Zwart Black Star
De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)

Zwart Black StarZwart Black Star
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Old Ale
4 | pDev: 9%
De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Zwart Black StarZwart Black Star
Notes: For this year's De Proef Brouwerij's annual Brewmaster's Collaboration series, Dirk Naudts partnered with Surly's Jerrod Johnson and Ben Smith to craft an old ale with star anise and Brettanomyces, creating a delicious beer that will continue to develop with time.

The overall effect of the anise on the flavor is subdued and brilliantly integrated-even for those who tend not to be especially keen on heading deep into licorice land. It's reminiscent of oak tannins to a certain degree, providing an edge for structural purposes, and letting the dense caramelization remaining in that old ale roll out as dried dark fruits, cotton candy and chewy taffy. The impact of the Brettanomyces makes this comparatively dry and more easily drinkable than most old ales, and while there isn't potent tartness present, there is a welcome savoriness and bright-lime note apparent. And all of these contribute to a beautifully structured collaboration beer-packed with fruit and complexity. As it warms, further notes of caramelization build in malt-based nuance beside the dark fruits, gradually showing off notes of baker's chocolate and spice.
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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 49 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Stroso
Stroso from Washington

4.65/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

If it hadn't been a collab beer with some big names, I don't think I would've been brave enough to try this just reading the label. I mean, SO much could go wrong with this beer it would have to be brewed and fermented just right to bring it all together. Well, they did. It's a great beer.

Aroma: Dried herbs, lemon, beautiful Brett presence, not picking up a ton of anise.

Appearance: Not quite clear, but nearly. Golden brown, wonderful gushing head from the Brett, good retention

Flavor: Burst of lemons, honey, hint brown sugar at the front not a ton of anise for me, which is fine. middling bitters that extends into the finish. Nice dry Brett finish. The fermentation if front and center, hard to pick up much malt character, perhaps some sweet caramel malts from the old ale base.

Mouthfeel: Lots of carbonation as expected, but nothing that distracts, gives it a little pizzazz in the mouth. Body is medium to thin.

Overall: Felt this was a gamble, but it came up 777. Really just a very enjoyable complex beer and would happily drink another.

May 12, 2020
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imleftcoast from Washington

4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This was well-crafted and seemed thought out. Good flavor, interesting and well rounded. I was a little worried about the various names and 'star anise', wtf? No worries, somebody loves good beer and delivered on this one. Happily surprised.

Apr 12, 2020
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puck1225 from Texas

4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yes, I would have this again. Bought in a can and poured into a tulip glass. Slightly cloudy brownish amber with good head and lacing. Smell and taste of slightly sour berries. Licorice and white wine flavors. Very enjoyable dank taste with a good malt background. Excellent beer for the veranda!

Mar 20, 2020
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stortore from Illinois

4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into a tulip snifter. Had 12/28/18.

Pours a medium orange/amber, a little cloudy, with a one inch head and some soapy cling. Aromas of light cherries, malt, grapes, oak, some wine and licorice, light toffee, light Brett. The flavor is grapes, malt, oak, licorice, light wine, some cherries and caramel, light Brett. Has a generally spicy flavor and a light sweetness fully warmed. Smooth, a very good medium body, well carbonated.

The star anise and Brett compliment a strong base, lots of aromas and flavors. Don’t pick up the dark fruit profile that was predicted, but that’s not a negative. Not a knockout, but very good and enjoyable.

Feb 18, 2020
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ChrisMon02 from Ohio

3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is an odd duck. Red wine vinegar, anise and funk in the nose and taste. Definately different. I haven't had anything quite like it. Not terrible but not sure it works either. It's drinkable but $4.99 for an 11.2 oz can is ridiculous.

Oct 21, 2019
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flagmantho from Washington

4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 330mL can into a tulip. Can is stamped with the date 2022-18-02, whatever that means. Feb 18, 2022 as a best-by date? Maybe!

Appearance: rich amber-orange hue with a fair bit of haze and a finger of frothy ivory foam that leaves a nice lace. I dig it.

Smell: malty and bready with an interesting funk and sourness. It's not bad, but the sourness/funkiness doesn't seem to be adding a lot of good complexity to the aroma.

Taste: murky malt of figs, dates, and a little bit of tobacco. The sourness is mild, and the funk is earthy, and the overall mix here is just right -- way more successful than the aroma. I really like it.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a low level of carbonation and decent smoothness, if not a lot of creaminess.

Overall: this beer has a lot going on, but mostly what I like is the rich old-ale flavors of musty basement and preserved mediterranean fruits. Good stuff!

Sep 22, 2019
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spectru from Florida

3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very hazy, dark golden orange, not much head, maintains a film, slightly lacy; Very distinctive fruity aroma; Full bodied flavor follows the aroma, most unusual, leaves a sweetish aftertaste; mouthfeel is tangy and smooth.

This is a most unusual beer; unique look, smell, and taste. Because of the $5.99 price, I bought only one-smaller-than-usual 11.2 oz. can. At nearly $36 a six pack, I don't expect to be buying this beer regularly. But it was an interesting experience

Aug 24, 2019
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jlindros from Massachusetts

4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Old bottle
Nice foamy dense but small head, medium retention, little lacing, hazy almost cloudy medium reddish maroon color

Nose big tart funky Brett, sour with fair acidity, buttery toasted oak, light spices, citrus notes, sweet candy malt and caramel toffee, biscuity malt, very complex and good blend

Taste Brett sourness up front again, but not super sour little tart, fair citrus, some sweet malt and caramel toffee candy like, soft aged malt, light anise in the background like spiced tea, herbal, funky, soft and a little flemmy, tart finish

Mouth is med bod, medium carb, very little alcohol

Petal pretty nice, very complex but balanced well

Jul 30, 2019
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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Zwart pours a darker copper color, with a small, but long lasting head. Sour aroma, with an interesting spice note. Flavor is spicy, just a bit of a bite from some malts, with a mellow, but noticeable sour note. Just a little flat. Overall, its very interesting, sourness comes up most.

Feb 05, 2019
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hman43 from North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look: It pours light brown with a tan head. Head retention is good.

Smell: There is a good deal of sourness and funk in the initial aroma. It does have a bit of fruity dried fruit and plums. There is also a bit of toffee. There are also background notes of apples in the nose.

Taste: It has toffee like flavor with a bit of grape like qualities and vinous qualities. The flavors are very complex with a bit of leather as well.

Feel: It has a medium body with a dry finish that features the wine like qualities.

Overall, a very complex ale with sour like qualities and wine like vinous finish.

Dec 09, 2018
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jkblr from Indiana

3.74/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2oz undated can poured into a tulip glass at fridge temp 8% ABV. The beer pours mostly bright and light to dark copper in color depending on the light. The head is khaki colored and recedes to a film leaving tight lacing behind. The aroma is tart cherry so the bugs have been doing their thing. There could be licorice or it could be suggestion. The taste is pineapple and barely tart cherry juice over a hint of pale malt. I start to get the anise and wood as it warms to room temp. Mouthfeel is thin bodied with less than medium carbonation and a very dry finish. Overall, conflicted. I know that Brett was used in some old ales historically, but I think this goes to far into the wild category. Tasty beer and surely unique.

Dec 02, 2018
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rickrem from California

4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On draft. Medium mohogany in color. Less red than brown. Very little head and no Lacing.

This resembles more of a Flanders than an English old ale to me. So stylistically, I might change the rating based on what I expected, but from what I taste and like, it's quite nice.

Brett is light but enough to add some nice tartness.
Cherry and oak come through on the palate with a hint of bourbon on the nose.
Light to medium mouth feel with enough carbonation to keep it from being flat.

Certainly better than it's being rated but maybe the style it's brewed under throws it off a bit?

Oct 07, 2018
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LiquidAmber from Washington

3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a lightly hazy, medium to dark red-orange with a one finger off-white head with good retention and nice lacing. Aroma of grainy malt, mixed citrus rind, especially lemon, Brett, mild anise; smells quite tart. Flavor is light grainy malt, funk, lemon, anise, fleeting light stone fruit, citron, apple and brett. Medium bodied with light creaminess and sharp peppery carbonation. I hesitated on this one, but was encouraged by the reviews here that it might not be too sour for me. The opening aroma was very tart and I wasn't looking forward to trying it. First sip, though was fine. This is very different and quite complex. To my palate, this has zero resemblance to an old ale (although that is apparently the base beer); it has totally been transformed (even the appearance is totally different, although appealing). The deep biscuit malt and dark fruit of the old ale style have been subsumed into a brighter, brettier light fruit form. In some ways, this is all over the place in flavor, but somehow it all comes together; there is light tartness, but appropriate for the citrus rind component and light funk from the brett. This should not have worked for me, but I like it quite a bit. The anise, which is one flavor that would have enticed me, is not a clear note, there is more lemon/citron than anise here. The brett level is perfect for me, clear and funky, but not overwhelming. This is one of those beers that is impressive because it convinced me despite my trepidation. Well done. Do not drink this if you're in the mood for a classic old ale, however.

Oct 06, 2018
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

definitely one of the more interesting beers i have had this week, and during gabf time in denver, thats really saying something! this is an old ale type base with anise and brett, and its incredibly strange. it has a paler color than i am used to in old ale, more of a bronze than anything darker than that, a good head on it from the tap too. the nose is odd too, some anise and licorice up front, but less than anticipated, some honey sweetness to it, a bit of oxidation to the grain, and some really funky brett, mature already, and with strange fruitiness like peach or dried apricot or even green pear. the flavor is a little more cohesive than the aroma, with the earthy autumnal anise running all the way through it, golden raisin and a woodiness thats pretty distinct, a new oak character but not as bright, some vanilla there, and then just all kinds of funk through a long finish. i usually like a little more body in my old ale, and i dont mind a bit of exposed alcohol in the style, but this one has neither, the brett kind of changes the mouthfeel away from a more traditional old ale vibe, it feels light and bubbly. you have to want a weird beer, but if you do, and i almost always do, than this is a really fun one. a seemingly unlikely collaboration with surly, but a successful outcome in my opinion. nothing else quite like this out there!

Sep 21, 2018
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mmilyko from Nevada

3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The anise was held back, which I personally appreciated, but in general, a hodgepodge of flavors that I didn’t think particularly complemented each other.

Aug 28, 2018
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beergoot from Colorado

3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear, dark copper hued body; thick, fluffy head; some rings of lacing. Fine aroma filled with caramel, whiskey, anise; plus figs and dates. The taste nicely blends some faint brett flavor with a spicy kick and a bit of caramel sweetness on the palate. Heavy body; slick and smooth; some boozy warmth.

An interesting and satisfying old ale collaboration between Surly and De Proef Brouwerij. The wild yeast adds an interesting twist to a classic big malt, big booze ale styling.

Aug 27, 2018
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 330ml can into glass. Stamped date code on can bottom is '15:48 20221802'.
Cloudy, medium amber colored body, with a reddish tint. Less than one finger off white head sticks around as broken cap and ring. A ring of lacing is left with each sip.
Oak tannins (barrel) in the aroma, also lime and a little yeast funk. Has a hint of dried dark fruit and caramel.
Taste continues with the mix of dried dark fruit, oak barrel, and lime. At times slightly sour, at times dried fruit sweet. Has a slight overlay of yeasty horse blanket. Does not have a strong taste of licorice, but the anise is there to support the oak and fruit. Toward the end is some expression of caramel/toffee.
Thin to medium mouth feel. Some fizz on the tongue.
Quite a different tasting beer, with a lot of different taste components. Enticing to drink slowly and mouth swirl the beer with each sip. This is an easy to drink Old Ale.

Aug 22, 2018
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a muddy brown amber with a solid head. The aroma is rich with notes of candied plum, chalk, white and red table grapes, apricot, as well as a little funk and spice. The flavor is dominated by sweet candied and stewed fruits - plums, prunes, candied apple, fresh fig, wood spice, sandalwood, candied violet, medium dark chocolate, roast pecans - really, it is hard to dissect every piece of the complex, casacding flavor, which makes a really powerful whole. The mouthfeel is medium to rich with foaming carbonation. Overall this is a wonderful beer - while I personally wish the Star Anise was stronger, this is probably a more presentable form for most people.

Jul 16, 2018
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mwilbur from Minnesota

4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a clear red amber hue with 1-2 inch frothy light tan head with good retention.
S: Tart red berries hits first quickly followed by anise. soft oak, and chewy caramel malt.
T: Starts with a quick burst of tart lime quickly followed by soft anise and chewy oak, toffee, and hints of spice (especially with warming).
M: Surprisingly light body...maybe the brett at work. Soft and chewy feel. Tart lime. Mildly sweet (fruit and caramel). Dry finish (a la brett).
D: I'm not a huge anise I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked in the brew. It plays a nicely complementary, restrained role. I like how brett impacts the beer too. A very easy to drink old ale. Very well constructed.

Jun 27, 2018
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metter98 from New York

3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is relatively clear dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that has very good retention properties and consistently left a short head covering the surface.
S: Moderate aromas of berries are present in the nose along with notes of licorice.
T: The taste has flavors of berries along with some sourness and funkiness along with hints of licorice.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has quite complex aromas and flavors and is a lot easier to drink compared to other beers in the style.

Serving type: bottle

Jun 24, 2018
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Mindcrime1000 from South Dakota

4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky caramel-brown with fast-dissipating head but excellent lacing.

The aromas are remarkably hop-forward and floral, with a nice malt balance--an interesting mix of toasty and citrusy aromas. The aromas are a little muted overall, however.

The flavor is excellent and well balanced and quite complex. Unmistakable sweet malts meet citrusy hops with hints of toasted bread/biscuit and a funky/sour finish.

For all of the malt character typical of the style this feels "medium" bodied and has excellent carbonation and lift. Not sticky or heavy at all.

Overall one of the best old ales I've had. A tasty treat if you can find it.

May 06, 2018
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Impetuous from Montana

4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Brown body with huge white head.

Floral citrus pine hops, light sourness and some hunting’s at biscuit malts. Kinda like grapefruit and good earthy wine but great lol. Carbonation is light and easy.

Overall not as sour as I’d expected, but very flavorful and delicious.

May 02, 2018
Zwart Black Star from De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 49 ratings