Black's Dawn | Cismontane Brewing Company

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Black's DawnBlack's Dawn

Brewed by:
Cismontane Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Named after Black's Beach

Added by DoubleJ on 07-03-2010

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Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 317
Photo of Jeffreysan
4.9/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color, with a quarter of a finger of chocolate/caramel-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that almost, but not quite, completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic, with tons of earthy, rich, roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly toasted dark bread, a touch of smoke, tons of freshly ground coffee beans, tons of dark, dark chocolate and brown sugar, hints of vanilla creamer and bittersweet chocolate. Inviting and delicious!

Taste: Wow! Holy shit! Is this beer strong and awesome! Massive, rich, earthy, roasty flavors of roasted malt up front, followed by tons of coffee and brown sugar-like sweetness, hints of vanilla and smoke, but the predominate flavors are of roasted malt and coffee!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and smooth as there is very little in the way of carbonation. With an ABV of 8.5%, there is a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is an excellent, coffee-infused Imperial Stout! Malty as hell, roasty as hell, and tasty as hell, with tons of coffee, but thankfully, none of the bitterness that usually accompanies coffee. Very highly recommended!

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Photo of LBDriver
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tan, cappuccino like head. Previous posts of "mocha" coloured head are spot on. At 50 SRM this beer is about as black as it gets, some shades of dark red wine ( maybe) just under head.
Coffee and dark chocolate mostly dominate the nose. Earth and a bit of hoppy pineyness come near the end. Roasted barley subdued with chocolate and black malts also noticeable.
Coffee is softened by chocolate malt and balanced with a very pleasant hop bitterness. Dark chocolate lingers, virtually no booziness- the rich chocolate, roastiness of the coffee and slight pungent aspect of hops masks beautifully.
A viscous mouthfeel is broken up by hop/coffee bitterness. The illusion of American oak afforded. Great carbonation allows this stout to be more than just a desert pairing.
Overall a very balanced coffee stout in the company of many one-sided coffee stouts. Hop pineyness and coffee astringency paired remarkedly with chocolate malt makes this a surprising after work beer. Hard to find in the bottle but I hope that changes soon!

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Photo of Uncle_Jimmy
4.52/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Opaque Black little to no head. No lacing

Aroma- Big wow ! Prune, Port Plum, Coffee Dark Cherry and molasses

Taste- Smooth coffee plum leather, tobacco and molasses. No bitter over cooked coffee taste and at 50 IBU hops blend seamlessly with coffee a little black licorice in the finish.

Mouthfeel- slick and smooth IMO where both an imperial stout and a coffee imperial stout should be. Light on the carbonation but that is to be expected.

Overall I may say my favorite offering from Cismontane love the nose and taste for sure!

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Photo of Tutoraxia
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

A five ounce taste at Wade's in Agoura CA 8/2014.
This is directly from Stinkypuss's review. Thank you, very well done!

LOOK: Dark brown, with a tan brown creamy head. Small amount of lacing on the glass.

SMELL: Nutty, roasted, coffee grounds and a bit of mineral. Cocoa emerges as it warms.

TASTE: Robust malty notes, coffee, anise, dark chocolate, raw cocoa and some mineral and herbal, lightly citric hop notes. As it warms, more coffee and chocolate notes come out, giving a mocha impression. Chocolate malt and coffee are the culprits. Alcohol flavor is felt more than tasted, but is present. Vanilla coffee lasts in the aftertaste.

FEEL: Medium bodied, smooth, creamy, with a low-medium carbonation.

Not from Stinkpuss

OVERALL: A very nice stout. Memorable in the way that all of the tastes follow each other, and combine beautifully.

From a 20 oz. bottle, 8/2014.
But a shadow of it's tap version. Still nicely drinkable, but not even close to memorable.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the Hyatt Orange County, CA. Absolutely pitch black with a nice tan head that stayed; very good retention.
The aroma was predominantly coffee with hints of cocoa coming through.
Taste upfront was also of roasted coffee with hints of cocoa bitterness coming through towards the end. Medium to full bodied stout stout.
I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth this stout was. The alcohol made it's presence felt slowly. This is definitely a sipper.
I am glad I got a chance to try this, definitely not disappointed. Wouldn't hesitate to try it again if and when I visit CA again.
Worth a try.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.36/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Tried to age....couldn't.

Pours a black ale with a big time light brown head. Minor lacing. Foam looks like coffee ice cream. Cool.

The aroma has nice roasted malts, big whiffs of sweet chocolate, leather, cocoa powder, marshmallows, and coffee beans. Awesome!

The taste is roasty and bitter. And underlining sweetness is constant and creates a nice blend. A long bitter aftertaste. Buds stay rough from the ale. Salvation is present. Light peppery finish as well. Hops present.

The mouthfeel is slick but I like it. Light carbonation gives me a kick each sip.

Overall I enjoyed this a lot. I wasn't familiar with the brewery but I am now and in search of their other brews. I wIll say it's a little tough to find in the East Bay but I'll be a looking. Highly recommend.

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Photo of SwillinBrew
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, this beer surprised me. I don't know why, I guess I wasn't expecting it to taste so good.

Had this on tap at the brewery and it poured black like looking at an expresso in a glass cup. Chips ahoy cookie colored head about a fingers worth foamed on top leaving a robust arching lace on the glass.

Bouquet of freshly ground coffee beans right out of the kiln and into the grinder tantalized my nose of with hints of the joy to come, a full envelopment of my olfactory senses. Very robust and satisfying.

Rich coffee and light roast fills the mouth with a smooth touch and penetrating flavors. Hints of molasses vaguely perceived slow dance in a sweetened cup of african java... such a solid and bold taste. I think a komodo dragon grew the coffee beans. If you like alesmith speedway stout or Founders breakfast stout, you'll love this beer.

Very drinkable and it will sneak up on you... the alcohol is hidden very well.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown-black with a thin finger of frothy chocolate colored head. The head fades fairly quickly leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of dark chocolate malts, coffee, dark fruit, black licorice, molasses, and a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of dark chocolate malts with some dark fruit, black licorice, and a touch of lactose. Through the middle, roasted coffee comes through with a bit of molasses and some earthy hops. The finish is a mix of dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, black licorice, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet, dry, and roasty finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice overall balance with the coffee and chocolate flavors mixing nicely.

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Photo of pkalix
4.31/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

thick and super dark brown. no head on the first pour into my tulip glass.
smell is all chocolate and coffee. roasted, of course.
nice and thick. coffee hits first, like a heavy starbucks (they OVER-ROAST everything there, i'm not sure why). slight bitterness at the finish. very heavy. very filling. obviously going more for taste than abv (7.2 ? ).
2nd pour, more vigorous than the first, still only produced a skim layer of brown froth. others are saying they got some foam, but i'm not seeing it. maybe just a little older? coming from the corner liquor store? it would help if they put a date on their bottles... they ought to care about what the customer is actually getting, right?
overall, it was alright. I suppose 85 is "alright" in my book. most alcohol is good, I think. as long as it's made with decent ingredients and care. it's the "jose cuervos" that give give ya headaches the next morning and fool people due to the "company brand". I feel this is a solid 85.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch foamy dark khaki head that fades to an oily film on the top of the beer. Small dots of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, coffee beans, and some bittersweet chocolate aromas. Taste is of dark roasted malt, coffee grounds, and dark chocolate syrup. A nice mild roasty bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good coffee stout with a great balance of coffee and dark chocolate flavors.

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Photo of dbmernin83
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black with a light brown head and great lacing
Smells of coffee, and booze.
Big coffee, a little chocolate and boozing sweetness.
Good carbonation, on the lighter side of imperial stouts making it extremely drinkable.
A fantastic coffee stout. Everything I look for in a stout, and a little more.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Like coffee?
This is the freshest cup of java you will every find.
Pours a deep, dark black in the glass with a decent two fingers of tan bubbles that melt slowly leaving a nice mapping in their wake.
Aroma is nice sweet coffee. Darkly toasted malt, brown sugar, and freshly ground sumatra coffee hits the nose.
Mouthfeel is rich, creamy and smooth....tiny bubbles make it almost seem nitro but without the nitro aftertaste.
Your tastebuds are delighted with freshly ground sumatra coffee, brown sugar and smooth grained oatmeal.
Hops only exist to keep the brown sugar in check and the aftertaste is pure coffee and maybe a hint of nuts.
This one definitely tasted like 'breakfast in a bottle' to me.
Totally smooth and mellow without a hint of bitterness.
Careful - the 8% ABV is not apparent in the taste and this one can creep up on you.

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Photo of schwemjw
4.27/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: opaque black with a mocha head.

S: espresso, chocolate, vanilla and a tone of roasted malt. Very creamy, like milk.

T: A tone of chocolate with a nice coffee/ roast malt mid palate. A great bittering finish. Very balanced and drinkable. reminiscent of hot chocolate. Lots of mocha characteristics as well.

M: lingering finish. medium bodies.

O: Awesome! i came into this beer without expectations and i was pleasantly surprised. Easy drinking with a ton of flavor. I'd rather start each morning off with this instead of coffee!!! / 94

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Photo of jminsc76
4.27/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slight bit of head, mildly beige and brown in color atop a very dark brown body. Looks like an espresso milkshake.

Aromas of cocoa and coffee, well-balanced, intensifying as I allow it to warm. A little bit of burnt sugar and dark chocolate as well.

Complex flavors of roasty coffee, chocolate, and the aforementioned brown sugar from start to finish, with the ultimate finish exhibiting some nice espresso bitterness. Woo wee! that’s a good dessert stout. Flavorful and rich yet isn’t overpowering in the slightest. My only complaint is it seemingly loses complexity near the end, with the first 75% as transcendent.

Mouthfeel is ebullient and smooth, though not pillowy considering it’s brewed with oats.

Overall, Blacks Dawn is delicious. Not since Green Flash’s Double Stout have I had something as flavor impactful as this one, and if I could select its secret weapon I would go with the oats. Even though they appear to do little for the mouthfeel they balance the intensity of the coffee and brown sugar, so as to optimize the sweetness. Even restraining it. Highly drinkable; I’d down two or three per sitting.

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Photo of ElSid
4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The Beers of California


Bottled Date: None

A: Thick motor oil black with very minimal light brown head

S: Big and smooth espresso nose with components of chocolate, marshmallow, and half and half. There is also a nice brown sugar sweetness and oatmeal evenness.

T: The coffee beans come through up front along with notes of chocolate milk, vanilla, raisins which then transitions to a leafy bitterness and a nice bourbonesque alcohol warmth which builds to the finish. The malt skeleton is of toasted bread and brownsugary sweetness along with the oats which impart a smoothness to the palate.

M: Big, round, and smooth adding to the already strong palate. The carbonation is minimal to moderate but enough to keep things interesting.

O: As a coffee lover, the brew does a wonderful job of showcasing espresso flavors in a solidly crafted Imperial Stout. I was taken aback by the strength and roundness of this stout, which overall reminded me of AleSmith's great Speedway. It's up and coming microbrews like Cismontane that remind me how wonderful it is to live in California as a beer geek.

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Photo of ilikebeer03
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: black with a nice tan head. good retention and lacing.

S: roasted coffee, dark malts, chocolate,

T: delicious roasted coffee / malts. dark chocolate on the finish. a slight hop bitterness on finish. lingering roasty flavor.

M: thick and creamy.

O: delicious beer.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark umber brown with a soft light tan head, nice lace. Solid look.

S: Coffee city, the beans here do the work with a hint of dark chocolate.

T: Lots of sweet black malt, not really a roasted flavour with a lot of coffee. The oats really come in in the finish with some tasty sweetness and round out the flavours.

M: Moderate full-bodied brew, very smooth from the oats. Velvety.

D: There was a point while I was drinking this it reminded me a lot of Peche Mortel, which is always a good thing. A great first impression from this semi-new brewery in Santa Margarita, I'd love to try their other stuff.

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Photo of Samuel906
4.23/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up randomly at a little liquor store outside of Santa Cruz and didn't have a chance to drink it right away, so it sat for about 6 months. Right off the bat, I'm going to say this has become my new favorite coffee supplemented beer. If you are a coffee lover, this beer is for you. The aroma is simply wonderful; heavy roasted coffee and cocoa. Taste is equally superb and incredibly well balanced: toasty coffee, mild sweetness, and roasted malts. Not a terribly complex beer, but it hits all the right notes. Smooth and not overbearing, a little more carbonation than I was expecting but not distractingly so. Overall a terrific beer... I wish I had grabbed more, and I hope I can find it again in the future!

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Photo of Smarty_Pints
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours almost a complete black just like the name. It had little to no head but does leave behind a good amount of lacing.

S- Roated coffee hit you first it also has a tad bit of vanilla and dark chocolate to italso, not very complex but nice.

T- Taste follows the nose roasted coffee vanilla and chocolate and a bit of the alcohol comes through.

M- Not overly thick like some stouts but has a good weight to it.

O- Blacks dawn is a great example of a coffee stout. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys stouts.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz bottle, no bottled-on date, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours black with a finger of mocha colored head, leaves some spotty lacing.

S- The aroma is a big blast of coffee along with some fruit, chocolate and roasted grain.

T- Sweet, chocolatey, brown sugar roasted flavor, the coffee builds until the finish, which is roasty and seriously chock-full of coffee bean flavor.

M- Medium-bodied, soft, creamy feel with low carbonation.

O- A very nice coffee stout, I'll definitely be on the lookout for Cismontane in the future.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is nearly black with a thin layer of mocha colored foam that has pretty decent retention.

S: Tons and tons of coffee on the nose. Lots of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and a lot more coffee just for good measure. Pretty simple, but very enjoyable.

T: Again, the coffee steals the show. There is a mild caramel malt sweetness and a fairly significant roasted malt flavor, too, but the flavor is certainly characterized by the coffee. There is a slight creaminess to the finish, which is nice.

M: The body is medium, not super rich for an imperial stout, but adequate, and the carbonation is medium.

D: I wasn't sure how good this one would be, but I had heard a couple people recommend it and I'm glad they did. A very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Wowcoolman
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at The Yard in Santa Monica.
An excellent representation of the style- strong notes of powdered cocoa leaving a dry, bitter finish. Comes across balanced, not boozy. Excellent body with a creamy mouthfeel and good head retention. Very enjoyable from start to finish. I will certainly now want to try more from this brewer.
Cismontane means "on this side of the mountain" and the brewery is located east of Irvine. Blacks Dawn confirms that the brewery is quality driven. I've seen their product show up at establishments that feature California beers. If you frequent such places, beers like this are your reward.

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Photo of arizcards
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 500 ml bottle from Total Wine in mid-August for $6.99.

Beer poured black with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose has hints of coffee and mocha.

Taste is bitter chocolate, coffee grounds, roasted malts. This is slightly sweet but the hopping level keeps things balanced nicely.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall this is a very nice brew. Lots of flavor going on here without a huge abv. Recommend to try it if available!

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Photo of mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 04/14/13 notes. Got this bottle from Nugganooch; thanks Dane! Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a snifter.

a - Pours a jet black color with one inch of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident. There is a little retention and lacing; looks pretty nice.

s - Smells of coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, toasted malts, light milk chocolate, and espresso. Nice nose, lots of coffee to it, as expected.

t - Tastes of coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, burnt malts, bitter chocolate and malts, vanilla, and some milk chocolate. Even better those the nose; really nice amount of chocolate and coffee.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Body is pretty smooth; a little bit thicker and it would be outstanding.

o - Overall a really great beer; never heard of it or this brewery, but I loved it. Loads of coffee and chocolate and easy to drink; if this was easy to get off the shelves I'd certainly buy it a lot. Looking forward to the BA stout from them Dane sent along with it.

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Photo of popery
4.17/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours coffee black with dark brown edges. Small light brown head. Dissipates relatively quickly. Very strong coffee note in the aroma. Lots of roasted malt, as well. Lesser amounts of dark chocolate and caramel. Small amount of booze. The coffee seems acidic and a bit fruity. The taste is great. The coffee is again strong, but there's more chocolate and caramel. It's not too terribly sweet, though there's a good amount of caramel malt sugariness in there. There's a nice tart coffee note. Lots of roast. Some citric hops in the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy and a bit fizzy. This is a really nice coffee beer. Normally I feel the opposite, but this beer could use a bit more sweetness. The coffee flavor adds quite a bit of bitterness, and I think it gets in the way of the more delicate notes. Still, it's a really nice coffee beer.

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Black's Dawn from Cismontane Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 317 ratings.
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