Black Crack | Southern Star Brewing Company

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Black CrackBlack Crack
Black CrackBlack Crack

Brewed by:
Southern Star Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: American 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.

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Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 343
Photo of wogreen
4.87/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - chocolate brown, very viscous
S - you can definitely smell the boubon when you lift the bottle
T- rich chocolatey malt flavor, with a sweet hint of coconut
M - feels thin and a bit sticky, but overall very pleasant for a stout

A great take on the Bourbon barrel stout. The little hint of sweet really speaks to me as a southerner.

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Photo of Premo88
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

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Photo of depechemode1983
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.

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Photo of TBoneJones
4.73/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of OEB
4.71/5  rDev +14%
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.

This beer had less head then I expected.

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

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

Smooth, not very carbonated.

I really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of tjmodica
4.54/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle

Dark brown with a very thin khaki head, Southern Star nailed the color. Roast malts, hot chocolate brownies fresh from the oven, nutty, vanilla, faint bourbon, I could smell this all night. Taste is even better light roast coffee, light caramel, velvety smooth bourbon, and candied pecans. The mouthfeel is very very smooth. This taste like a buried hatchet aged to perfection in bourbon barrels, the barrels complement and add to the base beer in a way that makes this very special. Outstanding job.

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Photo of stormcooper
4.54/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Buried Hatchet Stout is a great beer to start. I can only imagine this is why Black Crack is about as elusive as the Sasquatch. This is everything you'd want from a barrel-aged stout. Nice and earthy with a malty and buttery finish. If you can find it, it will rock your face off. It reminds me of the Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel #1, but better.

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Photo of justareallybuffdude
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.

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Photo of Wayne17
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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 Pegasus
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.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
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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Photo of Jovial_Libations
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

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Photo of Chris_Huston
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.

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Photo of zander4dawin
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Labeorphile
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Lawl3ss
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Lightly chilled 16.9 oz bottle split between 33cl snifters. Picked up a bottle on a lark after seeing a couple arguing over whether or not purchasing six would be excessive- apparently a number of stores have a bottle limit, although the one I was at did not.

Look- Pours a deep, deep brown. Completely opaque in the glass, the pour indicates to me that it's murky, but with something this dark, who cares? Finger and a half of dense toasted marshmallow head that falls fairly quickly to a centimeter or so of loose bubbles that actually persists for a while.

Smell- Full, nutty, maple, vanilla, caramel, strong slightly-burnt biscuit. Not particularly sweet, but still comes across as liqueur-like. Significant bourbon character, but I wouldn't say it's what I would call boozy.

Taste- Follows the aroma, with a stronger milk chocolate feel and a bold oaky tannic character. Fresh brownies, salted caramel, maple syrup, whole vanilla bean, char. Surprisingly non-aggressive roasty flavors. Heavy cream and buttered popcorn in the background, but low-level and seemingly fitting rather than offensive. Again, bourbon influenced but not aggressively so.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, light-medium for the style, although Buried Hatchet isn't a particularly hefty brew and I don't think they tweaked it for this. Light-medium carbonation; the dregs in the bottle make me think this was bottle-conditioned in addition to the aging. I'd have liked a bit more carbonation, but it's a smooth easy drinker nonetheless.

Overall- Never had anything quite like it. It's not mind-blowing, but it's unique, and if it were slightly cheaper and more readily available this would be a go-to beer for me, and I'm not all that enamored with the normal buried hatchet. Definitely Recommended.

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Photo of pollocktown4
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!

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Photo of ovaltine
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!).

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Photo of mothman
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.

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Photo of fatmcb1
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.25

Fresh bottle poured into a Russian River Belgian glass.

Pours dark brown with a khaki head. Light spotted lacing

You can immediately tell this was in the barrel for awhile. Charred oak and vanilla. The malt base is chocolaty and roasty. Excellent.

Taste follows the nose. The barrel character dominates. The malt base is very sweet, with little to no hop presence. Also, it is a little warm with noticeable considering the listed ABV is 8.25%.

Unfortunately, this is very thin for a stout. Carbonation is on the lighter side of medium.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer. The nose is amazing and the bourbon character is top notch. However, I wish it had a thicker body. Also, the regular buried hatchet is listed at 8.25% ABV. It is hard to believe this sat in a barrel for a year and a half and didn't pickup more alcohol. Tastes closer to 10%.

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Photo of OKbrew89
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.

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Photo of OmahaKF
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.

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Photo of thatche2
4.17/5  rDev +1%
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 cavedave
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.

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
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.

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Black Crack from Southern Star Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 343 ratings