Barrel Noir
Almanac Beer Co.

Barrel NoirBarrel Noir
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American Imperial Stout
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: 431 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Pinche_Oso:
Photo of Pinche_Oso
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Jeff for cracking this one. Pours very dense and nearly black with the smallest, deep-brown skin at the time, a pretty long cry from being called a "head", even after a straight-down pour. No real lacing or legging of any sort, just a fairly dark and still, troubling looking beer. A little more carbonation certainly wouldn't hurt.

Somewhat musky and deep roasted cocoa beans are the first things to jump out and hit my senses. Quickly following is a brigade of woody and oak notes; surprisingly enough, the bourbon isn't that strong - actually, it's hardly even noticeable in the aroma. Light caramel and sweet, sticky brown sugar softens the finish, coupled alongside some plums, dates, and even a touch of apple skins. Solid barrel-stout aroma with a nice finishing sweetness at the end.

The first sip is pretty heavier up-front - a bit heavier than the smooth aroma would have you guessing. Boozy and strong, but not quite akin to smooth bourbon. It's more of a sharp and abrasive booziness; think straight Jack Daniel's whiskey. It hits hard up front and haunts the palate from start to finish. I'm typically a fan of some nice boozy flavors in my beers, but this one could use some time to mellow out.

Other actually flavors from the profile include some lightly milky chocolates, molasses, nuts, and a strong, woody, polished finish. Barrel Noir leaves your palate a touch sticky and coated with a nutty-oak flavor that's been soaking for days in a vat of Tennessee whiskey. The mouth feel is pretty nice - big and boisterous, heavy bodied and full of itself, and even slightly creamy due to the low carbonation.

I feel that if the bourbon character of this one was toned down a bit, it would be pretty damn great. As it stands, it's simply a good barrel-aged beer that is a little to boozy to enjoy for any prolonged beer drinking period of time. Perhaps waiting this one out is a better route.

 1,917 characters

Photo of Vermonthiker
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of beernads
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of SaxmanRick
4.5/5  rDev +10%

Photo of ejimhof
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of jschott75
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.11/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz stubby bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Rich in Sydney.

Pours a surprisingly light cloudy brown, certainly still stout-worthy, but perhaps less than Impy-level. Head forms a big, burgeoning froth when first poured, settling to a mocha crater of large bubbles. Body is surprisingly light, although the carbonation that forms is still quite fine. Overall it looks good, but with a few quirks to it.

Nose is wonderful. Big American oak flavours balanced with a rich sweetness from the beer itself. Plenty of toasted coconut, vanilla and mild milky chocolate. It's balanced or perhaps shot through with a slight acidity which adds a point of difference from other bourbon barrel aged Imperial stouts. But mostly, it's just sweet, rich and gorgeous. Lovely stuff.

Taste has that slight acidity on the front, but it's quickly packed away by the sweetness giving chocolate and vanilla smoothness. The acidity however maintains a lightness to the palate throughout, making it feel slightly frothy and ephemeral from start to finish. There's a slightly metallic note on the back as well which again countermands the big, sweet vanillin oak characters. On the finish lingers a dry, sweet character of toasted coconut.

Feel is very different to the usual imperial stout: it's light, slightly rounded and a little bit ephemeral. It's an unusual experience, but not an unpleasant one by any means.

Overall, this is very good stuff. Sure, I love imperial stouts, and a big, heavy, boozy, rich example would have suited me fine. But I love that Almanac have done something very different with the same basic construct here. It's a new twist on a big bourbony stout, and that's something that's extremely welcome.

 1,748 characters

Photo of ImperialStout
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of brentk56
4.49/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color capped by an inch of foam; the retention is not great but there is some decent lacing left behind

Smell: Quite a lot going on, with chocolate and charred oak dominant; vanilla, dark fruit and marshmallow underneath

Taste: Opens very roasty, with the charred oak and chocolate flavors from the aroma dominant; in the middle, the vanilla and marshmallow flavors build, along with some earthy hops and walnut flavors; the aftertaste brings out a bit of the Bourbon as well as a nice blend of the various elements

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A really nice blend of what tastes like an Old Ale aged in Bourbon barrels and an Imperial Stout - I think Almanac is on to something with this brew

Thanks, danwho, for the chance to revisit

 809 characters

Photo of APreacher
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of mynie
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.

 874 characters

Photo of TX-Badger
4.5/5  rDev +10%

Photo of 2beerdogs
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of SourAddict
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of emerge077
3.86/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to WST for this one! BBQ victory winnings finale, shared with Aaron.

Pitch black, some tobacco-stained chestnut highlights when held to the light. Thin vein of tan foam, spotty flecks of lace around the edges.

Anise in the aroma big time, licorice and roasted malt comprise the main elements, with some barrel heat as well.

Roasty char, malt sweetness, chocolate syrup, sweet pipe tobacco. Full bodied with a bite from the bourbon barrel, finish is a bit thin though. Werthers butterscotch candy and milk chocolate. Dry finish, fairly smooth. Overall it's pretty good, but is lacking a certain something to make it unique.

 635 characters

Photo of POTABLE83
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of dirtylou
3.72/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

on-tap, brouwers

I've really liked some of the farmers reserve beers, but this one didn't do it for me. Not much of a RIS, though I'm not really sure that was the intent. Cocoa powder, strong sweetness, trace bourbon, vanilla, chocolate covered cherry, a bit of oak. Just average.

 281 characters

Photo of IvoryFoxhole
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.

 421 characters

Photo of Kirk
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Dave_Treat
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

Photo of johnInLA
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of Axnjxn
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of JMBSH
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Barrel Noir from Almanac Beer Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 431 ratings