Black Crack
Southern Star Brewing Company

Black CrackBlack Crack
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #1,468
Ranked #3,598
4.13 | pDev: 12.11%
Southern Star Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Black CrackBlack Crack
Notes: 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.
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Reviews: 49 | Ratings: 347 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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stevoj from Idaho

3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can from Whole Foods-Lamar. Mild, smooth, but the Imperial nature comes on late, lingering bitterness and mild burn. Chocolate, coffee, burnt toast, tar.

Jan 09, 2020
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Thomas_Wikman from Texas

4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Funny name but it is a great tasting stout (no matter what associations the name may allude to)

Look: Black with an inch thick fluffy mocca colored head

Aroma: roasted malts, chocolate, bourbon, some coffee.

Taste: The flavor is roasted malts, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, mild coffee, oak, bourbon. It's complex, a tad sweet but not too much, not too hoppy, quite easy drinking for an Imperial Stout and it leaves a nice chocolate and bourbon after taste..

Body/Overall: medium body, a bit light for a big stout, but easy drinking

Nov 10, 2019
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JohnDee from Texas

3.77/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Black with a thin tan head. Smells a little of molasses. Roasted malt dominates the flavor though oak and vanilla are also present. Boozy, but a bit on the charred side. Not as smooth as other aged stouts and not as complex, but not bad. Medium bodied.

Jul 13, 2019
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BigGold from Mississippi

3.84/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had poured from pint can, with 2017 on the label and bottom stamped (apparently) canned on “111517,” gift from personal bartender, into nonic pint.

Regrettably, I haven’t had the Buried Hatchet Stout that went into the Bourbon barrels. But based on the brewery description of that beer, the main effect of the barrel aging is in the aroma, and perhaps in added alcohol warmth in the finish.

Apr 29, 2019
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WreckEmAll from Texas

2.88/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

There are much better imperial stouts out there not to mention bourbon barrel stouts. This one seems watered down both in mouth feel and taste. I’m not a fan.

Dec 10, 2018
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VVino from Texas

2.11/5  rDev -48.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

This comes off as a less carbonated version of their standard Burried Hatchet Stout. Previous years have been much better. Uninspired and worth skipping this year. Disappointing.

Dec 04, 2018
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HoodviewBrew from Texas

3.19/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Funny. I actually liked the regular Buried Hatchet way more than this. This feels like an obligatory "let's stick some beer in a barrel and triple the price" effort. Disappointed.

Oct 08, 2018
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cavedave from New York

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Premo88 for this super delicious BA stout

Pours black with a thin skim of finely bubbled tan foam that relaxes quickly to a lasting ring. A swirl produces thin, oily lace.

Delicious, medium strength aroma that brings the words mocha vanilla bourbon to mind. It is a rich aroma that fills me with anticipation.

Medium strength, well balanced mix of sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla, cocoa, and light coffee notes, that gets joined by roasty bitter and bourbon to close with a warming semi dry blast.

Light bodied for style, nice low carb., light/med. viscosity, with a clean excellent finish that lasts.

This is a beer that is straightforward and well balanced with clean flavors that blend well and def. hit all the pleasure notes a good BA stout should hit. Recommended for sure.

Sep 02, 2018
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hophugger from Virginia

3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

darkest brown ever with khaki head and non-existent lacing. Bourbon is the main player on the nose and the palatte. some oak and vanilla come through, but mouth feel is very thin and this beer lacks the complexity that it should have as a a barrel-aged beer

Jul 10, 2018
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Pegasus from Texas

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance; Deep mahogany brown, almost impervious to light, with a modest tan head. Thick, glass coating lacing adorns the glass walls.

Aroma: Massive aroma of bourbon and wood, with a substantial punch of alcohol. Oak notes seem particularly prominent, but black coffee and cocoa are present as well.

Taste: Opens with massive sweet dark malt, coffee, and oak. The sweet alcohol also carries a punch of bourbon-like flavor. A mellow current of oak runs throughout the taste. Bitter cocoa and coffee have their roles to play, as well. Finishes with a wave of bitter cocoa and cold coffee.

Mouth feel: Rich, soft, and very full, velvety on the palate.

Drinkability/notes: Really excellent, though painfully expensive at $11.99 + tax per pint can. Still, not to be missed, it would be twice as much, or more, in craft beer bar.

Presentation: Packaged in a standard sixteen-ounce aluminum can, served in a Sam Adams Boston Lager sensory glass.

May 28, 2018
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OKbrew89 from Oklahoma

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 Can. It's not the best bourbon barrel aged stout, but one of my personal favorites. The barrel aging has complimented the roasty mother beer and given it a near perfect balance. There could be more done to make it more unique, but it's a stout with a kiss of barrel aging that's full bodied and not overly boozy.

Mar 25, 2018
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jngrizzaffi from Texas

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black color with a small brown foamy head. Head retention is non-existent. Lacing is very mild. Deep roasted malts and coffee predominate the aroma. Maybe a little toffee and vanilla. Tastes of roasted malts and coffee with vanilla and toffee on the back end. The vanilla leaves a long aftertaste. A little lighter bodied but alcohol content not high for a Imperial Stout. There is some silkiness on the back end. Moderate carbonation.

Jan 31, 2018
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VeganUndead from Virginia

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Being the base beer is pretty low ABV for a stout to put into a barrel, I wish the carb level was a bit higher for this offering. Flavor profile is great, just a bit thin

Jan 07, 2018
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Jugs_McGhee from Texas

2.97/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Currently #53 in the Top Texas Beers list.

CAN: 500ml. Ran me a wallet-destroying $11.99 USD at a beer store in Austin. Standard pull-tab. Cheap screen print label.

"Bourbon barrel aged Buried Hatchet stout." "Flavored stout." "Ale."

Served chilled into a conical pint glass.

HEAD: ~7-8cm in height. Khaki colour. Creamy and frothy. Soft in appearance. Retention is good. ~8 minutes.

BODY: Opaque black colour. No yeast/lees are visible. Not an ink or jet black.

AROMA: The bourbon is evident immediately, but it's not a boozy aroma. Subtle notes of vanilla/vanillin, barrel sugars, and oak. No toasted coconut.

The base beer, unlike the barrel character, leaves much to be desired in terms of depth of flavour and intricacy. I get some basic dark malt sweetness and specialty chocolate malt, but little in the way of roasted barley, charred malts, or burnt sugars. Creamy. Oats.

Aromatic intensity is average. Not boozy, overtly yeasty, or overtly hoppy.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Horridly thin, lacking body and adequate presence on the palate. Creamy and soft, which would help accentuate the vanilla if the beer wasn't so off-puttingly silky smooth, slick, and wet, evoking more of a nitro-draught vibe than anything else. Well-carbonated. Medium-bodied. Not harsh, rough, scratchy, or astringent. I'd like to see them lose the oats in order to lend the mouthfeel needed dryness and coarseness; more roasted barley/carafa would likely also help.

Flavour profile is rudimentary and painfully simple, barely checking the boxes of a proper bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. Some barrel vanillin and barrel sugar sweetness join dark malt sweetness and specialty chocolate malts to form an overly sweet beer with no countering bitterness present to balance it...some burnt barrel (or toasty oak/coconut), charred sugars, roasted barley, hoppy bitterness, or bitter additives (e.g. coffee, chicory, licorice, et al.) would help bring this balance.

Poor depth of flavour. Average flavour duration. Mild flavour intensity (especially for a bourbon barrel aged stout).

The bourbon is less present in taste than it was in aroma, and the base beer is too simple to provide much for the bourbon barrel to accentuate anyway. I don't dislike this, but many imperial stouts that don't rely on the crutch of bourbon barrel aging are infinitely more intricate and pungent than this.

OVERALL: Doesn't betray its ABV, so in that sense it's surprisingly drinkable. But those after a top tier bourbon barrel aged imperial stout will be let down by this attempt at the style from Southern Star (though I guess it's hard to be disappointed by Southern Star at this point given the pretty consistently mediocre quality of their unimpressive lineup).

I'm appalled at the price, but fuck me - I paid it. Price aside, how this made any top beers list is beyond me. I could have gotten a 4 pack of Storm King, Old Rasputin, Yeti, Ten Fidy, or the like for as much as one can of this cost, and it's not even half as good.

High C (2.97) / AVERAGE

Dec 05, 2017
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mothman from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Can. Tan head. Black color.

Roasted malts with coffee and vanilla. Chocolate and caramel. Nice barrel flavors. A bit thin, however. Oreo cake flavors.

Dec 03, 2017
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ovaltine from Indiana

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A body black as onyx props up a creamy tan head. First thing I get on the nose is caramel and vanilla, then a subtle bourbon note.

The taste is creamy, like a milk stout, with dark chocolate notes joining the caramel and vanilla (which is now obviously coming from the barrel). The mouthfeel is full and rich. I wish I’d purchased a case of this (stupid “Limit 1 per customer” crap!).

Nov 27, 2017
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justareallybuffdude from Texas

4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

Oct 24, 2016
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Amguerra305 from Florida

3.27/5  rDev -20.8%
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.

Jul 04, 2016
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Alieniloquium from Florida

2.66/5  rDev -35.6%
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.

Mar 22, 2016
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OmahaKF from Nebraska

4.17/5  rDev +1%
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.

Feb 12, 2016
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Premo88 from Texas

4.86/5  rDev +17.7%
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

Feb 08, 2016
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pollocktown4 from Indiana

4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
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!

Jan 30, 2016
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Stolenface1 from Virginia

3.77/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

Jan 22, 2016
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Chris_Huston from Texas

4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Jan 10, 2016
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depechemode1983 from Texas

4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
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.

Dec 24, 2015
Black Crack from Southern Star Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 347 ratings