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Black Whole | Cigar City Brewing

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Black WholeBlack Whole

Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing
Florida, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Black Whole is a multi-dimensional ale that takes many twists and turns similar to our daily lives. It has a big chocolate expression with moderate caramel notes, complex toasted to biscuit notes and hints of clove and black licorice.

Black Whole is a tribute to El Chupa Cobras, a mathy indie band from Montgomery, Alabama.

Added by VaTechHopHead on 07-24-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 110
Photo of thagr81us
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one! Served from bottle into a Bell's stemmed tulip. Poured a massively dark brown with a two finger tan head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, smoke, and tobacco. The flavor was of roasted malt, smoke, caramel, and tobacco. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. While this one was not very complex by any means, it still manages to be quite good as far as the flavors and aromas present. The tobacco flavor I picked up on was a little off-putting at first, but once you get used to through the session you start to understand why it was incorporated into the brew. A solid brew that I'm glad I got the chance to try.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to blutt59 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is what I expected and is full of chocolate and roasted malt. Fairly straight forward but that is not a bad thing in this case.

The flavor is also fairly straight forward. I get a mix of chocolate and roasted malt, with a little bit of ash character mixed in. The alcohol is well hidden.

Medium to thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Suck a bottle onto a cruise ship and it was a nice break from the standard shit the boat serves. I poured into a typical glass and this brew is pitch black. This brew can easily be explained as cold coffee. It is sweet, bitter and a little hoppy. The beer looks like the darkest coffee ever brewed and drinks like a coffee that has been in the fridge for an hour. A great brew but not necessarily for my taste. Allthough this is another great brew from CCB.

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Photo of adam42381
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Purchased at the CCB taproom on 9/9/11.

Appearance: Pours a dark cola brown with a 1 finger fizzy medium tan head. Decent lacing.

Smell: Dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, a touch of coffee and a hint of fruity sweetness in the background.

Taste: Roasted malt and a touch of dark fruit up front followed by Belgian yeast and mild phenols in the middle before ending with coffee and dark roasted malt at the finish. Aftertaste is bitter with a touch of sweetness peaking through.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full-bodied with a high amount of prickly carbonation.

Drinkability: Good drinkability. It's a sipper that doesn't feel like one.

Overall: Good beer overall. I prefer it on draft by a mile, but this is still a nice hybrid beer. Worth a try.

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Photo of Gtreid
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into my bruery tulip

A: Opaque dark brown. The pour left a cap of light tan foam that retained rather well.

A: As per the usual with Ccb, I get notes of roasted malts, sweet caramel malt, and a unique hoppy bitterness. I also get notes of black licorice and candi sugar. Interesting.

T: more roasted grain followed by a caramel, candi sugar sweetness. Really interesting flavor profile, more notes of black licorice, coffee, toffee, and grassy hops. It finishes very bitter and sweet.

M: I'll go with medium body and pretty aggressive carbonation. Rather tingly on the palate.

O: Another extremely original offering from Ccb. I am not a huge fan of black licorice, infact I'll just say I hate it. But it seems to take a bit of a backseat to the roasty and coffee flavor on the beer. Not something I would go out of my way to get, but glad I got to try. Skal.

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Photo of BierJager89
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a brown head.

S: The nose is chocolatey and roasty with some dark fruit.

T: Flavors are chocolate, roasted malt, medium roast coffee, dark fruit, and some lighter fruits that make it a bit tart, but not uninviting.

M: Not velvety smooth, but not too over carbonated and close to full bodied.

O: Pretty good. Nothing too interesting, but it's worth a try if you can find it.

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Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with thick, light tan head that lingers forever in Cigar City snifter.

Smell is thick with dark malt, caramel, chocolate and molasses.

Taste is rich with chocolate and toasted malt. I can't taste the licorice. Mildly bitter finish.

Dry mouthfeel with lots of carbonation.

Overall I enjoyed this very much.

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Photo of hopking311
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark Black, thin light tan head.. Great retention and lacing.

smells of sweet licorice, roasted caramel malts

well carbonated, medium body

taste roasty, caramel sweetness, light chocolate malts.

Balanced porter. second time having.. very nice and balanced flavors..

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Photo of dnrobert24
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Prior to cracking this, I felt it paramount to put the ipod on and turn up the volume. Now for the notes.

Special release in Alabama only. Woohoo! We actually get a beer that other states won't get. This is something new. I guess it pays to have relationships with the brewery as this beer is a tribute to an Alabama indie rock band, "El Chupa Cobras," whose frontman is long-time friend and former band member of the head brewer of Cigar City.

Black Whole is a perfect example of a tasty beer that refuses to be pigeon-holed to any specific style guideline. Word from the brewer is that this is supposed to be a cross between a Belgian Dubbel and an English Porter fermented with a French Saison yeast strain. Yum.

At the crack of the cap, I smell porter. Roasted robust dark malts come out as I pour. The beer itself is pitch black with ruddy brown at the far edges. From the glass, I pick up plum notes. There is an initial stout-like quality to this brew. It is a bit thin (perhaps because of the more attenuative saison yeast?) with burnt notes on the front end and leather on the back end. As it warms, I pick up a brown sugar notes and spicy yeast phenols that I might expect in a dubbel. As I reach the very end of the glass I finally catch the self-described black licorice.

Overall this beer is what it claims to be--a dark beer that you can get lost in as layers of flavor reveal themselves. But don't drink it in silence, the music really adds something too.

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Photo of STKPICR0720
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Okay I am not a huge porter fan but I had to try this brew considering it is limited only to Alabama and the brewery. I poured into a tulip this brew is pitch black. This brew can easily be explained as cold coffee. It is sweet, bitter and a little hoppy. The beer looks like the darkest coffee ever brewed and drinks like a coffee that has been in the fridge for an hour. A great brew but not necessarily for my taste. Allthough this is another great brew from CCB.

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Photo of sommersb
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 09-25-2011
Freshness: Bottled 07-21-2011
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Gift from my brother in AL

A: Black, opaque beer with very little brown on the edges seen when held to the light. Nice creamy, tan head sits 3-4 fingers high, with great retention and a good amount of lace.

S: Primarily chocolate and coffee notes (roasted malts), with also some licorice in the background. As the beer warms, I get some rich, dark fruit notes as in a Belgian Strong Dark ale.

T: A dark chocolate bitterness is the first taste I get, offset somewhat by some caramel sweetness. It also has a smoked and woody taste, similar to a barrel-aged beer. As in the aromas, as the beer warms to room temperature, there are flavors of raisin or other ripe, darkened fruits like in dark Belgian ales. The alcohol seems to be more predominant as it warms as well.

M: Body is medium to heavy and carbonation is high. The finish is dry, with flavors of toasted malts, coffee and bittersweet chocolate.

O: This is a complex beer and difficult to pin to a particular style. Definitely a sipper due to the alcohol and intense flavors. Overall an enjoyable brew I'd recommend.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Chimay goblet. No date-stamp on this "multi-dimensional ale."

A: The beer is almost black and certainly impenetrably opaque. A really nice, creamy head settles to almost a finger.

S: Lest my nose deceive me, I detect traces of a Belgian yeast. Tripel-y. Also some roasted malt, sweetish. Powdered milk chocolate?

T/M: Wow. Let's see...where to start. The mouthfeel hits me first, puckery without being sour or particularly dry, lots of tingliness and a surprisingly light body. The beer is full of flavours, more or less what you'd expect to find in a porter, if a bit strong. The aftertaste is the most typical and is bitter, as if of coffee grounds, and almost ashy. The maintaste reinforces my Belgian impression, with a fruity-spicy yeastiness amidst the anticipated chocolatey-roast malt. Really complex and really good.

O: I think this is a pretty grand beer -- I may go out and buy some more (didn't realise it was a limited release). Highly recommended, and very interesting. Look forward to puzzling through another.

EDIT (3 October 2011): I did go out and buy some more. I was not disappointed.

EDIT (10 June 2012): Blackberries on the nose, otherwise my initial opinions are confirmed.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with just a slight tinge of red. Small coffee colored head.

Smells of roasted coffee and chocolate. Good classic porter aromas.

Taste follows the nose. A great blend of chocolate and coffee with some earthy hop notes.

Fairly creamy with medium carbonation levels.

Very good porter with some bold yet balanced flavors.

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Photo of Reaper16
4.29/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle served into a tulip glass

Pours a very dark brown, like molasses-dark. It’s more a cola brown at the very edges of the glass, but that’s as light as this beer gets. Two fingers of soft, consistent mocha colored head on this pour. The foam is not dense at all, despite how much of it there is. Think the head on a bottle or can of Guinness. This is more than adequate for a porter.

Oooh, now THIS is something different. The initial wave of aroma is very much in the porter tradition: it is roasty as all Hell, with loads of bitter chocolate notes. There is a small but not insignificant amount of Earthy hops (Fuggles, maybe?). But Black Whole soon starts to get all Belgian on you. Notes of wild cherry and clove invite comparisons to Dubbels. Black pepper starts to come out as the beer warms. The overall effect – smoky, peppery, slightly fruity -- is not too dissimilar from a steak grilled over fruitwood.

While Black Whole is, in the nose, more porter than anything else, it leans towards Belgian ales on the palate. Wild cherry washes over the tongue immediately, their juicy sweetness undercut by the spice character (clove and black peppercorn, mostly). Chocolate sauce finds its way out from underneath the Belgian yeast character, as well as the significant char from the roasted malts. The finish sees brief bursts of anise, vanilla, and European hops before the roast and black pepper take back over. Scoring this beer is tricky because is straddles this line between styles. My score might be an outlier for this beer. To me, the cherry flavors compliment this level of dark caramel maltiness, and the heavy roasted malt works in tandem with the peppery yeast character. If you love roast and bitterness as much as I do then you should love this beer.

Scoring the mouthfeel is also tricky. It’s not as thick as the porter character would normally call for, but seems appropriate for a lighter Dubbel. It’s also quite prickly with carbonation. What elevates the mouthfeel, though, is its surprising amount of dryness. Black Whole is fermented with a Saison yeast strain, and it definitely works to dry the beer out. I’m very interested in seeing what age does to this beer, in seeing how that yeast strain affects the beer long-term.

Overall, this is a splendid experiment. I find that the marriage of Dubbel and Porter works quite well. I’m going to have to buy a few more to stash away for a year or so. I’d suggest that you run out and buy this, but its pretty rate. Black Whole was limited to only 144 cases, and it is sold ONLY in the state of Alabama (well, and the Cigar City taproom in Tampa, FL). The beer is named in tribute to Alabama indie rock band, El Chupa Cobras, so Alabama gets pretty much all of the cases. If you like porters or like dark saisons or just like wildly experimental brews then you should find someone in Alabama to trade with.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.33/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark pour here with a rich dark brown color that no light could penetrate. This was a monster looking porter I have to say with a menacing two inches of foam on the top of it that cascaded down the sides. The aroma was of light vanilla, lots of oak and woody notes, and hints of molasses and caramel. As it warmed some nice roasted notes start coming off of it. The flavor was as rich as the aroma with lots of sweet malts, hints of roasted notes and a nice bit of caramel and molasses. Light vanilla, not as much as I would have hoped for peaking through. A nice full bodied porter, nothing here was really overwhelming. This was about as solid as a big porter you are going to come across.

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Black Whole from Cigar City Brewing
3.65 out of 5 based on 110 ratings.
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