Bottleworks XI Anniversary Ale | Big Sky Brewing Company

very good
30 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bottleworks XI Anniversary AleBottleworks XI Anniversary Ale

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, 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 bgramer on 02-24-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 65
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.51/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Tieman for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is slightly sour with dark roasted malt, cocoa, wine grape, red wine, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with sour cocoa, wine grape, and red wine flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with an interesting sourness that I am not sure is from the red wine barrel aging or from some sort of infection.

Serving type: bottle.

 731 characters

Photo of BarrytheBear
2.41/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Big tarts, red cherry, would love for this to be the barrels..but damn if this fun try isn't a bit of a mess.

This is a chore..a small taste was more than enough...the a bottle...drainzilla.

 192 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
2.71/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body. Big khaki head. Wispy surface. Medium collar.

Smell - Yogurty lactic sourness. A little bit of wine. Chocolate.

Taste - Sharp sourness right up front. Red wine grapes. Yogurt. Lactic sourness.

Mouthfeel - Really sour. Tough to drink. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Way over the hill and too sour to be interesting.

 381 characters

Photo of tectactoe
4.09/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks for splitting this gem, Tim! Bottleworks XI pours out somewhere along the lines of black, though not *completely* black; still laced with shades of deep, deep mahogany and brown, swarming with little chunks of hanging, yeasty sediment. A creamy, two-finger light mocha foam rests on top the brew and though it leaves minimal lacing, shows good longevity.

A battle of wits takes place with each sniff; both stouty-sharp and fruity-sweet at once without wandering too, too far into the tart side of things. Sticky, heavy molasses, toffee, cocoa, dark figs and prunes, all coupled with heavy vinous aromas of oak, red wine, sharp and mildly acidic grapes with a lightly tart tingle, but not exactly "sour", per se. Enigmatic, raunchy, and almost so wrong that it feels so right.

Up front, the first sip contains a very light tartness that tickles the senses in such an unexpectedly pleasant way; the taste follows up with grapes, prunes, raisins... lots of dark-ish fruits, all exhibiting a somewhat vinous character, perched upon a solid subset of oak and wine-like flavors. The mild tartness turns quickly to a mellow sweetness as the fruits rush in - about halfway through is when the "stout" portion of the beer starts to turn the tables.

Mild roast, molasses, a bit of sweet brown sugar and a light touch of finishing cocoa powder. The stout is a little more underplayed on the palate as the red wine aged aspect of the beer shines the most, from start to finish, but I still feel like the execution and final product was done really well. Smooth and very light bourbon notes in the finish, though the wine barrels are still far more prominent. Medium bodied, slick mouth feel; low and smooth, rolling carbonation.

Hmmm... another dark fruit-centric stout aged in wine barrels, granting us a mildly tart... stout. Sounds out of whack, and I know many people aren't exactly on board with this spectrum ranging style, but I find myself enjoying it more and more, and I very much appreciated this beer. Good mix of sweet and tart without going *too* sour, and retaining just enough stout-like qualities to keep it from changing styles completely. Well done.

 2,167 characters

Photo of Smurf2055
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark, but not as dark as some Impy stouts. About a finger of mocha tan head.

Smell is almost funky off a small whiff while pouring, lots of oak and bourbon, smooth caramel and vanilla, and yes, a bit of funk going on here.

Taste...ummm...interesting. Smell and appearance was leading to stout, taste was a dark sour. Suppose this is the wine barrel aging coming out. Lots of acidity for such a dark beer. Some of the stout flavors come out, but it’s mostly the sour parts in the taste.

Very mellow and surprisingly drinkable. Unique to say the least.

 564 characters

Photo of AlexFields
3.31/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Shared by CurtisMcArthur at TN whales tasting 3/16/2013.

Pours dark brown/near black, body looks fine but only a touch of head.

Smells of sweet bourbon, caramel candy, a hint of port or wine or something vaguely fruity.

Tastes of bourbon, slightly tart wine, a touch of paper/cardboard, tangy fruit, not as good as regular Ivan and probably past its prime, but far from bad.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin.

Probably slightly past its prime, would've liked to try it fresh, but this is still pretty good.


 509 characters

Photo of SpdKilz
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to nkersten for opening this at AgentZero’s birthday.

Appearance – Pours a dark black into a tulip with a half finger of dark tan head that dissipates somewhat slowly leaving some faint lacing.

Smell – Smell’s similar to the recent Captain Lawrence Smoke From The Oak (Wine Barrel Aged) American Porter I had. Dark roast up front, slight cocoa, and some vinous wine notes. The other beer had a bit more of an “infected” aroma while this one really does have red wine qualities. Slight oak as the beer warms but not as prevalent as in the aforementioned beer.

Taste – Very pleasant, as I was hoping and expecting. Roasted, burnt malts mixed with grapes, mixed with vanilla, mixed with chocolate. Well put together and the flavors meld better than expected.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, decent carbonation.

Overall – Not the best beer of the night, but surprisingly good overall. Would have loved to do a side by side with the CL SFTO (WBA). Glad to have tried this.

 998 characters

Photo of AgentZero
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to nkersten aka Nate for popping this one open (and for making pizza).

A - Black beer with a small tan head that left some minor lace on the glass.

S - Interesting smelling beer. Some nice port notes come through, a vinous quality to the nose which is kind of pleasant. Slightly reminicent to me of V009. Some decent roast and a bit of oak.

T - Taste is much like the nose with the grapes, port, barrel, oak all coming through. A bit of vanilla and some roasted malts. Nice blending here of flavors.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a tannic finish.

O - I liked this beer quite a bit as something a little unusual. Not world class, but a fun beer to try and an enjoyable experience.

 709 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark, and black as night with a light ring of tan that circled the glass for maybe a minute before fading out of site and leaving it completely bare. Not my idea of the greatest of looks but what can you do.

Aroma surprised me as it was done very, very well. A rich mix of dark chocolate, coffee, lots of bourbon and oak. Warming brought out lots of vinous wine like flavors that I was for sure not expecting and they really added alot to it. hints of vanilla and light touches of molasses. Very nicely done I have to admit and I was finding hop this would not be terrible at this point. But then I took a sip. the flavor is rich, decadent, near perfectly aged, so there in lies the issue.

 699 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Forgot to write down who shared this at the BA BA tasting. But, I thank you!

A: The beer pours nearly black in color with a large off-white/khaki head.

S: I was surprised how much port came through on the nose. Lots of red fruits, grapes, and wine; plenty of oak is also present. There's a nice roasty stout underneath the barrel treatment and a little dark chocolate. I don't get too much of the whiskey, though.

T: The flavor is much the same. Strong notes of port, dark fruits (cherries?), and grapes. A mild bourbon/vanilla flavor is also there. Fairly heavy on the roasted malts with a bit of dark chocolate.

M: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: This sounded like such a strange beer, but it was really quite nice. I liked it quite a bit.

 768 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to mages64 for sending this bottle in the Light Whale 2 BIF. Served in a tulip.

Pour yields a black-bodied brew with a small tan head, which leaves behind average spotty lacing. The nose is chocolate and roast with a light amount of booze. Some creamy butters, too. Not diacetyl; rather, more of a Chardonnary-type buttery oak. Light red wine there as well as a touch of bourbon and some oak. The flavor profile is a lot stronger, with brown sugar, cherry, a bit of smoke, some vanilla, and wood. Good wine and bourbon mixing up. The feel is a bit too tannic and slightly acidic from the wine, with a medium body that is a bit creamy. Light carbonation.
Overall, very nice and interesting. Glad I finally got to try this one.

 733 characters

Photo of jampics2
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, purchased at Brouwer's for around $30 late March, 2011. Enjoyed with a water buffalo carbonade atop a bed of frites. Highly recommended pairing!

The beer looks nice in the glass. There's a dark black body but I swear I see swirls of cabernet wine drifting in and out of focus. The head is the color of cafe au lait and leaves a touch of soapy lace behind. Pretty much par for the course for huge BA beers, but the color is something special.

The nose on this beer is both unique and extremely expressive. There's a huge wine barrel presence that, at first encounter, seems to dominate. However, the more I poke around, that wine and oak tannin smell become porous and allows bourbon, vanilla, salt and some mild acidic sourness through. There's more depth here than in just about any wine barrel aged beer I've ever had. This smell is a bit of an aquired thing, but a lover of stout, sour and red wine would think they've struck the jackpot.

The taste is equally memorable. The stout comes out first, with roasty malts making chocolate and coffee impressions on my taste buds. The wine barrel comes next, peaking in a light to medium tannic quality with lots of wet, red grapes. There is a touch of sour, but it's not an infection per-say, more of an acetic edge from the roasty flavors. The next flavors are primarily a product of the bourbon barrels with some bourbon, vanilla and booze notes. The symphony fades to black with lingering vanilla notes. I've had very few beers in my life that I think perfectly replace a nice red wine for certain meals (red meat in particular), but this is it. If more available, this beer could be a gateway for wine drinkers.

The mouthfeel is just a touch thin with a bit more carbonation than I would have liked to see. If there is a flaw of the beer, it's here - however, the flavors aren't stepped on, and the result is still pleasant and never watery or spritzy. Overall, I would drink this again in a heartbeat. Perhaps there will be more at Brouwers next year when I return to Seattle. I give this beer an enthusiastic "try on sight" recommendation to anyone.

 2,120 characters

Photo of corby112
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml shared at the 2011 Hunahpu's release.

Pours a deep dark brown almost black color that is completely opaque with a one finger frothy mocha head that slowly fades into a lasting ring.  Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Slightly sweet smokey aroma with a prominent barrel character.  Lots of charred oak as well as some faint bourbon.  I'm also pickingup vanilla and toasted coconut but not a ton of wine.  Cedary and toasty chocolate toffee hazelnut and subtle vinous red wine.  

Medium bodied with a sweet vinous profile with much more wine flavor than I expected.  Faint bourbon with lots of cedary earhy oak and vanilla.  Underneath the vinous dark fruit (red grape, dark berries) there is some slighlty smokey dark chocolate.  A little to sweet and heavy on the red wine barrel but still pretty good with a slight dry finish.  

 852 characters

Photo of SpeedwayJim
2.85/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Thanks to me for sharing this one. Had at a tasting 2/19/11. 4oz. pour from a corked and caged bottle into a brandy snifter. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a .25 finger light mocha head with poor retention that dissipates quickly down to a thin ring. Beer is an opaque black. Decent legs but very spotty lacing with no cling. Score is slightly adjusted considering the serving vessel.

S: Nose is vinous. Grape, chocolate, fudge, liquorice, roasted malt, and sweet and tart cherries. I'm not a big fan of sour dark beers and the aroma in this one throws up an initial huge red flag. At least its aromatic. The fruit and stout flavors are enticing but I know better.

T: Sweet and sour soy sauce opening with tart prune juice, liquorice, fudge, and funky sour cherries. Cocoa powder graininess present towards the middle with some tart, spicy soy sauce at the end. Same finish with an annoying tart, slightly dry, fruity aftertaste. Put simply, not my cup of tea, and not good.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Oily, slick, and filmy in the mouth. Smooth going down with a messy finish and a subtly lingering aftertaste. Very appropriate both in weight and feel in the mouth. Pretty incredible for an 11% beer.

D: I've never been a huge fan of sour dark beers and this beer isn't going to be the one to change my mind. In fact, it only convinces me further that the tartness and roastiness in this style just don't go together. Ivan the Terrible is a good beer. Aging it in bourbon and wine barrels has made it a mess. I won't be coming back to this one.

 1,566 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. Gigantic thanks to Hopstoopid120 for sharing (and hosting!). Happy birthday, Tony!

A: Black body with an inch of creamy light-brown head. Great retention and nice lace. Lovely.

S: Intensely woody notes are front + center, with tannic oak, bourbon, grape-skin, and licorice. Hugely complex and enthralling, but I kind of miss the rich molasses maltiness of the base stout.

T: Everything from the nose comes through, with a touch of extra sweetness up front. THe barrels take over on the tail end, with more wine than bourbon. Bitter, tannic finish, which is actually a bit off-putting with its astringency. Still, an incredible beer.

M: Solid medium body with moderate, ultra-fine carbonation. Nice.

D: This beer is so huge, so flavorful, and so complex that I could sip on it forever. No hint of its high ABV, which is incredible. The tannic astringency is the only thing that keeps it from getting a perfect mark here.

Notes: A lesser base beer would undoubtedly have been beaten into oblivion by the formidable influence of the barrels, especially the wine ones. As it is, Ivan still gets largely subsumed in the woody complexity, and I think I prefer it to this version (as crazy and delicious as it is). I could definitely see someone being put of by the slight tartness and astringency, but I thought it was pretty great.


 1,380 characters

Photo of Brent
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Something a bit odd going on with this one. Deeply roasted malt flavor, with an discordant, acidic note. Others have described it as a red wine note, but perhaps to me more like grape must or seeds. Overall, this beer has a lot going for it, but the acidic note stands out like one out of tune violin in the orchestra.

 318 characters

Photo of nkersten
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Pours black with a thick, heavily carbonated, two finger mocha head. Smell is acidic wine barrel up front, slightly metallic, with a background of caramel malt, vanilla and oak. Flavors are very sweet at first with an acidic, slightly sour red wine taste following. I expected more of a blend of the different flavors of each barrel used, but the wine definitley dominates. There is still a great stout base with rich malt flavors. The wine is a bit forward but adds some great complexity. Mouthfeel is heavy but not too coating thanks to the moderate carbonation. The sour acidity of the wine gives it an interesting aftertaste. This is a very interesting beer. While i don't think i could finish a bottle of this on my own, i found the complex flavors kept me going back to see what other things I might pick up. Definitley worth trying, I am interested in seeing what happens to this beer with some age.

 927 characters

Photo of Sean9689
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasting with Alex, Sean, Chris, and Nate (thanks for this contribution). 750 ml into a lost abbey glass...Pours with tons of carbonation, light tan head, pretty good retention...The aroma is light but very unique, its almost a 50-50 mixture of chocolate milk and grapey red wine, doesn't sound appealing but it pulls it off, sweet but with deep burgundy and a light sourness to boot...Taste is pretty sweet, its light sour, but I was expecting a lot more sour then I got. The wine really shows through more than anything. I'd consider this a wine stout with sweet notes of chocolate milk, the sour is almost an after thought or added bonus.

 640 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.01/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Nate for sharing. I like Ivan the Terrible, and when I heard they were doing a barrel-aged blend I was very excited. When I heard they were using Cabernet Sauvignon barrels I was more puzzled than anything else. Served in a Lost Abby Rastal Teku glass.

A - Pours with a voluminous foam that has good retention and eventually settles to a thin ring, leaving behind splotchy lace. Pitch black body.

S - Huge aroma of chocolate and red wine - is this beer for the ladies? I hear there were bourbon and brandy barrels blended into this, but you'd never know with the massive red wine influence.

T - Taste is reminiscent of Iconoclast Nocturna, but I don't think this is quite as successful. Lightly sour, very vinous, but with elements of dark roasted grains, vanilla, and chocolate.

M - Carbonation is lower than I expected from the appearance. Low heat, with a very smooth, medium-full body.

D - This was quite enjoyable, but it also caused massive palate fatigue. Not sure I could handle more than a few pours. Definitely a slow sipper, and I'm not sure if it's more suited for pairing with a steak or with dessert.

I wouldn't mind scoring a bottle of this one, as I'm curious to see how it will age.

 1,215 characters

Photo of jrallen34
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasting with Alex, Sean, Chris, and Nate (thanks for this contribution). 750 ml into a lost abbey glass...Pours with tons of carbonation, light tan head, pretty good retention...The aroma is light but very unique, its almost a 50-50 mixture of chocolate milk and grapey red wine, doesn't sound appealing but it pulls it off, sweet but with deep burgundy and a light sourness to boot...Taste is pretty sweet, its light sour, but I was expecting a lot more sour then I got. The wine really shows through more than anything. I'd consider this a wine stout with sweet notes of chocolate milk, the sour is almost an after thought or added bonus.

A very unique beer that is well worth trying, if for nothing more than to make you scratch your head and ask what the hell is really going on right now?

 794 characters

Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter. Thanks to t0rin0 for sharing this one!

Pours a light tan head. Color is a dark murky brown.

Aroma: Harsh vinous wine notes. Chocolate and caramel malts. Very sweet and creamy. Oak with an amazing vanilla flavor.

Taste: Wine and grape flavors up front. It is a bit sour. Then all the other aromas from the nose hit. Caramel malts, cherries, oak, vanilla. I am guessing the sour notes come from the wine barrels, but I am not sure.

Mouthfeel: Sour and sweet. Medium to full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends oaky with some wine notes, a bit tart.

Overall, this is a solid beer, but very interesting. It is pretty drinkable if you enjoy a broad variety of flavors in one beer. I am curious to know what time will do to this beer.

 767 characters

Photo of callmemickey
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep black body with a large, creamy khaki cap. Good retention and quite a bit of lacing left in the glass.

S: Red wine and grapeskins. Bourbon and oak. Toasted malts and chocolate.

T: I couldn't quite come to terms with the flavor combination. There was a lot of red wine here. It was the most dominant flavor in what was otherwise a strong, hearty bourbon imperial stout. A bit of chocolate and oak. But mostly red wine and bourbon. I think the red wine would have gone better if there was no bourbon as well.

M: Large body, oily and slick. The red wine is a soft and sour, whereas the bourbon is harsh and prickly. A bit conflicted.

D: Not a bad beer... I just thought it was a bit jumbled and too ambitious.

 718 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ditmier brought this over to the weekend tasting.... Awesome Eric.. I truly appreciate the chance to try this one.

Nice dark tan head... black brew... nice lacing.

nose has all the traditional big stout notes but is punctuated by a pretty heavy wine barrel presence... dark cherries

flavor has plenty of wine barrel and some tannins that make me think of supermarket red grapes... also getting something that reminds me of sour cherries... whaffs of vanilla mixes well with waves of chocolate ... bigger body but seems a tad overcarbonated.

Is this infected? I don't think so... but the wine barrels add an immense amount of complexities that are pretty hard to pick apart.

Thanks again Eric... badass... I need to score a bottle.


Edit: I like Ivan more for sure.

 785 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Pours black with a huge light brown head. Good retention. Great lacing.

The aroma is of dark ripe grapes and prominent oak. Rich chocolate is present but it lurks in the background. Tannins are noticeable. I detect evident bourbon and subtle rye, but the wine barrel dominates.

In the flavor I find an interesting marriage of vinous and stout characteristics. Huge ripe grapes with subtle bourbon. Moderate tannins and moderate oak accompany a light sourness. The fruit dominates. Light chocolate. Ivan has been transfigured. Chocolate bourbon vinous finish.

It doesn't match Ivan's eminence, but it's an interesting and unique beer that's worth trying.

 668 characters

Photo of ChrisPro
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle tasted on 4/11/10. Pours jet black, with not the slightest hit of color, gigantic mocha head. Aroma starts off dominated by currants, grape and vanilla. As it warms you get more hints of bourbon and oak. Flavor starts with some thick malty roasted chocolate with a strong dark fruit flavor. Again, as it warms, the bourbon is a bit more present. A very pleasant dry bitter finish. Thick slick mouthfeel with great carb. Incredibly drinkable for 11% and I'd love to try this again. I seem to like this more than others and think that this is one of the most complex and well-made stout blends I have ever had. Big Sky just scored a few points in my book.

 667 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Bottleworks XI Anniversary Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 65 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.