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Black Cauldron Imperial Stout | Grand Teton Brewing Co.

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very good
325 Reviews
Black Cauldron Imperial StoutBlack Cauldron Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Idaho, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
There are few styles of beer more flavorful than Imperial Stout. Our thick, rich version is brewed with plenty of caramel and roasted malts and subtly spiced with Cascade and Super Galena hops. We accentuate the natural smokiness of the brew by adding a small amount of beechwood-smoked malt. At 22.5 degrees starting gravity and 9.5% alcohol by volume, this beer boasts flavors of chocolate and coffee, along with raisins and dried fruit soaked in sherry.

Black Cauldron is a strong ale best enjoyed in moderation. Try pairing it with full-flavored grilled or roasted meats. Rich desserts like chocolate cake, truffles, fruit tarts, caramel flan or crème brûlée are all excellent matches.

We brew our Black Cauldron Imperial Stout to recognize and honor the women in the history of brewing. Brewing has been women's work since the dawn of civilization. In all ancient cultures, beer was a gift from a goddess, and women maintained status and power through their skills as brewsters. This remains true today in indigenous cultures from Asia to Latin America, Africa to remote villages in Scandinavia. Around the world, women bake bread and brew their own beer.

In Europe, the rise of cities brought commercial brewing, as governments realized the potential tax revenue to be had from large breweries. By 1445, the first all-male brewers' guild was established, the campaign against witchcraft burst forth across Europe, and the purge of women from brewing had begun. Beer historian Alan Eames has written that, when an occupation was listed, most of the women burned for witchcraft in Europe were brewsters or alewives.

Most of the imagery we associate with witchcraft today originated with the brewster. The large black cauldron bubbling over with foam? A brew kettle, of course. The black cat? Necessary to keep rats out of the grain store. The tall pointed hat? It allowed the brewster to be seen over the heads of taller men in the marketplace. A broom? The symbol of household domesticity, it is still associated with brewing all over the world.

Without the work of these women through the ages, it's entirely possible beer would not exist today. To learn more about the role of women in today's brewing industry, visit www.pinkbootssociety.org. For more on the history of brewing, www.grandtetonbrewing.com.

With its dark malts, alcohol and unfermented sugars Black Cauldron is ideal for prolonged cellaring. We’ve enjoyed samples aged as long as nine years.

Original Gravity (Plato): 22.5º
International Bitterness Units: 54
Color (Lovibond): 40.0º

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-23-2006

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Reviews: 325 | Ratings: 602
Photo of vette2006c5r
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Black Cauldron pours a black color with a small head. There is a deep and prominent black licorice and black coffee aroma. The taste has large black licorice flavors, with good hints of black coffee, and finishes with a oakey and smokey taste. Body is a bit light, but still good flavors. Overall a very flavorful an complex stout.

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Photo of ACarrell
3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Excellent find by a friend.

Smell was a bit hoppier than I'd like, but the taste compensated for that quite well. Surprisingly it didn't have any overwhelming hops despite the first impression upon opening.

Really builds into a more and more solid beer as you drink more of it.

Would definitely buy again!

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.74/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Being reviewed is a 2011 Vintage from the cellar.

A - Pitch black color and an even layer of toffee colored foam sticking on top that doesn't fade away with lots of sticky foam lacing when the glass is swirled.

S - Coffee beans, dark roasted chocolate malt, toffee cream, malted chocolate, very light alcohol.

T - Molasses, dark fruit (figs & dark fruit), some sweet coffee and cream with a mildly bitter chocolate bite at the very end. There is a very small hint of smoky char in the mix as well.

M - Medium body with alcohol warming on the way down.

O - Not really doing it for me but then again, perhaps I let it sit too long? Would love to have a 2013 to compare notes to.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter. 12/10/09 bottle date. Hopefully this has held up well.

A: Pours pitch black with two fingers of light tan foam. Great retention, average lacing.

S: There is a ton going on here. Smoke is apparent, but not dominant. Dark fruits, malted milk balls, and sherry come in after that. Roasted malts and dark chocolate are there, but are in the background.

T: Malted milk balls and vanilla are fairly strong here, followed by smoke and roasted malts. Dark chocolate and figs are also here, adding to the complexity. As I keep drinking, more and more dark chocolate comes out mixing well with the melange of sweet flavors.

M: A bit on the thin side, but creamy carbonation helps make up for it.

O: A great imperial stout. This has aged very gracefully. Lots going on here with very little oxidation evident.

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Photo of joe1510
4.46/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

1 Liter Swingtop

Bottled 11/5/07

I get the chance to try this RIS thanks to Bitterbill's generosity, thanks again Bill. When I got this bottle the neck tag let me know it was bottled on my birthday which I thought was pretty cool. Although this beer is small (abv) for an RIS, it glugs out of the big swingtop with the best of them. The body was dark chestnut as it came from the bottle but appears black in my snifter. The mocha colored head grew to one finger on the pour and fell to a skimming with a thick ring. The ring that's left leaves excellent sheet lacing after each pull that slowly falls back into the body.

The aroma is full of freshly roasted sweet grains, dark berries, freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate and spicy alcohol in that order from most to least. If the aroma tells me anything it's that this is a beer to be reckoned with. Very complex and inviting, especially on a cold windy evening like tonight. As it warms each swirl really brings the dark berries forward but as it settles the roastiness is still the king of the hill.

Everything the nose suggested the flavor brings. The sweet roastiness is at its highest point upfront but even as it settles lingers in the background. Dark slightly underipe berries come along with a solid helping of dark chocolate. The coffee grounds show up toward the finish and mix with spicy alcohol. The alcohol adds even more depth to this already complex stout. A slight coffee bitterness and dark molten chocolate combine on the swallow. Ghost like alcohol fumes float throughout the mouth and nose. Black Cauldron is an excellent RIS.

The body is on the lighter side for a RIS but it works really well in this case with the smaller abv than I'm used to encountering. There's creaminess on the swallow that really sets things off.

The lighter than usual body helps make this an incredibly easy drinking RIS. The complexity I'm sure would give some palate fatigue but won't stop me from enjoying this beauty. The moderate alcohol level boosts drinkability as well.

I imagined this being a good RIS but I didn't expect such a gem. The aromas and the flavors are big and enjoyable. I'm glad I had the opportunity to try this and I've got another liter in the cellar for next year, all thanks to Bill!

Reviewed: 3/1/08

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Photo of jondeelee
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black Cauldron opens to a dark, fruity aroma, the initial notes being almost exclusively dark fruit esters, including fig, date, raisin, prune, plum, and black cherry. These mix with touches of milk chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream to form a dessert-sweet overtone, held in check by a light counter of ash, tobacco, and chocolate malt. Thick brown breads, yeasty rising whole wheat dough, and toast crust form an earthy base. As a whole, the sugars in here are very nice, and complex enough to be quite interesting. For an Imperial Stout, however, the dark, ashy notes are extremely light, and this beer could pass for a darkly-fruited Barleywine. The 8% ABV does add a bit of bourbon overtone, though this is not the barrel-aged version of this beer, which helps add hints of smoke and char. What comes across most, however, is a series of dark fruit esters that seem more likely to be found in a young port, or an extremely fruity cognac.

On the tongue, the beer turns out to have a darker, more ashy base than the nose let on, which comes as a relief. The strong dark fruit esters – fig, date, prune, plum, raisin, and black cherry – are still very large and would not be surprising in a young port, but there are pleasant bits of tobacco, ash, and coffee that bring a nice balance. Milk chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream blend well with the fruits and ashy bits, and the beer rests on a base of thick brown bread, yeasty rising whole wheat dough, and burnt toast crust. In the latter half of the mouthful the ashy, tobacco-laden notes become stronger as the sugars die off, until the aftertaste is pleasantly dominated by ash, with just enough heavy cream, vanilla, and brown sugar left to please. Mouthfeel is a smooth medium, and carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, while the nose elicited somewhat nervous responses with its emphasis on sugars, the beer turned out to be very nice on the tongue, with an excellent sugar-ash combo that nicely suits the style. There’s still perhaps a slightly-too-large sugary base here, and the beer could have used a bit more char in the first half of the mouthful, but the result as-is proves dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of jcbogantes
3.72/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This was my first Imperial stout, very interesting beer.

A: Very dark deep caramel color, with off white head that stay for a while leaving nice lacing on the glass

S: Very smoky on the nose, some raisins and sweet aromas

T: Sweet molasses, coffee notes, the smokiness is strong kind of woody but for me the alcohol taste overpowers too much at the end.

M: full body

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Photo of The_Mancannon_of_Slothrop
4.81/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had the privilege of grabbing a 4-pack of these while working in Casper. Poured into a pint glass

A - Leaves very little to be desired. A rich dark, dark brown body with a respectable light brown to an almost reddish head that diminishes to just residual head within a minute, and a decent amount of pretty lacing.

S - Vanilla bean and cocoa. A simple and nice smell, but not a very powerful one.

T - Whoa. Follows the nose to some degree but with exponentially more power. Chocolate is a major player, to be sure, but not a bitter, dark, unsweetened chocolate. There is quite a brown sugary, vanilla-y sweetness to it. Has a hint of fruity undertones, primarily figs and very ripe bananas, but the fruit is really only terribly noticeable if you're looking for it.

M - Extraordinarily smooth. Not the driest of all mouthfeels, in fact, quite the opposite. But that proves to be a virtue, as it enhances the complexity of the brew and makes for an orgasmic finish.

O - Masterful regional entry to the stout canon. Easy to go overboard with its imperial ABV and its drinkability.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.09/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on date of 10/23/12

Appearance - Pours jet black with a half finger cocoa brown head. Fair retention, Leaving a fairly smooth surface, with bubbles gathering around the edge of the glass. Small, spotty lacing with fair stick.

Smell - Chocolate and char smoke. Dark, fruity sweetness.

Taste - Strongly chocolate throughout, with noticeable notes of char and peat smokiness. Touches of anise and blackened caramel. Moderate dark fruit sweetness. Coffee roast bitterness creeps in subtly in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Full body with modest carbonation. Somewhat creamy before a dry finish. Goes down easy enough.

Overall - A good, approachable imperial stout. One I think I'll be revisiting time and again. This particular bottle is nearly 6 months old... I'd love to try it a bit fresher, though I doubt there'd be much of a noticeable difference.

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Photo of br3wmeister
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Extremely dark beer, held up to a light only the very edges of the glass let light through showing that this beer has some dark brown hues. The beer had a small dark tan head that diminishes quickly leaving no lacing.

Smell - Fairly light aroma for an imperial stout. Swirling in a wind glass and sticking my face in the glass I can pick out dark roasted barley, chocolate, some dark ripe fruit, figs and charcoal. The alcohol also comes through in the end.

Taste - Very roast, and pretty dry. Charcoal, dark chocolate, and and some burn toast notes up front, hints of dark fruit and some sweetness comes through as well.

Mouthfeel - Pretty light on the palate very light carbonation finishes dry, with some lingering bitterness.

Over all I would say this is a pretty good imperial stout, it is a nice change from some of the overly sweet imperial stouts, and had a nice mouth feel that is not common among this style.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. Bottled on 10/23/2012.

Appearance: Pours a dark oily black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of deep tan head that fade into a thin creamy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A very rich and robust dark stout aroma. Dark roasted malts with big hints of dark chocolate, coffee, dark toasted bread, biscuit, caramel, toffee, and cream. Good hints of smoked malt. Big presence of sweet molasses and some anise spicing. Good hints of dark cherry, raisin, fig, and plum. Also some solid hints of earthy and herbal hops coming out from the background. A really nice full imperial stout aroma.

Taste: As rich, roasty, and complex as the aroma hints at. Big taste of dark roasted malts with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel, toffee, burnt toast, biscuit, and a little milk cream. A nice taste of smoked malts are tasted along with a big taste of molasses sweetness and some licorice anise spice. Strong dark fruit undertones with notes of raisins, dark cherry, fig, prune, and plum. A decent backing of herbal and earthy malts round things out. A very good full on stout taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, creamy, and somewhat slick. Fairly sweet and has a drying finish. Alcohol is hidden pretty well.

Overall: A great imperial stout. Very rich and complex with some nice fruit and hop notes under all the dark malts.

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Photo of tito42
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 mL bomber to a tulip. Bottled on 8/23/2012.

A: Very opaque. Some cola color is barely visible on the extreme bottom of the tulip glass when held to light. Creamy-looking, hot cocoa colored head.

S: Rich blend of roasted malt, vanilla, cocoa nibs, tobacco, and plum. Wonderful.

T: Vanilla, chocolate milk, tobacco, plum, and roasted malt.

M: Medium bodied. The 8.0% ABV is definitely noticeable. There is definitely an alcohol presence that is hidden better in other RISs. A moderately dry finish.

O: A very nice RIS. Found this on the clearance rack at my beer supplier, and it was well worth the $6 for the bomber. Not the best RIS I've had, but it has its strengths.

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Photo of Dope
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 8/23/12

A: Pours inky black. Big, dense medium brown head. Fades slowly, leaving thin splotches of lacework behind.

S: Lots of dark fruit. Raisin and cherry most prominent. Smoky, quite smoky. A bit of sharp booze.

T: Again, dark fruit up front. Raisin, cherry, plums are the most discernible. Smokiness follows into the middle. Some chocolate and char joins it. Lots of anise kicks in in the finish, mingling with the smoke. Finish is bitter char and smoke mainly. Lingering smoke in the aftertaste. Overall fairly sweet, which helps dampen the smokiness.

M: Quite heavy and thick. Lower carbonation. Smooth and a little drying from the smoke/char, particularly in the finish.

O: Not a bad RIS. Definitely heavy on the dark fruits and smoke. Lacks some roasted malt character like chocolate and coffee though (which is usually what i prefer, if I'm honest). Good complexity and flavor balance, having said that. Very full bodied, leading to a nice drinkability.

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Photo of yamar68
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage:

Very dark... darker than most of its kind. A finger of dark tan head recedes quickly, leaving a neat collar that laces, beads... all that good shit.

I notice a bit of dark fruit right away combined with some brown sugar and coffee grounds. Fairly mellow, approachable, not too sweet and not too hot. I can dig it.

More of that bitter coffee with a slight suggestion of brownie sweetness. Chocolate syrup and cooked sugar make the shift towards a bitter dry dessert character. Nice.

I like this one.

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Photo of NilocRellim
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer came on tap in a pint glass, exhibiting a low, tan head and a black body. Smelled of sweet malts and chocolate. In addition to the chocolatey-coffee taste, there was a malty smokiness as well which lingered on the tongue, along with a slight earthiness.

Would I buy this beer again? Yes.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a very thin beige head that fades quickly and leaves a very thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, chocolate, molasses and licorice with a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors chocolate, coffee, molasses and licorice. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is very mild as you would expect and there’s a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, a bit viscous, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, it’s a decent beer but there are several others in the style that I would choose first.

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Photo of denver10
3.41/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours black with a nice deep mocha head. Aroma is roasty with some chocolate and earthy hops. Flavor is bitter chocolate, roasted malt, leather, and bitter earthy hops in the finish, Fuller mouthfeel, somewhat creamy. Overall, a good beer though not really my favorite take on the style.

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Photo of MisterNic
3.46/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle, bottled on 10/23/2012

A - Pours dark, opaque black with a 1 finger dark brown head that dissipates quickly.

S - Nice roasted coffee and sweet milk chocolate aroma.

T - Starts roasty, moves on to sweet chocolate, and finishes with a big dry roasty bitter coffee taste. After a couple of sips I noticed a little bit of an alcohol burn in the back of my throat that stuck around for a while.

M - Full bodied, thick and creamy mouthfeel. Finishes dry.

Overall, I would consider this an average Imperial Stout. It's good, but I've had a few other Imperial Stouts that I consider to be much better. It would interesting to see how much better this beer is with a year of age on it to mellow out the alcohol.

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Photo of Detlef90
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first beer from this brewery and definitely made me intrigued about their other beers. I thought this was a smooth and creamy stout. Not too bitter (which was nice as many of the stouts I have been drinking recently have been quite hoppy). I recommend it for it's body and for it's easy drinkability.

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Photo of PrivateEquity
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark black color letting through little light. Nice tan lacing. Very appealing look.

S - Chocolate and coffe malts are very nice and enticing.

T - Chocolate, fruity strong malt base. Very nice and roasted. Maybe just a little less chocolate and this would be subperb.

M - Nice roasted thickness and creaminess.

O - Solid Imperial Stout that is consistent all around. Very nice drink.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

not your run of the mill imperial stout. it pours dense and black, midnight dark, with no light at all breaking through. a stunning three inch coffee colored head rests patiently on top. the nose is a complex dark malt profile, english sweetness, american robustness, not smokey, but roasty and deep. not sure if there is oatmeal in this, but the massive body would indicate yes. its also got a velvety smoothness, and the thickness of it doesnt make it any less drinkable. more hops than i am used to in an imperial stout, and i appreciate it here. the only sweetness in the taste is a touch of vanilla. id like a barrel aged version of this! just enough carbonation, great as it warms up, this is a steal at 7 bucks a bomber.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce foil-capped bottle into a Koningshoeven chalice. Bottle 10 December 2009.

A: Thin, mocha head forms atop a stolid, viciously, viscously black beer.

S: Bone-dry and bitter, with a more than a touch of coffee and of smoke. Molasses or burnt sugar.

T/M: Tasty, but not overwhelming. A solid imperial stout, a bit thin (perhaps from age) and dry (from the touch of smoked malts). Bitter and lingering, there are berries (mostly sweet, lightly sour) and chocolate amidst the still-extant hops and heavy roasted malts.

O: Really nice imperial stout. Recommended! I wouldn't dig around for it like I did to find this one, but it's good.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 9/10/10. Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a AleSmith Horny Devil snifter.

A- Pours black with a 2" cola colored head. Small bubbles of lacing speckle the glass.

S- Roasted malts, dark chocolate, dark fruits, and faint pine.

T- Sweet dark fruits, roasted malts, dark chocolate and slight pine bitterness.

M- Medium body and carbonation. Lower abv for the style but drinks amazingly well and easy.

O- Good RIS. Not very complex, but has nice sweet and roasted malt flavors.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a balloon glass.

The beer is as black as an oily black cauldron, naturally. A mocha colored head recedes to chunky bubbles with a thick ring of foam around the edges. Wispy, sticky lacing coats the glass.

The aroma is oily and of black licorice up front. Also bitter coffee and sweet vanilla comes out.

The taste starts out with a dark-roasted assault in the memory of Oreo cookies. It's a rick, dark, almost chalky fudge-like note. Underneath this, and really hidden comes faint sweet vanilla bean. Does this sound like a dessert beer sipper so far? The finish presents the sharper, bitter hops with bitter coffee grinds coming to mind.

The mouthfeel is maybe chewy, due to the extremely rich nature of this brew.

Overall, a good dessert beer, or a nice sipper on a breezy, chilly Autumn night.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out black with a sand colored single finger of foam that lasts for about a minute and a half, leaving behind some mediocre lacing. Rich full smooth body, lightly carbonated.

Smells and tastes of a combination of blackberries and prunes, black coffee, and charred malt with a fair dollop of smokiness, aniseed and licorice on the side. The aroma is a little bit less intense than the richness of the flavor is, but the ABV is hidden very well. The finish has a hint of chalky mineral character. It's a somewhat better than average RIS to be sure!

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Black Cauldron Imperial Stout from Grand Teton Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 602 ratings.
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