Black OPS
Brooklyn Brewery

Black OPSBlack OPS
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #125
Ranked #2,114
4.17 | pDev: 12.47%
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States
Black OPSBlack OPS
Notes: 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.

Reviews: 886 | Ratings: 2,540 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohneHoodlum:
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JohneHoodlum from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Feb 15, 2014
More User Reviews:
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UCLABrewN84 from California

4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to PaulStoneAnchor for sending me this one!

Shared with my buddy who just got back from NY and wasn't able to try this one on his trip.

2010 vintage with the 11.3% ABV.

Pours an opaque black with a 2 inch dark khaki head that fades to a thin cap. Random legs of lacing hang around the glass on the drink down. Smells of cocoa powder, vanilla, wood, and bourbon. Taste is very bourbon forward up front with vanilla, oak, and bourbon flavors. Chocolate and roasted dark malt tastes come around on the aftertaste. The champagne yeast gives this beer a definite prickly and lively carbonation for a RIS, but I think it works very nicely. Slight alcohol warmth is felt in the throat on the drink down. Overall, this is a tasty RIS with a very nice bourbon presence. It is also interesting to see a beer with champagne yeast. I am glad I got a chance to try this one.

May 23, 2011
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beers just don't get any bigger, roastier, chewier, or bolder. This beer is insanely large with flavor, texture, assertiveness; but at the sacrifice of harshness and drinkability. The aromas of cocoa, kahlua, vanilla, charred oak, and everything else that is delightful about their Chocolate Stout. The beer also looks the part with a froathy, clingy, goopy viscousness that appears much more like a milkshake than a beer. Flavors begin to rival the thickenss and heaviness experienced so far, but do lighten a bit to stout-like consistency with cherries, cocoa, coffee, wild berries, caramel, vanilla, figs, plubs, anise-licorice, oak, aged bourbon and a hint of lactose sweetness. The beer is seriously sweet with a lot of residual sugars left behind. Textures definately favor the robust over drinkability with a thick, chewy, expansive weight that follows with a medium fusal, boozy feel that contradicts all of the attempts at mellowness and softness. Heated, powdery, and numbing late. Finishes with a long, sweet linger of coffee, cocoa, and bourbon-ey vanilla. A grand attempt at the largest stout ever, but the beer needs more time in the cellar before it's potential is realized.

August 12, 2009: Thanks jctribe25!

Sep 11, 2008
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julian from Washington

2.02/5  rDev -51.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Shared with some friends at a tasting I hosted last weekend 5/1/11.

A: Midnight black in color with a dark brown chocolate colored head. This is about as good as this beer is going to get. Read on.

S: The smell was weak. Faint chocolate aroma, mild burnt nutty aroma, bourbon and kind of a gassy alcoholic aroma.

T&M: Miserable. I'm sorry, but this is waaaay too light bodied for a RIS. It's super DRY (possibly over attenuated from the champagne yeast, or mashed REALLY low). The flavors I'd expect from a RIS are completely missing here, or so lackluster that they're insignificant. It tasted like fizzy, dry, highly diluted chocolate water that had alcohol in it. I couldn't finish my glass.

O: Total disappointment. I wouldn't try again. I'm not sure how others have rated this so high, but taste is subjective so who knows. This was horrible though...

May 08, 2011
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tectactoe from Michigan

2.6/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Mike for opening this on an impromptu tasting night. It pours a deep, deep brown and black color with a mocha-colored head that cloudy up pretty big but fizzles out quickly, much like the layer of fuzz you'd get from a Coca-Cola. No lacing to speak of, but some alcoholic legs will trudge down the sides of the glass upon swirling.

The aroma isn't as robust or omnipotent as you'd like a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout to be, but it does have quite an array of things going on; vanilla, cocoa nibs, dark fudge, deeper dark plum sweetness, plenty of oak, and a faint onset of bourbon. Some roasty malts bring up the rear. The aromas are all there, but for some reason, they don't "mesh" like they should, and rather than a wonderful bouquet of smells, it seems more like a slightly jumbled mess.

From the first sip, I'm surprised by how thin, spritzy, and light this beer feels on the palate. Is that perhaps an induction of the champagne yeast? Not so sure why you'd want a huge, barrel-aged stout to be so carbonation and effervescent, but it transcends into a slightly watery and thin mouth feel, something that typically doesn't bode well for beers of this stature and style. It's like a Russian imperial stout with the mouth feel of a soda... What the hell?

The taste is also extremely mild, like the aroma; faint bourbon, mild cola flavors, a hint of wood, lasting cocoa beans, and a little roasted malt. Once again, everything here seems to be it's own separate entity, rather than a masterful blend of the whole, resulting in more of a random concoction of flavors mixed into a glass than a real, barrel-aged stout. Also, I've never had a barrel-aged, 10%+ ABV stout that was so easy to drink before. Seriously, it was gone in seconds. The flavors were so light that such a feat was possible... Usually drinkability like this is good, but for a helles lager or pale ale... NOT a Russian imperial stout.

I think my rating may be little harsh... The beer was not awful, disgusting, or hard to drink by any means, but it is incredibly overrated (and probably over-priced), and it's one of the weakest attempts at the style that I've come across, especially for having some decent acclaim. I appreciate Mike's generosity of sharing, but we both agreed that this is not how a stout was meant to be. I still don't understand all the positive reviews.

Jul 06, 2013
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Sir_DrinksAtHome from Florida

4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

Dec 02, 2017
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mikesgroove from South Carolina

4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was thrilled when I found out this wonderful beer was spotted at my local greens. I hopped to it and ran over to grab a couple bottles off the shelf from the one and only case they were able to procure. Brought this puppy home and in the house right away. Served it chilled and poured into a wine glass, this one was consumed on 12/29/2008.

One of the best looking pours I had ever scene to be honest. Rich dark and black as night, this thing gugrled out of the glass like a behemoth. A huge dark tan head then rose up to a height of three inches or more before settling back down into a full frothy layer of tan that was at worst a half inch high.

The aroma was just spot on. Rich milk chocolate and light hints of bourbon. Nice vanilla notes as it warms, but the sweet, decadent chocolate aroma was just superb. As I went in for a taste I was blown away. This was easily the best beer I have ever had from Brooklyn. Top notch in every way. Rich and very sweet milk chocolate notes, blending well with light touches of molasses and vanilla. Light espresso notes perhaps as the palate wears on, but this was just superb. The feel was smooth, delicate and loaded with carbonation. A nice belgian like feel to it. Super drinkability as there was just no taste of alcohol in here what so ever, and I really started to feel this one about half way through the glass.

Overall I was close to going a five on taste here, it was really just that good. The aroma was second to none. I am amazed and proud to have this beer in my fridge. One of the best efforts I have scene in a long time.

Dec 30, 2008
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MasterSki from Canada

4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the Winter '08/'09 edition. Consumed out of an odd bulge-in-the-middle glass at a house party. Thanks to dschuster03 for this one. Bottle #3178.

A - Big reddish mocha foam, with over two fingers in a smaller glass. Excellent retention that settles to a thick cap. The body is pitch black, without any traces of color. There are a few spots of lacing left as the beer is consumed.

S - Earthy bourbon, sharp oak, some dark roast coffee, and a touch of coconut. There's not much of the vanilla or butterscotch flavors that I expect from a barrel-aged stout. The smell is a little harsh and acrid before it warms up, and it's still on the boozy side, even after a year.

T - The taste is much mellower, with a lot of fudge, chocolate, and marshmallow flavors, and significantly less bourbon character. The notes of coffee are also relegated to some light bitterness in the aftertaste that mixes with some tannic character as well. This is more of a 4.25, as I really dig the lack of booziness in the flavor, but have misgivings about the reduction in complexity from the aroma.

M - Medium bodied, with lower carbonation, and quite slick and sticky. Could be a little heftier for a 10.7% brew. There's a touch of warmth at the back end.

D - Surprisingly easy to drink, as the slick texture and minimal alcohol taste make it easy to keep reaching for another sip. The biggest problem is the lack of a defining characteristic when compared to other bourbon-barrel imperial stouts, combined with the somewhat excessive price. This is at least 50% more than a bomber of BCS, with only an extra 4oz or so.

Still, it's worth trying. I'll be interested to see how the fresh batch compares.

Jan 10, 2010
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oblivion black with a massive crown of milk chocolate colored creamiliciousness. The hugely impressive head (not to mention the ear-splitting gunshot on cork extraction) is proof that the Champagne yeast have done their jobs as designed. It doesn't look as though much lace is forthcoming, but this is still an outstanding looking ale.

Anyone who loves bourbon and Russian Imperial stout is going to love how this big beast smells. Both whiskey and stout explode out of the glass and practically fill the room with their magnificence. Dark chocolate and espresso dominate, and the bourbon fumes are heavenly. If the alcohol is well-integrated, then we just might have ourselves a winner.

Black Ops can't quite hang with the best bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stouts. There's no shame in that since the best examples of this sub-style are some of the best beers on the planet (personal opinion). It's definitely bold and hard-hitting, but there aren't enough of the malty guts that provide the depth and complexity that beer of this sort requires.

Bourbon is definitely in! your! face!... which won't be everyone's cup of grog. It looks like the beer soaked up quite a bit from the wood, after spending four months in barrels that had previously held Woodford Reserve. Whiskey is prominent. Ethanol is not. Which is exactly how it should be.

The flavor profile consists of dark chocolate-covered coffee beans, black licorice, charred oak, burnt sugar and vanilla beans. Warming doesn't change much with respect to flavor or mouthfeel, which is a damn shame. It's too bad Black Ops doesn't have that one extra gear that would have put it into the 'great' category.

The same carbonation that resulted in a near perfect appearance hasn't resulted in a near perfect mouthfeel. Part of the problem is a shortage of malt sugars, but the bubbles don't provide the expansiveness and the creaminess that the truly outstanding mouthfeel beers enjoy. Maybe bottling flat and relying on the yeast to do a perfect job isn't the best way to carbonate.

Brooklyn Black Ops is a fine effort and is a beer that I'll enjoy to the final bourbon-soaked ounce. That said, this basic blueprint has been done better by other craft brewers. I still think Brooklyn Lager is their best and most drinkable beer.

Jul 24, 2009
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Ohiovania from Ohio

3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Not at all what I've come to expect from a barrel aged RIS. Comparable to a lawyer who's son decides to goes to Art School... A complete disappointment.

Oct 16, 2014
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agreenman19 from Connecticut

4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Q4 2015 vintage. Got this as a Christmas present last year and completely forgot about it. Merry Christmas!

L - always love popping corks. Cork smells of a deep red wine. Pours a dark motor oil pitch black with a rich mocha brownish-tan head. Settles into a decadent-looking creamy ring with sticky leggy lacing. Mouth-watering.

S - dark bitter chocolate and vinous red fruits. Raspberries, cherries, and plums. The bourbon blends beautifully, swirling into the roasty chocolatey goodness gracefully.

T - strong bourboney booze up front but without the bourn. Uh, I mean "burn". Bittersweet chocolate and cacao, toasted grains. A syrupy semi-sweet chocolate sauce makes an appearance toward the end. Woodsy oakiness and what I think is champagne. Must be the yeast. Dry and lightly white grapey with a hint of rust. That might just be the hops too. Two years later in 2017 I'm getting notes of coconut.

F - evervescent and seemingly over-carbonated for what you'd expect from a boozey bourbon-aged stout. Lively.

O - complex, with many different flavors and sensations, Black Ops is one smooth operator. This one will ninja its way to your liver and into your blood before you can say "intruder!" And at 11%+ you'll be anything but a ninja as you stumble into walls and trip over the dog on your way to bed.

Dec 18, 2016
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jtwelk33 from Pennsylvania

4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a serious competitor to BCBS as best bourbon aged stout. Fantastic flavor and very smooth.

Jan 30, 2015
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russpowell from Arkansas

4.09/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think tendermorsel sent me this, if not it was corby112, cheers to both...I held this one back for review 2000, I figure might as well drink the best thing I have available for this milestone!

Pours mahogany/jet black with 2 fingers of caramel/brown head, very noisy. Oily sheen to this, some head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit in abundance, along with dark chocolate, vanilla & a hint of bourbon. Booze tends to dominate once warm

T: Rich chcolate, a touch of booze warmth, dryness & raisins up front. Dryness, raisins & boozey warmth dominate as this warms, some caramel & vanilla latte hiding there as well, plus a touch of oakyness & some leafy hops. Finishes strong with coffee, vanilla, a touch of oakyness & dark chocolate

MF: Fairly chewy, a bit hot, low/low carbonation & I can just feel this beer attempting to rot the enamel of my teeth...Almost pulled a 4.5; the hotness made this impossible

Drinks alright, the booze heat is a major detractor up front. Let this get to near room temp I think, that or should've waited until review 2,500?? I kid.

Doesn't live up to its name, more like having a couple of flash-bangs thrown in your bedroom & having the 75th Ranger Regiment rush ya!

Aug 06, 2009
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Neorebel from New Jersey

4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

With an opaque ebony appearance, and a head reminiscent of espresso crema, Brooklyn Black Ops looks to be one fine stout. The soda-like bubbles in which the head is comprised of, seem to give one the impression that there is some level of carbonation going on. This is the 2014 Black Ops of 11.6%. The aroma is somewhat unique in that in addition to raisins, vanilla bean, and strong Bourbon Whiskey, a hint of cranberry can be sensed as well. After a sip, the first reaction is that the Bourbon is coming in loud and clear, but there is also a nice cocoa powder element amongst the roasty bitterness. Medium bodied and fairly soft for the ABV, it still warms a bit going down. Overall quite a deluxe brew, but not enough so to really hang amongst the heaviest hitters in the BA stout arena.

Jun 04, 2015
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Jwaks from Connecticut

2.39/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

It takes an extremely talented brewer to make an barrel aged imperial stout that is completely and utterly lacking in body. honesty it is near impossible to achieve. Congrats, you done it!! how the fuck you did it is beyond me. Perhaps the sugar and carbohydrate hungry champagne yeast ate up everything during fermentation that would give this brew any substance or you forgot to put in any flaked barley, oats or any unmalted grains that would add some mouthfeel to this beer. What an amazing failure this is.

Jul 15, 2015
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beer2day from North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aged for a year in the beer fridge, but upon tasting realize that maybe that was a bad idea.

Gorgeous pour. Dark, inky black pour with 1.5 finger of rich cocoa colored head. Beer pours very thick. Foam cap is very thick as well. Not a great lacer, but very nice retention.

Nose is impressive. Oak and vanilla, with lots of bourbon. Subtle hints of chocolate underneath.

Taste is a little too one-dimensional. Lots of bourbon here. Vanilla sneaks in and teases, but really just bourbon. Thinking that fresh might taste a bit better. Some tart bitters in the finish, but again the bourbon clobbers that. Very alcohol forward and actually quite warming.

Feel is velvety smooth. Slight fizziness that detracts mildly. Otherwise, very nice.

Overall, I really wanted to like this more but the one-dimensional flavor brought it down.

Nov 05, 2012
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leftstagebrew from North Carolina

4.75/5  rDev +13.9%

May 04, 2013
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Bmoyer0301 from Pennsylvania

5/5  rDev +19.9%

Dec 01, 2011
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rawfish from California

4.09/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aug 31, 2015
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DaftPatrick from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Mar 01, 2014
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unclekeith from Alaska

4/5  rDev -4.1%

Dec 13, 2014
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Piddmeista from California

4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Aug 27, 2013
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Pro_Magnon from Texas

4.09/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jan 03, 2018
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danec020 from Louisiana

4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mar 26, 2016
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Photekut from Tennessee

5/5  rDev +19.9%

Nov 19, 2011
Black OPS from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 2540 ratings