Great Lakes Blackout Stout | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

1,218 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

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Reviews: 1,218 | Ratings: 3,483
Photo of Ksmoove27
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look - dark black oil with one finger light chocolate head; light lacing

Aroma - roasted malt, caramel and coffee

Taste - follows the nose, roasted malt, baking chocolate on the front expresso, caramel

Feel - oily with mild carbonation, alcohol aftertaste

Overall - good but a step behind Founders Breakfast, Old Rasputin and Yeti

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Photo of mlockman
3.77/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Flavors are predominantly on the forefront of the swallow as this beer is very much a front-of-the-tongue experience. A rich stout that is intensely flavorful , I would recommend this to anyone.

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Photo of SteelSaw
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pour pitch black. A hard pour gives way to a thin tan head.

Smell: Milk Chocolate, Burnt Sugar, Malt, Bakers Chocolate, slight coffee notes.

Taste: Pretty much follows the nose, milk chocolate up front with a twinge of bakers chocolate near the end. Sugar and slight subtle coffee.

Feel: Intially hits the tongue with a creamy mocha like consistency. Pretty thick but not quite to the chewy degree of mouthfeel.

Overall: Stellar, a great stout that's on the sweeter side that drinks easy. Would recommend grabbing if you see it.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

pours jet black with a solid dark-cream colored head.

smells like sweet milk chocolate coffee. sweet and mellow.

taste is mellow and full of chocolate notes. slight chocolate taste at the end. finishes bitter and dry. goes down smooth and is easy drinking for a 9% beer. all i can say is mellow, in a good way. not overpowering in any one way. mellow chocolate and coffee taste with added sweetness. a good RIS for sure. would totally drink this again.

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Photo of lastmango
4.19/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a thick black with a thin tan head that dissipates quickly. Moderate lacing. Nose is bitter dark chocolate. Strong chocolate malt flavor with a hint of hops on the end. Full body with moderate carbonation. Gosh, am I drinking beer or a malt from Al's Diner in Happy Days!

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.84/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Best before 5/6/16. Poured 12/8/15. $3.49 single. Poured into, unfortunately, a shaker pint. I love the name and story behind this beer. The 2003 black out is something I'll always remember vividly for a number of reasons.

Appearance: Hard pour into the glass didn't do much for a head, and left just a film on top of the beer. The name of the beer is misleading though, as this beer isn't pitch black -- instead it's a hazy ruby black color, and looks more like a porter. Whenever I can see through a stout, it makes me nervous for the taste and feel.

Smell: Roasted and caramel malt, a little coffee, and some... hops? This is not quite as big and bold and I was expecting, and to me smells like an imperial version of Edmund Fitzgerald. This doesn't smell like a RIS to me as much as some sort of porter. This is light on roasted malt (heavier on caramel), and even lighter on coffee. No alcohol in the aroma, and no dark fruits buried in there. Smells very nice regardless.

Taste/feel: Follows the nose flawlessly, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your stout preferences. This beer is actually very sweet with quite the table sugar presence -- there's just a "biting" sweetness that kicks in and lingers until the finish where there's a mild bitterness. Flavors of primarily caramel malt come through with a mild-to-moderate amount of roasted malt and a really slight coffee flavor. I also get an earthy hop flavor briefly on the front and in the middle of each sip, which also contributes just a wee bit of hop bitterness. Honestly, I get more of a hop bitterness than roast bitterness from this beer. This is one of the most unexpected experiences I can think I've had from a beer in quite awhile. The mouthfeel is about what I expected given its appearance, maybe a little better. Black out Stout "hefts up" and is actually a somewhat creamy, near full-bodied beer. The carbonation is mild.

This is a stout I'd recommend to anyone whose preference is stouts that are on the sweeter side, because this is certainly that. The too-subtle roastiness, excess sweetness, and a bit of a disappointing mouthfeel make this beer a letdown, to me. I was expecting a viscous beer with a "chewy" feel and bold bitter roast. Of course, that's simply because I expected it from the name. Why? I don't know why. I blame myself.

For the price, it's neither a rip off or a bargain. It's a very solid seasonal offering from GLBC, just one that doesn't fit the bill of a "Russian Imperial Stout", in my eyes.

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Photo of KBrady
3.46/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Aged little over a some other reviewers have mentioned it's possible that this hurts the beer.

Poured into a snifter, smelled a burnt, charcoal-ish aroma. Tasted a bit metallic and thin, with a fairly unpleasant mouthfeel. I would try it again fresh and it's possible I got a lemon, but for now I must rate it as such.

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Photo of StartedwithSAM
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours into a grand snifter jet black with a one finger off-white or somewhat tannish head, dissipating quickly with little or no lacing.

Smells of roasted bitter cocoa with subtle dark fruit.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with a noticeable level carbonation.

The taste is strong, earthy, cocoa forward flavors finishing with a slightly dry, Belgian-style fruitiness.

Overall this was a solid Russian Imperial Stout, nothing that really wow'd me. That being said it is far better than last years which was much more cloying. This years release is an interesting balance, or struggle if you prefer, between an American-style and Belgian-style RIS. GLBC is moving in the right direction with this. Cheers.

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Photo of Raime
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Blackout Stout

Oh yes. Ohhhhh yessss. Hit quite a good bit of brews today at my local shop, mostly winter seasonals. I've wanted this one for quit some time yet I've never been able to find it until now. I hope it's every bit as good as it was in my dreams. Enough talk, let's drink it.

Look - From the twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass since I managed to drunkenly break my snifter. Oh well, thug life. This brew pours blacker than Seal and much blacker than Charlie Murphy. This beer is black, like the deep voiced smooth talkin' 1970's black pimp that picked up yo momma. Head rises to about a quarter of mocha and dies down to some thick cloud formations amongst the top of the drink. This guy has some depth going for it. No lacing remains at the end of the beer.

Smell - Coffeeeeeeee. Coffeeeeeee. Coffee. Coffee is big on that forefront with nice hints of burnt breadyness and chocolate cake batter. Raisins and a bit of prune with a kiss of alcohol. Milk chocolatey goodness wraps around the nostrils as the beer warms up a bit.

Taste - Seems every drink brings something new to the forefront. Initially I got a big dosage of the aforementioned cake batter which quickly turned into a chocolate frosting covered low fat brownie. The alcohol seems to grow more apparent as you continue into the beer but it never once becomes too much. As the beer has warmed a bit more I'm getting some noticeable charred meat and a touch of charcoal and smoke. Like a charred back strap more than anything else. At peak drinking temperature now and a newer milk chocolate bar like front has joined the party with a bit of ash on the finish. Interesting.

Feel - The mouthfeel on this brew is moderate to full depending on the specific temperature of the beer and there is a large creamyness despite the fact that there is no remaining head at this point. Flavors remains much the same and swallows with just a bit of alcohol on the back end.

Overall - I had extremely high hopes for this beer and to be quite honest it fell just a tad shy. Do not get me wrong this thing is great but the whole ash/charcoal thing got a bit weird as I continued to drink it. Either way, I am glad I bought it and would likely recommend it to stout lovers. As always, give it a shot and come to your own conclusion..

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

Sample from tap at Great Lakes Brewing Company. This one certainly warms you up! Knock out just like a good imperial should. Hit the spot on this cold Thursday night!

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Photo of do_ob
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle into a snifter. Dark brown pour and pretty well black in the glass, save for some some ruby hues around the bottom edge. About 1 finger of light tan foam with a sticky composition. Somewhat weak nose, but has notes of roasted malt, milk chocolate, expresso, caramel, and vanilla. A surprising amount of chocolate initially on the taste that quickly unfolds to expose roasty malts, bitter coffee, oak, vanilla, cinammon, and caramel. Quite tasty, really, albeit not really a traditional RIS. This is more of an American imperial stout from what I'm getting. Decent feel, but over-carbonated and a little too thin for me. I'd like this to be a bit more dense. Smooth drinking, though.

Overall, decent, but below average compared to other easily accessable big stouts. It is tasty, but if I'm reaching for a RIS, I'd pass this up for Old Raspy or Ten Fidy any day.

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Photo of cjohns73
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a fairly dark brown that permits some light; minimal viscosity; thin egg shell colored head with a couple minutes of retention; couple dots of lacing.

Smell is roasted malt and chocolate; taste is less chocolate, more coffee; lots of bitterness throughout; the finish introduces some sweetness that is otherwise non-existent.

Balance is probably the name of the game here; lots of smoothness as well; feel is a bit thin and the taste profile doesn't exactly pop because of it.

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Photo of Slack
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep brown to black in color with almost no visible carbonation and minimal lacing.

Coffee dominates the nose with some sweet malt and an alcohol note present along with minor amounts of cocoa and raisins.

Taste is malt sweetness, cocoa, caramel, and coffee bitterness on the finish. Alcohol becomes present as it warms.

Mouthful is medium to light with a medium to high carbonation. Body is smooth but thin. Finish is lingering.

This beer is an excellent representation of the style with the minor drawback of the alcohol notes in the aroma and taste. It is nicely balanced, smooth, with coffee and malt present throughout.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.87/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a chalice.

A: Pours an opaque, inky black with 1/3" khaki head that recedes quickly. Retention is just-above-average, lacing is OK.

S: Mellow dark chocolate & vanilla bean tempered by hints of booze. I get just the slightest trace of plum & cinnamon as well.

T: Comes on with a big neapolitan ice cream hit, with traces of dark chocolate (with cherry), vanilla & strawberry. The mid palate is decidedly more boozy, undercurrents of cinnamon & nutmeg are detectable. the finish is almost overly sweet, but is pared back by a subtle hop note. Altogether quite nice.

M: Lowish carb married to a just-slightly-more-than-midweight malty body. Fairly rich, with a grainy saccharine thing going on.

O: Flawed, but impressive nonetheless.

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Photo of brother_rebus
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

editing my original review:

initially, my review was for the fresh 4 pk.
but having "aged" this in my fridge for 11 months, it jumped up a bit on the scale for me.
first off, it looks a bit less bubbly, and is indeed somewhat more subdued in terms of co2.
the hops are much less abrasive, more died down, mellowed out.
the body is ever so slightly smoother and fuller.
perhaps just from the mellowing of all ingredients.
either way, I think the ~1yr mark is the sweet spot for this beer.
claims it "went bad" in June/2016. but four months past that, its perfect.

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Photo of rudzud
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in a trade. Date of 04/24/15

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a darker black hue with a thin mocha head that faded to leave thin wisps and a light halo.

S - Aromas of roasty malts, smokey chocolate, light licorice, nougat.

T - Taste is similar to the nose. Very nice toast malts, little bit of smoke, very nice slightly sweet chocolate. Flashes of nougat and vanilla. Finish has a little bit of booze.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, creamy, though slightly thin for the style. Bit boozy too.

O - Overall this was a solid representation of the style. Really like the chocolate notes.

Serving Type: bottle

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Photo of Warren2621
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pitch black with a half finger head and a creamy tan ring around the edges of the glass once the head settles

Smell: Slightly roasty, smokey chocolate. Burnt toffee.. all smells combine for a good woody smoked boozy nose

Taste: Coffee, non bitter smooth chocolate, some roast

Feel: Low carbonation coats the mouth with a buttery sticky, teeth sucking addiction for more.

Overall: Worth having. A couple. As I drink more, the less I desire repeats but this should be bought if never had

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Photo of K-Dog
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This one aged almost two years. Pours jet black and smells of chocolate, vanilla and bourbon. Nice sweet tasting stout and even though it's a regular ris, could have fooled me, has some bourbon flavor to it. One if the best non barrel aged stouts out there. Thought it was best with one year of age. After two it has a more sour flavor but it still held up nicely. I just hope one day to try the barell aged version that's only avaiable at the brewery. Please great lakes bottle it for store distribution

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Photo of PatrickBeebe
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

wow this was good. not as thick and syruppy as a lot of russion imperials, yet it definately still holds up. tons of deep malt flavors, not too hoppy. almost pure black with just a bit of light letting through

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Photo of kbwalters
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured cold into a spiegelau stout glass. Best by 5/8/15, so probably going on 7 months now.
Look = 4.0 Pours a deep brown into an opaque brown in the glass, not black though. 1.5 fingers of dark brown frothy head fades to a cap; good lace.
Aroma = 4.0 Sweet milk chocolate dominates; some light roasted malt notes highlight it.
Taste = 3.75 Sweet chocolate throughout, roasted malt flavors come in on the backend; mild coffee flavors. Mild bitter finish of roasted malt.
Feel = 3.75 Medium bodied with light to medium carbonation; somewhat creamy but not as thick as I’d like from a RIS.
Drinkability = 4.0
Overall = 3.875 Perfectly fine RIS, but nothing I haven’t seen before. Wonder if the age hurts it at all.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

32 oz. growler filled several months ago poured into a NB snifter.

A note about the growler. It's a ceramic-topped swing and snap-lock bottle that has always held beer well, but this is the longest I've ever let a beer sit before tasting - it became a bit of an experiment to see how this stout would hold up in it over time. The condition of the beer confirms my conclusion that if properly filled, this style of growler (unopened, of course) will hold its beer properly rather indefinitely.

A - Pours a brown molasses into the glass. A one-finger head of rather fluffy British khaki foam disappears rather quickly, leaving a sheen of fine lace across the surface pocked by large, exploding bubbles. Held to a full-spectrum light, the beer is solid black, even at the edges of the glass.

S - Bacon! Sugars from dark molasses mix with notes of campfire char smoke and roasted malt. Just a touch of ABV. Chocolate syrup emerges from the background. Soft.

T - At the front, there's light-to-moderate roasted malt with a suggestion of lactose sweetener that gets cut off by just enough herbal hops to notice. That's followed by luscious 50% chocolate, followed by rich, chewy caramel. Bittering hops in the finish give the impression of moving the chocolate part of the profile into a more bitter semi-sweet taste.

M - Smooth, with a nice viscosity over the tongue. Silky. Just enough carbonation to support the body, which is close to moderate. A kaleidoscope of individual components mesh well together, but also stand alone enough for each to be noticed. Moderately long, but soft, finish that's a touch dry.

O - Easy-to-drink stout that leans heavily on dark sugars and chocolate in the taste profile. No coffee to speak of, just roasted malt. Could easily see this bourbon barrel-aged. Yummy. Another solid brew from Great Lakes.

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Photo of Dr-Jan-Itor-
4.57/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A great, Russian imperial if you can come across it. Nothing fancy, just darn good beer. Great in the winter, but I also enjoy it in the summer. It's just light enough that hot weather doesn't ruin it.

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Photo of mozart4898
3.94/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L – 1/2 finger head dissipates to a tiny ring. Opaque black color.
S – Coffee, a little earthy. No discernable alcohol on the nose. Smells like an inviting stout, however nothing stands out.
T – Malt bitterness and coffee flavor, with a touch of chocolate. A hint of slightly citrusy hops on the aftertaste that is quickly overwhelmed by the roasty bitterness of a substantial malt base. This beer is almost 2 months past the “best buy” date however being an imperial stout I doubt this really is a negative, if anything I would imagine flavors may have mellowed and matured at this point. Still quite intense, yet dangerously drinkable.
F – Fairly dry and only medium body – not at all watery but certainly more attenuated than some imperial stouts. Not a bad thing per se. Medium low carbonation (reasonable for the style).
O – For me this is a pretty middle of the road imperial stout, in that it seems to stay right down the middle of the style guidelines. Many of these beers top out well north of 10% ABV (12% or higher even) and this one, at 9%, is actually on the low end alcohol wise of commercial examples. Still plenty of flavor and a good beer for an after dinner sipper or a nightcap.

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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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Photo of neurobot01
3.98/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Best by 3/14/14, so take the ratings with a grain of salt. Pretty solid, but the feel is pretty thin, and the oxidation is evident. Good, not great at this point.

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Great Lakes Blackout Stout from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.19 out of 5 based on 3,483 ratings.
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