Bottleworks XI Anniversary Ale | Big Sky Brewing Company

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Bottleworks XI Anniversary AleBottleworks XI Anniversary Ale
Very Good
66 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 66 |  Reviews: 31
Reviews by tectactoe:
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of mdaschaf
4/5  rDev +3.6%

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.

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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.

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Photo of Photekut
5/5  rDev +29.5%

Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Bottleworks for its release. Poured into a snifter a dark amber with a 2-finger tan head that held for a bit of time while I allowed this to warm up.

It smelled very sweet with an up-front aroma of vanilla and bourbon. There was some smokiness in the aroma as it warmed.

The taste was quite complex. However, if I hadn't been told that this was an imperial stout, I would have categorized this as a barrel-aged strong ale. I didn't get any of the coffee and chocolate that I was expecting in an imperial stout. As in the smell, the vanilla and bourbon were dominant. There were dried fruits (raisins and dark cherries, in particular) in middle and a grassy hop bitterness in the finish. But, this is all about the flavors from the barrels. Given the complexity of flavors, the alcohol was well-hidden.

The beer was velvety smooth with a medium body. A bit of carbonation to keep it from being so heavy. Very good.

The beer will become more drinkable with a bit more aging. The flavors are still very sharp and could take a bit of softening. While I couldn't get a taste of alcohol, I could feel it. The 11% is there.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of stx00lax
4/5  rDev +3.6%

Photo of Eighty
2/5  rDev -48.2%

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.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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.

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Photo of jakewatt135
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

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.

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Photo of Liquidswordz
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

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

The Bottleworks XI was poured into a small snifter, light pale tan head about a finger thick. It was a very dark brown, almost black with some red and purplish-ruby colors around the edges showing through.

Aroma was very fruity with a hint of smoke, roasted malts, nice vanilla, red wine, and chocolate. The beer tasted very vinous with outlying bourbon red wine and oak flavors. Bourbon is present but any port or rye whisky flavors seem muted by the strength of the wine flavor, and were subtly harder to pick up. Velvety mouthfeel with a good body and not a thinned out taste.

This is quite a refreshing beer. I still could feel the wine in my mouth afterwards. Extremely drinkable with the alcohol being well hidden and a nice change-up from all the other bourbon stouts. This beer is going to age very well. If I had to predict, I'd expect the wine flavor to mellow over time.

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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.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%

Bottle opened on 6.18.14

Tart wine, chocolate, mild bourbon. Way past its prime.

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

had a bottle the day after bottlework's big celebration.

poured into a tulip glass. had a lot of carbonation leading to an aggressive head. color is dark with some suspended particles evident.

aroma was mostly wine for me, with a slight bourbon finish. also a bit fruity but, again, the wine is up front.

taste was very complex. started with a strong acidic wine taste, followed by an oakey taste, and finishing with a slight bourbon taste. i was really surprised that the bourbon was so well hid. i was actually a bit disappointed, since i'm not the biggest wine fan.

mouthfeel was acidic, with a dry finish due to the oak aging process.

overall a pretty great beer. when i got to the bottom of the glass i slugged a couple big nasty chunks, so i spit those back out and poured out the bottom 1/4 inch of my glass. i have another bottle in the cellar and i'm hoping the wine becomes less pronounced and the bourbon comes out a bit more.

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Bottleworks XI Anniversary Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 66 ratings