Barrel Noir | Almanac Beer Co.

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Barrel NoirBarrel Noir

Brewed by:
Almanac Beer Co.
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Trilogy31 on 02-14-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 431
Photo of MaximusPrime
4.94/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Suuuper rich tones of dark chocolate and espresso with a calming spicy bourbon tinge and light charred oaky aroma with a light tannin profile. Perfect mid viscosity and light hop presence to compliment, finishing off with a light black cherry tone.

Overall deep complexity, definitely in my top 5 bourbon barrel aged.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.69/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This has a solid layer of foam atop a opaque black colored brew. Great aroma—there’s a light whiskeyed alcohol sweetness balancing out the roast and thick stone fruit aroma. There’s stone fruits on the flavor: raisin, plums, and some rummy characters. Makes me wonder what kind of barrel it’s aged in. Like a Belgo-quad characteristic almost with the combination of the yeast characteristics, barrel-aging, and layers of flavor.

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Photo of 01001111
4.66/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of Meryl
4.65/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

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Photo of busternuggz
4.56/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Monk's Kettle

A -Deep ink black with a thin layer of light brown head and excellent lacing. Beautiful!

S - Intense bourbon and vanilla aromas accompany a big sweetness. Chocolate, roast and hints of dark fruit.

T - Sweet bourbon and vanilla along with charred oak up front as the barrel notes shine through. Chocolate, roast and light espresso. Gets smoky as it warms.

M - Medium body but a touch watery at times. Light carbonation.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

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.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a mocha head.

S: Lots of sweet chocolate, bourbony vanilla, oak and caramel.

T: Caramel, chocolate, vanilla, lots of oak, dark fruit and some coffee. Almost a dry hoppy bitterness on the finish. Very tasty.

M: Full bodied and fairly smooth.

O: An excellent beer. The bourbon character really shines, and the big of dark fruit imparted by the belgian ale blended into the mix really meshes well with the other flavors.

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Photo of brentk56
4.49/5  rDev +10.9%
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

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.48/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Bruery chalice, body is dark black with a tan head of foam. Good retention with some lacing.

Nose of roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, marshmallow, and bourbon.

Tastes as the nose suggests, but all these flavors are nicely integrated, making for a very tasty whole. The bourbon is pretty strong, and their is some fusel alcohol tastes, but this is matched by intense tasty malt and hop flavors. A marshmallow sweetness rounds it all out without being cloying.

Medium body and round carbonation. Very smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Coats the tongue, enveloping the tasty flavors. Finishes more on the dry side.

This is a very nice stout, sort of like a liquid Belgian praline with bourbon. My only reservation is that it is a bit boozy with a touch of alcohol heat; may benefit from extended aging.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours a very dark but translucent brown with a fine two finger light brown head with good retention and massive lacing. The color is closer to a dark strong ale than a imperial stout, perhaps reflecting the blending. Excellent bourbon aroma with dark toasted malt, chocolate, maybe a bit of cherry, but that might be the bourbon esters. Very interesting flavor of dark toasted malt blended with sweet nuts, dark and light fruit an vanilla. Bourbon infuses everything but is not dominant. There is a lot going on here, with fleeting flavors that I can't put my finger on. Yet everything is melded nicely. Warming with a hint of the high ABV, but there is too much to favor to dwell on it. Medium bodied; a bit thinner than I'd expect from something this complex and high ABV. This is an amazing beer that defies categories; it's not really an Imperial stout, but closer in spirit to a strong ale with stout and Belgian influences. I'm liking this a lot. I just found out that Almanac will be available in my area now and I will getting more of this and trying their other offerings. Excellent.

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Photo of mynie
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark black with just a hint of brown and a finger of frothy khaki-chocolate colored head. Fades fairly slowly.

S - Roasted dark chocolate and dark caramel malts, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, dark fruits, coffee, black licorice, candi sugars, vanilla, Belgian yeast, and a hint of booze.

T - Roasted dark chocolate and dark caramel malts, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, dark fruits, roasted coffee, candi sugar, Belgian yeast, black licorice, some earthy hops, and a hint of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and creamy with a sweet, roasted, and warming finish.

D - Fantastic balance and complexity. Spot on.

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Photo of litheum94
4.39/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375 ml bottle, with a bottle date of "Winter 2012."

The body is jet black, with a fizzy, brown head. It crackles out quickly, leaving a trace of foam on top.

Rich aromas of chocolate, slivered almonds, plums and toasted coconut. There are also some slightly sweet Bourbon tones. Smells amazing.

Flavors start off with dark chocolate, coconut and almonds, with a dash of vanilla. Dry, roasted coffee tones come in, as well as some dark fruit sweetness. There's a lot more barrel characteristic to the body than the nose hints at, with woody, oaky flavors. The finish has some milk chocolate and a warming alcohol bite.

The flavors don't quite live up to the nose, but this is still a great beer, and a great job with barrel aging and blending.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 375mL bottle into a brandy snifter.

A: Dark brown with light head and scattered lacing.

S: Fantastic. Bourbon and dark chocolate. Hugely potent; the smell alone is intoxicating. Touches of fruit (perhaps Belgian yeast).

T/M: Rich, sweet, and thick. It's lightly carbonated, lightly spicy, sweet, and spirituous. Very complex and rewarding. I love it.

O: Great beer, highly recommended. Would have again. An imposing, delicious, heavy beer.

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Photo of Rockjocknroll
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

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Photo of alaimoa
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from California back in April.
Appearance black with a surprising brown head with both big and small bubbles and one of the stickiest lacing/legs I've had. 1-2 inch legs on the glass.
Smell strong vanilla, coconut, roasted coffee, bitter chocolate
Taste has an upfront sweetness, bourbon forward, boozy heat
Mouthfeel very nice mouthful of carbonation, decent thickness

Overall I'm really impressed and back and forth as a comparison to the allagash Curieux which I love. They are different brews but the bourbon barrels come through strong on both. I almost like the consistency a big more on this one but smell and complexity lack a bit

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Photo of mschrei
4.34/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.29/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black color with a medium sized, khaki-colored head that goes down rather quickly. Scent is heavy on the chocolate and dark fruits. A little more dark fruits than chocolate, however. Fresh dates with some raisins and heavy fig aroma. Some subtle bourbon aromas with a good amount of oak. Light vanilla and a tiny hint of anise. As beer warms, it begins to smell much more like a Quad than a stout. Taste is dark fruits up front with subtle bourbon and vanilla. Lovely fig and date flavor with some tasty bourbon and oak flavors. Some charred malt and roasty flavors with some dark chocolate. The flavors in this beer are quite complex. Good mixture of a Bourbon Barrel Stout and Bourbon Barrel Quad. The flavors mesh impressively. Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with good carbonation. Drinkability is VERY high for 10%...scary high drinkability. Overall, this is another success for Almanac. So far, their Farmer's Reserve series beers have been incredible.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, black when pouring as well. One finger off white head.

S-Bourbon, chocolate, darker fruits.

T-Nice balance. Bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, good deal of dark fruits and some burnt notes.

M-Medium to heavy, some carbonation, tad creamy with a pleasant alcohol heat.

O-Another great beer from Almanac. Their bigger beers seem to all be must tries.

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Photo of Trilogy31
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a deep dark chocolate brown letting in very little light. Nice tight finger of mocha foam that leaves a wake of small islands. Nose has caramel popcorn, thai coffee, milk chocolate and dark roasted nuts along with a slight bourbon caramel sweetness. Taste brings rich milk chocolate, light coffee shadings, tootsie roll, spicy bourbon barrel notes, charred oak. Very nicely done finishes with a dry bite of oaky tannin, nicely carbonated as well. I seemed to perceive a lot of sweet flavors yet this beer finishes up nice and dry even a touch astrigent. Reminds me somewhat of an EW eclipse, just maybe a touch thin but a very nice beer.

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Photo of DJQ
4.27/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 375ml bottle. Impressed by other Almanac offerings, I have been eager to try this one for a while.

A: Pours dark brown, with half a finger of dense head.

S: Bourbon, oak, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and caramel. The smell is very enticing.

T: Same flavours as the smell, very tasty. Very smooth and quite complex.

M: Surprisingly thin for this style. Low carbonation.

O: A great beer for a chilly winter night. Tastes better as it warmed.

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Photo of DmouthCaliBrewz
4.27/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip because I was too lazy to switch to a snifter.

A: pours about a shade away from opaque...still a little bit brown and some light coming through but not much. Thick head that recedes quickly to nothing more than a ring around the edges that stay for the remainder of the beer .

S: Bourbon, chocolate, and strong notes of vanilla.

T: Bourbon and wood up front, with a subtle funk and some sweetness on the end. Not as much as I thought would be going on here, but as it warms it got exponentially better. Slight booze on the finish, but this is mostly bourbon and wood with a slight woody smoke and some hints of belgian yeast and funkiness. Finishes with some dark fruits and more bourbon.

M: A tad thinner than I would have liked, but it balanced the funk nicely...this ain't dark lord we're talkin here..definitely a good amount of carb but not enough that it was off-putting. I think for the style, (blended BBA belgian stout?) it was quite appropriate.

O: Yes this isn't top notch compared to some BBA impys, but this isn't trying to be. It is a blended belgian stout, and I think it does absolutely everything it is intended to. The bourbon is perfect...I hate it when the barrel character is overdone, but this beer does it right. And while I would have liked just a little more mouthfeel, I recall that this is "50% american imperial stout, 50% Belgian Dark ale aged in bourbon barrels" and so I tell myself i need not expect motor oil. This is beautifully executed for the obscure beer that it is, and I would be lying if I didn't enjoy every sip. Almanac has been hitting home runs lately, and of those, I would consider this in the middle of the pack.

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Photo of fishdog
4.27/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Darkness engulfs the glass, a thin layer of foam is on top. A little lacing covers the sides.

S: Boozy, bourbon, and cocoa notes are the main notes.

T: Smells exactly like it tastes. A boozy notes burn the tongue followed by the bourbon with a hint of chocolate on the finish.

M: Lingering taste. This is a sipper beer or for after dinner.

O: Excellent brew! Its hot outside now and this double stout is excellent. All the main notes share a equal performance on the palate. A well thought out beer and a simple yet complex one.

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Photo of maxcoinage
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

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.

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Barrel Noir from Almanac Beer Co.
4.05 out of 5 based on 431 ratings.
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