Splinter Black | Tröegs Brewing Company

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Splinter BlackSplinter Black

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by fiver29 on 10-21-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 170 |  Reviews: 99
Photo of aglose45
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of billzee
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of dpowers
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of whallgren
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of bs870621345
4.97/5  rDev +31.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Call me a homer (even though I live 2.5 hours away) but this is the best stout I've ever had.

Pops open with a loud noise and pours a beautiful jet black with an inch of tan head. Leaves nice lacing down the glass. Way too much head for the style.

Smells like oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and a hint of roast.

Taste follows smell, I really don't think the oak overpowers this beer at all. The chocolate feels kind of powdery on the finish and in the aftertaste, but the oak and vanilla is ridiculous in this beer.

Mouthfeel is velvet, not as carbonated as the appearance would tell you. Very full, very nice.

Drinkability is amazing, very inviting after each sip and disappointing when its over.

Probably one of the best beers I've ever had.

5/25/11 addition- Very Chocolatey, almost like hot fudge with minty notes on the end. Its a really really great one

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
4.82/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


After wrangling this cork for a few seconds this baby broke loose and loud pop came from the champagne bottle neck. I decided to break out my crystal Riedel whiskey snifter for this very special ale, and on the pour I was left with a generous three finger thick dark mocha colored head that hung around for quite a long time. I gave a generous swirl and noticed there was a very thick amount of viscosity that clung to the snifter walls for dear life. As raise my glass to the light this baby is jet black with absolutely no light passing through. Perfect for a RIS


Sharp oaky, and caramel notes right out of the gate followed by vanilla, and soft cocoa undertones. Roasted coffee, and caramel macchiato are surrounding my nostrils. There is a very slight ashy wood earthiness that just completes the whole package.


Delicious ! Very very smooth for almost being 13% ABV ! Wood tannins and vanilla are the center stage here. Very little bitterness from the black and roasted malts. Sweet caramel, cocoa and make for a beautiful dry finish that makes you come back for more after every sip. Chocolate and espresso are just running amok making this one of the best I have ever had. RIS at its best


Very smooth, easy drinking and the heat alcohol is almost non existent which is very dangerous. Absolutely a work of art and glad I have more stashed away for some aging.

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Photo of fiver29
4.77/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at Winking Lizard Lakewood. Pours pitch black with thin tan head. Aroma is vanilla, oak, bittersweet chocolate, and cocoa. Lighter mouthfeel for the style and is a bit oily. Flavor is ultra smooth, cocoa, vanilla, and finishes with a touch of bittersweet chocolate. Dark roast is in there and a touch of hops as well. Alcohol is very well hidden. A great beer overall.

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Photo of HoopTime
4.73/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Poured from a bottle purchased after my hands thawed out enough to get cash from my wallet at the release into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint

A - This beer pours black as coal with a rich, foamy dare I say luxurious dark caramel head that just kept growing and threatened to overrun the top of the glass. The amount of carbonation is incredible. The foam was dense enough to support a dime (no, I did not actually try). Held to a strong light, the beer's true mahogany coloring is revealed, with black cherry undertones. It is a beautiful pour.

S - Very subtle smell, perhaps because of so much foam. Really have to get your nose in it to detect the sweet caramely malt with hints of cocoa, vanilla and licorice.

T - The malt is center stage here, darkly roasted and pungent, with an wine-like woodiness from the oak barrels it was aged in. The turbinado sugar obviously is a yeast feast as the carbonation shows, but it is not overly sweet and the caco ribs this was aged on leave just the right hint of dark, baking chocolate. It doesn't turn into a chocolate beer, but adds a subtle layer of complexity to the palate of this bold Imperial Stout. This is not a hops brew -- definitely stars the malt -- but there is enough hops bitterness to keep the malt, sugar and chocolate under control and in check. Also worth noting, I tasted the head on a repour and the foam was luscious, dense, thick bobbles of flavor.

M - This is a very smooth drink, with a feel of dry red wine or maybe a port. The high carbonation makes it dance on your tongue, even though the beer is heavy enough to leave a "coat the back of a spoon" sensation as it warms your throat.

D - This does not taste like a high alcohol beer. It is very smooth and has little alcohol "burn." At 11% abv, I don't think you'd want to drink more than one bottle in a sitting and I shared this bottle with my brother, which seemed like just about the right amount for each of us.

In addition to two bottles the first day, I went back the next few days and bought more, ending up with a total of six bottles. I have one gift-wrapped, am cellaring the remaining four bottles. It will be very interesting to see how this one ages. It has almost a nouveau feeling to it right now. It is fresh and young, with complexities that likely will grow even more interesting as it matures. After this bottle, I am thinking of making a run Monday for another one or two (as of yesterday afternoon they still had some left a friend who was at the tasting room reported).

Well done brothers. This will easily make my Top 10 list for 2010, likely the top 5.

UPDATE 12/27/12: Opened my last bottle of this on Christmas Eve. This is the beer that got me started on cellaring beer. I kept four bottles of this, drank one with friends shortly after getting it, another on Christmas Day that year. Drank the third last Christmas Eve.

Really enjoyed the way this beer matured, from a sweet, chocolate dominated flavor to the matured, drier beer I enjoyed the other night.

It's still very carbonated, but the healthy 1/2 inch head in my tulip glass was a rich, caramel color atop the deep cherry tinged mahogany. The head left a moderate lacing as it receded.

Smell is deep, tawny, a hint of cocoa.

The mouth is thick and rich, with the carbonation causes a mild foam sensation as the beer rolls across the tongue.

I liked this beer when it was new. It was big, yet drinkable. At a year, it was changed, far less chocolate or sweetness, more malt coming through. At two years, the chocolate has faded to the background. It's there, but it's not the first thing you taste, or even the second. The malt has blended nicely into a strong, dry stout. There is a little caramel, some grape. The oak, too, is less pronounced, deeper in the background.

This, to me, is a very good beer. I saved it for sort of a "special occasion" and I felt it was up to the task. I would love to have a few more bottles to see how it progresses and I'd certainly hope Troeg's will be doing more in the Splinter series soon.

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Photo of BeerCon5
4.68/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with a perfect frothy/fluffy coffee colored head that leaves chunks of thick sticky lace along the glass.

The scent is of roasted malt, dark fruit, notes of vanilla and alcohol.

The taste was of fruit and roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla notes, also a little bit of wood. Alcohol is very noticeable.

Full bodied, very smooth and creamy, very low carbonation.

This was a delicious beer, there is so much to taste, lots of complex flavor. Not easy to drink more than one of these as it is very thick and rich in flavor.

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Photo of henway
4.65/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was the first in the line up of heavy hitters ShadesOfGray put together for a tasting. (BT and Kate were also in attendance). Appearance is a very nice silky black, leaves a nice head and good lacing. Smells of dark malts, hints of vanilla, chocolate, and a bit woodsy. As far a taste goes I'm pleasantly surprised. Really smooth, chocolate is present, creamy, light earthy taste, subtle vanilla, and i detect some fruit. Its quite complex. Goes down smooth and leaves a nice taste of vanilla and oak for a while. I didn't have high expectations for this beer but, i do have to say this may be on my top ten list as far as stouts go.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.65/5  rDev +23%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this is blind beer #10?

The bottle was marked share. Shared with my wife and best friend. They couldnt or wouldnt finish a glass so I finished the bottle. The oak was too much for them. Perhaps I am a homer? Can you be a homer if your not from the state of origin? Anyhow, this beer was served in a snifter. I allowed the beer to hit a temperature closer to room temp during consumption.

A- 5.0 Very active carbonation. Perhaps it was my rush to pour the beer. I got a beer geyser pouring the first glass. The coloration of the beer is dead black! Its like I like my coffee black! The head is thick and creamy the coloration of cafe late. The lacing on my glass looks like pan cake batter.

S - 5.0 This beer has a major league oaked character! Awesome vanilla notes spice up the aroma. Dark roasted cocoa and none of that bullshit milk chocolate. I hate milk chocolate! Dark roasted bittersweet cocoa medium roasted malt brown sugar and molasses.

T - 4.5 Major oaken vanilla flavors take the lead and dominate. The oak hits tannic notes. Darak roasted cocoa nibs / malt combine with lightly charred malts. The beer has a nice spiced finish. I know the beer is very alcoholic! I definitely feel the buzz setting in. I cannot taste the alcohol in the slightest. A nice lingering roasted tone hangs around in my mouth.

M / D 4.5/ 4.5 The body of the beer just misses full; however, she still has all the right curves. Very slick smooth mouthfeel present. At first I feared over carbonation. I now think the geyser was one of operator error. I accept that blame. Carbonation is active but I think it lifts the beers character up. No alcohol is present in the mouth. I know the alcohol is present as I am buzzing hard. As far as drinkability this is major beer drinking pleasure! This beer has very rich and bold flavors. This is easily a world class beer.

Reveal" Troegs Splinter Black. I looked at some of these reviews. I can see where some beer drinkers would fault them. The beer is no apologies oaked. Not sure if I am a homer? I love me some Troegs beers. This was very well played! Thank you again Neorunner!

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Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.63/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really don't get all the negative reviews for this beer. Where I'm really one trying not to be a "homer" and boost reviews on local beers...this beer is more than fantastic! I just think there was some unreasonable expectations. This is NOT aged in bourbon barrels, or anything like that, in fact I believe it was aged in Pennsylvania virgin oak barrels. Had on two separate occasions/tastings before reviewing. Loved it both times...especially for what it is.

Poured from a 750ml cork and caged bottle into my Portsmouth snifter/tulip glass. Appearance is perfect. Huge frothy tan head...with excellent retention. Pours a pitch black. Leaves fantastic lacing all over the glass...very sticky and creamy.

Aroma is true to form. Roasted malts, lots of chocolate, vanilla, and overall sweetness. Oak. Booze isn't detectable at all, surprisingly.

Flavor is wonderful. Super smooth, velvety, creamy, and mildly sweet. Notes of cocoa nibs...in fact semi sweet chocolates. Vanilla and oak notes in the finish. Not getting a bitter aftertaste, which some were complaining about, at all. Roasted malts, a little thick-medium body. Carbonation is right where it should be. Was worried, since the scratch series tend to be a tad over-carbonated. A very good and SOLID beer from Troegs. This beer is definitely high quality and well constructed. Should hold up well for a few more years.

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Photo of jampics2
4.63/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #600!

2 6oz pours at the Tröegs scratch and splinter the Winking Lizard event at the Winking Lizard Lakewood. Poured from an unlabeled bottle and enjoyed in the company of Chris Trogner.

The beer is beautiful in my glass. I've only ever seen a handful of beers that can hang with this - it's dark and sexy and luscious. The beer is such a great dark black that the lights dimmed when it was poured. The cappuccino colored head has brilliant retention leaves some amazing lace that sticks to the glass and may never be able to be washed out. Dense and foreboding, this is a perfect looking stout in every way!

The smell has some fantastic depth. Tons of chocolate, roasted malt, spicy oak tannins, and some fantastic vanilla. Not a vanilla bean bomb, the spice makes this inviting and a touch exotic but never approaches the candy level of beers like Goose Island Vanilla Bourbon County and Vanilla Bean Dark Lord. Some vanillin from the Pennsylvania oak makes a great base for all the flavors, and the tannic quality is spot-on, not distracting. Just a touch less expressive that the best of the world, but fantastic nonetheless. As it warms, exotic scents waft up to my nose, brilliant!

The beer tastes like a dream come true. Oak and vanilla, almost a creme brulee taste. A touch of tannins and some hops anchor this as earthy and not otherworldly. The malt is sweet with nice roast and chocolate flavors giving the spices and oak a good partner in flavor. Some molasses and just a touch of booze. The vanilla beans mask the booze without making the beer take on an extract-like element. I dream of well-rounded beers that incorporate all my favorite flavors. This does it with finesse - no bourbon or extreme roast required. This beer is like Andre the Giant in a ball gown. Whatever that means to you is, well, up to you - to me, it means a Tröegs managed to make a member of the brute squad (huge American stouts) into an elegant experience!

The mouthfeelis creamy with lowish carbonation. The beer is medium to heavy and is just a touch sticky. For an 11% beer, this was enjoyable to drink but didn't drink lighter than it indeed is. I would love to have the chance to drink another of these some day. Until then, thanks go out to the Winking Lizard for a great event and to Chris Trogner for letting us be his lab rats/guinea pigs and test how Black was coming along! Cheers!!

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Photo of StormKing47
4.6/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Decided to open another one with a couple of unsuspecting co-workers for a nice surprise before the holiday. Have had a bunch of pours from other bottles and this review is well overdue so here goes...

A- This one is indeed deep and dark with a sex appeal like none other. I really like the way this one looks it's seductive, a great black color and simply gorgeous in my glass. Has an odd amount of carb that leads to a decent size head that is dark brown and full of bubbles. This one was bottle conditioning in the bottles for some time before the release and it's evident in the amount of carb.

S- An unbelievable amount of vanilla and oak greets me upon first investigation. As it continues to warm the deep and roasted malts come out and meld with the sweetness of the dark chocolates, very pleasant, but even better is how the malts add a nice touch of caramel in the nose. Honestly an unbelievable sweet smell with a nice earthy, woody oak undertone that has a good amount of vanilla to complement. I know the abv is high, but the smell would not tell you that at all.

T- After being drawn in by the smell I couldn't help it, I needed a nice and big sip! An unbelievably smooth stout especially for how big it is. There is an immediate rush of vanilla and sharp oaky notes along with a very nice sweet malty taste. It continues to assault my taste buds with a sweet caramel and dark chocolate finish. It's honestly like sipping a finely crafted extra thick milk shake. I want to drink more and more and more. The melding of the oak, vanilla, sweet and dark chocolates and amazing caramel undertone is astonishing!

M- Just like the notes say it's smooth as silk. Actually a very good descriptor, but even better is that it's chewy and viscous and coats your entire mouth. It is very smooth, but it lingers on your tongue allowing you taste every little aspect and nuance of the masterpiece. Their is no bitterness and it's simply divine. My only gripe would be there is a bit too much carb at this point. Hopefully it subsides and let's it smooth out even more. A must try!

D- Beyond dangerous! The alcohol is masterfully hidden and there is almost no bitterness from any aspect of the brew. It's smooth, complex and absolutely delicious. I wish it was a seasonal and not a limited release.

Another home run for John, Chris and theTroegs staff with their Splinter series. Keep them coming Troegs you can do know wrong and hopefully you master the art of barrel aging and can bring it into the seasonal platform or at the very least the scratch series!

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Photo of smokeypeat
4.55/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Decided to open this for New Year's Eve. Pours a jet black with a nice frothy espresso colored head. Leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass, really nicely surprise there. Wow, smell is much more blended than I expected. Chocolate is there of course along with roast coffee, but neither are dominant. Letting it open up in the glass longer definitely picking up some light vanilla accents as well as molasses. Tasting finally and immediately struck by the texture. On opening and being surprised by the head I thought the carbonation might be too much but in fact it's sheer perfection. Really nice and creamy. Taste is remarkable. I'm struck primarily by the balance in the beer. Don't go into this beer thinking it's primarily about the oak, or the vanilla, coffee, whatever. This beer is all about balance. Yes, you will pick up on all of those flavors, but to me it's all about the nuance and blended perfection. The ABV is nicely hidden too, not the warm booziness I thought might be present. Troegs really has a winner here that can stand up to other quality stouts I've tried like Abyss, KBS, etc. I had considered trading my other bottle, but it's good enough that I'm holding onto it to try out with a year of age on it.

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Photo of yergermeister
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of thagr81us
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to nickd717 (I think at least...) for this tick while at Beechwood BBQ after the Bruery Reserve Society Party. Served from bottle into a goblet. Poured pitch black with a minimal light tan head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, chocolate, and alcohol. The flavor was of chocolate, sweet malt, and alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a very good brew. It had a pretty nicely balanced flavor going on that was quite enjoyable. The aroma was also very nice and invited you in to drink more. This is a definite must try given the chance.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.45/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked & caged bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. Shared at a tasting.

A: Fully black body with an inch of fairly coarse light-brown head. Good retention and nice layers of lacing. Beautiful.

S: Super woody, and in a great way. Oak, vanilla, and chocolate maltiness. Great.

T: Sweet, oaky, chocolatey, and drenched in vanilla goodness. The oak gives it some tannic bite, while the vanilla lends plenty of body and sweetness. Nothing off, lots of delicious.

M: Medium-bodied and well carbonated. Good, but a bit on the sticky side.

D: The combo of vanilla sweetness and intense oak isn't exactly a recipe for drinkability. I wouldn't want a whole bottle to myself, but it was wonderful to share with a few friends. EDIT: I originally gave this a 3.5 for Drinkability, but now that I'm rereading my review in the days of Overall, I've decided to raise the score. Overall I really enjoyed this beer.

Notes: People whose palates I trust unequivocally told me this was a terrible beer, so my hopes weren't high. One sniff was all it took to convince me that the controversy over this beer must be due to bottle variation. The bottle I opened was nothing but delicious, with the oak, malt, chocolate, and vanilla all working beautifully together. Everyone at the tasting agreed that this was a delicious, top-notch brew.


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Photo of Schreibeers
4.44/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I just couldn't wait any longer. With one more bottle in the cellar, being snowed in seems like the perfect occasion.

Poured into two large goblets.

A: Dark black (no surprise), no light penetration, a nice three finger head that settles into a thin head that maintains throughout with some nice lacing.
S: Fresh woody notes seems to be the most apparent on the nose. Some faint alcohol, but not picking up much chocolate or dark roasted malts
T: Again, the woodiness seems to take center stage at first as it fades into a mild, smooth round flavor with some dark roasted maltiness ending in a warming alcohol
M: Slightly effervescent with some sharpness , almost like some strong dark belgian. Medium body, not your typical heavy mouthfeel for this style.
D: I like the fact this beer does not have an overpowering mouthfeel. The flavors are there, more subtle than I expected, but very well done.
Overall a great beer. Curious to see what this does with some age. Although, for any of those lucky enough to have two, I highly recommend popping one tonight. If you just have one, sit on it for a couple months.

After sitting on this beer for about two years I decided to open my other bottle. Poured into Troegs Mad Elf tulip

A: Same as before. Dark and opaque. The head is a little more apparent and seems to stick around for longer than previously noted.
S: Dark maltiness, sweet with slight notes of vanilla and oak. The primary oaky smell seems to have dissipated.
T: Dark and malty as expected. This is where the oak is more apparent. The label states aged in virgin oak barrels and I can still taste that oakiness. Maybe some bitterness/licorice taste.
M: Smooth and sweet. Maybe just a little thin for the style.
O: Overall I believe it is definitely better than two years ago. A great beer. I feel very lucky to have had two of these beer spread over two years. A great example of how a beer can improve with time. I mentioned in my first review to wait a few months. Well if you still have a splinter black sitting in your cellar, I recommend opening it up soon.


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Photo of headbucket
4.4/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a wine glass(from a bottle) at the winking lizard in lakewood.

Appearance: its a bit dim in here so I'm not getting the best view of it. Pretty much pitch black. Came with very minimal head. A bit of lacing around the top of the drink, some splotches of bubbles left on the glass as the drink goes down.
My 2nd pour of it came more heavy handed, nice quarter to half inch head of medium dark mocha colored head. More lacing left on the glass as it recedes during my second glass.

Smell: vanilla seems to be the most prominent followed by a bit of oak and the dark malt smell of a big stout.

Taste: a nice mixture of oak on the start with vanilla and the dark malts and chocolate coming after. A bit of alcohol flavor/burn starts to show up at the end as it warms.

Mouthfeel: smooth, almost velvety, and slick. A little thin for the style but I don't mind it with this beer, and it helps with the drinkability.

Drinkability: extremely high. Very nice combo of flavors and the abv is hidden very, very well. I am drinking my small wine glass preetty quick cuz its so tasty, smooth, and it doesn't taste like an 11% abv beer, though I am starting to feel the 11%. I think I could easily put a whole bottle of it away by myself, if the abv didn't catch up to me first.

A very nice stout with good flavor additions, would be verry happy to have regular access to it, especially at $4 per small wine glass, it seems very reasonable.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.38/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- pours pitch black with lots of brown head. Beautiful pour

Smell- chocolate and oak on the nose. A hint of vanilla on the nose

Taste- smooth dark roasted malts. Lots of cocoa and roast. The vanilla is pretty minimal but i can detect a bit.

Mouthfeel- A very solid thick mouthfeel. Nicely carbonated. Sits very nicely on the tongue.

Drinkability- very drinkable for the alcohol percentage.

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Photo of akorsak
4.37/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the brewery. In line at 5AM with wristband #25.

A: The stout is black, pitch black. No coffee brownness to deceive you. This puppy absorbs every color on the spectrum. A cafe au lait-colored head, over two fingers on each pour, quickly receded.

S: The nose is interesting, with vanilla and oak standing out. Dark sugars stand out as well, an unusual sweetness that takes some time to get used to. Cacao, semi-sweet, and roasted malts also take a turn. The nose verges on Belgian stout territory. That's generally problematic but not here.

M: The oak is more pronounced in the taste, adding a wooden vanilla flavor with the normal bourbon. I think that the virgin oak is a better idea, as it allows the other flavors to come through. The stout, overall, is very smooth, with dark chocolate malts and burnt toast driving the taste. The cacao and turbinado sugar follow, increasing the complexity of the stout. While admittedly a little hot, the ale doesn't have much burn behind it. Plenty of vanilla, thanks to those Ugandan beans, a sweet flavor that rivals the built-up stout flavors. Black pepper runs around, filling a void mid-sip. The oak barrel and vanilla, along with the sugars, are the stars of the show, leaving a sweet lingering finish.

M: The mouthfeel, with the excessive vanilla and sugars, is top-notch. The roasted flavors, sweet vanilla and oak, and dark sugars rock out.

D: At 11%, a good beer to share. A rich flavor, best expressed at room temperature, that lingers long on the palate. Worth a few hours in the mid-December cold.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.37/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I arrived a little bit after 6 and was #173 in line for Splinter Black. I was looking forward to the right time to break it out so Stout Tasting Part deux was planned. Poured from the corked and caged bottle into a taster and enjoyed twice.

The appearance is very deep brown mahogany with a med light beige cap. The lace is sticking hard here with very tight bead like pin heads and micreofoam appearance is formed in the head. The smell has mild cococa and strong caramel with subtle dark brown sugar and light earthy green oak aroma which is almost floral or spicy with its natural woody aroma and mildly sweet against the deep malt nose. This is thick viscous and creamy with sweet texture and resinous with the oils of new wood and light tannic aspect with subtle spiciness from the hops under the layers of malt body w/ light alcohol on the palate.

The flavors of sweetened cocoa w/ slight oak notes up front lead into a hint of smooth caramel and light brown sugar with a gentle toffee like smootness. The middle is strong with fresh oak that seems to stand out from the malt and adds contrasting flavor which I enjoy a lot. I like the light acid and tannin which plays of the sweetness of the crystal malt. There is a mild hop flavor in the mix with subtle cocoa nib in the finish. The stout is a really, really worthy oaked stout. I think it breaks the mold and achieves everything it promises and more. I consider this totally unique and has plenty of big oak taste -a really drinkable beer. I can't wait to see what effect some age on this will have.

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL corked and caged bottle picked up at on release day the other week. No bottle number, but I was wristband #246, and arrived in line around 7:45am. Poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: It's very rare for me to give a 5.0 appearance to a stout. When I look to review the appearance of a beer, I'm usually looking for: 1) color or hue; 2) clarity; 3) carbonation levels, size, and distribution; 4) head shade, density, and retention; and 5) surface and side lacing and collar. It's hard to get anything terribly useful in the first two categories out of a well-made stout - even if filtered, it's likely going to be entirely opaque. So even when trying to rate to style, it's tough for me to give a perfect 5.0 on appearance for a stout.

And this beer is indeed black, absolutely opaque, even when held to most direct light. It may or may not be filtered and clear - it's too opaque to tell. It gets a 5.0 overall though because it manages to get a 5.5/5.0 in the other three characteristics outlined above. The carbonation levels here are perfect, with thousands of fine, well-distributed, perfectly shaped bubbles rolling upwards and forming a mammoth bubble nest up underneath the head. The head is quintessential, picturesque. One finger or so high and a beautiful shade of mocha, it's as dense, creamy, and sticky as you could imagine. Fifteen minutes in and it hasn't dropped more than a few tenths of an inch, slowly caving in in the center but leaving thick, solid, rocky sheets of lace clinging to the sides of the glass. Which brings us to the lace, a crystalline lattice memorialized permanently along the sides of the tulip.

Aroma: The first note I get out of this brew is that of hops - earthy, spicy, slightly citrusy hops, sort of the smell you get when you're racking a beer to the secondary and all the wonderfully aromatic hop material has settled out but still maintains all that hoppy goodness. The remainder is Storm King-esque in a number of ways. Warm vanilla sugar and strong bitter cocoa interplay with well with one another, though the cocoa is dominant, augmented by strong toasty wood sugars and black patent malts. It's never burned or singed, but this one is definitely fairly toasty in the nose.

Taste: A step up. First, worth noting is that the strong hoppy notes are still present. This is a decidedly well-hopped ale - no wonder the retention and lacing were so fantastic. Providing mostly a balancing bitterness, but also a great deal of herbal, tobacco-like leafyness and a handful of citrusy notes. On the malt side, there's some definite toasted astringencies and/or smoke here, not harsh, but definitely at the high end of toasty. They actually play very nicely with the herbal hop notes, and there's a nice reciprocal earthyness going on here. Moving on up, you have bitter cocoa, dry toast, and a small amount of coffee, though this beer isn't coffee heavy by any means. Moving up further, you have molasses and toffee, which bump in to a few heavy caramel notes at the very top. Anise, raisins, and currants compliment the aforementioned malt notes nicely.

And then there's the barrel. Beautifully defined, it contributes perhaps more toasted coconut lactones than I've ever experienced in a beer before. The vanilla sugars mentioned above in the nose are present here in the mouth, as well, though they're a little less pronounced even than in the nose (where they were also fairly weak). And all of this is balanced nicely by the pure oak, American, green and woody. Just a spectacular balance of flavors.

Mouthfeel: About as amazingly even as a beer can be with this much carbonation, is my initial thought - waiting for the carbonation to die down some does take a little time. At least initially, it's almost Belgian in its mouth - fluffy, bright, it sublimates evenly off the tongue and hangs like a Velvet Fog (sorry - it's the day after Christmas) right above the most powerful voluntary muscle. It manages to die down a little as the session goes on, but maintains a huge amount of lift throughout, though also maintaining a nice creamy, even smoothness, like aerated silk.

Drinkability: About what it was cracked up to be, I think. Nice to not be terribly disappointed by a beer this hyped for once, and I can only think of a few that have risen to this level for me relative to their level of hype for me in the past year or so. Not to say it exceeded them drastically - this beer does have its flaws - but if you were to take the carbonation down ever so slightly, and amplify the sweetness half a notch, I'd likely have given this one a near perfect score. Hence my reason for holding on to at least one bottle of this for at least another year and change. As it stands, it's a true classic, though at 11%, it's a classic that demands to be taken slowly over the course of an evening. Worth purchasing (even at $22.50 from a cheapskate like me), worth trading for, and worth enjoying slowly with friends.

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Photo of madelf66
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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Splinter Black from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 170 ratings.
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