Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Black's Dawn | Cismontane Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
74 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
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 309
Photo of azdback
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Bruery tulip glass. Deep dark black with a very dark brown highlight coming from the stem. A large one finger head that is very cocoa in color and creamy/froth in appearance. Lace is sticking very well now and looks like it will as the way down.

Smell is lots of chocolate and coffee bean. Other roasted malt flavors are there too, like charred wood and tart fruit. A bit of alcohol there as well.

Taste is very nice coffee and milk chocolate. There is just a hint of the dark fruit in the taste. Kind of reminds me of Cherry Chocolate Stout from Stone or Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn Brewing.

Mouth is rich and creamy. Carbonation is light but full. Finish is long and not as wet as I figured it would be. There is an alcohol burn there too.

Overall I really enjoyed this extra from glitchedmind. Like I mentioned, it reminded me of a couple of other great stouts. This is coming from a small brewery with not a lot of exposure. Try it if you get the chance.

 980 characters

Photo of WillCarrera
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 535 characters

Photo of portia99
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz bottle sent as a great extra by Rckmo10 in a recent trade. Thanks! Poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass. Bottle says 8.5% ABV contrary to the description on BA.

A - Pours a pitch black color with hardly any light getting thru...what does get thru gives a deep brown highlights at the very edges fo the liquid. A very small off white head forms but falls rapidly down to a tight collar of bubbles...spotty lacing lacing.

S - Coffee is quite noticeable up front along with lots of dark roasted malt. Hints of licorice, brown sugar and some dark and milk chocolate blend nicely. Overall, aroma is a bit on the light side...what is there is rather good.

T - Tons of dark roasted malt up front, burnt toast, strong black coffee, mild astringency, light flavor of baker's chocolate, charcoal. Dark fruits, berries and a marginal sweetness on the back end of each sip that seems to smooth things out...very minor alcohol presence is noted.

M - Body is medium-ish...feels a bit thin for the style. Carbonation is medium-high and makes this beer quite lively and prickly...again, perhaps a bit out of character for the style. Wish this was a bit fuller.

O - Overall a good imperial stout. Mouthfeel is probably the weakest aspect of this beer, being a bit thin and overcarbonated for the style, but these can potentially be overlooked a little bit. Flavors are good and feature lots of dark, roasty, burnt flavors...coffee stout lovers will definitely enjoy this one. Definitely worthy of trying.

 1,503 characters

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

A: Pours black with an initially solid 1-inch mocha head which fades to a cap and around the rim leaving splotchy lace.

N: Dark chocolate/bitter-sweet cocoa powder, roasted coffee and slight char. Interesting sweetness, floral and earthy/floral notes.

T: Mildly dark chocolate with subtle roasted coffee combine well with some char and burnt notes. Some sweetness is present on the finish. Slightly ashy as warms.

M: Creamy, full bodied with semi-moderate carbonation. Faint sweetness and bitterness on the finish.

O: Very good balance between the coffee and cocoa profile. Just when one starts to take over, the other catches up. One small request - please put a little pepper in this.

 690 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at Stone.

A: Black with a big light brown head.

S: Nutty and earthy with robust coffee notes. Brown sugar blends with molasses, dark chocolate, and restrained licorice notes. Roasted malt is prominent.

T: Rich dark chocolate with a monolithic dark malt presence. Roasted with molasses and brown sugar. Nice coffee profile with a mild astringency. Moderate earthy bitterness and a dash of booze in the finish.

M: Full body with upper medium carbonation and a sticky, silky, full mouthfeel.

Overall: A nice Imperial Stout. Rich, bold, and balanced.

 569 characters

Photo of bierfreundlich
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep brown almost black-strap molasses color with a paper-thin dark tan head. Little spotty lacing.

S - Lots of roasted aroma--a dark roast coffee, roasted barley/grains, a slight caramel sweetness.

T - Tastes like bittersweet chocolate with slight hints of roasted chillies, unrefined sugar/molasses flavors, a bit tangy.

M - Heavier on carbonation than a typical stout and bit creamy with the oats. Tiny bubbles leaving your mouth a bit numb--a bit like an analgesic. Very nice!

O - A very impressive imperial stout. The coffee is stronger in the aroma than flavor. The flavor is very rich and heavy of roasted grains and coffee. But the mouthfeel is wonderful. A great beer! I would totally buy it again.

 724 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1048th Review on BA
Growler to Snifter
1 gallon

Thanks to GuruDel for sharing
Shared at MrHirschybars tasting

App- Big thick dark brown almost black pour with a really nice off tan head that left a good bit of sticky cling/lace. Fairly dense and looked good in the glass..

Smell- I will say one thing. They said its a coffee stout. It was a coffee nose. Nicely done on this one with the coffee, some malts and good balance.

Taste- Huge coffee and roast notes from this one. A good bit of balance with a bit of creaminess and the roasted coffee. I really enjoyed the coffee on this one. A bit assertive but worked really well.

Mouth- A medium/thick bodied beer with somewhat of a medium/low carbonation level. Pretty thick malts remain on this one with some bitterness from the coffee and roast

Drink- I enjoyed it. I have been surprised lately with Cismontane. I will have to keep giving them a shot.

 906 characters

Photo of Merkur
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Ritual in San Diego.

Had in a snifter.

Beer poured very dark brown, almost black with about a half finger worth of white head.

The beer smells of strongly of espresso and coffee. Very roasty.

The taste follows the smell with a nice, roasty flavor of coffee and a bit of chocolate.

The mouthfeel was just a bit too thin for my liking with very little carbonation.

Aside from being a bit thin, this was a very enjoyable stout.

 444 characters

Photo of ehammond1
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle (2011) Perhaps a hand-bottle. Direct from the brewery representative.

Thanks for opening this, jordanhwc!

Nearly black with a thin brown head that leaves lines of lacing down the glass.

Very roasty aroma with a bit of coffee. Simple, though appropriate and very nice.

The roasted malts and coffee flavors dominate, but they're very nice. No alcohol presence. Slight caramel sweetness as well.

Medium bodied with ample carbonation, though a touch metallic.

A very nice big stout--incredibly roasty.

 511 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev +8%
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.

 613 characters

Photo of augustgarage
3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap @ Blue Palms Brewery - served in a goblet.

Opaque seal brown body with a whisper of ran bubbles up top, settling into a thin collar and oily webbing. Anemic lacing.

Coffee, roast barley, and a touch of diacetyl in the nose.

Carob, earth, black pepper, brown butter, and stale coffee to start on the palate. Taste brings to mind a 24hr greasy spoon catering to somnolent truckers on some remote interstate. Finishes with a pleasing toastiness, though the diacetyl persists.

Oily, medium bodied, with low carbonation.

A decent coffee stout marred by a few defects you might expect from a home-brew.

 613 characters

Photo of dbmernin83
4.3/5  rDev +8%
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.

 297 characters

Photo of notchucknorris
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Pizza Port Calsbad

A: Black with a one finger tan head and pretty good retention.

S: Coffee, oats and a lot of wet earth. Perhaps a bit of licorice as well. As the beer warms, it begins to smell more smoky with a bit of smoked herring coming into play as well.

T: A bit of coffee and roasted/charred malt with a slight bit of roasted oat sweetness without the smooth mouthfeel. A bit of a smokiness in the background as well. Pretty solid, but not sure I would go for this again.

 492 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Milder dark appearance than some stouts, nothing bad. Good coffee aroma, first and foremost.

Coffee through and through, not over the top, complimented by ample chocolate, hides the alcohol. Easily a breakfast style tailgating beer.

Reminiscient of Speedway Stout, although nowhere near as thick. Like a small beer version of that.

 334 characters

Photo of Wowcoolman
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 620 characters

Photo of jminsc76
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

 1,144 characters

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

 614 characters

Photo of thagr81us
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at the brewery on a recent trip to Cali in the company of womencantsail, t0rin0, and fbm115. Served from tap into an imperial pint glass. Poured pitch black with a minimal off-white head. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark chocolate, and slight coffee. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark chocolate, caramel, slight coffee, and slight cream. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this brew wasn't that bad. It was very nicely balanced, but just lacked in intensity and the flavors I find most enjoyable. With that said however, it had a nice aroma and flavor going on. A must try if you are in the area.

 687 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.4/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the growler into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black with a diminishing beige residue of foam that ends up as a fine ring around the inside of the glass. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Espresso, eucalyptus foliage, dark chocolate, and sweet/fusile alcohols.

D: Begins off-dry, unctuous, with acidic coffee and pungent--almost rancid--umami. Nutty roasted malt emerges in the middle as other, less appealing, flavors fade. It finishes with a whiff of bitter coffee grounds, although little hop bitterness is detected. No alcohol is detected in the flavor.

M: Medium viscosity, creamy on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: Admittedly not a fan of coffee stouts, I find that this offering by Cismontane has demonstrated the ability to grow on me. Although it is one of just a few production recipes they brew, I am predisposed to like it more since I had a pilot batch of its cousin--a stout brewed with Belgian yeast and fermented on dates. Still, this appears to be the crowd favorite among the brews in Cismontane's small stable. Black's Dawn is the Cismontane beer I have encountered most frequently on-draft at local pubs, from Tony's to Beachwood.

 1,168 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 752 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

 616 characters

Photo of SwillinBrew
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

 927 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

 841 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The newest beer in the Cismontane lineup, a coffee stout brewed with brown sugar and oats. On-tap at the source, on to the beer:

Yep, it's black. The head retention on top is fair. Anyways, this is a coffee stout that leans towards the coffee side. Roasted coffee in the aroma, lots of roasted coffee in the taste, a little sweet from the brown sugar, a little astringent too. The alcohol hides itself well in this medium bodied beer...maybe a whisper light for its size.

You better like coffee if you're going to drink this, as it is very coffeeish. I happen to be a fan of coffee stouts, so this was no problem. It could use more "beer" in the formula to get it to the next level.

 689 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Black's Dawn from Cismontane Brewing Company
3.98 out of 5 based on 309 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!