Highland Imperial Black Mocha Stout | Highland Brewing

111 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Highland Imperial Black Mocha StoutHighland Imperial Black Mocha Stout

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mikesgroove on 09-21-2008

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 111 | Ratings: 134
Photo of biglite351
3.11/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - slight strip of red at the edges. Creamy brown head leaving mo lacing.

S - Dark chocolate and roasted malts. Some fruit, raisins, in the after taste.

T - fruity malts with some coffee and dark cocoa. Bitter in the follow through.

M - light coating with a nice tingle on the sides of the tongue.

D - the bitter after taste makes it a one bottle only.

 357 characters

Photo of Adamdc
3.16/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Received this as an extra in a trade a while back. 22oz-- Bottled in Sept. '08.

A: Jet black pour with 1/2 inch tan head that dissipates to thin ring quickly. Minimal lacing.

S: Malty with lots of soy sauce and molasses. Not getting much coffee or chocolate at all.

T: Pretty similar to the smell. Not much chocolate or coffee to be found. Dark fruit, molasses and lots of soy sauce. There's also a finishing bitterness that doesn't taste like hops. Strange.

M: I'd put this somewhere between thin and medium. Slight carbonation.

D: Not sure what to say here. The taste is off-putting and it's at 9.5 abv. Moderately drinkable, I guess.

I had high hopes for this beer. I've had some nice beers from Highland but this was a big disappointment for me. The thinness, the strong soy aroma and that bitterness (tannins maybe) really killed this beer. Maybe this should have been had when it was fresher.

 906 characters

Photo of alcstradamus
3.2/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours pitch black with one finger of head and no lacing. Smells of dark fruits and molasses, taste follows suit with the addition of some oak and coffee. A bit of a rotten fruit taste in the background which is very unpleasant, luckily it doesn't dominate. I just don't like stouts that have this flavor profile, more coffee may have helped because the "mocha" promised in the title isn't really there. I didn't hate this beer, but I surely won't ever drink it again.

 467 characters

Photo of callisbeers
3.28/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a stein. Nice dark color with a good thick tan colored head. At first I thought this was going to be drain pour. Was thinking how bummed I was going to be for making this the final beer of the night. There was a flavor in there I just couldn't overcome. However, as the beer warmed up, it became more and more enjoyable. The coffee flavor was not overwhelming nor was the abv. All in all an average imperial stout. I might try one again if given the opportunity.

 474 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Deuane for bringing this bomber back from a long-ago trip to Asheville.

A: The stout is dark as a moonless night, pitch black in all its glory. There are no dark brown or reddish hues, just all-engulfing darkness. A tan colored head was instantaneously reduced to a thin band.

S: The nose is heavy, complex with nuttiness, chocolate, coffee and a graham sweetness. The flavors are layered and deep; a nice sniffer.

T: The first sip goes in the opposite direction of the nose. The sweetness is replaced by a harsh, burnt landscape that is very rough. The roasted barley is sharp and hot, roughly seguing into sweeter, fuller chocolate, coffee and licorice flavors. For as sharp as the flavors are, a sweetness pervades the back end of each sip. The burnt malts, I don't like. The sweeter finish, I do.

M: The mouthfeel starts with a bitter push that improves as I dig into the ale. At times though, that bitterness returns with a vengeance.

D: This big stout isn't my cup of tea, too bitter and burnt to be a nice sip. I'd like more chocolate and coffee to smooth out the burn.

 1,091 characters

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage

A- Body is a dark brown nearly black hue. Pours with a 1-2 finger creamy tan head which nearly immediately fades to a thin collar.

S- Yep. Smells like an aged RIS. Very heavy on the anise and raisin. Overripe and wrinkly. Little to no chocolate or alcohol to detect.

T- Very similar to the nose. Lots of dry raisin, anise. A hint of chocolate hits the back of the palate at the finish-but its mostly dry and boozy with a slight roasted malt bitterness and a touch of anise.

M- Very dry medium to heavy weight body with low to medium carbonation.

O- Overall this is a decent beer but it seems to have past its prime. The chocolate and mocha has faded a lot and the anise and raisin has come forward, a lot, and its kind of like drinking a dry, overripe plum.

 776 characters

Photo of Jadjunk
3.31/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"The next brew in our renowned Imperial line, this hearty stout is rich with coffee and chocolate notes, all achieved solely through the use of special roasted barley grains. The complex malt character blends the velvety sweetness of specialty grains with the creaminess of a classic stout. No flavorings have been added to this product." Brewed in the style of an American Imperial Stout. This was a one-off brew introduced in 2008, and is still available in select markets in Athens, Georgia. Available in 22 oz. bottles and previously limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 54º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a mocha brown head of a crisp, creamy appearance that quickly subsides. Body tone is dark brown near black. Retention is below average, lacing is nonexistent. 3

(Smell) 6 years of storage may have sharply impacted the aroma and flavor of this beer. Moderate roasted malts and a dash of muted cocoa give way to bold fruit notes of figs and raisins, as well as a bit of tartness and funk that are gaining ground. Not a lot of depth nor complexity is to be found in the aroma, and the chocolate, roasted malts and especially coffee have all long been diminishing. Potency is medium. 3.25

(Taste) Up front a thin, yeasty fruit profile of raisins transitions into a pronounced heavy roasted malt and charred wood finish, both very bold and unwavering despite the age of this beer. Not a lot of residual sweetness remains to balance the specialty grains, and neither chocolate nor coffee make a notable appearance in the flavor. Any previous hop presence is nullified entirely. Ultimately the greatest undoing in the flavor is the lack of sweetness to compliment the body which creates an unmistakable imbalance and generates a much lower drinkability. 3.25

(Mouthfeel) Texture is thin, oily, mildly roasty. Carbonation is soft, adds some slight froth and a bit of creaminess but doesn't influence the texture much. Body is medium for an American Imperial Stout, medium/heavy overall. Alcohol presence is medium. As before mentioned, the imbalance of sweetness to body lowers drinkability and suggests that the yeast in this bottle have fermented a bit too long for the beer's own good. 3.5

(Overall) My recommendation for any potential buyers of this fairly old beer: don't go for it. While certainly at one point a great and tasty stout, 6 years has done it in. My hopes are that Highland rereleases this beer at a later date, so I can enjoy it's full potential. For the record, I could not legally drink in 2008 so there is no way I could have enjoyed this vintage "fresh". 3.5

Highland Brewing Company's
Imperial Black Mocha Stout

 2,695 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.43/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber from 2008 pours a dark crimson color with a small brown head. Decent retention and lacing.

Nose is an interesting mix of Rice Krispies, burnt cocoa, dark chocolate and a little bit of blackberry fruit.

Taste shows some heavy roast - very coffee and alcohol oriented. Light oxidation lends it some Cocoa Puff cereal flavors. Some vegetal matter is a bit off-putting, cabbage almost. Too roasty, too much burnt flavors. I might have waited too long to open this beast...or not long enough...either way, it was not nearly as good as I was hoping for.

 562 characters

Photo of Overlord
3.43/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Mikesgroove for including this in the nice batch of PISGAH! he traded me.

Pours a dark black with a big brown head. Head rapidly vanishes. Looks thinner than I expected, and the mouthfeel, while nice and creamy, was a bit lighter than what I expect from a double stout.

Smells is dark, burnt chocolate, burnt coffee, burnt/roasted malt ... lot of burnt.

Taste, again, has burnt coffee, burnt dark chocolcate, maybe a bit of balancing roasted malt, and a bitter, almost earthy hoppiness to it. Just a bitter, bitter beer. I was expecting a lot of coffee, but what coffee there was also tasted like it had been on fire a bit too long.

A strange beer. Wish I could have split it with someone.

 703 characters

Photo of GeezLynn
3.45/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Dark shade of brown, with a short-lived tan head.

S: Plenty of chocolate and caramel malt along with some light coffee. There's also a heavy brown sugar aroma.

T: Flavor is very charred and a little acrid. There's a light syrupy chocolate/toffee, and a little coffee in there among all charred bitterness. I also got a little nuttyness, which is something I rarely notice in a RIS. Finishes with a lingering roastyness.

M: Medium to thick, with full frothy carbonation. Still a little hot in the back despite the age.

I've had some good beers from Highland, but not overly impressed here. Too ashy and hot for my tastes. Also, I wouldn't bet on it getting any better from this point.

 690 characters

Photo of Popkas
3.45/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The pour is a flat black with a tiny bit of head. A bit plain looking. The nose is very muted - I get a bit of roasted malts, cocoa and maybe a little coffee, but really not much. The taste is pretty solid with a nice blen of the roasted malts and chocolate - fortunately, these are much more pronounced on the tongue than they were on the nose. The mouth feel is medium which is a little thinner than I would like. Not a bad beer at all, but not among my favorites.

 466 characters

Photo of taylorhamrick
3.46/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a black color with a nice brown head, about 1-2 cms, that fades back and leaves minimal lacing. Looks like I've come to expect from an Imperial Stout. The smell is kind of lightly of dark roasted malt, not much sweetness, but a bit of deep, dark fruit sweetness. Smells nice, but there isn't enough depth, about average I'd say. The taste is really fascinating, especially without a drop of coffee in it. Starts out with a dark roasted barley taste, then comes in with a powerful chocolate flavor mixed with some light fruity tastes, like berries or dark chewy fruits, maybe tamarind. Then it finishes like a nice full, thick coffee taste and feel. Very smooth and rich, quite enough to enjoy in this beer. It wavers between thick and chewy and thin, and theres almost a slick feeling. The carbonation stings the roof of my mouth, but I'm still very interested. The drinkability is nice, the flavors hold my interest but the alcohol and carbonation slow me down. I would reccomend this if you can find it, but don't expect it to be world class.

 1,054 characters

Photo of JDV
3.5/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottles in trade from MSchae1017 and ROBORB. Thanks! Pours a dark brown to black color with a short lived light tan head. Smell is dark and sweet chocolate, but somewhat mild. Taste is dry, semi bland chocolate and not too much coffee, except for a bit in the aftertaste. Overally, I found this to be pretty mild in flavor and a bit unimpressive compared to expectations from the reviews. Still drinkable and smooth with no hint of the ABV, which was nice.

 456 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 release acquired from mikesgroove courtesy of the Little Guy 2 BIF, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a thin beige head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out very sweet with the combination of coffee and dark chocolate that the name “Black Mocha” would lead you to expect. Then a hearty roasted malt character and a lot of creaminess quickly follow. The hops presence is very mild as it should be with this type of beer. However the sweetness gets to the cloying-point leading to a bitter-sweet after-taste.

M: Smooth and pretty viscous, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is dry and sticky.

O: Flavorful, goes down ok, slightly filling, strong kick, good representation of style, I have heard that coffee-flavored beers don’t age well but I have had some that refute that theory, this beer is certainly not one of them as it seems, to my regret, that after 3+ years I’ve may have let this beer sit for too long. I believe that the intense mocha sweetness needed a fresher hops presence to achieve a better balance.

 1,283 characters

Photo of kkipple
3.58/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a few of these at the Highland release post Asheville Brewgrass when my head quit bumpin'. Cracked into one a while later with friends. From notes:

A. Black-brown, small tan head, lacy, fades fast. Appealing dense darkness.

S. Quite hoppy, oily and young. Sharp roast coffee and black patent malt kicks in next, followed by a nutty, sweet and burnt smell. A little too charred smelling for me, it's brash and judging by the nose could definitely use some time.

T. A sip confirms my expectations. There is a good beer here -- lots of molasses, sweet deep malts, a touch of milk sugar and a creamy density, but it's carried away by a large amount of green hop flavor and bitter blackened grain. A little metallic something or other isn't quite welcome. Needs more sweetness if the hops aren't going to settle down.

M. Thick and heavy, medium carbonation. Fine, not memorable.

This is a young brew, one that will almost certainly improve drastically in a year. I'm going to sit on mine and see. Props to Highland for not sitting still and doing something big.

 1,069 characters

Photo of younger35
3.64/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received this brew from mikesgroove in Black Booty '09. Have wanted to get a hold of this bad boy for quite some time and thank god Mike is generous! Drank from my Darkness snifter.

Appearance- Pours an ultra dark brownish black with a fairly small dark tan head after a fairly aggressive pour. No cap but nice thick collar remains leaving very little lacing.
Smell- Very milk chocolaty with an almost lactose like sweetness. Super roasty with more of that burnt cocoa and light coffee sweetness that I love. A bit of caramel and vanilla add another layer of delicious to the nose. It's not anything I haven't smelled before but it's damned good.
Taste- Starts very roasted and burnt with a sharp charcoal like bitterness. Bakers chocolate is abundant in this one as its raw and earthy and smoothly bitter. A bit of caramel (although not sweet) and a light vanilla creaminess is present. Not exactly coffee-ish but it has that sort of coffee bitterness that comes from overly roasted beans. As the beer warms it really opens up leaving a sort of dark molasses like sugariness on the tongue. Finishes with a long lingering roast and a bit of alcohol.
Mouthfeel- Medium body with a bit of slight creaminess and a super light prickly carbonation.
Drinkability- My only complaint about this brew is that it needs a bit more sweetness. Maybe a little more caramel malt or a sprinkle of lactose or something. Just something to cut the acidic bitterness of the malts. Other than that, pretty tasty! Thanks again Mike, you rock!

 1,521 characters

Photo of dolemite77
3.73/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with minimal brown head. Highland does great beer, and this one was a a good one off from their black mocha stout. Thick and sweet, with the flavors of their standard stout getting hidden in the high alcohol. I liked this beer, but at over $10/bomber, I think I would have been more pleased with a 6 pack of the standard mocha stout. Nonetheless, they have a great formula at Highland, and I would love to see them be even more popular in the beer world. Great folks at the brewery as well.

 506 characters

Photo of merlin48
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber pours dark, inky, and thick, with a small light brown head. Minimal patchy lacing.

Aroma has some dark fruits, toasted almonds, and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, with a velvety subtle carbonation.

Taste has dark and milk chocolate, a hint of roasted coffee, toasted almonds, and vague dark fruits. Alcohol is noticed, but is relatively well hidden considering the 9.5%. An astringent grainy bitterness appears midway and lasts into the finish, detracting from the otherwise impressive flavors.

Somewhat disappointed in this one, considering how much I like Highland's original, Black Mocha Stout. Still, this one is pretty decent for the style.

 672 characters

Photo of Onenote81
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

400th Review!

Pretty pumped to see a few bottles of this left on the shelf. Poured into my tulip glass. Pours a thick dirty oil-black with a thin tan head on top. Retention is weak, and there is no lacing present. Smells of dark fruits, hints of chocolate, and some mild roasted characters. This isn't as roasty as I thought it would be. Smells more sweet than anything.

The mouth is creamy and smooth. Carbonation level is moderate. Slight astringent bite on the finish, but nothing too harsh. The flavor is more fruity and creamy, like the scent. I was expecting big chocolate flavors, but am struggling to find much. Some bitter coffee finishes this one out. All in all, this wasn't what I was expecting and it wasn't as balanced as I had hoped either, but still a good beer. Glad I got the chance.

 804 characters

Photo of joshuaseresse
3.77/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 Vintage. Poured into my town hall snifter:

A - Pours a solid black. Light kahki head develops at first but dies very quickly into nothing but a slight foam ring around the edges. Lacing is almost non existent.

S - Nice chocolate, fudge like flavors, slightly cake like as well. Kind of a candy roast but not really the black mocha smell I was expecting. Coming from a non-coffee drinker I really don't mind this missing flavor. I really do enjoy the smell.

T - A real roast, chalky flavoring. The candy and chocolate fudge I smelled are not in the taste. This is where the mocha and coffee flavoring really show through. The flavor is actually kind of dull; it might be due to the aging or maybe it was already like this but it is OK.

M - The carbonation is on the lesser side. Again, the chalky, drying, bittering feeling is throughout. This is on the lighter side and not so thick, but there is a syrupy aspect to this beer too.

D - Its just an OK beer. The smell is just great, but the rest of the beer is just kind of good at best. I was really excited to try this since it was a 2008 vintage but I'm not getting too much out of this beer. I'd give it a 3.75 but I have to kind of down play this part.

 1,217 characters

Photo of Verecund
3.77/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 Highland Imperial Black Mocha Stout, received as an extra from mikesgroove. Opened on 01.14.2011; 6.6 oz poured into a snifter. The other 16 oz used to make ice cream.

Fittingly black, with a half-finger tan head that recedes to a contact about the glass. The body looks a little thinned out.

Surprisingly rich nose. There's some oxidized-imparted sherry, an earthy roastiness that's faded into the stale coffee grounds aroma. Bittersweet chocolate. I'm quite taken with this nose. It reminds me of a two-year old Expedition Stout: rich, sweet dark maltiness, molasses, some complementing oxidation, a small bit of dark fruit, and a former hop bitterness that transforms into a slightly astringent, herbally/tobacco note.

Taste is nice, but not as rich as the nose. Really old coffee grounds and bittersweet chocolate. Some roast on the front and herbal on the finish. Slightly hallowed out, I think, and past its prime.

Just under medium-bodied (slightly too thin), a nice dryness on the back of the palate.

Much better than I expected and impressive given that no flavoring adjuncts were added here. If you've got it, I'd open it sooner rather than later, but it's drinking nicely.

 1,194 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.78/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage 22 received in trade a while back from rustydiamond.. poured into my New Belgium snifter... thanks a bunch Rusty.

1" head doesn't stick around long at all.. not much lace.. the brew is black.

Nose is expected roasty aroma with a bunch of dried fruit and some subtle spicing that reminds me of cinnamon.

Flavor has quite a bit of char.. but not out of bounds... more coffee than chocolate.. with "some" bittersweet cocoa.. IMO... it could use a little bit more sweetness.. either malty or caramel to really help tie things together, it seems like it "could" be a great beer, but is still a little disjointed. Pretty good body and carbonation.

I honestly expected this one to be considerably better.. it's by no means bad.. just could stand to be dialed in a bit.

Thanks a bunch for another great trade Rusty... we should do it again sometime.

 859 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.78/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. Emerges pitch black with a large, tan mocha head. Quite foamy and rich and creamy.

Aroma was fruity with a touch of chocolate. Not much coffee in the aroma. Licorice and figs.

The flavor had more coffee indicative of the name of the beer. Coffee is really in the finish. Chocolate and dark fruits hit the tongue immediately. Very long coffee finish that is kind of like coffee ice cream in flavor. Slightly nutty.

Chewy and medium to full bodied. The alcohol is very well hidden and this one is quite drinkable. I would hope the coffee flavor and aroma are more significant while this one is fresh. My bottle is a bit old but still tastes great. I would guess it is a little sweeter with age.

 741 characters

Photo of NCSUdo
3.79/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

A: Deep black under a small tan head. No lace and no retention.

S: Very nice mix of roasted malt and sweet, dark fruit. A little more sweet than I expected. Coffee notes are subdued, some dark chocolate mixed in.

T: Roasted malt and chocolate. Not as sweet as the aroma, pretty good bitterness, hint of nuttiness. Chocolate and roasted malt blended nicely, but there is a little bit of unbalance here, some of the flavors just don't blend as well.

M/D: Full bodied, no hint of the booze, a bit slick, carbonation can be felt very lightly. Drinkability is fair. A good attempt at the style, but I think it's slightly off at points.

 647 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.8/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane for this one.

A: The pour is a very dark brown color with a fairly large off-white head.

S: Plenty of roasted malts and coffee on the nose. Some mild chocolate notes underneath, with a bit of a dark fruit character underneath.

T: A good bitterness is quite noticeable right away, as is the coffee and roast. There's a mild acidity, which I normally don't find appealing in a stout, but it isn't horrible here. Some bittersweet chocolate helps to provide some sort of balance and there is a mild coffee grounds note on the finish.

M: The body is medium with a fairly lively level of carbonation.

D: Another beer that hides the alcohol quite well, probably due to all the different flavors going on. A pretty nice beer, actually.

 749 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Highland Imperial Black Mocha Stout from Highland Brewing
4.04 out of 5 based on 134 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.