Black OPS | Brooklyn Brewery

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Black OPSBlack OPS
Black OPSBlack OPS

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brooklyn Black Ops (2008 commercially available version) was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast. 940 cases produced.


User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 874 | Ratings: 2,509
Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.65/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I have passed on this beer for so long in the bottle because of it's price tag and it's relatively low rating for a high end imperial stout.

I was wrong. On tap at Vintage in Boardman.

This is a gold standard imperial stout. Nothing flashy or intense just extremely smooth and balanced stout.

If you have been skipping on this give it a try.

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Photo of Djoneil
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

draught 8oz snifter at the Brass Tap here in Baltimore. A bit watery initially with each sip. Otherwise a solid stout. Worth the price ($11)? Probably NOT, but to each his own.

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Photo of VABA
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Pours a very dark color with a nice head and lacing
A-Aroma has chocolate, malt and slight Bourbon hints
T-The taste follows the nose with chocolate, malt and slight Bourbon flavors
M-A medium bodied decently carbonated beer
O-A decent Stout

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Photo of EMV
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2018 edition. Poured from a cork'n'cage bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Nearly black pour with 2 fingers of fluffy brown head. Nice ring of lacing.

S: Roasted sugars, vanilla, and bourbon. Char and booze.

T/F: Just like it smells... sweet burned sugars, light espresso, chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. Good barrel presence... not overly boozy... some nice bitterness from the roast for balance but still comes down on slightly sweet. Medium bodied with creamy carbonation. Better as it warms.

O: A solid bourbon barrel stout. Good flavor and drinkability. Unfortunately this one falls under the 'very good but not great/elite' category... and that's not a bad thing except for the outrageous cost. It's certainly no better than New Holland's 'Dragons Milk' at almost twice the cost, and nowhere even close to as good as Bourbon County so for over $20 a bomber it's just not worth it. Then again... I feel like I say that for just about every Brooklyn beer I've tried.

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Photo of Riff
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Cork popped with a sound reminiscent of a champagne cork. Pours a light black color with about a finger of foamy, light tan head. Not a strong scent, notes of chocolate, bourbon, roasted malts. Taste is chocolate, malty, light amount of bourbon, hint of hops. The mouthfeel is what makes this, it's carbonated to the point that it dances on the tongue. Overall, I think smell and flavor are fairly average but the feel is different, fun. I shoulda cracked this two nights ago for New Years Eve, would have been a perfect way to ring in the celebrations.

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Photo of hophugger
3.89/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Black in color with heavy tan head(obviously due to the champagne yeast used). Aroma is heavy with roasted malt and light bourbon. Thought this was gonna be a bourbon bomb but alcohol is surprisingly mellow, which is great since it allows the malt, roastiness and hops to take their proper spot. Mouthfeel is average, not extremely coating and finish is fairly clean and short with small lingering notes of bourbon and toasted malts

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Photo of Claude-Irishman
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks black, jet black. Weird quickly foaming beige head due to champagne yeast. Smells like cocoa nibs,vanilla,earthy,burnt sugar. Tastes like chocolate,mild bourbon,earthy. Feels incredible. The champagne yeast made this incredibly delicate. Very light,with a high ABV. This 2017 version is 10.7 % ABV. Overall incredible. Too expensive ?

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black color with a thick, brown, foamy head that quickly dissipates. Lacing is good. Roasted malts, coffee, bourbon and champagne aroma. Taste follows the same way but the champagne is strong at the end. Medium to heavy bodied. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of seedyone
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dated 2014, From bottle at home. Purchased 2014-5. From Goose Island BC snifter. Very agitated pour the settled quickly to complete thin dense head. First impression on the nose is bittersweet chocolate w/coffee & oak. Smooth with no bite on the tongue. Medium texture with a long lingering finish. Lets' see if it opens further!

After a some minutes the fancy aromas gave way to hints of earthier oakey toffee/tobacco that intensified in taste. I'm not getting alcohol at all, just the opposite, it's mellowed nicely. Once at room temp I thought I caught some licorice.

All in, this is a really intriguing brew & easily not for everyone. I'm glad I put it by as there are now so many barrel aged stouts about that it's that much more enjoyable in comparison.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing nearly opaque black in the glass with a two finger, fizzy dark khaki head that settles own to a fine, half finger cap with great retention and thick lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, dark chocolate, bourbon and vanilla. Flavor is dark toasted malt, a fruity component that is close to cherry, vanilla, bourbon and light chocolate. Finishes fizzy with lingering bourbon and vanilla with cherry esters. Medium bodied with slight creaminess and sharp, fizzy carbonation. Looks and smell fantastic. The flavor is bourbon forward with the interesting fruit esters that are probably due to the bottle conditioning yeast. The vanilla and chocolate notes are subsumed into the bourbon. The malt is light for a Russian style imperial stout, but supports the strong bourbon barrel component. A little lighter in body and malt depth than expected for this big a stout, but the flavor is satisfying and nice and bourbony. I'm not a huge fan of fruit flavors in stouts, but the yeast fruit notes here fit well with the other flavors, almost a Belgian stout profile from the yeast. Really glad I had an opportunity to try this classic East Coast barreled stout. It grew on me as I drank it.

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Photo of FriedSlug
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark with a nice head that doesn't leave lacing. Faint bourbon and chocolate smells. Thin flavor but lots of chocolate and bourbon. Decent beer but a bit thin on flavor and body.

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Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

After all of these years finally trying this beer.Pours in to a goblet jet black with a thick over one finger deep beige creamy head atop.Dark chocolate and black licorice stand out most in the nose,some sweet alcohol shines thru as well.Palate has a 'meaty' element to it almost smoky,black licorice and a hint of bourbon tinged vanilla and dark fruits in the finish.Almost a spiced flavor but easier than I though it would be going.Glad to finally have it.

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Photo of Bluecrow
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

-very dark tap pour with a thin tan cap. The foam dissipates quickly. The aroma is sweet and has an licorice note. The flavor is dark toasted malt with vanilla and anise. This is sweet, but wood and char compliment that. There is a bit of whiskey noted.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a St Bernardus goblet. Vintage Q4 2017.
Pours pitch black with a nice head.
Smells smoothly of chocolate, soft milk cocoa.
Bland, but oaky, with solid vanillin and a savory chocolate finish.
A big beer, but ultimately much ado about not much. I spent a long time searching this out, so perhaps it was built up in my had. A slow sipper for sure.

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Photo of Barnoloid
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Finally got chance to try this one - on tap at Twisted Spoke in Chicago. A smooth, creamy BBA stout. If BCBS is the benchmark then this is a thinner bodied proposition than the Chicago favorite. It doesn't suffer for that - this really ends up being an easy sipper with a layer of complexity from the bottle conditioning. Bourbon notes are warm and rounded. This is a great beer.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a finger of khaki head. Head retention is good, with no lacing left behind. Aroma is robust and bitter notes of bourbon, barrel, char, and caramel, roasted, and toasted malts. There is a hint of molasses to add a kiss of sweetness, but nothing big. Flavor profile is dark, roasted, toasted, and caramel malts to open, before fading into bourbon, barrel, and a kiss of char. Molasses, caramel, and toffee add a little sweetness, but overall the beer carries a bitter quality. Bourbon is pleasant, without being boozy. Mouth feel is thick, velvety, and creamy. Overall, a huge barrel aged stout. While this year nails in at 10.7%, it drinks as if it's heavier - not to say it's boozy, just that it packs a punch.

Served in a 12oz snifter from a 750mL bottle.

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Photo of jwilcox767
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Dark black, opaque. Tan/brown head that fades slowly.
S: Aroma of strong bourbon is a little overpowering, maybe some molasses and roasted malts in there too.
T: The taste starts out sweet with too much bourbon, then leaves a lingering aftertaste that is almost better than the beer itself.
M: Smooth, full bodied, low/medium carbonation, finish is too sticky.
O: Just "ok" in my book. I think that, overall, it was hard to drink due to the sweetness, and the bourbon character was not well incorporated. Too sticky for my liking as well. My bottle aged for approx 1 year, so maybe this contributed negatively to the experience. I'd drink it again, but not buy it.

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Photo of MikeWard
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

big bottle into a pint glass. coded Q4 2016, so I take this to be a year old.

Pours into the glass like motor oil. Jet black body, allowing no light to penetrate. Initial thick foamy oatmeal colored head, dissipating to 1/4 inch. lacing is minimal.

you get the aroma on this one before your nose gets anywhere near the glass. thick with molasses and caramel, boozy, dark fruit.

taste follows the nose, adding a touch of coffee. slightly slick and sweet. nice warmth from the barrel aging. no chocolate, but very faint vanilla. Rolls nicely around the tongue.

Mouth is the only disappointment here. around medium, but thinner than I would have liked. Finish is molasses and warm.

Overall. enjoyed this bottle over a couple hours. Other reviewers have mentioned aging a little improves this one.

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Photo of mike22ne
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap. Great look, black with a fine brown head. Lots of dark fruit, bitter chocolate and char roasted malt. Nice blend with the bourbon flavors, as it lends a dark caramel sweetness to carry the alcohol. The body is a bit thinner than I expected gven the strength of flavors and ABV, almost vinous.

Overall very good. I'm glad I got to try it but there are other beers of similar rarity and price that are way better IMO. Fortunately/unfortunately I'm drinking this tonight side by side with Founders CBS, so this one just doesn't hold up by comparison.
Update: 1/5/18
Sampled from a bottle now too. Agree with the previous rating, but some differences come out. There's a prominent almost-tart cherry flavor, and oak/champagne dry finish.
Still a nice beer, worth it to compare from the bottle and the tap. Perhaps with some more age in the bottle would be worth trying again some day.

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Photo of Sir_DrinksAtHome
4.74/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If this beer existed, I'd dare to say it's one of my favorite stouts. With that there is a caveat.... cellar time. I'd like to get another one and let it sit a year or two and compare. Will revisit this one.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 release poured from a caged & corked 750ml bottle into a large snifter glass.

A: The beer is a dark black color, with a large brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains strong bourbon, chocolate, licorice, molasses and roasted malts.

T: The taste likewise starts out sweet with a very strong bourbon flavor, chocolate, molasses and licorice. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is very mild as expected and there is only a hint of the high ABV. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a very good big stout to drink for a long time.

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Photo of miniditka77
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on draft

Look: Dark, almost black, fizzy head.

Smell: Holy bourbon! I've had lots of bourbon barrel-age beers before, but none that have ever smelled this much like bourbon. It's almost indistinguishable from sticking your nose in a snifter of bourbon.

Taste: Slightly less bourbon than the nose, but still bourbon, bourbon, bourbon. Really not getting a lot of other flavors except for the bourbon. The base stout doesn't have a ton of flavors that come through.

Feel: A lot more carbonated than a typical barrel-aged beer. Probably from the additional fermentation.

Overall: Wow, super unique beer. I'm not sure I would call it great, but I'm glad I tried it. Actually kind of similar in flavor to a bourbon and soda, with a little bit of stout flavor.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep black topped by a finger and a half of dense tan head that fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with some slight lacing
S: Smells of dark chocolate covered espresso beans along with some nice bourbon barrel notes of caramel vanilla and oak
T: Taste is nice and roasty up front with some pretty big dark chocolate flavors along with some espresso. Hints of cherries at times as well. Nice bourbon barrel presence throughout with some nice oak, caramel and vanilla. Swallow is some nice lingering roasty notes with some charred wood, burnt sugar, dark chocolate and coffee. Hints of bourbon barrel linger in the finish as well.
M: This beer has a full mouthfeel but it isn't chewy. Feels more silky and creamy to be honest. The level of carbonation is fairly low but it works for the style. The beer also has a drying finish.
O: Overall this is a really nice beer. It's been a want of mine for a long time and I was fortunate enough to luck into some bottles when I was hunting for BCBS last year in Texas. The beer has some nice flavors and complexity and it drinks well for the ABV. There may be better beers out there but this one is worth a try. The fruity cherry note is very unique and I dig it a lot.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.99/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was poured into a snifter. The appearance was a dark brown close to black color with a slim finger’s worth of head. Light lacing slides into the beer. The smell starts off with an eloquent sweet roasty coffee bean rolling over subtle notes of sweet cocoa. Dark fruits balance out the aroma. The taste was moderately sweet running through the roasty portion nicely full and adding a slight bready element. There’s a slight sweet fruity aftertaste running into a dry fruity finish. On the palate, this one sat about a medium in body with a fair sessionability about it. I do say it does get pretty dry with a sticky feel rolling about. Carbonation runs fairly light but I think this is a fairly old bottle, so I’m not worried. Overall, as a Russian Imperial Stout, this works. I could see myself coming back to this.

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

2016 version - 11.5%

L - Creamy black, 1/2 a finger of foamy head, and nice tan lacing left on the top of the brew and glass

S -Big bourbon aroma, dark chocolate

T - Semi-sweet, vanilla, oak, and the bourbon is very subtle

F - Light body, creamy. Surprisingly light

O - The champagne yeast cuts through the bourbon oakiness and chocolate sweetness, making it a smooth drinking stout with a hidden alcohol kick. Very enjoyable

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Black OPS from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 2,509 ratings