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Black Crack | Southern Star Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding
33 Reviews
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Black CrackBlack Crack
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Southern Star Brewing Company
Texas, United States
southernstarbrewing.com

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.25%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged in Bourbon barrels, this specialty will have all of the rich malt flavor of its' base beer, our Buried Hatchet Stout, complimented by a caramel, woody sweetness and vanilla notes from prolonged contact with American Oak. Dark tobacco, medium char and hints of the original Bourbon make this hard to find release a real treat.

Added by lokieman on 03-13-2013

BEER STATS
Reviews:
33
Ratings:
295
Avg:
4.1
pDev:
11.95%
 
 
Wants:
49
Gots:
89
For Trade:
5
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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 295
Photo of justareallybuffdude
4.53/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have a strange relationship with this one. I bought a bunch of cans when they hit Austin, along with Community's BA Legion (also an amazing beer). While it's a waste of time to compare and contrast, I will say this: the Legion is ridiculously consistent, and a total crowd pleaser. I can't imagine any fan of stouts turning their nose up at it. It's great from the get go.

As for the Black Crack, after maybe fifteen cans of it in different settings, I've got the exact opposite impression. This beer is a total flavor bomb. It's a little thin, even by BA standards, but that's about the only legitimate knock I can offer. Everything else is subject to variation.

When the beer is on point, it is just phenomenal. There is just enough bite from the bourbon to let you know that it is there, but the dominate flavors are vanilla, marshmallow, coffee, and chocolate, blended with enough balance to truly make this feel more like a milkshake than a beer, at times. Very tasty, and very very creamy.

What must be said, though, is this: don't drink this as a first beer. I don't know what it is, but every time I've cracked one of these as my first beer of the night, it's been unpleasant. Too syrupy and too much alcohol. It's like drinking a totally different beer. But again, and this comes from many samplings: this beer is perfect if you have 1-2 of something else before hand. I just drank a Jester King Fantome and cracked open a can of the 2016 batch, and it is incredible. Creamy, delicious goodness. I thought, at first, that maybe there was a quality difference in the cans, but I've had too many at this point for that to be the case. Simply wet your lips a bit with a beer or two first, and then start busting these out for the end of the night. You won't be disappointed. Whereas if this is your first beer, at least with my palette, it will be decent, but nowhere near as good once you've gotten warmed up.

Can't say I've had a stout quite like this either. I agree with what another poster said: it's better at cold temperatures. It's honestly insanely drinkable though, you just need to get warmed up.

An exceptional beer. I'll be sad when I polish off the rest of it.

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Photo of Amguerra305
3.27/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

poured way to thin with not enough opaqueness. smell was on point with hints booze, bourbon, and roast. taste did not follow the smell as the nuances of the smell did not transfer. way too watery of BA stout.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.66/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

500 mL bottle. Almost black body. Smell is nutty with a little bourbon. Booze and a bit of chocolate. Taste is chocolate with some nutty malts and bourbon. Whiskey flavor lingers with some alcohol. Medium body. Not a very heavy or rich stout. Very blah.

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Photo of OmahaKF
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Smell is marshmallow, bourbon, licorice, and brown sugar. Taste is a nice bourbon flavor up front, vanilla, and caramelized sugar. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy, which is unexpected given that when I poured it the beer seemed thin. Strangely, I found this beer better cold, which is the opposite of most barrel-aged stouts I've had that typically get better with a little bit of warmth.

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Photo of Premo88
4.86/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16 oz. can poured into stout glass

L: looks clear brown pouring out of can, settles into very dark brown in glass (still clear around edges), pushes up short head of beige/tan foam, at most 1/2-inch tall, keeps a thick beige collar; no major sticking or lacing, just a scant wisp of foam lingers on the glass wall; over 20 minutes in, it's still keeping a nice, tight collar

S: rum ... real sweet bourbon; the sweetness leads all, brown sugar, melting brown sugar, molasses; caramel ... everything's very mellowed out, nothing burnt or charred; vanilla; buttery sweet donuts

T: bourbon ... holy cow! ALL bourbon, even a hint of alcohol heat, and it's super sweet, vanilla, milk chocolate, hot fudge sundae ... man, is this good; the bit of whiskey alcohol heat is balancing out some of that desert-level sweetness -- and there is definitely a bit of heat here, like they poured in a shot of Crown or Jack; yes, the aftertaste has a lingering heat to it; only a slight bit of earthy bitterness lying among the pile of more flavorful notes ... can't say if its muted hops or some of the burnt dark-malt

F: lightweight but stout-slick at first; seems to feel a bit heavier as I go; plenty of carbonation to help it dance along my American-born palate; yes, as I work into it more, it's a solid midweight, big slick milk stout feel almost, made for sipping

O: what a stout! the base beer is not among my personal favorites, but boy oh boy does it take on the barrel; this thing is a tour de force of bourbon notes, even adding a bit of the bourbon heat, and the big sweet vanilla and chocolate notes are why I love BA stouts; so good I've got to revisit plain Buried Hatchet ... I may have underestimated the base beer

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Photo of pollocktown4
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a can into a 16oz snifter

A-Very dark, almost black. The head was a light brown or mocha in color, which was about a half inch and didn't really last long at all.

S-Primarily, I smell bourbon. Through the bourbon, I can sense a rich dark coffee, with sweet malts.

T-Opposed to the smell of strong bourbon smell, I didn't feel the bourbon was so overwhelming. Lots of coffee, and cocoa up front. I can almost sense the oak and hints of vanilla on the back end. Very smooth, and very, very tasty!

F-carbonation is not heavy, feels fairly light and thin.

O- Overall, I think this is a great barrel aged stout. I'm not a fan of canned beers, but this isn't like a lot that I've had. It's much better. Every sip is super enjoyable!

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Photo of Stolenface1
3.77/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours deep black with somewhat thin viscosity and tan head which quickly falls. Aroma of bitter chocolate, coffee, caramel, oak, and Bourbon. Flavor follows the aromas with hints of vanilla, coconut, and a nutty finish. There is a touch of diacetyl in the background which is always unpleasant for my taste. This really killed my flavor score. I would have rated higher (4-4.25) if not for this. The feel is rather thin for the style, but is not totally off-putting. Carbonation is correct for the style. Med-low. Overall, please get rid of the diacetyl and let me try again.

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Photo of Chris_Huston
4.31/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle poured at probably a little under 70 degrees into a tuliped snifter. Foam is not out of control and once settled, laces the glass pleasantly with its soft khaki sheets. Not the blackest pool, but a good deep dark brown color. Presentation is both classic and inviting for the style.

Immediate smell is a mix of cacao and coffee, more so than its base -- Buried Hatchet -- making an improvement, IMO. Definitely get the woodiness, but not much of the caramel, and only enough sweetness to tame down the bitterness while still allowing some char through. The result is grand, and a definite "boost" version of the Buried Hatchet, without going overboard. That nice evenness may be in part due to the age of the bottle.

Feel is still a bit on the watery side, but hardly anything worth griping about. Only enough to keep it from being rapturous.

In the end, definitely among the upper echelons of this style.

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Photo of depechemode1983
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - Near pitch black with 2 finger tan head. Sticks around for just a bit with some ok lacing.

Smell - chocolate pudding, caramel, cream.

Taste - Wood, toasted surgar, fig, a hint of bourbon and a bit of warmth.

Feel - Very soft, smooth and easy on the carbonation.

Overall - Excellent. Reminds me of Ten Fidy minus the bourbon. God knows I love that beer. This one is top notch.

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Photo of thatche2
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 16 oz can into a pint glass (2015 release).

Appearance is almost black with some amber color around the edges (100% opacity). The head is less than expected and is around one finger thick with moderate lacing around the glass.

Smell is roasted malt, vanilla, coffee, coconut and caramel with some alcohol present. The oak is very noticeable, and the vanilla is coming through stronger than expected. Overall very pleasant.

Taste is roasted malt, oak, coffee and bitter chocolate up front, which is interrupted by a surge of bourbon. The vanilla is almost as strong as in the aroma. Some faint dark fruit emerges as well. There is moderate sweetness (caramel like) initially with a semi dry finish.

Mouthfeel is fairly thick and creamy (viscous) with light to medium carbonation. The finish is somewhat lighter.

Overall this is a flavorful and well balanced bourbon barrel aged stout. The bourbon barrels are a nice addition to the Buried Hatchet Stout without overwhelming the base flavors. However, it is slightly thinner and flat than the BHS but more interesting.

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Photo of Jovial_Libations
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Don't know why the beer snobs aren't raving about this one more! Well balanced, lovely chocolate, and coffe flavors. The barrely aging imparts a more dry, oaky flavor to the finish. Such a refreshing change from the overly sweet BBA's like GI and Hellfighter.

 259 characters

Photo of Best_Enjoyed_In_Texas
3.86/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is dark with an inviting beige head. Smell is not as boozy as I'd prefer from a BBA beer. The bourbon taste does come out in the taste along with strong oak notes. Another user mentioned that this beer is NOT as sweet as many BBA's, but rather more dry and oaky which I enjoyed as well. Light feel with low carbonation. The "89 - Very Good" rating is accurate (I'd say 84 at worst; 89 at best).

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Photo of OEB
4.71/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was a 2014 Black Crack poured into a pint glass. It had been stored in my fridge since fall of 2014.

Look
This beer had less head then I expected.

Smell
Earthy, oak-y smell. Definitely not a sweet smell.

Taste
Wow I love oakiness and this beer has it! To me the oak is what really stands out.

Feel
Smooth, not very carbonated.

Overall
I really enjoyed this beer.

 372 characters

Photo of MattSweatshirt
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black bodied with a fluffy light brown head that retains well.

Flavor is really nice imparting all sorts of barrel goodies with vanilla and bourbon. Caramel sweetness and roasty chocolatey stout.

Body is medium and drinks really smooth with medium carbonation.

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Photo of HipCzech
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 500 mL bottle poured into a stemmed pilsener (beer tulip) glass (2014 release).

Appearance: Very deep, dark brown with a bubbly tan head. A slight layer of foam lingers and leaves good lacing.

Smell: Deeply roasted malts, toffee, vanilla, prunes, slight alcohol and some barrel funk.

Taste: Roasted malt with flavors of coffee, bitter chocolate, and sweet caramel. Bourbon barrel hints throughout, but never rise to the forefront.

Mouthfeel: Silky feel with light to medium body and light, fizzy carbonation.

Overall: A bit thinner and flat compared with canned Buried Hatchet, and a bit mellower in overall flavor, but a pleasant sipper with subtle bourbon influence.

Followup (15-Dec-15): 500 mL bottle (2014) poured into a Libbey Embassy snifter. Roasted malt, coffee flavors remain but gentler and better balanced; some nice dark fruit and barrel notes emerge as it warms. Slightly bitter, boozy close.

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Photo of zander4dawin
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jet black beer. Heavy coffee, chocolate notes, oaky bourbon on the finish and a smooth buttery taste considering the ABV. Hard to find but worth a shot.

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Photo of joeyfeets
4/5  rDev -2.4%

Bourbon Barrel version of Southern Stars Buried Hatchet Stout. The base beer is a solid stout but the year & a half spent in a barrel takes this brew over the top! It pours completely black with a distinct toffee & bourbon aroma. It tastes of malt & vanilla that gives way to smooth bourbon. Very drinkable & not overpowering like some bourbon barrel brews. The original beer had hints of chocolate that I cant pickup anymore though. Despite that, Black Crack is a big improvement over Buried Hatchet. If you ever have a chance, get your hands on one.

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Photo of Labeorphile
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 16 ounce bottle into a pint glass. Extremely dark, almost completely opaque with some slight hints of ruby when the light hits just right. Thick tan head with lots of lacing.

Lots of toffee and bourbon in the nose, very pleasant. A hint of burnt toast, but not in a bad way.

Definitely toffee up front, some vanilla, giving way nicely to the bourbon. A really well put together flavor combination. The mouth is a little thin for style, but at the suggestion of another reviewer, I swirled the beer in the glass between sips and this really seemed to make a difference.

A great beer that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Photo of EGreen
4.09/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Aroma seems rather flat: slight oakiness, mild nuttiness. Flavor is a lot better. Toffee starts but is quickly overwhelmed by the bourbon. Slight booziness on the finish and finishes slightly dry with a nice lingering mild bitterness. The bourbon is definitely the star of this beer and is quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Wayne17
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Buried hatchet stout is already one of my favorite stouts and aging it in bourbon barrels was the best idea Southern Start could have come up with. On the nose and flavor I get pecans, coffee, chocolate, marshmallow. So smooth and drinkable. Just fantastic.

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Photo of champ103
2.99/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I have had this several times now, and have never put my review down. I guess I was trying to save it for a good bottle, but every time I have this I am disappointed.

A: Pours a dark brown color. A minimal, bubbly beige head forms. That recedes in a second with no lace.
S: Roasted, cereal grains and burnt toast. The barrel character takes over next. Wood, vanilla, fusel alcohol is strong and lingering.
T: Roasted and buttery malt with a big burnt toast flavor. The barrel takes over with wood and vanilla. Harsh alcohol lingers. Everything here is just abrasive and nothing intermingles well.
M/D: Way to light of a body for the amount of barrel and alcohol coming through. Thin and and lifeless. Not easy to drink. I just don't like how this comes together, let alone the alcohol. I have had much more alcoholic beers, drink much easier.

Having had several bottles, I am not impressed. Looking back at my review for the Anvil Bourbon Buried Hatchet, it just seems all the nueances are gone here. I am not a fan of the malt character, body, or the harsh alcohol here. Don't know what happened?

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coffee brown color, minimal beige head but looks good in the glass.

Delicious aroma, nutty, caramel, brown bread crust, some subtle barrel character but hardly any explicit bourbon. A bare touch of oxidization adds complexity.

Tastes good - caramel malt, nuts, some bourbon. Good balance between medium sweetness, mild roastiness, and wood. Nutty finish. Again, a controlled oxidative note adds some nice extra depth and complexity. Unusual for a stout, tasting (and looking) more like a delicious barrel aged brown ale, on the big side.

At first some fizziness throws off the texture and makes it seem slightly watery, but plenty of swirling to reduce the carbonation reveals a silky and luxurious texture.

Nice beer, good iteration of the delicious base beer. Thanks, Daniel!

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Photo of TBoneJones
4.73/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I saw this alone in the chiller a major craft brew retail store near me. The $11.99 tag intrigued me, especially since this was a local beer I had never seen before. With such a huge cost for a bottle, I had to see what was up. The guy at the checkout reaffirmed my decision, displaying enthusiasm having tried it himself.
Poured an almost-black, has a nice but finger-thick head. Lacing looks nice.
This smells powerful, but of great stuff like chocolate, licorice and dark fruit (cherry) assaulting my nose off the bat. The milk chocolate dominates, it's a burnt choco smell (due to the alcohol), but in a robust Tootsie Roll/ root beer float type of way...and then I remember that this is bourbon barrel aged, realize the unique notes are due to this...and now I can't wait to taste this.
Taste follows suit. Complex I can tell right away. The bourbon flavor presents itself, the chocolate is now back seat and more sharply flavored (due to the barrelling) and yet it finishes sweetly. Somewhat thinner than I expected, compared to other stouts I've enjoyed. Dark fruit touches with all of that other flavoring reminds me of a brandy, based on the overall sensation. This is 8.5% abv. according to the label, however it seems higher, at least at first it does. But it's great because this is a beer, not barrel aged liquor. Barrel works wonders. Creamy and smooth as it warms, yet earthy, and a bit more dry finishing as well.
To me, the sum of each part/ flavor, equals one unique whole success. Highly recommended. Hard to find im told, but if you can, pick one up, or two for that matter. I wonder what age would do.

 1,626 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
4.02/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a medium brown color, looks somewhat thin, small light brown head, dissipates quickly. The aroma hits you kinda hard at first with bourbon and booze, mellows out a bit though bringing up some chocolate and roast, but not much coffee, unlike normal buried hatchet. The taste isn't near as boozy as the nose, and really opens up with some strong chocolate, vanilla and oak, mild bourbon, and roasted oak. Despite the thin look, it had a nice fullness, with a good creamy texture.

Though a little messy, its a treat in the end, very glad to get to try it.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.49/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle pours black but doesnt seem as viscous as the regular Buried Hatchet. Dense tan head is decently sized and displays average retention, very little lace.

Nose is a delectable combination of bourbon, coconut, chocolate and vanilla. Superb.

Wow, the barrel treatment really did some wonderful things to this one...adds a woody, vanilla flavor that is the perfect compliment to the liquid chocolate that is Buried Hatchet. The hops are more tame which works to the beer's advantage too. Mouthfeel is nice...and the ABV is low enough to make this damn near chuggable...actually it might benefit from a 1-1.5% increase in alcohol to add to the complexity. Love it...I sure hope they do this again.

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Black Crack from Southern Star Brewing Company
4.1 out of 5 based on 295 ratings.
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