Barrel Noir
Almanac Beer Co.

Barrel NoirBarrel Noir
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Stout - American Imperial
4.09 | pDev: 8.8%
Almanac Beer Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Barrel NoirBarrel Noir
Notes: This oak-aged ale is our love letter to bourbon barrels. Barrel Noir is a sumptuous, inky ale that celebrates the velvety texture and subtle heat that only Kentucky charred oak can impart. Born from a blend of American imperial stout and Belgian-inspired dark ale aged in bourbon barrels, this rich brew can be paired with braised beef dishes and dark chocolates. Enjoyed best in front of a warm fireplace.
Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 432 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Treyliff
Treyliff from West Virginia

3.85/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

375ml bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep brown, nearly black color with just a bit of light creeping out of the edges. One-finger creamy khaki head that retains before settling into a ring around the edge

S- nice bourbon notes up front impart aromas of wet oak, caramel, vanilla & burnt brown sugar. Candied fruit yeast notes, chocolate, raisin & fig

T- sweet and malty up front with a candied Belgian sweetness,followed by notes of cocoa, fig & cola. The barrel notes kick in mid-palate and add some bourbon, and woody notes. The finish drops off slightly, leaving a hint of bourbon on the linger

M- medium-light body with moderate carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel that drops off a bit in to the finish, abv has mellowed out well

O- the 50% belgian ale blend adds a different dimension of sweetness, well balanced overall

Oct 14, 2016
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Rockjocknroll from California

4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Only) vintage 2012. Drank Sept. 2016.
A: Tan head, almost pitch black. Pours readily; not as thick as in 2012 from what I remember. Mix of small and large carbonation...very interesting.
S: Molasses, caramel, raisins, lots of roasted malt. Almost a slight sourish twinge but not much.
T: Tons of coffee, roasted malt and chocolate. Bourbon becomes apparent quickly and lingers for days. You breathe out bourbon for a solid minute.
M: A little thin, carbonation is still tight and lively. Coats the entire mouth really well for how thin the feel is.
O: I'm glad I sat on one for so long but it likely peaked in the last year or two. Aroma has mellowed but the flavor is still rich and full with tons of big flavors. Even though the body is thinner it's nice...more drinkable but with lots to taste. This was the first beer that got me into big, BA stouts and it still holds up. I wish they still made this beer; all the noirs since have been let-downs compared to this beer, kind of like their sours with the same yeast over and over.

Sep 07, 2016
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mschrei from Illinois

4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lovely color. Dark center and lightens to the edges. Light head and lacing. Light particulates. Oaky syrupy smell. Molasses flavor, slight oakiness on the back end. Thin feeling, alcohol is lightly hidden.

Apr 29, 2016
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corby112 from Pennsylvania

3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to sideshowe for sharing.

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that appears pith black and opaque in the glass with a 1.5 finger mocha head that quickly settles into a thin ring. Decent retention with sporadic streaks of lacing left behind.

Inviting aroma with a nice barrel presence that's nicely integrated into the other notes. Strong dark fruit esters and roasted malt character countering the wood and bourbon. Some charred oak and vanilla with vinous dark fruit and robust dark malts. Belgian dark ale notes stand out as it warms. Plum, fig and raisin along with roasted coffee, oatmeal and bitter dark cacao.

Lighter end of medium body with a delicate barrel presence that's nicely integrated into he imperial stout and dark Belgian ale flavors of the base. Some dry, toasted oak and subtle spicy bourbon with a touh of vanilla and toasted coconut. Not overwhelmingly hot or boozy with subtle spirit flavor. The dark ale portion of the blend is prominent with dark fruit esters giving off hints grape, cherry, plum and raisin. Stout notes are a bit overpowered with subtle roast, coffee bean, and oatmeal. Some lighter malt sweetness with caramel, toffee and sweeter chocolate notes. Really well balanced and the high ABV is well masked. Very easy to drink but it could use a bit more bourbon and stout character.

Nov 22, 2015
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IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aged about 2 years. Poured into Belgian ale glass.

Pours a very dark chocolate brown with a 2 finger head that lasts a long while, leaving a ring and some lacing.

Smells of cocoa, bourbon, dried stone fruit.

Bourbon, coffee, cocoa, some raisin up front. Malt and some alcohol behind.

Reasonably well-balanced, maybe could have used another year or two. Medium-bodied, little carbonation, some alcohol burn.

Not bad.

Sep 13, 2015
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Meryl from Massachusetts

4.65/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

Rich, chocolate, nutty, almost like a sweet oloroso sherry. Dried fruits (raisins, dates, figs) and a lighter body (bottled 2011). Rich umami and soy sauce notes round it out. Delicious.

Aug 27, 2015
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jrob21 from Georgia

3.25/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle thanks to AtlAggie. Smooth dark fruit drink. Lots of soy sauce and peat. Big barrel presence and a chalky texture. This one should be laid down for a nother couple of years to let it meld together a little bit. The flavor is a little too big and pungent with the soy sauce aspects right now. I can only imagine what this is going to become in another year or two.

Feb 06, 2015
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ianw87 from Illinois

4/5  rDev -2.2%

Overall a great beer. Nice oaky, caramel, almost caramel corn nose. Nice dryness from the stout that battles the sweetness from the dark ale. I really like it.

Oct 04, 2014
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seedyone from New York

3/5  rDev -26.7%

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Took a chance on this as it was highly recommended by fellow bar flies. I usually enjoy dark, rich brews but this lacked a few basics elements that I'd hoped to find. Aroma was very promising. A hint of coffe/toffee that never developed on the tongue. IMHO the flavors were overly assertive on the tart side.

I realize Almanac specializes in sours, which I have a low tolerence for, but reading a description of "a blend of American imperial stout & Belgian-inspired dark ale aged in bourbon barrels" had me. I'm big on all three.

This reminded me of Ommegang's Abbey Ale Dubbel. More of a wine barrel taste.

I guess to each his own still applies.

Sep 17, 2014
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +10%

Nose: bourbon, chocolate with fruit, prunes and raisins.
Pours brilliant deep ebony, ½” finely bubbled tan foam cap. Lacy.
Palate: Starts with chocolate and bourbon, followed by prune and raisins with light espresso in the background mixed with bourbon and chocolate. The aftertaste is long and lingering.
The body is medium full to chewy but it is moussey and foamy due to the fine, soft natural carbonation.

Sep 14, 2014
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maxcoinage from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

A - poured bottle (Winter 2012) into snifter. Some decent head, light mocha in color and about 2 finger settled at a decent pace. Beer is pitch black

S - oak, raisins, coffee, roastiness

T -roasted malts, dark fruit sweetness, chocolate, some barrel character slightly bitter with some heat on the finish

M - good carbonation, heavier side of medium body.

O - very complex and enjoyable brew.

Sep 12, 2014
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ThePorterSorter from Oregon

4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a viscous looking, inky black (with flecks of dark brown in the light) topped by a loose, yet creamy looking tan head that settles quickly into a thin blanketing around the glass's perimeter. Chocolate predominates the nose when cold, but as the beer gradually warms there are hints of charred oak, roasted malt, cardboard, bready caramel, and booze (minimal). The beer drinks with roasty, chocolaty sweetness upfront, which is gradually chipped away by bitter bourbon oak and bitter cocoa and finishes with a quick bite from the alcohol and bitter-sweet cocoa that lingers. It's medium-full bodied and minimally carbonated with a great roasty, bourbony sweetness upfront and transitions to a lingering and slightly watered-down, boozy, cocoa bitterness. This is another fantastic offering from almanac, one that highlights spirit barrel goodness without the syrupy sweetness found in most beers in its class.

Aug 12, 2014
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Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out into a teku, black with a fluffy khaki colored head. Smell up front is lots of vanilla and oak. Getting very little roasted malt. Taste is vanilla, a subtle roasted malt flavor, oak, almost a milk stout sweetness, and a bit of bourbon. This one is creamy and super smooth. No rough edges at all but it's on the thinner side for a stout. Kind of reminded me of a less complex Abyss.

Jul 23, 2014
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RaulMondesi from California

4.11/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Usually Almanac can get away with their 10.99 single bottle prices for their sours (because they are off the hook) but Raul wishes he could say the same about Barrel Noir. Now, don't get the main man wrong; Raul would take a 7 out to dinner and a movie at the independent theater any day of the week; but would he buy that 7 lobster? Hell no! Raul's thinking Burger King!

It's a nice beer; Raulsky picks up those oak barrel characters, and as a stout, overall it is nice. Where it is lacking though is its Olympic Gymnast mouthfeel; I mean, for being 50% barrel aged this thang is thin! It's definitely not bulimic, or anorexic at that, but this sucker definitely needs a Porterhouse to fill it out.


Jul 21, 2014
Photo of mynie
mynie from Maryland

4.44/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Part American imperial stout, part BA dark ale. The result is intoxicating, but since this is a 10% ABV beer that's not necessarily an achievement. What we got here is a big BA beer that’s kinda sorta meek, which is nice. The barrel aged movement has gotten so out of hand that a beer's character can now be judged by how intense it isn't. No dick waving here (or, umm, tit waving, for the ladies).

Blending two beers allows for (gasp!) different flavors to compliment one another, as opposed to blotting each other out in a hail of fire and rage. Starts just a little bit burny, but that moves into a lightly vinous dark ale middle that's part peppery alcoholic, part lightly sour porter malt. Things smooth out into a finish of vanilla that's backed up by a light whiskey burn and then a long, lingering aftertaste of dry hops.

Darn good. Not perfect, but darn good.

May 01, 2014
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Sumdeus from Indiana

4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark, black with a bit of brown. Little head, tanish brown. Some good lacing.

S: Not very strong, but some boozy notes and bitter.

T: Really good oak and bourbon. The sweet caramel and vanilla of the of the bourbon is really well showcased.

M: The sweet boozy bourbon is thin in the mouth, but clean in feel.

O: Really tasty. I was pleasantry surprised. Honestly, I saw a bunch of the barrel and sour Almanac bottles and bought a bunch not realizing it is a barrel aged stout. Good surprise.

Apr 27, 2014
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cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania

3.59/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pour is extremely dark brown looking black in the glass with a tan head and large bubbles. The nose is nice, rich dark malts, light vanilla and a fair bit of milk chocolate. There are notes of wood and a faint touch of whiskey. Body is a bit thinner that I would have liked with a soft carbonation and creamy feel. The wood is stronger in the flavor, notes of vanilla thinning in the finish. Malt isn't as rich as the nose with some chocolate and hint of roast.

Mar 25, 2014
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busternuggz from California

4.56/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip.

Opaque brownish black with a puffy, bubbly khaki 1/2" head. Leaves persistent strands of lacing. Good retention, head holds at about 1/8" and comes back nicely with a swirl.

Big rich aromas. Fudge brownies, coffee beans, molasses, bourbon, vanilla. Very chocolatey. A little coconut, some roastiness. Immaculate, layered, and complex.

Similar notes in different order on the taste, leading with molasses and bourbon, dark chocolate chips, espresso, a little dark fruit- dates maybe, chocolate syrup. A bit sweet, but it ends with a little dry roastiness and lingering toasted oak that balances it well. As it warms the dark fruit starts to come off as acai berries. Everything comes together really well, like some delicious mocha bourbon berry milkshake.

Full bodied and creamy, smooth, ends lighter and a little drier than is starts. Not too thick, not too dry, compliments the taste well. Really nice.

Honestly this is one of the better imperial stouts I've had. Rich and complex, but balanced and well made. I am impressed. Dunno why this isn't more renowned.

Mar 24, 2014
Photo of vitALEity
vitALEity from California

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Its hard to review this because I like to review beers for how they represent or define a style. This is a blend of an American Stout and a "belgian-style" dark ale, aged in barrels.

A: dark brown with a finger of tan head. Dissipates a lot quicker then I would hope for a stout, but again this isnt a stout. Kind of a bubbly/carbonated mess. Decent legs though.

S: The lighter dark ale (lighter then a Stout) part of it allows the bourbon, vanilla and oak to come out more. There is some chocolate and some coffee and some alcohol there.

T: Same as the nose really. Alcohol is there but its not a problem. I'm wanting more stout and have to remind myself that this isnt a stout, its a blend of a stout and a dark ale.

M: Much lighter, less creamy then an aged stout. Its still smooth.

Mar 18, 2014
Photo of ThickNStout
ThickNStout from Georgia

3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

375mL bottle from j47paco (much appreciated!). Bottled winter 2012. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours black with a finger and a half of soft tan head. The froth lingers but then settles to a thin cap, leaving small islands of lace.

The smells of smooth chocolate and sweet barrel dominate. I say barrel because the bourbon, vanilla and oak all seem to play in to one harmonious, inviting aroma that plays well with the chocolate, brown sugar and what seems to me like a hint of oats.

No surprises in the taste after that nose. Subtle bourbon, cocoa, slightly charred oak, vanilla, creamed coffee, mild roast malts, brown sugar and a touch of alcohol. A rounded and supple barrel aged stout that is quite easy to drink.

Creamy, smooth, medium body with soft carbonation. Aftertaste of bourbon, dark cocoa and hints of charred oak with a vanilla tinge.

I'm assuming that the 15+ months of age is what makes this such a soft and rounded imperial stout. Ultimately (and ironically) I think the smooth lack of edges that I like most in this is also what holds it back from truly standing out. A tasty and enjoyable brew but without anything to really raise it above the higher echelon of barreled imperial stouts out there.

Mar 18, 2014
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gueuzedreg from Colorado

3.69/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Lighter brown, thin coffee lacing

S- lots of oak, not so much bourbon or anything like that.

T- Very thin taste, somewhat creamy on the end

M- Thin, not a huge fan of the attention to detail on the M

O- Not really impressed with this, I think they do better sours

Mar 16, 2014
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MarioM from California

3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter

A: Dark with almost no light penetrating the glass. Light brown to darkish tan head that quickly dissipated to a nice rim of small bubbles with a patch of medium bubbles floating in the center. Nice looking brew.

S: Sweet whiskey aroma with a dark fruit roast thing going on. Definitely a lot of black patent malt making the dark raisinie dark fruit aroma. A lot of bourbon character on the nose but bitter roast is there as well.

T: Sweet and almost light bodied with a lot of bourbon vanilla oak flavor but very smooth and enjoyable. I'm not a fan of strong flavored bourbon aged stouts but this is a little more balanced. Not heavy but definitely a warmer and a sipper.

M: A little light but works well with the barrel aging giving it more body and character. Nice smooth roast without too much bitterness which lends itself very nice to the barrel aging.

O: A good beer with a lot of oak character yet suppressed enough that its not an alcoholic vanilla mess.

Feb 28, 2014
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01001111 from California

4.66/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A: Deep, cola brown. Cloudy but neither very thick nor oily.

S: Let it warm. The vanilla, caramel, and bourbon notes strengthen as it heats up a little.

T: Strong bourbon up front with a coffee roast and mild bitterness on the back; like a bourbon barrel Yirgacheffe drip coffee.

M: A bit thinner than I had expected with only a touch of syrup.

O: As this warms I keep increasing my score. Not the absolute best bourbon barrel aged stout but one of the best; an amazing feat given that this is their first iteration. Another great beer from Almanac.

Feb 11, 2014
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scottfrie from California

4.01/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

375ml bottle into snifter. “Bottled Winter 2012.”

A: Pours thick and black with a huge, foamy, and thick, dark tan head that slowly bubbled away into a thick film that left a complex network of sticky lacing down the glass.
S: Sweet molasses, shoe leather, and brown sugar are easily noticeable with deeper scents of bourbon, dark chocolate, fudge brownie, caramel and faint toasted marshmallow dark fruits and oak.
T: Bourbon is much more prominent and boozy than the nose suggested. There is a slight sharpness to the brew like acidic coffee, and the finish is full of buttery caramel, toffee and buttery oak barrel. Dominant flavors include chocolate fudge, acidic black coffee, peat, leather, vanilla and toasted marshmallow.
M: Whiskey is mellow at this point so the abv is hidden well. Carbonation is full and briefly foams up on my palate creating a soft, creamy and sticky mouthfeel. Body is medium and fairly thick but it’s no motor oil.
O: Very enjoyable. Tastes like a sweet bourbon aged imperial stout with more hints of dark fruit and caramel than usual from the dark Belgian.

Jan 25, 2014
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pants678 from California

3.21/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

No head but black body.

Some barrel, vanilla might be reaching.

Is this not from a pinot barrel? The back's got more than a tinge of sour. Might need to be dialed back a tad. Still, there's a nice blend of bourbon barrel to it. Though it's interesting, I'd love to have either separate. Hard to pick out nuance, little chocolate, no coffee.

Smooth, very cola-esque carbonation.

Jan 24, 2014
Barrel Noir from Almanac Beer Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 432 ratings