Black's Nocturne | Cismontane Brewing Company

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Black's NocturneBlack's Nocturne
Black's NocturneBlack's Nocturne

Brewed by:
Cismontane Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
We took everyone’s favorite Imperial Stout (sans coffee) and aged it for nearly a year in fresh Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, which we then blended in an attempt to tame the bourbon beastliness. Creamy vanilla and smooth oak on the nose complement and round out the roasted, bitter chocolate characteristics. A kiss of bourbon booziness on the palate provides the perfect finish for this rich and decadent tribute to the dark months ahead. Be prepared…winter is coming.

User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 95
Photo of Brutaltruth
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the bottle in a snifter. This beast of a brew pours a pitch black with a
decent head of light tan foam that subsides to a thick ring, thin wafting pool,
and features nice light lacing. Nose of boozy bourbon, chocolate, deeply roasted malts,
dark fruit notes of raisins, and vanilla. Flavors nail the expectations built upon the original
Black's Dawn with boozy bourbon and light vanilla notes dancing about oak, raisins, a touch
of anise, and rich velvety dark chocolate. Excellent mouth feel; medium full body, smooth as silk,
moderately coating, warm, and sweet on the finish without being cloying with mild carbonation.

Overall, an excellent sequel to the original Dawn stout.


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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Batch #2 (Aged on Makers Mark), Bottle.

A: Moderately strong roasted malt character, almost dark chocolate like with ample vanilla, bourbon aroma.

A: Totally black color, opaque, with a thin tan head that has adequate retention.

T: Moderely high roasted malts, dark chocolate-like, moderate bourbon flavors of vanilla, very light bitterness with a semi-dry finish.

M:Full bodied with moderately light carbonation.

O: Excellent; this beer has excellent balance between the deep malt/roast character and the complimentary bourbon character. While this beer is quite tasty, Batch #1, aged on Heaven's Hill Barrels was even better, miss Batch #1!

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.99/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

S: hoppy, sweet, malty, no bourbon though
T: hops and sweetness. It's good, just not what I was expecting. Hoping for bcs, but not even close
F: thin, but easy drinking
O: big disappointment

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the source, on to the beer:

Served in a short shaker, this imperial stout is too black to describe and topped with a splash of tanned foam. You smell it, and the first thing to hit your mind is bourbon. A few splashes of sweet and roasty imperial stout lay underneath the layer of said spirit.

A chocolate laced bourbon treat is what you get here. Incredibly, the 11% alcohol does not show itself. The bourbon yields a fruity flavor from itself, and with time the bourbon seems to mellow. It comes out as a somewhat chewy beer and full bodied, and very smooth.

For a cool night like tonight, Black's Nocturne will keep you feeling warm.

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Photo of Nominoe
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Overall, this beer blew my mind. The label's only description is "Imperial Stout" and 11%ABV. I didn't know it was aged in bourbon barrels until I opened the bottle and smelled. It smells rich, chocolatey, bourbon/oak and sweet. Not knowing it was bourbon-barrel aged, I was stumped for a bit whether it was just oak barrels or not. It tastes quite similar to the smell with the bourbon a little more noticeable than in the smell and a slightly vanilla-like taste that's less present in the smell. It feels perfectly slick and thick as a barrel-aged imperial stout should. There's a sharpness that throws me off a bit in the end, but it's not too much. The beer didn't create much of a head and looked like an average imperial stout being poured into a tulip. I will definitely go grab a couple more bottles if they're still on shelves.

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Photo of pkalix
4.91/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

beautiful sweet aroma of some whiskey, grapes, oak..... reminds me very much of the best Eclipse I ever had, but with some grape to it(?). rich, semi-chocolate-y and mellow. creamy, mellow roastiness on the sides of the tongue, sweet on the back. this is supposed to be a 2012 bottle (thank you sir!) but it was one of my ultimate target brews and never got to taste one fresh off the line. I can imagine how it may have matured though and the mellowness is very evident. finally got to try this!

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Photo of dfernandez77
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Commentary: So I have a couple homebrewing friends who talk about this beer as if they’d give their left testicle for a bottle. If they were regular bottle geeks (rare beer fans who don’t brew) I’d find it quaint, but these guys are both good brewers in their own right. That means labels don’t mean squat – it’s the beer that counts. With that in mind, I bought a bottle when I found it. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout.

Appearance 4.0: Black, impenetrable, a liquid eclipse – and not a FiftyFifty Eclipse (it’s better) – in a bottle. Head like the froth on a hot chocolate, dissipates quickly, laces gently.

Aroma 4.5: Bourbon vanilla, Coca Cola syrup, cocoa liquor (pure chocolate in its liquid form), and a touch of maple. A delicate roast like and angel fell in a campfire.
Flavor 4.75: Chocolate ganache, crème brulee caramelized crust, campfire burnt marshmallows.

Mouthfeel 4.75: Full and creamy, slight astringency around the edges from roast in the long (luxurious) finish.

Overall Impression 5.00: An interesting note; my second pour from the bottle had a small pellicle. Like a brown, boogery, loogie, foamy, phlegm, floater. What did I do? I am a brewer and fermentor. I make cheese, spontaneous fermented pickles, eat “stinky” fermented tofu. I fear no floater – it’s from a barrel ferchrisakes, it happens. I found a fork, flung the floater in the sink, and finished the bottle.

So, regarding my aforementioned friends and their testicles. Left, right, whatever – I’d be tempted to trade my own for a bottle. Someone stole the chocolate left on God’s pillow after they turn down his bed, liquefied it, beerified it, bourbon barrelified it, and bottled it. I will take as many of these as you can find – please.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750mL bottle from jpaco47 (thanks so much man!). No noticeable bottling info. Served in a Three Floyds teku.

Pours black with two fingers of fluffy tan head. The head fades slowly and leaves small spots of lace.

Smells of oaky bourbon, coffee, roast and sweet cream.

No surprises in the taste. Follows the nose well with oaky vanilla, creamed coffee, bourbon, dark chocolate, burnt caramel,

Semi syrupy medium body with mild carbonation. Bourbon infused coffee finish.

A nice barrel aged imperial stout. Not a whole lot of depth but what's there is really tasty.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 04/20/13 notes. Thanks to Nugganooch for sending me this one; thanks Dane! 22 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

a - Pours a dark brown, almost black color, with one finger of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of milk chocolate, sweet bourbon, roasted malts, dark chocolate, toasted malts, vanilla, some oak and coconut. Very nice nose. Sweet, with nice bourbon and chocolate mixing together. Not very hot at all.

t - Tastes of milk chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, roasted malts, toffee, caramel, some dark fruits, oak, coconut, burnt and toasted malts. More vanilla here than the nose, not quite as sweet. A little better than the nose in my opinion.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Body is pretty smooth and not very hot. A little bit thicker and the body would be great.

o - Overall my second beer and stout from Cismontane and I have been impressed with both of them; they were know their stouts. This one is a big stout that has barrel notes, but tastes like it is 8% ABV; really nice. Loads of sweet bourbon and chocolate throughout, and easy to drink. Would really like to have it again.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.96/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, opened by Greenplastic615. Thanks for the share!

A: Dark black body, thin tan that settled nice and quick into a filmy retention cap. Minor lacing.

S: Rich dark chocolate, sweet bourbon, oak, dark fruits, molasses.

T: Wonderful bourbon and chocolate blended on first sip. Notes of oak, brown sugar, vanilla and some slightly roasted caramel malts.

M: Higher end of medium-bodied, not as full, lush and thick as some others in the style. An easy drinker at 12% ABV.

This was a nice surprise from a little brewery I've never even heard of. Good first impression.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle, fall 2012
5oz mini tasting snifter

A: Pours out nearly pitch black in color. I see some reddish hues around the edges of the glass. There was some sticky tan lacing left no the glass, but there wasn't a lot of head. Alcohol feet are present as we're dealing with a higher ABV.

S: Great nose on this one. Pulling lots of bourbon character here: vanilla, toffee, caramel, etc. Also getting some fudgy chocolate notes as well. Really smells like a pleasant mix, especially when you start to get some of that roast coffee into the mix as well.

T: Taste is also killer here. Just like I smelled you get deep chocolate notes first, meshing with some coffee character. Then you get the barrel treatment, that vanilla and burnt sugar come into play in the mid-palate. It's really smooth. You really don't taste the ABV, even at that high level. Maybe some warming, but that is all. Long finish on this. Flavors come up better as they warm.

M: Full bodied brew. Coats the mouth.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.61/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours jet black with a small cocoa brown head. Surprising retention for a big stout like this with good lacing. Nice looking beer.

Big bourbon and chocolate notes waft up before my nose is even close to the bottle. Roasted malts, vanilla and oak also.

Flavor is similar although the char flavor comes on a big stronger than the aroma. Tons of dark chocolate balanced by charred slightly smoky malt. Vanilla and oak linger in the background. Bourbon provides a lot of warmth on the back end.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Could use maybe a little more body to full reach its potential, but still doesn't detract from the beer. Fairly hot, but I prefer that and the bourbon feels integrated.

Fantastic off my radar beer. Thanks Matt for sending this! Perfect balance between all the flavor components and a great beer to drink on a cold January night.

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Photo of match1112
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

another big ol thank you to ehammond1 for sending this one!

pours the usual pitch black body that one would expect from a ba beer, but this one has a thick creamy head that stands a finger and a half tall. don't remember the last time i saw anything more than a quarter inch of head on a big bourbon beer.

only two parts to the aroma, big bourbon notes and dark chocolate. on the tongue though you can pick up on notes of vanilla and oats with the slightest hint of charred barrel. mouthfeel seemes a little thin for such a big beer, but it also helps to make it very easy to down a bottle by my self. super sweet and sticky from the chocolate and brown sugar with a very nice and mellow warming presence.

overall i really like this beer and cant believe that nobody is talking about it. such a great bourbon beer that i am lucky enough to receive two bottles of from two great traders, thanks fellas. as far as the rest of you that read this, you should get you some while you can.

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Photo of pschul4
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Stoked to try this one! Thanks BdubleEdubleRUN!
Poured into my founders snifter

A- Pours a very dark black with a 1/4" head that sticks around for a very long time. Looks like a big black stout if I eva seen one

S- I am currently sitting 3 feet away from it and i can smell some chocolate and bourbon. As I bring it closer I am getting tons of bourbon alon with the chocolate. Smells a little hot but very delicious

T- Starts out amazing. Nice bourbon up front with chocolate and coffee. In the middle the chocolate takes over, a very nice touch. In the end it's a tad thin but leaves a very nice toasted oat taste in your mouth

M- Pretty thin. Thickening this beer would make it scary good. Almost BCBSesque

O- Freakin great! Would love to drink this every day. Brett, my jimmies are forever greatful/10

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Photo of IKR
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black with a fairly generous beige head that gradually fades. Good lacing observed.

Smell: Mild brown sugar, some bitter chocolate aromas, and faint bourbon notes.

Taste: A mix of mild Bourbon, bitter chocolate, and faint tannic oak notes. Some roasted malts/coffee notes were also present. The barrel notes are fairly subtle. I wish there were 0.25 increments for the scoring as I feel it's above the 4 I've given it but I'm not sure I'd give it a 4.5 (score updated on February 14, 2013). I do enjoy the balanced flavor profile.

Mouth-feel:The body is on the light side of Medium- bodied with a good level of carbonation, especially considering the bal-aging.

Overall: The proprietor of the store I purchased this from thought it was similar to Old Rasputin XIV. I agree, though I would take the Old Rasputin Anniversary beer over this, especially if cost wasn't an issue. This is a good bal-aged beer, especially if you take price into consideration.

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Photo of harrymel
4.09/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Kristalynn

It's black with a solid persistant sheet of mocha foam. Smells of bourbon, booze, oak, fudgy, figgy, some graham, nougat, vanilla, chocolate chip cookie dough. Taste is sweet, boozy, nice barrel tones, some tawny port character, some raisin and fig. Full bodied with reserved carbonation and a fairly dry finish. This is a well crafted beer that reminds me of Schlafly's Bourbon Stout 2008, aged about three years. Enjoyed that beer immensely, and will enjoy the remainder of this beer as well.

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Photo of mactrail
3.87/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A gigantic blow torch of an Imperial Stout. Very dark mahogany color in the New Belgium snifter. Quite dark head, it's beyond beige. Spritzy in the mouth with a prickly sharpness that accentuates the booze. Actually not a heavy-bodied brew, for all the massive ingredients. Great aroma of woody vanilla and caramel.

Sweet like a liqueur from the start. A pleasant drying trend takes hold so the sugar doesn't stay on the tongue for long. The sweetness does make a nice introduction as your taste buds are assaulted. Seriously hot with alcohol. The syrupy intensity and vast flavors do distract you while this is sliding down your throat, but I wouldn't say the alcohol is hidden. Dark and charry malt is the big flavor, enlivened by a very smooth bourbon taste.

Satisfying for a small glass after dinner, say. A little too much of a good thing, but I'll be interested in what the barrel fanatics say about this. From the 750 ml bottle purchased at Best Damn in San Diego.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2012)

Texas Liquor
Carlsbad, CA

Black throughout, thick in body, small to moderately-sized dark brown head with nice retention for the style, leaving dots and thin ribbons of bubbly stick down the glass. Gorgeous.

The aroma is complete and quite lovely: big notes of chocolate, roast, and mild char, along with sweet and earthy vanilla, oak, and distinct bourbon. Very, very nice.

The flavor is similarly good as the aroma, with chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, and dark malt character combining incredibly well. The alcohol is fairly well hidden, though this one still reminds you of it's significant heft. Some sweeter caramel and burnt sugar notes complement this as well, especially when it comes closer and closer to room temperature.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. I suppose it could be a touch thicker, but I'd only be nitpicking.

This stuff is great.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are average; this is me first beer from this brewery. 12% ABV confirmed. 50 IBU. 30 SRM.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger rich tan colour head of gorgeous frothy cream, great thickness, and impressive retention for the high ABV. Body colour is a solid black. No yeast particles are visible; it's nontransparent. Opaque. So far, so good. I'm excited to try it.

Sm: Heavy oak, vanilla, some roast, alcohol, dark malts, marvelous bourbon, and cocoa nibs. Some caramel. Oats when I look for them. I don't get brown sugar. A very pleasant, inviting aroma. No yeast is detectable. I'm excited for this one.

T: Vanilla, cacao nibs, caramel, dark malts, bourbon, and oak. An eclectic, fantastic, flavour. Very well balanced and enjoyable. The vanilla and bourbon coalesce nicely, generating an excellent effect. Satisfying. It has a reserved subtlety that really suits it well. Rich and decadent. I really like it. Complex and intriguing. I'm quite impressed. No yeast comes through. The alcohol is very well hidden. Hopping is minimal and backgrounded, functioning mainly as a preservative. The dark malt foundation is a bit caramelized and features some chocolate malt, but doesn't intrude, holding the beer together nicely. I barely get brown sugar. A bit of oaty sweetness is detectable only when I actively search for it. It certainly doesn't lack body. A delightful finish.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but dry and coarse enough to coax out the flavours. Perfect thickness. Suits the flavour profile excellently. Perfect carbonation. Oats were used optimally here, lending an otherwise dry and coarse style some credible smoothness. Nicely creamy.

Dr: Drinkable and very enjoyable. Hides the ABV incredibly well. I really like it. I'd definitely have this again, preferably either aged or on draught. It might be too smooth on nitro. Fans of the style will no doubt enjoy this one. I'm excited to try more beers from Cismontane. A stellar brew. I'd recommend this to friends. It does come off a bit too smooth for the style, though. If I accept it as an "Imperial Oatmeal Stout", I feel better about it. The warming bourbon is really wonderful here; I'd be curious to learn which bourbon barrels they used.


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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Better Weather Fest at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, cookie dough, wood, and bourbon. Taste is much the same with an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a really nice barrel aged presence.

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Black's Nocturne from Cismontane Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.19 out of 5 with 95 ratings