Great Lakes Blackout Stout | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

1,220 Reviews
Great Lakes Blackout StoutGreat Lakes Blackout Stout

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by GreatPondBrewer on 11-30-2003

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,220 | Ratings: 3,502
Photo of BuccoFan
2.75/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

With the Exception of their Nosferatu, I find nearly all of the Great Lakes' beers just average, and this is unquestionably the most disappointing one I've had. This has the absolute look and feel of a halfway decent porter; it has no business, in my opinion, advertising itself as an RIS. With the last few sips left in the glass, the liquid looked nearly identical to soda. Given its rating, I'm apparently in quite a minority here, but I think this is flat-out a bad stout.

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Photo of JLShepard
2.89/5  rDev -31%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: A pleasantly sweet coffee aroma is the first thing that catches your nose. It is followed up by a fairly strong smell of alcohol.

Appearance: Black as black can be, this is a very dark beer, which allows no light to pass through. It pours with a nice, half-inch deep head. Unfortunately, the head dissipates quickly, leaving a few islands of bubbles and a crown of bubbles around the top.

Taste: Chocolate and coffee flavors start this beer off, though they are quickly replaced by the strong taste of alcohol with a faint metallic edge to it. It fades into a pleasant hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth the whole way down, though with the failing of being a bit too thin.

Overall, a nice example of the style, though I'm not a fan of Imperial Stouts, as the alcohol taste is usually too strong for my liking. It is, however, a beautiful beer to look at, and reminisce about the power outage this beer commemorates.

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Photo of kscaldef
2.93/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Loose one finger head which recedes to a dense layer of foam over a very dark brown body.

S: Noticeable coffee and chocolate.

T: Chocolate, with raisin undertones.

M: Nice, creamy body with medium carbonation. Unfortunately, that's followed by a rubbing alcohol finish.

O: This goes beyond hot, to where it's finishing like low-grade vodka. This could be enjoyable, but I'm cringing on every swallow. Not worth forcing myself to finish the bottle.

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Photo of xpdrinker
2.96/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz extra thrown in by ChadlyG - Thanks! Best by 4/20/12.

A - Pours lighter than their Edmund Fitzgerald porter - very dark, but reddish brown under the light. Same khaki 1-finger head with same short-lived retention.

S - Not very much at all. Some dark malt and a hint of coffee, but not much else.

T - Molasses, dark caramelized sugar, very little coffee.

M - Medium carbonation, a little bit creamy but not ultimately washes out and doesn't stick. 9% ABV barely pops out at the finish, but it's there. 

O - With all the activity I see on the trade threads for BA Blackout, I'm surprised this wasn't a very big base stout. It has a nice 9% ABV but isn't very noticeable, and it's not entirely complex. Frail body with not a lot going on flavor-wise and almost nothing on the nose. Still worth a try and I'm actually more intrigued about the barrel-aged version.

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Photo of auroracrisis
3/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz into a snifter.

Deep, dark brown with red highlights and head that doesn't stick around. The body is a bit transparent for the style, allowing light to move through the edges of the beer. Looks flat, some legging when swirled.

Caramel syrup and cocoa at first on the nose, with a bit of rum like boozeyness. A hint at roast and vanilla extract upon further inspection.

Sweet cocoa powder and caramel syrup greet your palate with a nice vanilla extract and coconut like sweetness, then moves into a hint at medium roast coffee. A tiny hint of alcohol and earthy hops on the finish.

Definitely thin for the style, I'd say medium body. Almost no carbonation whatsoever and a touch of stickyness.

Odd sweetness for the style with minimal roast, but it isn't terrible. A not very authentic take on the style but an okay offering none the less, worth trying. And cheap.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pour is opaque, a thin ring around the edges, not super viscous looking, but opaque.
Aroma is more roasty overall then anything, dryer and well attenuated is the impression the aroma gives.
The aroma told well, a dry roasty flavor profile, powdered dark chocolate, a bit of alcohol, and everything finishes real clean.
Mouthfeel is as noted well attenuated and clean and dry.

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Photo of bobhits
3.01/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A. Pitch black, with a nice tan head. Pretty much what you'd expect. The Pour wasn't completely black so it could be darker if you're interested.

S. At first it almost had a macro smell (alcohol and something) but a big wiff shows that burnt stout smell with a hint of hops and a bit of something sweet I can't pull out.

T. HOPS. Wow...I've head stouts with hops in there but that's the first thing that hit me. It starts off sweet, moves to a nice burnt flavor and finishes with hop bitterness. I don't like calling all stouts chocolate flavored but clearly that's in there. It has a bit of a fruity flavor as well.

M. It starts out smooth, but there is a lot of alcohol bite in this beer. It doesn't really scream for large sips and at only 9% alcohol I'd expect it to be a bit more inviting.

As imperial stouts go this just isn't my cup of tea. I love a hoppy bitter beer, but not with a stout. I think this would be a lot better with some age, could very possibly be GREAT with age, but fresh it's just not working for me. This is the only Great lakes beer I haven't felt strongly about and I'll more than likely age the ones I have left to see if this mixes into something better.

Changes from 8/26/10

Two year old bottle and a bit more trained pallet. I feel in a lot of ways i got this beer right the first time. The only real change is that it's actually very drinkable and the mouthfeel while a touch "off" is a bit better. First tim earound I gave this beer 2's for mouth feel and drinkability, I'm bumping those scores up a touch.

I think I appreciate the hoppy stouts more today, but still I can't say this is an above average representation of this style. I like this beer a good bit now, but I'm a fan of RIS's so as with many styles I enjoy, average is a good thing!

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Photo of ivorycannon
3.03/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Midnight black

Smell: Some dark chocolate, Caramel

Taste: Coffee , chocolate, some bitterness. Then it gets a bit sweet, like a cola taste.

Feel: Medium body

Overall: Not my favorite Ris but it is worth a try.

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Photo of Yesac
3.05/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Thin brown bubbly head, bubbly lacing. Pours solid black.

S - Strong alcohol smell, Dark nuts/chocolate/coffee beans. Smell's great.

T - Nose is 9% stating it's presence. Pow. A scotch type taste with hints of coffee. Overbearing alcohol.

M - That 9% sticks on the palate, this brew is pretty heavily carbonated.

D - Not the smoothest imperial stout, the alcohol presence makes it hard to have more than one.

I paired this with dark chocolate which went well and helped me finish this bottle.

Thanks to dschuster03 for trading me this brew to taste.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.05/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Big fan of Great Lakes as a whole, and while this beer seems to be a big hit with many, it just isn't my pint of ale. Dark brown color, relatively carbonated, glints of red up to the light, almost Coca-cola like in appearance. Nice roasty smell. Hints of chocolate, milk, coffee, and sugar. Flavor is just a little underwhelming. Great roasty malt flavor, but nothing really deep here. A little bit sugary and sweet, with hardly any bitterness. A little thin on the palate. Nice roast to this beer but really nothing extraordinary or anything holding this beer together. Try their lagers or Burning River pale ale for a good representation from this brewery.

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Photo of Mavajo
3.06/5  rDev -27%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Thanks to Buckeyenation for the bottle.

Pours nearly black, but allows quite a bit of light through. You can pretty much see right through it as it pours, and the edges have quite a bit of transparency. Head is surprisingly white - probably weighs in as "off-white" overall. About two fingers thick, with decent retention. Almost no lacing. Just a bit too "light" looking for a big stout.

Nose is great. Cocoa/coffee and roasted malts. Very nice nose, which indicates that a great taste should follow. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Taste is quite a bit watered down, with some coffee/cocoa notes and a slight smokiness. It's a bit bland overall. Almost like someone took a very good stout, and then diluted it with water. Disappointing.

If I was bummed by the taste, the mouthfeel was worse. Thin body. Not what I want from a big stout. Carbonation was okay. Again, the watery character of this beer weighs in again here.

This brew is just boring. Mediocre taste, weak mouthfeel. I expected much better. It's not offensive or awful - it's just bland and boring. Possibly the most uninspired RIS/Double Stout I've ever had.

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Photo of midaszero
3.07/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to seaoflament for letting me try this

08/02/07 on bottle

A - Very dark brown body with only a little bit of light being let through. Only a very little bit of tan head with some okay lacing.

S - Sweet chocolate and coffee with roasted malts

T - Coffee and chocolate with a little bit of bitterness. Overall the taste is boozy and harsh

M - Medium body with low carbonation

D - This one is a little rough. More age might mellow it out some more or I might have just gotten an off bottle.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.14/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - A dark brown beer with about a cm long transmission depth. There is no head save a ring on the edge of the brew. I can count on two hand the number of small lacing clumps that manage to climg to the sides before they quickly sink back into the black brew.

S - Strong coffee with a milder, but still strong, chocolate, toffee, dates and raisins. There is a bit of a strong clean aroma that reminds me of some Pilsners that I have had - I am guessing Saaz hops, but I'm not sure. A bit of alcohol, but nothing too potent.

T - A slightly sweet chocolate and coffee flavor are about equal. There is a bit of a dark fruit character and sot sauce as well. The aftertaste is of burnt malt and a touch of coffee bitterness and grassy bitterness. Abv is detectable, but faintly as a some sort of peppery finish.

M - Medium viscosity, a little smooth and a bit creamy, slightly refreshing. Gums in my throat a little, but not terribly so - it is a minor effect.

D - Not too bad. I wouldn't mind having this one again - but I definiely won't seek it out. There are many RIS that I would have an easier time finding and enjoy more. It could work with some choice foods. Way too powerful to session.

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Photo of punkrkr27
3.16/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown pour that lets just a hint of light through with a big, loose tan head. Aroma of cocoa powder, dark fruit, booze and day old coffee. More cocoa in the flavor along with some hints of toffee, raisins, rum, butterscotch, alcohol and stale coffee. The body is oily and too thin for an imperial. It's over carbonated as well. It's not offensive or bad but it just falls short on every point I want in a good impy.

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Photo of DIM
3.18/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a: This one is not quite black, rather it is a deep dark brown with some ruby hilights. It pours with a big light tan head that lasts.

s: I tried and I tried, but I just could not find much here. Faintly I could find some roasty malts and to a lesser degree, chocolate, wood. and alcohol.

t: There is a huge smoky roasty malt tatse upfront that does leave some chocolate and a bit of coffee in its wake. This might benefit from some time in the cellar to provide some balance. Its a bit rough on the finsh with too much of alcohol burn.

m: While this is well carbonated, it is too thin for an RIS, almost watery.

d:Thanks to hoppymeal for the chance to try this one. This is a pretty good RIS, but I won't look for it again.

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Photo of earthboundagain
3.21/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ok broke out a 2010 bottle today, lets see how she holds up.

I love RIS and have been looking forwards to seeing how this beer ages, I was not really all that enamored with the fresh bottle I tried.

Ok the beer is almost black with a small mocha head and it leaves some nice lacing. The smell is of roast malt and chocolate, not much going on in the aroma section. Hmm we have coffee, bitter chocolate, and some burnt malt, the flavor is all over the place, and does not meld well. The body is medium and is quite thin for the style.

Ok this beer still needs to age some more, I will revisit around the release of next years batch to see what a year has done for this puppy.

Update 2/8/2011

Ok down to my last bottle of 2010, it's been almost a year and time for an update. Sorry to say that the original scores stands.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.24/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to my buddy Jon for picking this one up for me. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my Blue Point snifter.

A: Standard pour yields a 1 finger semi-fine chocolate head that dissipates rather quickly. Beer is opaque black although not as thick as I'd like. Lacing is spotty with thick chunks emerging ever-so-slightly from the beer.

S: Chocolate, toasted malts, brownie, stale soy sauce, and licquorice. Incredibly subtle booziness drifts over my nose from this one.

T: Toasted maltiness that sours just a bit. Bitter brownie and licquorice along with trace bits of chocolate here and there a sprinkling of hoppiness in the background. This beer is greener than most, but shows it in such a way that its mostly hidden. My palate is a bit confused here. Finish is messy and leaves a toasted malt sourness that lingers on the palate for a long time.

M: Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, and quite lively on the tongue. Not so smooth or oily however, this is offset a little by the fact that the 9% is barely noticeable. Finish is
messy and leaves a stain on the palate.

D: I'm not really sure what the fuss is all about. I've heard a bit about this beer but overall, a bit disappointed. Just average in every way though the nose is unique in a heavy, subdued kind of way. Still, I'm not going out of my way for this one.

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Photo of Auracom
3.25/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'll be damned if I can recall the exact date on this one, but sometime within the past few weeks. 12 oz. bottle into snifter.

A - A bit thin. Dark brown coloring with a single finger's worth of light brown bubbles. Carbonation fades quickly but lacing is pretty good.

S - Relaxed is a good descriptor. Candied sugar, espresso, roasted malt grain, toffee, and cinnamon.

T - Tad more pronounced. Initial dark chocolate. Middle of the tongue is espresso and hop bitterness. Backend blends roasted noted, sugar, raisins, and an anise-like character.

M - Medium body, fine carbonation. Medium-length finish of roast and slight smoke. Bitter aftertaste.

D - It's fine. Nothing out of the ordinary, and I'm not very sure that this would hold up well with age. I do commend the absence of alcohol anywhere in the nose or drink.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.26/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours black with tall, long lasting, creamy, brown head and nice lacing. Aroma is of roasted malt, toast, dark fruit, alcohol and coffee, some sourness. Body is full, creamy and smooth. Taste is of toasted malt, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, dark fruit, herbal hops and unpleasant sourness. Something is very wrong with this bottle.

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Photo of jdb288
3.26/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle (2013, fresh). Pour is murky black with slight head. Aroma is yeast, a bit of coffee. Taste is malt - roasted but not sweet. Some hop traits in the background but not as aggressive as the malt here. Well balanced and an easy drinker but nothing crazy.

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Photo of DanThomas
3.28/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Great Lakes beers are more fussy than most when it comes to expiration dates--which I'm fine with, a fresh GLBC beer is the finest on the planet--and I got this one a little past its prime (08/30/10 expiration, drank on 09/27/10). Would try again for that reason, but still pretty solid beer.

A- Extremely dark brown, thin white rim, and still bubbling nearly 10 minutes after pouring! This beer looks exactly as it should--intimidating.

S- Not much here, maybe due to the expiration date. Roasted coffee, alcohol, and some sort of dark fruit like a fig or a dark cherry.

T- Thick roasted coffee taste (I'm generally a big fan) that is brought down by heavy, burning alcohol that is bourbon-like and a mildly sour taste. Still a nice, clean bitter finish that is surprising and refreshing.

M- Smooth carbonation, substantial thick and oily mouthfeel. Loving the finish on this beer, despite it's expiration issues.

D- Would be higher if not for that heavy alcohol presence. I had a bottle before this one, the day it expired on 08/30, and I remember the alcohol being practically absent, even dangerously so, so a lot of my problems with this beer are, I think, due to the expiration date. For that reason I am elevating my scores a little bit and will probably change it once I get a fresh batch.

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Photo of WuKAZUKI
3.35/5  rDev -20%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Sexy silk black

S - Dark chocolate, coffee, dark malts

T - Bitter, twangy

O - Although Great Lakes is one of the best, I was surprisingly turned off by this offering. Perhaps it was due to the Belgian xms brews I had prior to this one but still... I even stopped drinking after this one. Sorry :/ I wanted to like it...

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Photo of botham
3.35/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into an english imperial pint glass. pours a relatively clear black with four fingers of tan head that is not very dense, but leaves great lacings on the glass.

smells strongly of chocolate roasted malts, there is a coffee base with a slight bite of alcohol in the aroma as well. smells wonderful!

tastes very malty and roasty up front, with a definite presence of alcohol. could have covered that up a little better. the coffee aroma is no where to be tasted. there is a fruity character in the base, which lends itself to ale yeast. the aroma of this brew is much more interesting than the taste.

aftertaste is of weak hops. mildy dry.

mouthfeel is sharp from the alcohol, with a creamy texture, and a less than smooth finish.

drinkability is mediocre. the alcohol and unbalanced flavors take away from the wonderful aroma of this brew.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.36/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a pitch black color with about a quarter inch of dense dark brown head that slowly faded into a thin collar around the glass. A million little specks of spotty lacing were left down the glass.
S: Light notes of roasted grains, creamy chocolate with hints of alcohol.
T: Follows the nose. Fairly sweet all around with big roasted malt notes. Alcohol is noticeable with a warm aftertaste. Not as much chocolate but it shows up in the finish. Aftertaste has a light hope bitterness to it and a touch of smoke.
M: Medium body with a mouthfeel that is a bit rough around the edges. Tingly carbonation.
D: I wasn't that impressed with this. It's good, but not great. I'm not loving the mouthfeel or aftertaste.

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Photo of dmgeng
3.39/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been wanting to try this one for a while but couldn't convince myself to pull the trigger until now and I wasn't a fan. (But it could just be batch specific)

A - Nice black color. Has a slight haze after pouring with a fine, tan head.

S - First tones that I notice were the roasty tones next there were the traditional dark fruits, chocolate, and sweet malts. It's got that dark roasted character that you would expect.

T - On the tip of the tongue it's got sweet malt and some caramel, but as soon as it hits the middle of the palate there is a huge sour note. It is very similar to the acidic tang that you get with a Guinness only 3x the magnitude in this beer. There is some licorice, dark chocolate, and some dark fruits but all underneath the tang. On the finish the dry, roasted, coffee bean flavor is true. I could still drink it with the sour but definitely my least favorite in the category.

M - Moderate mouth-feel with moderate carbonation. Slightly thin for being 9% but still enough body and enough release to keep the feel stylistic.

Overall, this was not a very enjoyable beer for me. I have talked to others that have had this beer and they've said that this beer wasn't their favorite but they didn't get the acidic flavor that I got. So it could be just a fluke but I don't think I'll be getting it again. If you really enjoy Guinness then I would say go ahead and try this one but if you just want a RIS then definitely go for TenFidy!

Glass- Snifter

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Great Lakes Blackout Stout from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.19 out of 5 based on 3,502 ratings.
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