Black Storm | The Brew Keeper

very good
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Black StormBlack Storm

Brewed by:
The Brew Keeper
Ohio, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Sammy on 09-24-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 22 |  Reviews: 21
Reviews by hoppymeal:
Photo of hoppymeal
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with one of the darkest heads I've ever seen on a stout. A good sized ruddy and very dark brown head recedes to a ring. Some strong roasted maltiness, and a good amt of tanginess in the aroma, a hint of dry dusty chocolate as well. Taste is a nice mix of tanginess and nearly tart roastiness on top of a big sweet malty backbone. There is a graham cracker and vanilla wafer like flavor as well that is certainly unique and works very well with the stout. Chocolate maltiness and a bite of alcohol in the taste as well. Mouthfeel shows a good sized body, rich and malty chewiness, cut well by the acidic roastiness and a bite of alcohol at the back of the throat in the finish. A delicious stout, wish I had a better descriptor for the graham like flavor, but it def makes this delicious, big stout even more interesting. Wasn't able to pick up much from the bananas in this one, but definitely a great beer i'm glad I got a chance to sample it. Thanks George for the opportunity.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the brewpub. Dark colour,some lace, fresh, not much aroma. The taste is stouty and chocolate mostly. A bit tart, average mouthfeel. However representative of the style and a base hit winner. High Alcohol is high and brought out flavour.

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Photo of prototypic
2.76/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Black Storm pours a very dark, chocolate fudge color. It's almost opaque, but not quite. There are faint burgundy highlights at the edges with a little light behind it. It's topped with a mocha colored head that stands just under a finger tall. It's quick to recede. Perhaps due to the abv. Lacing was sticky, but on the light side.

The nose is actually below average. It's very lacking in terms of strength. It does have a malty presence that smells equal parts chocolate and roasted malts. It actually smells a little acrid or charred. There's a hint of coffee, but not much. Alcohol is noticeable, but the abv is high. No huge surprise there. This is disappointing. There's really not much going on here. Very disappointing for such a big stout.

The flavor is average, at best. It kicks off with a burnt or charred flavor that's not good at all. There's a little chocolate and roasted malt flavor, but not enough to overcome it. Coffee is definitely buried in the mix. There might be a little, but not much at all. There's some molasses, and maybe a spice or two. Perhaps pepper and anise. They add nice depth, but aren't enough to save it. The big positive here is that alcohol is masked well. This really doesn't taste like 11.5% at all.

Black Storm has a light-medium body that's much too thin for such a big stout. It's crying out for more. Carbonation is relatively light, but it's still too thin to feel smooth. Drinkability is below average. Despite the fact that this is a wolf in sheep's clothing, it's not very good. I like deceptively strong, but only when it tastes good.

I'm disappointed in Black Storm. This needs quite a bit of work. The flavor is just off with the strong burnt or charred flavor. It's distracting and too prevalent. It's also way too thin. Big, badass stouts need big, badass bodies. This one doesn't have it. Calling this one average might be a stretch. Unless the recipe is tweaked, I wouldn't suggest picking up a bottle.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, says 11.5% ABV on the label. Served in a snifter, the beer pours black with a half inch brown head what went away quickly. There's also a decent amount of lacing left on the glass. Aroma is roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, coffee and some licorice. Taste is pretty much the same as the aroma. There's also some dark fruit and charred malt noticable too. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's slick and coating, and also has moderate carbonation. Drinkability is very good, it's smooth and goes down easy. Also, the high ABV isn't noticable in the aroma or taste at all. Overall I think this is a good enough brew.

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Photo of endincolorado
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance- Pours really thick and black. Dark tan head, which is fairly small, as retention seems to be fairly low. Thick, lightly caramel-colored lace.

Smell- Strong, smoky (almost burnt) aromas. Something is a little strange here. If there's coffee here, it's black and has been sitting in the pot since yesterday.

Taste- Definitely a different flavor than what I'm used to in imperial stouts. Strange toasty maltiness. I'm tempted to say there's something slightly off about this one. More of that really smoky character, which is fairly one-dimensional. No distinguishable hops. Some cocoa. Aftertaste does leave me wanting more.

Mouthfeel- Pretty damn thick. Syrupy texture, with very little carbonation.

Drinkability- Again, the aftertaste does leave me wanting more. But I think after this bomber, I'll be good.

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Photo of Raymond69
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark the a mocha head, lacing sticks around.

Aroma of vague dark espresso. Slight corny graininess.

Dark Chocolate malts , coffee undertones dominate the flavor. Just a hint of hoppy sharpness. After my glass warmed up a bit, I get a apple cinnamon flavor.

Medium/thick. Pretty dry for style , not as sweet as I'd expect. Good carbonation.

Overall a very nice RIS I'll continue to drink.

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Photo of OldSchoolGamer
2.62/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Okay, I have had about half a dozen Mad Brewer beers, and I have yet to have one that I enjoyed. They just all lack good craftmanship and taste pretty cheap overall. This is their take on an Imperial Stout:

A: Pours pitch black. Looks very thick. Head is very minimal, but a nice brown film is always present over the beer.

S: This does not smell like an Imperial Stout at all. Smells very weird. Lots of sugary sweetness. Vinegar. Alcohol. Smell is actually pretty off-putting.

T: Taste is a little better than the smell, but not much. Lots of weird vinegar flavors here. Some yeastyness as well. Very sugary tasting. But, once you get used to those overwhelming flavors, there is more complexity underneath. There is a bit of cinnamon and a touch of roasted malts in there. A little cherry pits as well. Alcohol is pretty well hidden surprisingly.

M: Somewhat weird mouthfeel. Very thick and coating in the mouth, but there is some fizzy carbonation as well.

D: This is a sipper. Very weird in all aspects, this might turn a lot of Imperial Stout fans off. Not a traditional Stout by anymeans, but there is some unique things present. This beer is drinkable, but definetly not something I would want to revisit.

Overall, I think this is the worst Imperial Stout I have had to date. Nothing here says Stout at all. No coffee, chocolate, or roast character at all. Reminds me more of a poorly brewed Belgian Dark Ale. Probably the best thing about the beer is that the alcohol is very well hidden. But, thats about all I can say good about this turkey. Not recommended.

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Photo of DefenCorps
2.25/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22oz bottle received as an extra last year from goryshkewych. Thanks, George! The bottle lists the ABV at 11.5%

A loud hiss is noted as I pop the cap and as I pour this dark brown beer into my snifter, this beer turns the requisite black. A massive, brown head is present, made of tiny, tiny bubbles, falling off to a thick disk leaving no lace.

Wow. Or more aptly, whoa! Definitely vegetal, there's some cabbage, and a potent wood varnish aroma. A raw pine/cedar astringency is also noticed, which is very surprising 'cos AFAIK this beer wasn't aged on any wood. A mild, milky creamy character is noticed, but there's nothing particularly redeeming about the nose, I don't get much malt character, no chocolate, no roast. In that regard, this beer is perfect, the nose is solely dominated by off-flavors no matter how hard you look. Strong anise character is present, this reminds me of raki in some ways. Quite awful.

The palate opens with a blend of burnt malt bitterness, moderate dark fruit, coffee astringency. Plenty of anise is noticeable, it's so potent that it brings to mind flavors of wood. Mild sweetness is present mid-palate, there's also a little chocolate. Drying and mildly bitter on the finish, this is just lousy. There's no lingering flavors (apart from anise) and there's nothing particularly good about this beer. Thin in body with a high level of carbonation and an awful finish, this beer encapsulates nothing about what the style should be. On the bright side, the alcohol is well-hidden, but that's about it.

I just had an evil thought - blending this with the People's Pint Slippery Slope would make arguably the most horrific microbrewed device of torture.

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Photo of Freethyhops
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint

thanks goes to Ryan011235 for the bottle

A- pours a motor oil black. almost zero head from the pour. a thin dark brown film was produced with a vigorous pour but was eaten alive by this huge looking stout.

S- not a huge aroma, but it is dominated by roasted barley and molassess

T- sweet molasses and dark fruits dominate the taste of this beer. some roasted and chocolate malts are working in the backround to give this beer a hint of espresso, but it's more in the after taste. there's no trace of heat from the 11.5% but it doesn't taste anywhere as robust as an 11.5% stout either. a little disappointing, but not bad by any means.

M/D- the viscosity of this stout is awesome but it's is almost ruined by the lack of carbonation, the key word being almost. there's barely a trace of carb. to be found. it's super creamy, though, so it gets some points for that. As I said, this beer shows no signs of it's strength. It would go down a little quicker if it was a little tastier.

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Photo of tkarsies
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a nice present from my wife. Served cool in my Westy chalice.

A: This poured thick like motor oil. Small tan head with some lacing. Black with some brown around the edges.

S: Smells of roasted malt. Something strange in the nose...maybe slight licorice. Just a bit off.

T: Taste similar to the nose. Strong roasted flavors. I don't really taste the licorice that I smelled. Not much hop presence and really not as complex as other impy stouts that I have had.

M: Good mouthfeel. Thick, slight carbonation.

D: Alcohol not detected in the flavor but does become noticeable. A bomber is the extent of what I should drink of this. That's OK because that is about as long as it keeps my interest. An OK example of a RIS but I really like examples with much more complexity.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very very dark...near black. Thick tan head, Lots of cling lace. Good retention.

S - Cocoa, milk chocolate, small coffee note. More like chocolate chip cookies.

T - Taste matches smell to a tee with a little vanilla. A little aspirin at the finish, but pretty close to smell.

M - SUPER creamy. Balance good. Carb good.

D - Too big to session. A nice beer, though.

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Photo of joepais
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Dan,
12 oz bottle served in a snifter produced a two finger tan head that trailed of to nothing. The body of the brew was black as night.

I got some strange aroma I couldn't put my finger on when this brew was cold. But as it warmed that subsided and I got some nice sweet molasses. The flavor was mostly roasted malts with a touch of molasses sweetness and some licorice. The feel in my mouth was medium to full with light carbonation.

The 12 oz bottle was easy to finish and the 11.5% alcohol really didn't show in the flavor or the aroma so it drank well. A good stout I drink it again

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Photo of gford217
3.36/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, labeled 11.5% ABV, courtesy of ogglethorp, poured into a tulip.

This is a really gorgeous looking beer. It's pitch black, like an oil slick, with absolutely no light passing through. There's a huge mocha head that shows good retention and leaves thick sheets of lacing down the side.

The aroma is fairly distant and is mostly dark roasted malts with lots of bitter chocolate and hints of licorice.

The taste is interesting for an impy stout. It's got the big roasted malt backbone with some coffee and chocolate thrown in. But the taste seems very watered down and the licorice is still in there as well.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and very thick with decent carbonation. It's dry and roasty in the finish.

This beer certainly looks the part of a world-class stout but the taste doesn't quite live up to the look. It's a bit watery and the taste it does have is fairly one dimensional - roasted black malts.

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Photo of Parrotbeak
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received as a generous extra from another BA.
Jet black with a thick, tan head that thins out a little but remains full.
Smell is sweet, spicey, roasted malts, with some strong notes of cinnamon. Buttery notes come in as well, along with some caramel, molasses, vanilla, and berry (boysenberry?). Little bit of burn on the nose from the alcohol.
Taste is sweet, spicey malts, with some heavy cinnamon notes followed by some ashy, smokey notes at the finish. As in the smell, there are some berry notes that I can't pin down.
Mouthfeel is fairly smooth, though there is a little bite from some carbonation. Some heat from the alcohol on the tongue and throat. Medium-heavy body.
Drinkability is good. The alcohol is well-concealed, and as a sipper, this one does well. Quite unlike any imperial stout I've ever had, and quite good.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 3/6/10 notes from a local DC tasting.

a - Pours a dark dark brown with a little bit of tan head and little carbonation evident.

s - Smells strongly of licorice and some roasted malts. Also a bit smokey and a tiny bit of oak.

t - Tastes a bit smokey like the smell. Also tastes of licorice, oak, roasted/burnt malts, and a little chocolate. Hints of dark fruit.

m - Medium body with little carbonation.

d - This was an ok stout. I wasn't a fan of this at first, but the more I drank the more I liked it. The smokiness kind of turned me off, but as it warmer the dark fruit taste definitely helped it.

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Photo of stevenseg
4.26/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There were not a lot of Ohio-brewed beers available at Off the Vine in Lewis Center, Ohio. In fact, there were more Michigan beers than Ohio beers. I picked up some Mad Brewer Black Storm Imperial Stout as an attempt to taste some Ohio-ness, and a stout was what i was looking for.

This beer poured pitch black. The head was nearly the same color as the body. Nice and thick. Black Storm honestly looks like motor oil. Beautiful...

I am actually kind of sick, so the nose was hard to determine. I got a sense of burnt grilled chicken right off the grill. Not sweet, just blunt. Hopefully my stuffiness doesn't hurt the taste.

This actually tastes like burnt grilled chicken! It's not crunchy, but rather very smooth. There is a certain sour flare that comes from the high alcohol content, but it's not too noticeable. Definitely imperial. Definitely stout.

The cool creaminess and light carbonation is my cup of tea, especially with having a sore throat. This beer feels as good as it tastes.

This is a great sipping beer to sit and drink on a cold day. It's cold, but has a warm feel due to the alcohol and burnt flare. I dig it. Too bad it's not wildly available.

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Photo of AltBock
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This big 12% ABV Russian Imperial Stout was on nitro tap at the Brew Keeper around 12/19/2008. They served it to me in a standard Mad Brewer pint glass.

This Russian Imperial Stout poured the usual thick black oily sludge. It was another one of those solid ink black colored beers. On top of this black brew was a creamy 3/4 of an inch dark mocha head of foam. This head of foam had decent retention that left behind a small string of foamy mocha rings and two spider web like strings of mocha lace around the glass.

I know this is going to sound odd, but it's the truth. This beer smelled exactly like warm apple crisp. See, I told it was going to be odd. I smelled the green granny smith apples sitting on top of a layer of burnt brown sugar. It was after the brown sugar where I got a tiny speck of dark roasted malts and dark chocolate. Very interesting aroma!

I honestly didn't think they could move the warm apple crisp from the smell to the taste, but the Brew Keeper managed to do it. The taste however had more burnt brown sugar in it then there was in the aroma. The beer "tastes" came in after the warm apple crisp was gone. Those flavors were the same flavors that were in the aroma, dark roasted malts and dark chocolate. Long story short, the only difference between the aroma and taste was that there was more of a burnt brown sugar presence in the taste than in the aroma.

Wow! What a slick mouthfeel! It wasn't full bodied, but more of a medium bodied beer and featured a dark roasted aftertaste of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, a dash of burnt brown sugar, and a touch of green apples. This beer completely masked it's high 12% ABV. This beer distracts you with its warm apple crisp taste and why you're looking the other way, the strong ABV% sneaks pass you. It's a cleaver one.

Drinkability: It's easy to drink one of these, but it's hard to drink more than 2 of these, because it's sneaky with its high ABV%. Before you know, you're on your face with this beer. If you're looking for a different Russian Imperial Stout, then you have to try this one. I fully doubt you'll ever find another Imperial Stout that tastes like warm apple crisp.

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Photo of meatyard
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Another bottle generously given by AltBock.

Pours an opaque black with a quickly falling short, tan head that only leaves a ring at the edge and a few small islands of bubbles.
The smell is of dark roasted, not burnt, malt and a dose of licorice.
The taste is dark roasted malt, slightly burnt at times and a tanginess that follows and lingers on the tongue.
Mouthfeel is medium to light, almost as if it were barrel aged. What little carbonation there was in the beginning disappears completely halfway through the glass.
If this beer does one thing wonderfully it's in totally hiding the 12% ABV. It helps make it more drinkable despite it's faults.

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Photo of andrewj17
5/5  rDev +27.6%

Photo of wagenvolks
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bomber shared by trep while brewing. Thanks!

Black Storm looks like one of the thickest, most viscous, oily RIS's I've ever come across. No light getting through this opaque body, which nears jet-black and is capped by a fat, burnt toffee-colored head. Aroma is a bit muted for the style, unfortunately. Some dark chocolate crumbles and a bit of medicinal piny-ness from the hops.

I found the flavor to be quite heavy on the cinnamon notes, with gingerbread and peppery hops awash in a sea of under-attenuated, sweet chocolate and caramel notes. A hint of cardboard oxidation in the aftertaste. Grainy body, with a rich thickness that borders on becoming too viscous, but the light carbonation level is just high enough to give the finish some pep. Still, this was slightly disappointing for the style and ABV. It sure looked great, but everything else was just slightly above average and underwhelming.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.1/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Deep space black with no visible highlights. A loud escape of CO2 on crown cracking has led to the creation of a humongous head of gingersnap colored froth. The bubbles better fade fast, because there's nothing worse than a highly carbonated RIS. Huge, soft divots are forming in the foam... and the glass is as clean as a whistle.

Even though the nose could use more 'oomph', it smells like there's plenty of black malt in the house. Charred barley dominates, with a big blast of blackstrap molasses and anise. Warming unleashes a medicinal quality that might be the 11.5% ABV talking.

It looks like improper carbonation has come close to spoiling the Black Storm party. The body/mouthfeel is too light and too busy, which steals attention away from the flavor. It isn't taking long for the bubbles to fade, which means the beer will be next to flat by the end of the first glass or the start of the second.

I'll gladly apologize to The Brew Keeper if this isn't the case, but Black Storm tastes like it was brewed with black licorice or anise extract. There is such a thing as brewer's licorice, so it wouldn't be that unusual. I typically enjoy that flavor in beer of this style, but it's too prominent here and is too artificial tasting. The typical RIS flavors of chocolate and coffee are minimal and absent respectively.

Bitterness is more prominent than malt sweetness. That's somewhat unexpected since this bottle is at least 8 months of age. Unfortunately, no hop flavor is appreciated. Warming doesn't change much, although it does make the mediocre flavor more bold. Yippee!

Even ideally carbonated, it's doubtful that Black Storm Imperial Stout would be wonderful beer. For some reason, The Brew Keeper has trouble finding his groove with stouts and porters. Sorry, but this one isn't worth your money. Bottom line: no lightning, no thunder.

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Photo of adamette
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live review. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into my Samuel Smith pint glass. Purchased for $7.99 at Reider's Market in Painesville about 2 months ago. No observed "best by" or "freshness date" found by me on label or the bottle. 11.5% ABV. I waited for several minutes before sipping to allow it to warm from the fridge temp that it started at.

A Pours ink black with a great medium brown thick, creamy head that is perfect for the style and quite attractive as well. Additionally, there is a great creamy lacing coming from the head as well. I cannot see how the appearance can be improved. 5.0

S This is a fine smelling RIS with deep, dark roast malt and a kick of alcohol noticeable in the smell. The smell reminds me of some of the better RISs. 4.5

T/M Well the dark roast is there along a kind of dark chocolate with a nice smoothness (those qualities were great and could not be improved) but there is also a bit of a burnt malt taste in the mid taste that I did not necessarily enjoy. This remains a huge, bold RIS that is likely to please any fan of the style but to me it is not up there with the elites due to that burnt taste. My rating will suffer due to the burnt quality. 4.0

D I will finish the bomber but this is a sipper, an apertif for sure. That is correct for the style and so rated vs. the style it is quite drinkable. 4.0

Notes: The 12th and final in a long line of "The Brew Keeper" beers that I recently collected, drank and rated. Looks like I might have saved the best for last but I really respected "Hops Infusion" from the same brewer, an Arrogant Bastard like big, bold ale. This beer here is a really nice RIS and if it were not for Great Lakes Blackout Stout it would be my favorite local RIS.

Also: After completing my comments above I looked over some of the other reviews. I suggest that some of the reviewers re-try this beer as their (much lower) reviews included comments about this beer that I did not experience. Perhaps there have been improvements since they published their reviews?

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Black Storm from The Brew Keeper
3.92 out of 5 based on 22 ratings.
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