Vanilla Noir | Prairie Artisan Ales

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Vanilla NoirVanilla Noir

Brewed by:
Prairie Artisan Ales
Oklahoma, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Stout Aged in Oak Whiskey Barrels with Vanilla Beans

Added by HopsMatt on 12-11-2013

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Reviews: 93 | Ratings: 741
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mrbubbler for sharing this one at GRG1313's tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and vanilla bean aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and vanilla flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a nice vanilla presence all around.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.31/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

awesome tweak on an already sensational brew. the vanilla here is not subtle in the least, and dominates the aroma and flavor of this beer, especially in the finish. its not too much though, since noir is already such an enormous stout, that it actually tempers the bitterness of the malt, smooths the alcohol intensity, and adds a complimentary layer to the chocolate cake flavor and texture of the base beer. rich and frothy look, not black but a sturdy brown, milkshake tan head, no let down. it smells like dessert, more vanilla than stout, but the bitterness of the roast still comes through. its alluring, i already know this texture, its like bomb almost, a little less thick, but in that vein. enormous vanilla flavors to this, more like extract than beans, it both softens the sting of the booze, but amplifies its flavor, especially after the swallow. noir doesnt need vanilla to be world class, but its addition makes it even more special and unique. i could drink a 750 ml of noir no problem, not sure i would want more than a 12 oz bottle of the vanilla edition, but i certainly think this is lovely stuff. prairie is just on fire this year.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Batch 1

Appearance: A bit of a gusher as I popped the cap but the foam settled down; poured out without distinction, however, and the head faded leaving only a few dots here and there

Smell: Chocolate dominant with hints of vanilla and whiskey; vaguely roasty

Taste: Chocolate forward, with the vanilla and then the whiskey tones building through the middle; the roast appears after the swallow and lingers through the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; light for the style

Overall: I have been sitting on this bottle for a couple of years since I read the reports of the infection problem and, as it foamed out on the opening, I thought I had an infected bottle; fortunately, I didn't but I still don't think this was a top flight example of the style; the flavors lacked complexity and the body was not what it should have been

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of vanilla and roasted malt notes with some light coffee notes and bourbon. Taste is also dominated by roasted malt notes with plenty of coffee and vanilla with nice bourbon finish. Body is full with nice rich creamy body with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Smooth drinking with plenty of complexity but I still think I prefer the chiles in the original version.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing label art and grey wax-ed over pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local TX bottle shop and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are sky high as I loved Prairie Noir and my opinion of Prairie/Krebs as a brewery keeps rising and rising. Reviewed as an imperial stout because the label clearly identifies it as such. 11.5% ABV according to the bottle. Distributed by the Shelton Bastards.

Served chilled and allowed to come to room temperature over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of nice khaki colour. Nice thickness and creaminess. Has a smooth even complexion and a fairly full and somewhat soft consistency. Head retention is average (but pretty good for the high ABV) - about 4 minutes. Great even lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes, but little sticks and holds.

Body colour is a predictable opaque solid black - almost a jet black. No floating yeast particles are visible. Appears well-carbonated.

Overall, it's an appealing appearance for the style and I'm looking forward to the first sip, but it's far from unique or special and I've certainly seen better. There are no obvious flaws.

Sm: Oak tannins and strange whiskey dominate the aroma. The whiskey doesn't seem very high quality, and doesn't have much spiciness or evocative character. Cream, dark malts, chocolate malts, and maybe light caramel. I strain to find vanilla bean and barely can; it's quite restrained and reticent - to the aroma's detriment. In any case, it's a nicely sweet if fairly timid aroma which suggests a silky full-flavoured brew. I'm absolutely looking forward to the first sip, though I do wish the aroma were a bit more evocative and compelling. I search for roasted barley - a favourite note in stouts - and can't find it.

No yeast character, overt alcohol, hop profile, or off-notes are detectable. Aroma is of below average strength.

Mf: Nicely smooth up front, bordering on silky - but it soon switches to an unbecoming coarseness which comes off a bit rough on the palate. Well-carbonated. A bit dry - strangely so for a vanilla imperial stout. Has a surprisingly light presence on the palate; I'd even go so far as to say it lacks sufficient body and isn't thick or heavy enough. Could be creamier and softer.

Not gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, oily, or harsh.

Overall, the texture isn't an ideal complement to the taste, and there's ample room for improvement.

T: Chocolate, chocolate malts, cream, light caramel sweetness, and dark malts comprise the bulk of the flavour profile. The notes which should be best - the vanilla, oak, and whiskey - are the most faint. The vanilla is way too reticent, though that note does seem to arise from genuine vanilla bean - not some vanillicin extract or from bourbon. I don't find any whiskey spice, but I do pick up on a low quality whiskey taste. I really have to dig to find the oak, and when I do I'm underwhelmed - this is not the toasty rich oak wood character I hoped for. Overall, I'm not sure the barrel notes are necessarily an improvement on the base beer, and they hardly come through at all which is frustrating. Ideally, barrel aging is used to coax out/complement the subtleties and nuances of the base flavour profile, but that isn't happening here. I also don't find much roast/roasted barley, which is personally disappointing.

For an imperial stout - let alone a barrel aged vanilla imperial stout - this is rather simple and lacks intricacy. There's some subtlety here, sure, but the flavours feel closed off and unevocative. Lacks (relative) complexity and nuance as a result. Below average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour.

That said, it does have a nice balance to it, and the sweetness is just right.

Dr: This is an extremely drinkable imperial stout for its high ABV, and while I'm enjoying it, I'm not loving it. Frankly, I think the regular Noir is a lot better. I think they used the barrel aging and vanilla bean components more as marketing ploys than well-executed alterations to the already great base brew. When you make the beer worse using more expensive methods, you know you've failed. I'll easily kill this bottle alone and I'm enjoying every sip, but I honestly wouldn't buy it again unless a source I trust identified a substantial quality increase from batch to batch. This is pretty good stuff, but isn't Prairie's strongest work. I expected a lot better given how good regular Noir is. I wouldn't recommend this to friends or trade partners per se at this price point, but it's nice stuff.

High B-

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

Reviewed from notes. Shared by Sasha - thanks.

Silver/grey wax on a 12 ounce bottle.

A: Pours black with a solid 1" tan head which fades slowly and leaves a few spots of lace.

N: Whiskey, vanilla, roast, oaky.

T: Boozy, oaky, roasty, whiskey with vanilla. Slightly sweet.

M: Full body and medium carbonation. Rich, roasty, vanilla and whiskey soaked finish.

O: If you like your whiskey a little bit sweet with vanilla, then this is for you. Not for me.

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Photo of jlindros
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Split with rudzud.

Nice darker creamy darker colored head, inky dark colored beer.

Nose big sweet malts, candy, caramel and chocolate, ok vanilla but not a ton, nice cocoa though, decent creamy note.

Taste brings great vanilla, little sweet malt, toasty, little creamy choc and cocoa, little caramel like syrup,

Mouth med to heavier bod, nice carb, smooth, touch of warming booze.

Overall pretty nice.

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Photo of superspak
4.84/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 9/30/2015. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1 finger dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of huge milk chocolate, vanilla, cream, marshmallow, cocoa, caramel, toffee, molasses, coconut, toasted oak, whiskey, light dark fruit, and roast/oak earthiness. Insane aromas with perfect balance of dark/roasted malt, vanilla, and whiskey barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of huge milk chocolate, vanilla, cream, marshmallow, cocoa, caramel, toffee, molasses, coconut, toasted oak, whiskey, light dark fruit, and roast/oak earthiness. Light roasted bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, vanilla, cream, marshmallow, cocoa, caramel, toffee, molasses, coconut, toasted oak, whiskey, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Insane complexity, robustness, and perfect balance of dark/roasted malt, vanilla, and whiskey barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth and creamy/silky mouthfeel that is heavenly. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely top class Barrel aged imperial stout. Incredible complexity, robustness, and perfect balance of dark/roasted malt, vanilla, and whiskey barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the ABV with zero booziness. A mind blowing offering.

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Photo of mothman
2.03/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Tan head with some lace. Color is black.

Flavor profile: Fairly roasted. Has a burnt like tar flavor. Reminds me of Mikeller black hole beers which all suck. Vanilla is no where to be found. The barrel flavors are very faint because of all the flavors that I don't like in this beer. Cigar smoke in the aftertaste. Just not enjoyable.

Moutfeel: Roasted and burnt. Full bodied.

Overall, I don't like this beer at all. The worst prairie beer I have had yet.

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Photo of Rifugium
2.9/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Bottle poured into a purple-logo Prairie bell tulip. Room temperature. Dark brown-black color, topped with a foamy tan head that receded to a thick ringlet, lacing the glass; some floaties in suspension, possibly vanilla "seeds"? After breathing for a while, there was a good amount of vanilla in the aroma, sweet, with undertones of roasty malts, and something vaguely herbal. The taste was kind of a let-down. Roasty malts up front, raw cocoa bitterness, vegetal, earthy, fusel alcohol, vanilla bean as a distant afterthought, somewhat drowned out by the roast, bitterness, and booze. Also a slight sour milk component that seemed to indicate it was on the way to infection. Regardless, it was way too bitter for a stout. Mouthfeel was boozy and somewhat thinned out, drying; body was medium. Overall okay, but nothing special.

Don't ask what I traded for this one...I should've known better.

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Photo of russpowell
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an effervescent ebony with 2+ fingers of mocha colored head. Sheets of lacing & very nice head retention

S: Vanilla & Bourbon

T: Follows the nose, caramel, dryness & faint roastyness up front, plus dark chocolate. More vanilla, a bit of caramel with dryness, a touch of smoke & booze as this warms, plus more oaky dryness. Finishes with vanilla & caramel sweetness & oakyness

MF: Chewy, low carbonation, so smooth

Drinks extremely easy, the ABV is extremely well masked, another great stout from Prairie,. I will pick some up to age if I get the chance

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served alongside Prairie Noir.

The beer is opaque and black with a half inch or so of beige head. Grandiose vanilla aroma. Boom. Chocolate, oak, bourbon, roast are there as well but vanilla is clearly the featured ingredient. Sweet vanilla takes center stage in the flavor. Really delicious and well done, but at the same time, there's only so much sweetness and vanilla one can handle. More than a few ounces becomes cloying. Unless you have a sweet tooth for this kind of thing, I recommend splitting the bottle a few ways. Very good for what it is.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.24/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

375 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black with some transparency. Small khaki head.

Smell - Tons of vanilla. Milk chocolate. A little bit of barrel, but not a ton.

Taste - Vanilla right up front. Dark chocolate. Oaky. There's a sharp, almost green pepper flavor. Off-putting.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated. Medium body.

Overall - The aftertaste isn't pleasant, but it does smell incredible.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.65/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - Thick dark black colour with a thin layer of espresso foam coloured head.

S - Chocolate fudge, vanilla, oak, roast.

T - Sweet vanilla and chocolate fudge notes up front giving way to lighter roast and toasted oak flavours.

M - Full body; creamy. Light carbonation.

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Photo of SadMachine
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours midnight black, viscous, with a nice sized tan head that leaves tons of sticky lacing as it slowly recedes.

S- Very sweet and chocolaty. Rich vanilla and caramel malts. A moderate amount of roast backs this up and keeps it from being overly sweet. Some fig, oaky tannins, smooth bourbon, and a hint of tartness. This is art!

T- The vanilla and dark chocolate are present, but significantly diminished from the nose. The situation is the same with the roast. There's a strange off taste that I can't quite place. Slightly tart, vinous, and metallic. It's not terrible by any means, but something is definitely off.

M- The mouth feel is a bit thin for the style. Drying, and decently carbonated.

O- Something must have gone wrong in bottling. I've read other reviews noting the same things, and that it's amazing on draft. Too bad because the appearance and aroma were amazing!

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Photo of John_M
4.21/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Really enjoyed this beer, as I thought the vanilla (there's a lot of it) and the whiskey barrel aging blended very well together. Also, was drinking this with a cheese selection, and that seems to really bring out a huge chocolate component as well. A very fun beer to drink, with a lot of coffee, whiskey, vanilla and chocolate showing at this point.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to stillmatic2232, thanks man.

Pours a very dark black, with a quickly receding half inch head, that leaves a film on top of the beer. Only a little bit of lacing.

Smells strongly of vanilla, and additionally, roasted malt, oak, and strong whiskey flavors.

The flavor has an odd and lingering bitterness that I didn't expect. It's a bit woody and roasty at the same time, and dominates the beer when it's cold. As it warms, the vanilla flavor comes more to the forefront. It becomes more smooth, with some chocolate, and lots of roasted malt. There's a bit of boozy burn, understandable given the 11.5% ABV.

Medium bodied, could be a little thicker. Creamy, thick, smooth mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

The woody bitterness and the alcohol burn keep this one from being great, but it's still a very good BA stout.

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Photo of rudzud
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Split with JLindros and Threelions.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice motor oil hue with a thin mocha head that leaves thin halo and wisps.

S - Aromas of nice chocolate notes the vanilla is relatively quiet, there but subdued.

T - Taste is nice chocolate with strong vanilla on the taste. Vanilla bomb, ABV hidden very eel. Good vanilla and chocolate very nicer.

M - Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with the alcohol hidden well.

O - Overall this beer was rather tasty, nice vanilla notes.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz waxed bottle thanks to Tommy. Into a teku glass

Pours a pitch black with a nice beige head. The smell is quite heavy on vanilla...not much bourbon aroma or any. The taste is very smooth for an imperial stout...lots of roasted chocolate and a ton of vanilla. again though, not much barrel taste to this one. i wouldnt know it was BBA if it didnt say so on the bottle (it must not have sat in the barrels for very long.) body is a bit thinner than id like too. carbonation is on point. the abv is very much undetectable, id guess much lower.

overall a solid stout, but compared to other BBA'd stouts its not upper echelon.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.24/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Dogfish traditional oversized snifter. Bottleneck says 27315.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with not much head, just some trace amounts of light brown surface foam. Resilient lacing leaves tiny specs behind.

S- Big blast of vanilla sweetness reminds me of cotton candy or cake frosting or something. Also, some milk chocolate, caramel and vanilla custard.

T- More vanilla sweetness with some accentuating barrel character. Some oak tannins in the aftertaste and some faint dark roast but the sweetness is the main element at play here. Cake batter, fudge, glazed get the idea.

M- Silky smooth with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- Great, but it would be even better if the sweetness was toned down just a tad.

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Photo of TX-Badger
4.95/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Got a couple bottles of this and very glad I did. Here goes, reviewing this while I'm drinking it.

A - motor oil, looks just like it (dark and black; the natural motor oil, not the synthetic stuff)

S - vanilla! And whiskey right on the front of the nose; the roasted malt character of the stout is also present. As it warms, the vanilla becomes very prevalent, taking over the whiskey.

T - again, vanilla! and whiskey, also some coffee and oak, but I think this is more of the stout roasted malt character.

M - just right for the style, thick but too much so.

O - a very well done imperial stout that has been aged in oak whiskey barrels with vanilla beans. I wasn't sure when I picked this up just how much vanilla would be present in the beer, but it is there! If you like vanilla, whiskey, and oak, you're going to love this. As the beer warms, the vanilla becomes more present and takes over the whiskey to a certain extent, but I like that. Overall, a great beer.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.24/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Many thanks to jvgoor3786 for this bottle.

A - Pitch black pour, micro-thin toffee lacing, no carbonation.

S - Sweet chocolate mocha with vanilla, oak, and bourbon aroma. Smell coming off the glass is very thick and rich.

T - Vanilla, oak tannin, bourbon, and chocolate.

M - Big, full bodied, syrupy, viscous, lip smacking sticky.

O - This beer is fantastic!

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Photo of champ103
3.53/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours an opaque black color. A massive khaki head rises to well over two fingers. The foam gently recedes to a ring that sticks throughout. Lacing coats the glass all the way down.
S: Vanilla beans, light roast, light barrel, light everything but a big vanilla sweetness. A bit of a soapy aroma which seems odd and out of place.
T: Again, big vanilla sweetness. Which is nice. Though that overpowers everything else. A bit of roast, and a slick and oily soapy flavor.
M/D: A full, slick and soapy body with higher carbonation than I would like for the style. Maybe even a bit thin. How can an 11.5 ABV stout be on the thin side? The alcohol presents is not particularly intense. Really, and easy sipper for such a big beer.

A nice stout, but nothing all that special. Especially considering the many other superb offerings Prairie makes. A little one sided, and almost boring. Which is unusual for this brewery. No infection issues for me, not sure if that was just a rumor or if there is any teeth to that. Not bad, but overall, meh.

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Photo of rjp217
4.49/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into my Idle Hands snifter. No bottle date found...

A - Black as a marker with a light brown half finger head, decent lace left on the glass

S - A punch of whiskey waft hits immediately with hints of vanilla and chocolate in the background, nice balanced aroma

T - Close to the nose, I get whiskey at the forefront and then a solid balance of vanilla, malts, chocolate and oak. Slightly bitter whiskey notes in the finish. Again, balanced incredibly well

M - Awesome. Low carbonation with a creamy, smooth feel. Whiskey and oak can be felt rolling off the palate. Love it.

O - This is a really well done BA stout. The additions of whiskey and vanilla beans are incredibly balanced. The huge 11.5 ABV is pretty well masked if you drink carefully enough. As per usual, the aroma and taste become even more prevalent as the beer warms. Well done!

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Photo of smb
4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black, nothing shines through even when held to the light. Maintains a tiny mocha head. Aroma is vanilla for days, as well as subtle whiskey and oak, a pleasure to smell. Taste is heavy on the vanilla but not quite vanilla-bomb status, light chocolate in the mix, as well as some whiskey and woodiness from the oak.

Can really feel the whiskey and a slight cloying sweetness from the vanilla. Somewhat of a thin feel on the drink down. Overall, this is a decadent and tasty ba vanilla imperial stout. Could definitely see this one benefiting from some age as well.

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Vanilla Noir from Prairie Artisan Ales
91 out of 100 based on 93 ratings.
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