Black's Dawn | Cismontane Brewing Company

very good
78 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 316
Photo of travolta
3.24/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Black, with an espresso head that has really nice retention and lacing. Not much volume.

Nose: Coffee with a tiny of of toffee at the end.

Taste: Creamy espresso. A really smooth finish. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy upfront but becomes very watery at the end.

Notes: Not much happening from the "Imperial". I am not impressed. It seems the word "imperial" is slapped on some labels for no apparent reason other than price.

 438 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 ounce bottle. Served in a Great Lakes Brewing goblet, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch and a half tan head that stayed around for a long time. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and some vanilla. The taste is mostly like the aroma, but there's the addition of some brown sugar and some burnt/charred malt. I think it's a mostly roasty tasting stout, but with a nice amount of sweetness, too. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. I think it's a good brew, I wouldn't mind trying this again in the future. It's the first Cismontane beer I've tried, so I'll have to try some of their other ones soon. $5.19 a bottle.

 754 characters

Photo of maximum12
3/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Kyle2K10 for this extra, knocking one more want off my long & distinguished list. 22 oz. bottle with a label that appears to have been designed as a freshman class project split with my wife.

The pour is black, carbonation is starting down the barrel of little to none. Strong coffee is the only note coming off the beer, unless you count roast. OK, roast & coffee.

Black's Dawn is like a coffee snuff film. Coffee in the foreground, mid-palate, & finish. Sharp, acrid bitterness is prevalent. Malt sweetness. If I squint I could imagine the blurry outlines of other flavors, but really, I'd just be making it up. It is smooth, I'll give it that, but 11 ounces is enough for me.

Right down the middle arrow of the bowling alley: this is as routine a coffee stout as exists on the Planet Earth. Not good, not bad. Just beer.

 839 characters

Photo of charlzm
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Consumed January 18th, 2014 from a bottle purchased in either 2011 or 2012.

Beer is black with only the slightest deep brown highlights when held to intense light. Moderate pour results in creamy, two-finger light brown head.

Aroma is deep, dark, rich coffee. Perhaps a little dark chocolate as well, but it could also be wishful thinking.

Flavor is intense; dark roasted malts immediately give way to a dark roast coffee flavor. Baker's chocolate also. Warming and bitter with a long, granular aftertatse.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy at first but finishes a little thin. Very warming.

Very nice coffee stout; comparable to Speedway though with less subtlety.

 676 characters

Photo of Omnium
4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Pitch black with a finger of tan head, nice thick islands of lacing.
S - Very complex aroma, massive roasted malts and coffee beans, dark chocolate, some dried apricot, a little smoke, even some piney hops.
T - Very rich roasted malt and coffee flavors with a silky dark bitter chocolate, a hint of the smoke, hop bite of pine and resin.
M - Rich full and silky, a nice bitterness too.
O - Very good complex Imperial stout, lots of great flavor.

 473 characters

Photo of metter98
3.89/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high tan head that died down, leaving a thick collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts are present in the nose along with notes of chocolate.
T: The taste follows the smell, having flavors of dark and chocolate malts along with some hints of coffee and licorice in the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This stout has nice aromas and flavors of dark and chocolate malts. It also does a good job at masking the alcohol from the taste.

Serving type: bottle

 630 characters

Photo of arizcards
4.19/5  rDev +5.8%
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!

 473 characters

Photo of RaulMondesi
4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Local beer, so Raul gonna do it like a cheerleader on a pompom.

Black like a cockroach, but tasty like a morning in Florence. It's thick, it's rich, there is chocolate, and there is a tinge of coffee. Raul approves, but like your grandmama pinching your cheek, it's a lil too sweet. Raul will put up with the pinched cheeks (especially when they always come with a $20 - thanks, grandmama) but he obviously would rather not have to put up with it.

Have a good one, my children.

 479 characters

Photo of Sladesmom
3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: It is a dark, rich color with almost head and nice lacing.

Smell: I smell a roasted, coffee smell with a hint of chocolate and vanilla.

Taste: It tastes rich with a full coffee flavor. It goes down smooth with a bitter aftertaste.

Mouth Feel: It is thick and smooth.
Overall: I find this to be a rich, flavorful stout. It is a very full chocolate coffee flavor and goes down easy. If you like stouts, this is definitely one to try

 449 characters

Photo of Smarty_Pints
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

 532 characters

Photo of pkalix
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 977 characters

Photo of Samuel906
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
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!

 722 characters

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle into a snifter

A: Pours pitch black with two fingers of dense tan head. Retention and lacing are both excellent.

S: Strong, yet smooth coffee dominates the aroma of is beer. On the sweet side with no acrid quality at all. I also get a nice nuttiness from the coffee aroma. Behind the coffee, I get a balance combination of dark chocolate, roasted malts, and malted milk balls.

T: Coffee comes out in full force again, with the same nuttiness I got from the aroma. It's a touch bitter, but stays very smooth throughout and integrates well with the stout base. Roasted malts are a bit stronger in the flavor than they were in the aroma with a moderately strong dark chocolate flavor. Although the sweetness of the beer is balanced, I can't really pick out the specific flavor it comes out as - it's subtle.

M: Medium thickness with moderate, creamy carbonation.

O: A very nice RIS with coffee. Balanced and tasty, though nothing really sticks out. It's simply well made, if uninteresting.

 1,004 characters

Photo of schwemjw
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
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

 541 characters

Photo of Brenden
3.96/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Perhaps aptly named, this beer is indeed black, or close to it. Some brown does show in the edges, but only if there's plenty of light. A tan head grows nearly a full finger tall before dropping to a sturdy enough foam that is able to drop mostly spotting but with some patching in places as well.
Coffee pours out on the nose straightaway upon opening the bottle. Cocoa is also evident with a touch of caramel sweetness. Plenty of malt backbone supports the big coffee and chocolate notes. Bitterness seems to come just from the bittersweet cocoa and the coffee.
Not much difference comes out between the aroma and the flavor. Coffee never fades away, staying strong and it has a freshness to it, which is key to any beer depending on it. Bittersweet baker's chocolate comes through strong as well, lingering in the finish. Overall,it leans toward having a stronger level of bitterness without going way too bitter, just managing to be free of any acrid edge.
A big enough stout, there is of course a robustness to this one. It's nicely smooth and on the appropriately low end as far as carbonation. As an imperial stout, though, it needs just a touch, a very slight touch, more thickness and body.

 1,199 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

 1,002 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received in a thank you box and poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice deep, deep dark brown nearly black hue with a good two finger mocha head that fades to leave a nice quarter inch blanket. Pretty damn solid here.

S - Smell is nice with lots of chocolate, more of the milk chocolate variety. Some light roast malts. Uhh, wheres the coffee though?

T - Taste is better, with nice milk chocolate and cocoa powder mix. Coffee is there, a creamy iced coffee with cream here. Some faint dark fruits as well. Could use some more coffee.

M - Mouthfeel is smooth, with light carbonation. There is some good bitter roast on the finish.

O - Overall, I wish there was more coffee in this along with less dark fruit. Plus, the nose was pretty weak.

 749 characters

Photo of kaseydad
4.36/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

 776 characters

Photo of inlimbo77
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz bottle
Riedel tulip

A: Pitch black. No light getting through. Full finger of tight bubbled light/mid dark tan head. Leaving lacing already. Some alcohol feet from head. Nicely carbonated.

S: I could smell coffee from a few inches away. Coffee. Milk chocolate, almost lactose like with sweet notes. Not that bitter dark stuff. Some roast but not pronounced.

T: Chocolate and coffee bitterness up front. Again, it's that creamier milk chocolate more than a bitter dark cocoa. Similar to porters I've had recently. The oats really help to cream this beer out. Coffee is muted by the chocolate. Dry finish. Lingering chocolate and slight roast in the palate. Easy to drink for sure.

M: Full bodied and creamy. Like the mouthfeel for sure. Oats help.

 754 characters

Photo of Uncle_Jimmy
4.52/5  rDev +14.1%
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!

 548 characters

Photo of ElSid
4.26/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

 1,104 characters

Photo of dubinsky
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 Pint bottle poured into a Deschutes snifter.

A - Pours a semi viscous, pitch black with a thin mocha color head which fades really quickly leaving some minimal lacing.

S – The aroma is a healthy combination of bootstrap molasses, licorice dark chocolate coffee and dried prunes. Damn, that sounds familiar…The Abyss?

T – Well, is not The Abyss, but damn is it ever trying to be. It has all of the elements that I describe in the aroma, but unfortunately they are all a bit more muted than The Abyss. The licorice and dark chocolate seem to be the most prevalent flavors, but all of the others are all definitely there.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Nice roasted malts with a fairly smoky finish.

D – This is a very drinkable Imperial stout. I was hugely surprised by this, especially since I have never heard of this brewery. Very well balanced. I will happily buy this again and again.

 919 characters

Photo of ThickNStout
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz bottle from j47paco (thanks Juan!). No bottling info. Served in a Wild Heaven snifter.

Pours deep dark brown with a finger and a half capuccino head that leaves several patches of dark lace.

Smells roasty with bittersweet coffee, cocoa and caramel.

Roast coffee hits the palate first. Followed by cocoa, burnt brown sugar, charred wood, oatmeal raisin cookie, leather and a little licorice. The alcohol is well masked behind the pleasing blend of flavors.

Creamy smooth medium full feel with light but ample carbonation. Nice bitter sweet coffee and brown sugar aftertaste.

I'd never heard of this brewery or this beer but it's right up my alley. A creamy, roasty, coffee-infused treat. I wouldn't turn this away if I ever get another oportunity to drink again.

 776 characters

Photo of popery
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

 835 characters

Photo of Nugganooch
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle w/ snifter

A: Blacks Dawn pours a semi thin deep dark brown that gets much dimmer as it collects in the glass. Has a nice black oily gloss to it. Thin lid of creamy smooth camel color head. Nice persistence. Quick receding cling with some dots of lace. Appropriate and inviting.

S: Smells of rich mocha. Pure roast high quality coffee beans. Dark malts with a touch of smoky char. Chocolate Brownie batter. Very nice clean aromas.

T: A very nice assortment of rich and full stouty flavors. Lots of fresh roast coffee with that earthy smoke char. Good mix of toasted grains. Espresso fudge brownie. Dark chocolate and chicory. Sweet Molasses with subtle hints of licorice that really bloom as this beer warms. Decent amount of bittering gives a slight peppery spice. Alcohol is incredibly mellow and really only perks closer to room temps. Delicious brew I must say.

M: Smooth as silk body glides with ease over the tongue. Moderately full feel. Has a light fudgey chew to it that is just right. Carb on the lower side. Lush and perfect. Finish is wetter with an oily linger.

D: This is a very tasty stout. Smooth and creamy. Rich and assertive with the Coffee yet countered well with the chocolate and dark roasty grain notes. I enjoyed this much more than the Coulter IPA. Nicely done.

Recommended and looking forward to trying the Black’s Nocturne.

 1,365 characters

Black's Dawn from Cismontane Brewing Company
3.96 out of 5 based on 316 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.