Black Gold
Central Waters Brewing Co.

Black GoldBlack Gold
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #25
Ranked #99
4.57 | pDev: 6.78%
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States
Black GoldBlack Gold
Notes: In 2012 we entered '1414' in The Great American Beer Festival's Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout Category. Awarded the GABF's Gold Medal, we saved some, aged it for 35 months in 25 year-old oak bourbon barrels. Truly one of a kind.
Reviews: 114 | Ratings: 816 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by pants678:
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pants678 from California

3.96/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black without foam.


Alcohol flavor is a plus. No roast or char, plenty of wood/barrel. Reads as an old ale more than a stout.

Not that thick, hot finish though and bitter is a knock.

Jan 04, 2020
More User Reviews:
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mgr78704 from Texas

4.81/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I was very impressed with this beer when I first had it on tap at Denver Rare beer fest. Happy to report it's even better out of the bottle and with more time to let it warm up. Great nose on it and just the right amount of heat makes for an almost perfect stout. Had this side by side with BA mexican cake and it made BA Cake seem thin by comparison.

Oct 15, 2015
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pagriley from Illinois

5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle fresh (picked up from release yesterday) into a snifter

L - Pours oily black and thick with a thin ring of mocha foam but no real head to speak of. A hard swirl brings up a quarter inch of oily mocha head that disappears in a few seconds
S - Dark dried fruits, cocoa, and bourbon heat with a ton of vanilla and oak
T - Chocolate up front giving way to big boozy bourbon and a depth of complex barrel and vanilla. A touch ashy to dry the finish and balance out the big malt sweetness
F - Thick and chewy. A perfect balance of mouthfeel and body

Overall, a stunning, perfect beer. The first perfect 5 I have given in over 500 beers. As you would expect for such a freshly bottled beer it has some alcohol heat, but it is smooth, creamy and staggeringly complex with layers of dried fruit, dark cocoa, oak and vanilla competing to reach a perfect harmony.

Having recently done a BCBS vertical of 2010-13, I can say with confidence that this beer outshines the very best aged bourbon barrel stouts. Nothing I can recall even comes close. You will get the other 4 bottles from my cold dead fingers

Oct 11, 2015
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Kjcobus from Wisconsin

5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at the Black Gold release. Incredible beer. Their barrel program has really hit its stride, and based on the hinted labels in the warehouse it shows no signs of stopping:

A: opaque black. Thin pale tan head that dissipates though not as quickly as some of their others.

T: chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon but very very balanced. Outstanding

S: bakers chocolate, bourbon, barrel.

M: encroaching on BCBS. Thick and chewy but goes down easy. No burn.

O: one of their best. Glad to see the higher bottle limit. If you have the chance to trade for it, don't hesitate. These guys do barrel aging right. Right barrels, right amount of time, right base beers. Amongst many who are just following the herd, CW is out in front with the best

Oct 12, 2015
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this is epic beer, its their anniversary stout aged an additional year in the bourbon barrels, three years total, and man is this mature. i am surprised that the barrel hasnt completely taken over the stout, i suppose its big enough to stand up, but i definitely expected it to be all bourbon. the roast and the chocolate in the stout are still very apparent, just incredibly mellow and well integrated now, cloaked in oak, and as robust as they ever were. profoundly flavorful beer, with heavy vanilla and wet oak, char, and a hint of root beer for whatever reason. dark fruit notes, chocolate syrup, and hot whiskey abound. i love the mouthfeel as much as anything, so huge and coating, syrupy but not too sugary, warming from the alcohol, comforting, lie a big hug on my insides, its wonderful stuff that seems to conjure images of the coldest darkest winter night and the coziest fire. central waters has done an amazing job with these barrel aged beers, especially the stouts, and this is the granddaddy of them all without question. apparently some variation year to year. this is all time! kind of the final evolution of the barrel aged imperial stout in my opinion.

edit: wow! this sure ages well. if you have a bottle of this vintage laying around, it might be time to pop it open, its drinking incredible about two years old!

Sep 26, 2016
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TastyIsBeer from Illinois

4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had at the Great Taste of the Midwest (2015) - more chocolate notes than BCBS has, almost has the viscosity of BCBS (unlike their regular BA Stout, which is pretty thin). Proves CW can hang with the big dogs...

Aug 09, 2015
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mothman from Minnesota

4.59/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap. Tan head. Dark brown nearing black in color.

The nose is pure mashamallow goodness.

Huge bourbon and oak flavors all around. Very minimal heat, just nice and warming. Very chocolaty and fudgy. Rich with molasses and vanilla notes. Creamy and smooth. Thick and full bodied.

This is a really well done stout. The barrel flavors are spot on and bring everything you want without adding adjuncts. Very drinkable for how big it is. CW doesn't mess around with their BA offerings.

Jan 03, 2016
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Stevedore from Oregon

4.56/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013: Had two pours at the Great Amherst Beer Festival today, 10/12/2013, into my Cigar City snifter glass, which started with one 3-4oz pour from a generous local who had already cracked her bottle.. and we talked her friend into getting into line to pick up another bottle for a couple of us to share! Thanks Dustin for making sure I got a generous pour! All in all I probably got to savor about 7-8oz in the span of a hour before Sixteen was tapped.

Review #235. Label notes: "In 2012, we entered "1414" in the Great American Beer Festival's Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout category. Awarded the GABF's Gold Medal, we saved some, aged it for 35 months in 25-year-old oak bourbon barrels, and bottled less than 500 in total. Truly one of a kind."

This beer looked a lot like Fifteen did, actually. Poured a oily black, opaque body with a thick smallish mocha head that dissipated fairly quickly into a thinnish film. Bits and pieces of lacing show up, but this pretty much broadcasts the appearance of a big, big barrel-aged imperial stout. No surprises here.

This smelled delicious. Tons and tons of sweet bourbon, sweet milk chocolate, hints of bitter coffee. Lots of vanilla. Unlike Fifteen, I do not smell any rubbing alcohol, not even as it warms up. In fact, it reminds me of the smell on some of the more highly rated barrel-aged stouts, which I won't name because I don't throw this kind of stuff around lightly. In fact, I'm sniffing the empty bottle right now and its really something to savor.

Chewy milk chocolate soaked in bourbon with vanilla bean. It actually isn't quite that roasty sweet, like some other BA stouts are, but its more of a mellow, but dominant sweet bourbon presence tempered by vanilla. Chocolate, coffee, roast barley. This is well-executed beer that accentuates the very best parts of the bourbon barrel.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, but not super thick.. actually a bit thinner than I'd expect. Carbonation is rather minimal as you'd expect from a beer aged in barrels for nearly 3 years. Still, it is a sipper with a LOT of retrosternal burning as it goes down. Yet it doesn't smell or taste like solvent alcohol. I definitely got a few degrees warmer while drinking this bad boy.

Well, this is evidently a great beer. I await others cracking open their bottles and chiming in before we all make some sort of verdict somewhere down the line, but I will have to say that this is probably the one beer I've had so far that best showcases the quality of the bourbon barrels. The underlying base malts complements the bourbon barrel flavours more than the other way around, even more than Fifteen. Simply put, this is bourbon in a beer that accentuates what I consider to be the most desirable of bourbon flavours. I thought that Fifteen did this well, but BG is definitely a better example. In fact, I found this to be quite a bit more enjoyable than Fifteen, but I really would not recommend that people pound this 12oz bottle by themselves. This is probably a 3-person job. With the release of this beer, the beer formerly known as "1414" has now left the building. And it sure left with a bang.

2015: On tap at Showboat Saloon in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Served in a frosted shaker pint glass (SMH). Had to wait for this one to warm up.

Poured a dark black body, one finger brown head with good retention (though this could have been due to the chilled glass), not much lacing. Smelled of fudge chocolate, a lot of whiskey, cocoa. A little bit of espresso, oak. It's about what I expected. Flavour is a bit heavy on the whiskey; cocoa, chocolate and caramel. A bit of brown sugar. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, not particularly thick, but not watery thin either. Hefty whiskey notes on the end. Moderate heat. I thought that this delivered classic Central Waters bourbon barrel stout flavour right here, but with even more whiskey. That's about right.

Oct 30, 2015
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.78/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle. Black body with a medium khaki head. Smell is strong bourbon. Roasted malt. Boozy. Taste is much better. Fudgy chocolate. Turns roastier. More licorice. Bourbon and booze. Medium heavy. Central Waters stouts are never very thick. Tasty.

Nov 03, 2015
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Mojua from Massachusetts

4.48/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

My second favorite CW BA stout after 18. The definition of a fudge bomb. Rich and chocolaty. Mouthfeel could be improved upon, but a wonderful, relatively underrated beer.

Apr 23, 2016
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orangesol from Pennsylvania

4.39/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a small tan head, leaving minimal lacing on the glass. Smells of intense fudgey brownies and a decent bourbon / oak one two punch. Some other complementary aromas try and break it up but they can only do so much. Taste is nearly identical with a big sweet brownie batter up front, not as sweet as the nose lead me to believe however, followed by the oak, bourbon and other flavors. Feel is as expected, big and thick, but as I said it wasn't as sweet as I was expecting. Sweet, dry finish lingers long after consumption has finished. Overall a very nice BA stout. Thanks for the pour Brian!

Jul 23, 2015
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kojevergas from Louisiana

3.72/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My notes below are truncated; I'm having this beer as part of a bottle share. Reviewed from notes taken a couple days ago at low altitude in Austin, TX. Acquired in a trade with the very generous Duff27 - thanks, man! "Ale aged in useed oak bourbon barrels." Bottled 10.11.14.

BOTTLE: Brown glass. Pry-off pressure cap. Appealing yellow label art.

Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated. Served cold into an Adelbert's stem-tulip.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: None. Just a khaki floater ring which disappears inside 10 seconds, leaving no lacing.

BODY: Opaque solid dark brown-black. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it looks good for an imperial stout. Has a slightly syrupy consistency, which really has me curious.

AROMA: Slightly boozy bourbon: subtle vanilla, some unexpected intriguing coconut (fantastic!), rich toasted white oak. The barrel character suits the malt build nicely. I get chocolate malts, a hint of dark fruit, dark malts, maybe some sugarcane.

Aromatic intensity is moderate.

No yeast character, hops, off-notes, or alcohol is detectable.

TASTE: Chocolate malts and dark malts comprise the base. The dark fruit is extremely subtle - dates, maybe? What really jumps out is the coconut, which elevates the bourbon character. I like the subtle vanilla, but wish it was more forward, and the white oak could be more present and evocative. It's not too sweet. Has some nice subtle char. Nice depth of flavour. Above average duration and intensity of flavour.

As it warms, a bit of gooey marshmallow emerges. I'd like a bit more of a toastiness to coax out more nuance from the marshmallow and coconut. Some char or burnt character might help tame the sweetness, but then again it's already bitter enough.

It's balanced to a degree, but the bourbon barrel character isn't quite married to the base, and there could definitely be more impressive complexity and subtlety here, not to mention nuance. It's cohesive, but isn't a gestalt brew, and is a biteen unrefined.

The coconut is a standout. It could use more of a roasted barley presence to help balance the sweetness.

TEXTURE: Viscous and thick, with a bit too much of a syrupy feel. Though I do have to say, its gooey feel really brings out the marshmallow. Unrefreshing, with a slight booziness. Wet. It's more coarse than I'm accustomed to, and drags slightly on the palate. Has a bit of a lumpy third act. Well-carbonated. Chewy.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

Overall, this texture complements the taste pretty well, but fails to elevate the beer and needs some smoothing out. More of a creamy soft presence on the palate would do it well, and the body could be toned down. The syrupy is pesky, and is the main flaw of this beer in my opinion.

OVERALL: She's a sipper, but she's a good sipper. Best regarded as a dessert beer. I honestly expected better given the premise of this beer; you'd expect a Central Waters anniversary brew thrown into bourbon barrels to be mind-blowing, but this is merely quite good. What really works though is the coconut; I crave more. I'd pick it up if I saw it on shelves, sure, but I don't think it's worth the effort it required for this bottling. Not Central Waters' finest work, but I say that as a nitpicker; the discerning drinker will really enjoy this but won't be impressed. I'm very glad I got to try it once and would recommend giving it a go if you stumble across it (yeah right!). More solid work from Central Waters, just not the world-class brew I hoped for.

High B

Jan 24, 2015
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fondyball20 from Wisconsin

4.65/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at a pre Great Taste event. 1414 base stout.

Chocolate, Oak, Bourbon.... starts off very similar to Sixteen with the chocolate dominating but as it warmed up the flavors became more complex with the bourbon & marshmallow/vanilla coming through. Very smooth. Thicker and creamier then the anniversary stouts, similar to BC but still not at TG level.

Sep 17, 2015
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cvm4 from Mississippi

4.09/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2015 vintage

L - Pours a black, almost dark brown, body with an espresso tan head that's about one finger. Not much lacing or retention to the head. To me, the pour didn't make me think it's a thick beer. Somewhat above average looking.

S - Bourbon, oak barrel, cocoa and vanilla. The nose seemed a bit bourbon heavy at first, but really is very balanced to me.

T - Really fudge chocolate forward on the taste with big bourbon, oak and vanilla coming on strong.

F - Medium bodied to almost too thin and low carbonation. This was a miss here as I was hoping the body would be somewhat thicker. Also, the beer comes off hot and doesn't even pretend to hide it.

O - It's a nice stout, but I'm just not seeing the hype or even the 99 rating it has right now.

Apr 15, 2016
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

4.69/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Thirsty Monk snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/4 inch light brown head that soon dissipates to a paper-thin ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Sticky alcohol legs and not much lacing.

S- Very woody bourbon aroma with notes of molasses, dark chocolate and caramel.

T- The wood notes on this are superb as the beer has soaked up all the lovely complexity of the barrel. There is some heat in the front but it's all smoothed out by the chocolaty roast and vanilla character from the bourbon. It's actually so bourbon forward that this is the first time I can say that it's more like drinking bourbon than beer. I guess that's what 3 years in the barrel will do. Some may not see that as a good thing but, in this context, it works for me. God, there's even excellent bourbon burps!

M- Thick, creamy and luscious with low carbonation and a the fullest of bodies.

O- Holy shit, this is a veritable bourbon bomb and I love it. From start to finish, this is a magnificent beer that's tough to improve upon.

Jun 23, 2016
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guityler83 from Wisconsin

4.94/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle from the Release party

A: Dark inky black color, no indication of clarity because off its blackness. Head is dark mocha brown with fine tight bubbles, retention is low. Alcohol legs
are long lasting when swirled and lepord spot lacing sticks on the edge off the glass for a long time.

S: moderately high dark chocolate aroma followed by medium maple syrup, toffee, and caramel. sweet milk chocolate comes through medium-low with vanilla
and toasted marshmallow too. Low tabacco and gram cracker. No hop aroma. Moderate bourbon aroma that melds seemlessly with the middle malts. No fuseels or harsh
alcohol aromas

T: Moderate dark cocoa, fudge, and milk chocolate followed by medium caramel, vanilla and bourbon. No hop flavor but bitterness is clean and moderate. Very
clean fermentation with no signs of oxidation flavors. Oak, wood and bourbon are balanced with the rich chocolate malts, only light roasted malts shine through
Also picking up some smokey flavors as it warms up (possibly from the charred barrel?) Balance is between the oak/bourbon and dark chocolate flavors. Sweetness
is medium, but not clowing.

M: Big thick body with a sticky finish. Medium-low carbonation. Alcohol warming is low (Wow!) and there is an nice tingly "all over the mouth" sensation
that I can only imagine is from the bourbon. Tannins give it a medium low level of astringancy.

O: Sixteen on steroids. Sixteen was an amazing beer and this just took that beer and made it better. Extremely rich oak and bourbon character that gave an evolved taste to an already amazing beer. Cheers CW, Cheers.

Aug 09, 2015
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Trmmilwwi from Illinois

4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Nov 18, 2019
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drewone from California

4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

May 15, 2014
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hollywood_15063 from Pennsylvania

4.74/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

May 24, 2016
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MorpheusIPA from Ohio

4.29/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Jan 24, 2019
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largadeer from California

4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

Apr 18, 2014
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clay23 from New York

4.76/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Jan 03, 2016
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Yohann from Wisconsin

5/5  rDev +9.4%

Aug 22, 2014
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sjstraub from Wisconsin

4.93/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Feb 23, 2016
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KVNBGRY from Florida

4.84/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Like a slightly subdued SR71. This is up there as the best of barrel aged stouts. Essentially just Brownie batter aged in Bourbon barrels. Tastes bigger and thicker than 11%. Will search for again.

Aug 10, 2016
Black Gold from Central Waters Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 816 ratings