Art Of Darkness
Brewery Ommegang

Art Of DarknessArt Of Darkness
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
3.98 | pDev: 10.8%
Brewery Ommegang
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Art Of DarknessArt Of Darkness
Notes: Let us now acknowledge the dark arts of brewing. Our limited edition Art of Darkness Ale is deep, dark and magical, with champagne-like carbonation and rich matiness from a complex recipe of multiple barley and wheat malts, as well as flaked oats.

Using no spices or flavorings, Art of Darkness gains all its rich aromas, tastes, and apparent spiciness from the malts and Ommegang's proprietary house yeast.

There are no secret ingredients or magical incantation. There is only Ommegang brewers' creating the finest quality dark, strong ale of complex and deep character.

Art of Darkness is a fine ale to enjoy immediately, and is excellent to cellar.
Reviews: 137 | Ratings: 688
Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger light tan head that has good retention properties and consistently left a thin head covering the surface.
S: Moderate aromas of dark fruits are perceptible in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has lots of flavors of dark fruits along with hints of Belgian yeast.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and hides its alcohol very well but lacks the complexity compared to the top beers in this style.

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Photo of Vixie
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nearly opaque black with a tan head that doesn't last long, leaving some nice lacing across the top.

Nice strong smell to this one. There's dried fruit, mainly raisin and prune, also a bit of brown sugar and cookie dough.

Starts out on the sweet side, more of a fruity sweetness like raisin. Also a hint of Belgian candy sugar, and finishes with a peppery spice.

Decent feel, there is a lot of tongue tingling due to the carbonation, but fairly smoothy overall.

Overall a pretty good beer, but not a great one. It seems to be lacking the complexity I expect from this style, but is still a good beer. It would be interesting to see how this beer ages, very possible aging would bring out more depths of flavor. Worth a try, I am tempted to get another bottle and age it just to see what it does to the flavor.

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Photo of TwelveOunces
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

750Ml poured into a Hennepin glass

A- Pours very dark amber. A dark brown, borderline black beer. A large foamy khaki head.

S- A lighter smell then I expected. A lot of lemon zest. Spicy onion. Farmhouse aromas, a lot of grain. A touch of rastedness. Not what I was expecting.

T- A prominent belgian yeast flavor. A very farmhouse palate to this beer. Reminiscent of some sours minus the sour. A lot of hay and grassy notes. A lot of lemon zest in this beer. A bit of onion and a rye spice. A strong grain flavor to this beer and a lasting grainy flavor. A hint of rasted malt on the back end. A dominant grainy flavor which some people may think as an off flavor.

M- A lot of feel and appropriate carbonation as always from Ommegang.

O- A beer by this name I was going in expecting a stout dark beer but thats not what this beer is. The beer has a lot going for it but is otherwise dominated by a grainy flavor. Would drink again but not for the price.

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Photo of tbonci
4.14/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

750 ml "Brewmaster's Obsession Series" bottle poured into a red wine glass.

Appearance is a dark brown that passes no light in the middle, appearing like a dark amber maple syrup at the edges. Lacing is thin and lasting.

Smell is espresso, alcohol, lots of malt, hint of baking bread.

Taste buds have lots going on, but it works. Thick malt backbone (that's a good thing), coffee, noticeable alcohol, bread/yeast, finishes first floral then chocolate. Carbonation provides a bit too much bite when combined with the high alcohol.

Overall impression is good, very good, but the forward alcohol and the carbonation level (while not high on its own) combine to make this less smooth than I'd hoped. One glass in, I want to finish the bottle, but I'm not sure the last will be as enjoyable as the first.

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Photo of ckollias
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this brew from a growler in a Belgian Tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark blackish hue with some ruby highlights and an off-white head frothy head that slowly dissipates down the side of the glass leaving a great trail and solid lace.

S: Strong alcoholic malty syrup aroma with hints of caramel and dark fruits.

T: Smooth malty flavor with a big alcoholic syrup kick up front followed by some sweet and slightly tart caramel notes and finishes dry and strong.

M: Pretty boozy – full body and medium carbonation.

O: Excellent brew – complex flavors and aromas and enough alcohol to make it interesting.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into signature tulip glass, bottled on 2/20/2012. Pours moderately cloudy extremely dark reddish brown color with a 2 finger dense and fluffy khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of big raisin, prune, apple, pear, molasses, toast, toffee, chocolate, dark bread, light roast, pepper, clove, floral, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark malt and fruity/spicy yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of raisin, prune, apple, molasses, toast, chocolate, dark bread, toffee, floral, light roast, clove, pepper, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark and light fruits, molasses, toast, toffee, chocolate, dark bread, floral, light roast, clove, pepper, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance and complexity of dark malts with yeast ester flavors; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, moderately slick, and lightly foamy mouthfeel that is very nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is and excellent Belgian strong dark ale! All around nice balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for a the gravity. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark like cola. Really black and opaque with a tan head of soft foam that fell to some streaking lace that actually shimmers as it falls down the glass. Good legs and a thick cap and collar. When held to the light it skims only thinly over the top and gives a reddish hue overall. Beautiful. Nose is smooth chocolate, dates, dark fruits, yeast a small coffee scent, and a light all around floral that really animates this dark beer. This one has a little alcohol on the nose, toasted malt and good bread. First sip is immediately warming, vibrant with smooth cocoa, dark fruits, plum and cola.The malt is a little bit of toast on the palate. Hops take the full and dry finish with a light bitter and more alcohol. A touch of licorice as it warms but that gently offsets the sweet dates and a gentle nutty flavor too. Moderate carbonation that continually refreshes with each turn of the glass.

If you drink Ommegang then you are accustomed to a certain amount of art and this beer has that. It’s dark, looks menacing, tricky with the light and smells tempting and sweet. Drinks smooth and not too spicy . The fruits are so light and so well done. Plum stays plum and never turns to prune. Malt stands up straight and strong with a touch of roast, and plenty of bread to make this a very elegant beer.

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Photo of mjtiernan
3.84/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

750 poured into a goblet

A: Light brown head....huge lacing....two fingers. Having a tough time getting a read on the body color, but it’s dark. Maybe with some reddish hues around the edge?

S: Smells amazing...very aromatic. Toffee, blackberry jam, raisin, candi sugar, slight clove, vanilla, just a touch of alcohol. Wow.

T: Raisin, dark fruit and Belgian yeasty esters up front. Transitions to acidic (almost salty) tart cherries and dries out quickly from there. Finishes alcoholic with some chocolate and a mild roasted malt aftertaste.

M: Full body with soft carbonation. Very dry finish with forward alcohol. Drinkability is moderate-to-low.

O: Terrific complexity on this one. The alcohol is a little harsh, but this is a really fine American take on a strong dark Belgian ale....especially the aroma.

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Photo of RickS95
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle

The color is really dark. Mostly black with some lighter brown shades mixed in. The head is a finger thick of offwhite bubbles that eventually forms a light brown film around the perimeter of the beer. A gentle swirl shows spotty lacing.

The bottle mentions flaked oats and it comes across as an oatmeal stout in the nose. Caramel malts are the only thing that comes to mind. If you really stick your nose in there, notes of alcohol come wafting up.

The taste is impressive, borderline spectacular. They've nailed the Belgian style, doing it better than a lot of brewers from across the pond. The caramel malts combine with the house yeast for a toffee taste with a backdrop of cola. It's really impressive.

The mouthfeel is pretty spot on as well. With the carbonation, it gives off a peppery feel. There is alcohol that provides a bit of bite as well. A subtle sweetness starts the sip and the alcohol and carbonation provide a bit of heat in the swallow. It's full bodied, but has a crisp, tangy finish that really coats the tongue.

If I didn't know better, I'd guess this to be a Trappist beer. It's really that good and the taste and feel are world class. Despite the high alcohol, it's an easy beer to drink. It's so good it begs you to take another swig. Really happy with this beer.

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Photo of jmerloni
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark brown body with medium tan head. Velvety looking.

S - Dark fruits: plum, grapes, cherries, dates. Mild oakiness.

T - Dark fruits predominate, followed by a dry, oaky and earthy finish. Very well crafted flavor.

M - Moderately carbonated, medium-bodied.

D - A very solid beer. As usual from Ommegang. I don't think they're capable of putting out anything sub-birdie.

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Photo of dar482
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a very dark brown color.

The aroma has a bit of Belgian yeast, but more the dark fruits like raisins and plums.

The taste follows. It has a decent amount of the same. To me, it's a bit middle of the road. I generally want this style with bigger fruit flavors. However, it still a really wonderful full maltiness without it being too heavy. There is a bit of an aftertaste that I couldn't pin that. It's a big off, like maybe watered down chalkiness.

Still a wonderful brew. Maybe not worth the price though. There are better options.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Light cola body with nice brown highlights. Fine, bone-white head sits low with ok retention and poor lace.

S - Unfiltered sake, plum wine, white bread, vanilla Charleston Chew, caramel, salt.

T - Strong sake character; rice, pear, booze, fermented plums. Raw almond, toffee, raw sugar. Light tartness. Belgian candy sugar.

M - Medium-light body.

O - Interesting blend of Belgian and Asian flavor.

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Photo of Chrysostom
3.84/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As always, I am reviewing to style (ala BJCP), modified by personal taste (contra BJCP), not to personal taste alone, unlike the "hedonic scale" of some beer-review sites. If I rated to taste alone, some beers, poor exemplars of their style, would receive better marks consistently from me than certain other beers, which were perfect exemplars of styles that are not my personal preference.

As always, the review is live, not from notes, as I puzzle out the libation as it is consumed. Without further ado, a review.

Presentation: $13.99 750mL corked and caged bottle (thank you to Blacklick Wine and Spirits in Columbus, OH) served around 45ºF and warming as the review is written, poured in to a Chimay chalice/goblet. The new label (and there is a new label - maybe this wasn't brewed once only after all?) is much cooler than the last one - it grabbed my eye and made me buy it - and is vaguely reminiscent of SPQR (ancient Rome), printed or screened directly on to the bottle, including copious amounts of gold leaf.

A: It looks like a stout porter, thus my marking down for colouring way outside the style. It's a beautiful beer: based on looks alone, a 5. One-finger head on a gentle pour recedes at a moderate rate to leave moderate lacing down the side of the glass. It's a dark, dark, dark (and darker) red bordering on the pitch black, with few to no highlights when held to a source of light. Holding it to a source of light is the only way I can tell that it's not pitch black, as glimmers of red appear and disappear just as quickly from certain angles, like phantoms.

S: Dark fruits, cherries, bready (earthy) Belgian yeast with its attendant funk, a dry character from the yeast and malts, and a damn big wallop of alcohol. (Maybe the breadiness comes from malt, and blends well with the yeast?) A little too much like a stout, and too alcoholic in the nose. Smells like beer-y booze, or boozy beer. It smells like a stout porter when cold, and begins to get a strongly Belgian nose as it warms.

T: The nose prepares you for it. Guess what? Dark fruits, cherries, bready/earthy Belgian yeast with its attendant funk, bready (and maybe a bit toasty) malt, and a slightly smaller, but still large, wallop of warming alcohol. It works quite a bit better on the palate than it does in the nostrils. Some spiciness. Sweet, not dry. Quite sweet indeed. Everything pulls together pretty well, but it's a bit too sweet and boozy: the alcohol kicks in mid-palate and rides all the way down. An absolute malt bomb, fermented by what is quite obviously an authentic yeast from Belgium. Like too many (if not all) of the American Trappist replicas, there's a cloying sweetness which becomes present with warmth.

M: Lively carbonation up front, moderate stickiness in the middle, smoothness in the back. A bit thin, but not bad. Above average.

D: On the high end of low, or the very low end of moderate. Too sweet.

O: As one word has echoed throughout this review, from the appearance to the mouthfeel - the word "moderate" - to this word does my overall rating of the beer return.

For an American imitation of a Belgian beer, it is very good - as I've come to expect from Ommegang, the Belgian-owned American brewers(?) of Duvel, the quintessential Belgian pale. I believe Ommegang is even owned by Duvel Moortgat, which explains why their imitations of Belgians tend to rise above the crowd, whereas other American imitations of Belgians fall flat (and hard) on their faces. The beer doesn't "come together" properly; each part seems that it would be excellent, but the sweetness, combined with the tartness of the cherry and fruits, and the breadiness and earthiness of the yeast and malts, are not held together by a common thread, leading to a pretty complex, and pretty disjointed, beer.

For the style, 75/100. For personal taste, 82/100. Overall, 79/100.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.84/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: A very dark brown beer with good clarity. The persistent, tan head is made of compact bubbles and leaves a fine lacing on the glass.

S: An initially wine/grape-like fruitiness that quickly gives way to rich fruity esters, notes of dried dark fruit, some spice and caramel with some cocoa in the background. Moderate malt sweetness and a low floral alcohol aroma.

T: Belgian yeast goodness dominate the flavor with fruit and spice r at a moderate being closely supported by dark malt flavors. There is a moderate sweetness that rounds out the flavor and helps give deep to the layers; it's not a dry beer but it's not cloying like some Dark Strongs can get. There is an almost juiciness to some of the dark fruit flavors ranging from plum to prune with some light orange character. The spice is black pepper and alcohol provide some of the balance against the malt sweetness along with a low hops bitterness but overall the it is a slightly sweet beer. It dries towards the end finish off-dry with an aftertaste of cocoa, pepper and a light hops bitterness.

M: A medium bodied beer with a very strong level of carbonation and a light alcohol warmth.

O: A love this beer, it's fruity, dark and spicy Belgium that goes down a little too smooth. I don't want it with dessert, I want it for dessert; that being said it would go great with a vanilla custard or berry tart.

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Photo of champ103
3.64/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Queen Vic in Houston.

A: Pours a dark brown, nearly black color. A two finger tan head forms and sticks around for a while. Plenty of lace is left behind.
S: Toasted malts up front. Some light chocolate. Then lots of fruity flavors going on. Cherries, stone fruits. Even a bit tart with some earthy yeast present.
T: Follows the nose with toasted and bready malts. Earthy yeast. Light coco powder. Then that fruity flavor again. Slight tart cherries and stone fruits. It just does not mesh right for me.
M/D: A medium body that is very effervescent. Almost to much carbonation. Very fizzy on the tongue. Not hard to drink. I finished the glass in not time. I am not sure how much I am coming back though.

I do enjoy this. Though the tart fruits just don't mesh well with the toasted and bready malts. I am not sure if that is what it is suppose to taste like, but there you have it. Still, I am glad I tried. Though not one of their better offerings IMO.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours stoudt like, deep and dark . A never ending head sits on top. Well carb'd brew nowonder the head never fades.
The aroma is sweet, malty with some dark fruits too.
Taste is malty and sweet. There hints of fruits earth and spicy yeast.
Drinks thin and very dry and bitter. A solid alcohol presence almost dominates the beer.
Tastey and drinkable.

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Photo of ksimons
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark chestnut with a bit of ruby highlights and two fingers worth of rocky head that sticks to the glass

S-dark fruits, dark bread malt, cocoa, and light roasted notes which develops more as the beer warms

T-lots of sweet dark fruits, dark malt, cocoa, peppery, a bit of roastedness as the beer warms, and light yeast flavor

M-medium body, light to medium carbonation, and peppery finish

Overall this is a pretty decent BSDA, nothing too amazing but for the price I got it at I would definitely have it again

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Photo of KYGunner
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very nice shades of brown in the glass the head was stout and firm.

The taste was nicely diverse with sweet malts, prune, date, dried grape/raisin, and a sugary candy mix.

The taste is in line with scent as raisin and sweet dried fruits dominate. There is a black licorice note at the end and a sugary sweetness. Very easy on the palate with pleasant sweetness. This Belgian Strong is a very good example of the sort.

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Photo of JackMcAwesome
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A lovely dark pour, with a 1 finger head that lingered until halfway through.

S: A bit of floral, with some chocolate afterthought. It also reminded me of Captain Morgan: Tattoo, which I found interesting.

T: A very small hint of chocolate, but mostly a nutty licorice bite. I think also a bit of cherry.

F: Medium bodied. An even amount of carbonation.

Overall: A fun one to try. I don't know if I'd repurchase any time soon, many things to try, but I'll revisit it for sure. If you like dark ales, then this is an obvious choice to at least try.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Rich hersey chocolate pour produces a monster pecan tinted head of 3 finger proportions. Porous, soapy surface leaves a sloppy lacing only after a lengthy retention.

S: Spicy nobel flowers and chocolate come upfront, soft dry coffee beans with a light strength, typical of Ommegang's offerings. The nobel hops are flowery and fresh, bright and at the forefront of the drink and the chocolate malt base, an unusual set of circumstances.

T: Spicy cocoa, fresh bready yeastiness with mentions of green pear and banana come with a light helping of nuttiness. There is a bit of dried honey wheat and sweet chocolate mixture. Spicy flowery chocolate brightness comes on the swallow with a sweet swiss chocolate finish that is eloquent and clean.

M: The body is light to medium in substance with a very relaxed state of carbontion.

O: Overall an exceptionally smooth, clean and very easy to consume offering. The dark malt base is more schwarz then double stout, and is sweet creamy and smooth like swiss chocolate. The noble flowers really shine here while the chocoalte malt is so silky sweet and refined. The yeast brings a good deal to the table too with its pear and banana offering and things finish out as strong as they started. Ommegang is not going to slam you in the face with a bold aggressive nature and flavor, thier beers are shown to be exceptionally clean and polished with a delicate and eloquent balance that shows off the slightest nuances that is to be appreciated. Definitly worth a try.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.48/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the corked, caged 750 ml. bottle stamped: Pkg on 02/20/12-Best By 02/2015. Sampled on February 25, 2013.

It is a handsome looking deep dark brown to jet black with a silky, beige head that erupts and settles down to a lasting ring.

The aroma has a lot going on with black licorice sticks leading the way along with dark malts, dark plum/prune fruitiness, yeast, spice, and a hint of hops to balance it off.

The body is medium to full and smooth.

The taste, like the aroma, is complex with dark fruits that are more like cherries, black licorice, and even a little coffee. The alcohol can be spotted but it is generally well-integrated into the beer. The hop bite is muted at the end but it builds and lingers with each passing sip. I guess I liked it better than the previous raters.

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Photo of denver10
3.69/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep magenta with a dirty cream colored head. Aroma was of some dark fruits (dark cherries, figs, plum) and somce cocoa. Flavor followed suit with the dark fruits standing out and a nice little underlying of some chocolate and some caramel malt. A medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, not my favorite style but Ommegang did a very nice job with this one allowing me to enjoy it a good deal. Probably not a beer I would have enjoyed as my opener to the night, but a beer that worked well as my closer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.52/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. A foamy curtain of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and slight dark fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with a slightly sour fruity flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with some interesting aromas and flavors but nothing all that exciting.

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Photo of Apellonious
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

1 pt 9.4 fl oz bomber pkg 2/22/12

A - black with brown highlights. One finger head dissipates to a thin lace.

S - picking up spice, some yeast, maybe some dark fruit

T - non distinct and hard to place. The dark arts. Plum, fig, pepper. Getting some brown sugars.

M - very sharp. Slightly metallic. Mouthfeel is full.

O - decent if not overly memorable, makes me think a properly cellared version (who knows how long it was on the TWine shelf) may have been smoother and more complex.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.03/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle aged 1 year.

Pitch black appearance, even when held up to light. 1 finger of beige head.

Aroma is not significant. Most notable is the belgian-like yeast. Faint cocao and a hint of cherry.

Rather than distinct flavors, this is really a blend of flavors that are hard to pin down. Some christmas spices sit over dark grains, with a hint of chococlate, leather, and tobacco, and brown sugar... But you really have to search hard for those flavors.

Medium body. Not as belgian-like in the mouthfeel. Almost more brown ale-like.

Overall a decent beer, but it's a bit too non descript, without much character. I've come to expect more from Ommegang.

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Art Of Darkness from Brewery Ommegang
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 688 ratings