable for the ABV. Was recommended this one at the Charleston Beer Exchange, living up to everything I was told it would be. Wish I could get this one here - but then again with the hefty price tag, maybe not.

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Photo of ptykozoon
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

*batch 14* Pours a mysterious dark color, maybe black, or is it deep brown, do I see dark purple? In any event when a beer is this color it's bound to be good. A small head rises that is the typical caramel color. Retention & lacing are decent.

I smell booze, apples, dark fruits, and a touch of chocolate.

Interesting flavor, it tastes very much belgian with flavors that are complex and not as easy to spot as say - chocolate or bourbon. There are floral hints in this brew, malty dessert flavors and a finely tuned bitterness; almost a dryness. All in all not bad but not too tasty either, it leaves something to be desired. I think they could have cut out some of the alcohol and it would have been much more inviting and better balanced.

Mouthfeel is thick thick thick and slightly abrasive. This Russian is a man's drink; powerful sums it up best. It's hard on the throat but I still can't believe its 13 bloody percent alcohol.

Drinkability is a horrible factor to rate but I doubt I would, or could drink another.

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Photo of domtronzero
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle. Batch #14. Poured into a Duvel Green tulip glass.

Dark black, near opaque with a large, lingering tan head. A little lacing left on the sides of the glass.

Smells of chocolate, cherries, and a little alcohol. Faint roast similar to coffee. Estery with a little bit of fruity aromas. This batch isn't nearly as strong as the previous batches that I've had.

Dark chocolate malt flavors along with a nice fruity bouquet flavors up front. Dried stone fruits, raisins. Yeasty esters of pears and a little bit of apple. Hop bitterness is right on allowing a very pleasant finish. The dark malts accentuate this, but don't have the acrid, burnt flavor that typically associates itself with these types of beer.

Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. No astringency and the finish is dry, with a lingering aftertaste of dark malts.

Overall an excellent beer, but a little less spectacular than previous batches; however, this is still an excellent Belgian-influenced RIS. Very good drinkability for such a big beer.

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Photo of lou50rp
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark, almost black. The head is khaki colored and lasts.
Smells of dark chocolate, dark roast coffee and cherry.
Tastes as the smell promises which a touch of bitterness. Complex taste.
Mouth feel is medium and bit a syrup. tends to coat the mouth a bit.
Drinkability is good. Nice sipping beer. Tried it because of its notoriety, but becasue of cost and ABV will not be a regular.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle pours a black color with some brown highlighting around the edges. Light brown foam comes and goes without much fanfare but does leave a nice sheen and collar.

Nose is lots of roasty coffee and light berry fruitiness. Alcohol for sure and perhaps a twinge of sour malt.

Taste has plenty of yeasty esters to go along with the roasted malt and coffee. Bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder also come into play. Just enough sweetness but finishes quite dry. Carbonation is fine-bubbled with a very nice mouthfeel, although not thick for the style...lets settle for solidly medium. Probably not worth the $11 for such a small bottle, but damn tasty nonetheless. Drinkability is high, the 13% ABV is barely noticeable.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a deep black with a medium tan head that slowly fades leaving a bit of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is vanilla, cocoa, and dark ripe fruits. Excellent aromas that really remind me of Ten Fidy and other nice imperial stouts.

T: The flavors are dark ripe fruits mixed in with a lot of cocoa and vanilla flavors. Man this is great stuff.

M: The feel is thick and viscous just how a RIS should be.

D: I would drink this all the time if it was available to me. Damn good stout. The ABV is a bit high to drink more than a few if you were so inclined.

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Photo of bonkers
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured from a 11.2 ounce bottle into a SA perfect pint glass. Jet black with a thin tan head, slight lacing. Lots of chocolate and dark fruit on the nose, there is also a slight alcohol warmth. The flavor is full of dark fruit, slight coffee, and slightly boozey. It must have a ton of malt to cover its 100 IBU, not bitter at all. It has a pleasant lingering chocolate loaded finish. A full bodied beer that is dangerously smooth, given its 13% ABV. A great beer, but at 12 bucks a bottle very overpriced.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Lot codes are notched, but no idea what they stand for.

(A)- Pours a pitch black color that produced a great 2+ finger fluffy brown head with some good retention to it; surprising and impressive considering the massive 13% ABV. Left bits of lacing behind.

(S)- A rich roasted profile with a dry baked bread component. Bits of molasses, brown sugar, caramel, and licorice on the nose.

(T)- Pretty much like the smell was. A good roasted profile. A larger raisin-like sweetness as opposed to molasses and brown sugar from the smell.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Rich and a good profile for the style. Good ABV integration; there is a light boozy warmth, but it nowhere near seems like 13%.

(D)- A solid to great RIS. Not sure how old or fresh this is, but its a great example of the style. Rich, and a good roasted malt and raisin profile. The ABV gets to you after awhile, but this is a sipper anyways. Been wanting to try this one for awhile and I am glad I did!

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Photo of Phelps
3.58/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Looks: impenetrably black. A tightly-packed head the color of ginger sticks around for an impressive amount of time. Spattered layers of lace are left when it finally does go.

Smells: interesting. A lot of medium-roast coffee and vanilla creamer, with some burnt sugar, hazelnut and some tangy old cocoa nibs.

Tastes: dusky. Dark chocolate, tangy figs. Lots of sweet dark fruits. An acrid roastiness is only barely noticeable as it builds on the back of the tongue. I'd love some more roast, as this is a bit too sweet for me.

Feels: filling. Medium carbonation, medium body and almost creamy. Very nice.

Drinks: too sweet. I need more roast! If only there was more black and less Albert.


Batch 0, bottle shared by ejyoung. Into a tulip.

Inescapable black. A one-inch head the color of brown sugar sets up camp for quite a while. Some floaties are noticeable on the sides of the glass. 4

Weird nose — I can't put my finger on the odd note. Jalapeno? Burnt Cigarettes? Whatever it is, it’s very off-putting. Get past that, though, and the stuff is nice: dark chocolate, vanilla, toast. 2.5

The weird vegetal thing is in the flavor too, though it's taken on a slightly fruitier flavor. It’s almost as if grapes were blended into the beer along with their stems. Behind that I get Belgian yeast notes, dates and other fruity stuff that emerges even more if you let the beer sit in your mouth for a while. There’s just a hint of cocoa to meet the raisins, figs, strawberries and pears. 3.5

Medium body is pretty viscous, with very light, tingly carbonation. Fizz is low and alcohol is almost unnoticeable. 4

As with later versions of Black Albert, I can’t really tell if I loved or hated this. It has its good and bad qualities. Maybe I’m just not a fan of the style. 3.5

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Photo of augustgarage
4.01/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 330mL bottle into my Bruery tulip. Batch 14; Lot B 6 BB - many thanks to ShogoKawada for sending this my way before it became available in stores over here.

Listening to the Brabançonne as instructed on the label while enjoying this - although the hymn is only about a minute long, and this certainly takes quite a bit longer to finish...

Seal brown, impenetrable liquid, with a hefty sandy brown cap which recedes to a thick mocha-like finger. Superb retention, especially for the ABV. Thick cakey tendrils of lace are glued to the walls. Glassy viscous tears slide between the spaces in the foam.

Barrel aging hits you right away in the nose - with vanilla, and a hint of char backing cocoa nibs, stewed fruit, and maybe a touch of licorice.

The barrel notes continue as flavors on the palate, but a rich maltiness comes through as well - smokey and roast notes join with a faint oxidative port-like flavor along with citrus and even kiwi. Some vaguely medicinal undertones alternately suggest cherry syrup and coffee. Chocolate, maybe a hint of tobacco, tarragon, and brown butter (not diacetyl) emerge in the finish. Dark, yeasty, and ester-laden - a complex brew.

Full bodied, dense, chewy, and effervescent. Lightly astringent, warming but not hot, and tingly.

Not sure if I would pay $1/oz for this to revisit this, but I'm glad I was able to sample it...

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Photo of TheJollyHop
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Style: Deep, dark, opaque black body with two fingers of milk chocolate colored frothy head that later compacts to a solid finger.

Cinnamon, cocoa powder, burnt chocolate, toasted bread, and plums.

Creamy, toasted grain front with a cherry and dried fruit middle that finishes dark chocolate with a hint of vanilla and caramel. Alcohol heat throughout the taste; reminiscent of a chocolate liqueur. Roasted malt, chocolate malt, and hops imparting coffee like astringency on the finish.

Opinion: Aroma is not unique or impressive. Appearance is very nice as the head has great retention. A ridiculous amount of yeast sediment remains; foolishly I poured a good amount in my glass unknowingly. The taste is magnificent given the balance. Robust but tasteful alcohol presentation. Roasted malt astringency and bitterness that lingers semi-long without any harshness.

This is surprisingly drinkable for its ABV. A creamy medium body with a medium to high carbonation is pleasant but not outstanding. Nevertheless, one would be hard pressed to find a more drinkable "big beer."

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been eying this beer for quite a while. It became one of my most sought after beers in my wants. MMAJYK pulled through big time with this kick ass extra in the Blind Beers BIF. Thanks again Marc!

A- To my surprise this beer really tries to sustain a head. There are many factors mounting against this, and they eventually win, but the huge abv, thick body and low carbonation really just compromise on a really wide collar and wide film of wispy bubbles. A little bit of the dark tan collar gets stuck to the glass. The beer is obviously fat and black.

S- After reading the label and learning a little bit about this beer, one would be foolish to assume this beer is an every day stout. Since "Belgian Royal Stout" is not a real classification it settles for Russian Imperial Stout. I feel Belgian Royal better suits this because it is nothing like an RIS.

I initially thought this might be infected until I read some reviews. The nose is tart and berry like at times. The yeast does crazy stuff, even bringing in some funk in the form of a wet hay smell. Lots of dark fruits, cherries and stuff, grassy hops and a crazy acidic character.

T- The taste is the same. A crazy acidic nature to it that rides over chocolate malts and some roast. It adds a tartness that borders on sour. I had to read some reviews to check the validity of this. Its very interesting. Its bitter, but actually fairly balanced. Alcohol obviously plays a part here.

Not your average big stout at all. Its very interesting. Ill leave this on my wants list. I would welcome another bottle.

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Photo of urwithdave
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mrstevens for sharing. Poured into my ccb snifter.

A- pours black in color with some brown highlights when held up to light. 2 fingers worth of a mocha head. Decent retention and nice legs.

A- dark fruits, licorice, dark chocolate, a hint of hops, and some booze.

T- really nice! Dark chocolate is the first thing that I get. The dark fruits come into play with figs and raisins. Molasses and licorice are in the mix. There are times where I get a hint of vanilla. I really enjoy this brew as it starts to warm to room temperature. The alcohol is noticeable but isn't real hot.

M- thicker side of medium. Good level of carbonation. I get a slight burn on the way down.

D- a sipper that I would sip on anytime!

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Black Albert from De Struise Brouwers
4.24 out of 5 based on 1,777 ratings.
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