Highland Imperial Black Mocha Stout | Highland Brewing

very good
134 Ratings
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
Reviews: 111 | Ratings: 134
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours thickish black, with some white head. Thick head, roast and coffee aroma. Full mouthfeel, I am not a great fan of super coffee beers, but it is a very good job for what it is. If you are, this one is a must for you. Coffee acidicity bothered my tummy.

 257 characters

Photo of rapidsequence
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 bottle says limited edition 2008.

Appearance: Dark black with very slight dark red hues showing through my oversized wine glass when held up to light. Theres some light head when you pour hard, it fades fast, and leaves a little head. It looks really nice, graded down only because when something is called imperial black mocha, I expect total opacity.

Smell: Sweet chocolate and coffee. Roasty malts. It smells nice, but you kind of have to work for it-- it doesnt drift out of the glass. Requires a little concentration.

Taste: I really like it. Nice and roasty. Bittersweet chocolate and coffee. Its really sweet and delicious in the middle and finishes a little bitter. Its really impressively chocolatey for something with no added flavorings.

Mouthfeel: It feels very full and meaty. The fullness is in part from the carbonation, not so much the thick almost syrupiness you sometimes get. The carbonation makes it finish a little too dry, but I do like a syrupy, long finishing stout.

Drinkability: Love this, will have it again. Probably better to share next time due to ABV. It does not get old going through the bottle though. Its almost gone, and I wish there was more.

 1,188 characters

Photo of mntlover
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with deep ruby hues when held to the light, thumb sized coco head falls slowly. Just some spotty lace left behindd.

Aroma is good roasted malts, chocolate, coffee notes dark fruits and hints of smoke or peat with hops underneath it all.

Taste is nice smooth full roasted malts sweet and delicious. Nice coffee notes on lots of chocolate, fruit notes. Finish is lingering smokiness, coffee lingering sweetness along with hops.

Mouthfeel is good velvety smooth, full bodied brew nicely done.

Drinkability is good enjoyable worth having again, not quite up to par with the best but very tasty none the less.

 620 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 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 GatorBeerNerd
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle purchased at Bruisin Ales in Asheville. Poured into a 1/2 liter sized imperial pint style glass.

A: Pours an extremely dark brown. It is so dark that I do not see any sort of highlights. The head was nice and large at pour and was a really nice cocoa color. The head did settle relatively fast, but not like you tend to see for other examples in the style with this ABV.

S: It has a nice and complex aroma even if its not an extremely powerful aroma. Coffee, chocolate, and roasted malts all mix together to make a nice smell.

T: Quite a punch of roasted malts that are charred enough that it is more bitter than sweet. Chocolate and coffee come out to play just like in the nose. What tastes like citric hops and a bit more bitterness to the finish, however the sum of the parts leaves the mouth with a slight sweetness.

M: It is creamy and smooth as you want from the style. However, it is a bit thin for an Imperial Stout.

D: The nice balance of sweet and bitter and the smooth mouthfeel make this one go down easy.

 1,036 characters

Photo of jdubjacket
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked a bottle of this up at Green's on Ponce. Pours an opaque black with a chocolate head. Decent amount of lacing. Smell is slightly hoppy with chocolate and cocoa prevalent. Tastes like warm, liquid dessert. Chocolate, cocoa, roasted malts... Silky smooth mouthfeel. One of the better beers I've had lately.

 311 characters

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

Bottle courtesy of turtlemoye, thanks again!

Pours a thick and dark black color with a faint tan head.

Aromas are nice. Dark bakers bittersweet chocolate, deep dark roasted malts, grains, and light coffee.

Taste is quite chocolate like. Mostly dark cocoa, bittersweet, with some creamy brewed coffee. Beer settles into a general grainy taste, mostly of very heavily roasted malts, a little bit smokey, with an earthy hop flavor on the finish.

Mouthfeel is nice. Full, thick, but not overly heavy.

Drinkability is very good. This is a nice tasty stout, with good flavors, yet not to strong or heavy. It's quite a pleasant and easy beer to sip.

 647 characters

Photo of blackie
4.32/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: piraat snifter, pitch black beer with only a ring and small island of carbonation on the surface

s: charred roast precedes a meaty body of smoky fruits, dark sugars, and bitter chocolate, adequately rich with a full range of roasted aromas and dark fruits to provide support, various complexities include plum paste and molasses, appropriate level of booze, smells great

m: full body with a level of carbonation that rides the low-medium divide, not quite chewy

t: deep roasted barley and bittersweet chocolate carried on a body of dark, leathery fruits; notes of meaty smoke and deeply caramelized sugars, a long-lingering finish of burnt bittersweet chocolate and palate-coating dark fruit sugars, a whole lot going on here, highly satisfying

d: the last couple scores are a bit confusing - the label makes it clear that this is NOT a "coffee" stout; what I do find is a super-solid imperial stout that's a slow sipper, but a tasty one

cellared around nine months, picked up at Sam's in Durham, NC

 1,007 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 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 wescj
4.57/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

220z bomb er poured into a snifter.

I'm not going to flex my verbage muscle: the color is black. With imperial stouts, I think I've exhausted all the ways to poetically describe the most true form of that color, so from here on out I will only use that description which most accurately fits the beer: black. Half inch of chocolate nougat head, reducies to wispy swirls on top of the above-described blackness.

Smells good and assertive. Coffee, chocolate, (dare I say mocha?), a touch of booze. One could say it massages, seduces, and satisfies the nose in proper form.

This beer is one of the best of its style. All the necessary flavors are present and amplified: The expected chocolate notes become intense dark chocolate, the coffee boarders on espresso, etc. Very good.

Very silky mouthfeel, but with that nice edge you find in RISs only in the bottle.


 874 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up this bomber today at Green's and decided to use a tulip glass for the sampling. The pour looked good with a deep dark brown color, and opaque body. The head was well proportioned at two finger thick and looked a shade lighter than khaki. The aroma was full of coffee, toffee, and chocolate and was true to the mocha portion of the name. The taste was full of roasted grain goodness with a cracker like dry mouthfeel. The flavors were not full on like most imperial stouts, but were pleasantly meaty. The beer lacked much sweetness, and the hops and burnt grain made for quite a bitter finish. Quite substantial in body and therefore very satisfying. I don't think this will be much of an aging beer, but I might try it if I get around to picking up some more.

 769 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 oberon
3.86/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I really like the standard black mocha stout...probably even a little more than this,but this is pretty good.Poured into my Guinness pint glass a jet black with a creamy light mocha colored head that settles into cappuchino-like froth.Aromas are not strong in my mind but are nice,dark fruit,roasted nuts,and bitter chocolate mainly.A drier impy stout flavor wise,big earthy tones with unsweetened chocolate,some dark fruit and sweetish alcohol comes thru in the finish.The alcohol creeps after it gets closer to room temp,a big dryer impy stout,something different.

 566 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a thick-looking, black body with a frothed, tan-hued head.

Smell: Aroma of rich, concentrated chocolate and coffee scents with lessened supporting notes of blackstrap molasses, roasted nuts, caramel ice cream topping, and dark fruits.

Taste: Roasted malts with plenty of dark chocolate sauce, dark caramel, molasses, Madagascar vanilla beans, and coffee extract tossed with a fair amount of lip-smacking residual sweetness. Slight charred plumskin fruitiness. Handful of burnt nuts. Roasty, earthy bitterness hits midway through. Bite through some rather chewy toasted malts. Very tiny peak of alcohol warmth. Finishes exceedingly smooth and with a long, lingering roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium carbonation. Thick, oily mouthfeel.

Drinkability: A top-notch Imperial Stout that's somewhat underrated, if you ask me. How anyone can not find enjoyment in that is entirely beyond me. Fun to sip and savor or chug greedily, it's up to you.

 969 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At the time that I first tried Highland's Black Mocha Stout, I swore that it was the best stout that I had up to that point. Now what our little boy has grown up, I'm chomping at the bit to dive into this beer.

The beer opens with a hearty, froathy, and viscous pour. A creamy foamstand forms on the beverage and offers a lot of lacing and retention. A very inviting look.

Strong aromas of roasted grains set the tone. The beer offers softer esters of berries, cherries, and dried fruits (think fruitcake). Hop aromas are very light along with the phenols. Coffee notes are also suppressed while the chocolatey flavors gain dominance.

The taste of the beer shows sweet malts with hints of caramel, marshmellows, and heavy toasted grains. Again, a berry-like tartness comes in at mid-palate and continues through the session. Well aged flavors of sherry, melanoidins and soy sauce offers some complexity, but also some distrations. Lightly metalic late. Otherwise, very tasty and malty.

The body is very creamy, rich, and mouth-coating at first, but once the alcohol warmth kicks in, the beer reduces to a well-drinkable viscocity. Hop bitterness compliments the bitterness of the roasted grains and cocoa very well. Caramel sweetness fades into malty richness.

The beer succeeds in its imperial versions, but not without some drawbacks. The oxidized, aged flavors hurt as much as they help. Otherwise the added malts, gravities, and proportions translate into a big beer very, very well.

Thanks Steve for sharing the bomber and for the cigar pairing. What a way to spend an early, warm Thursday afternoon.

 1,611 characters

Photo of StarlightSeraph
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Brought back a few bottles of this after touring the Highland brewery. Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Dark brown, with two fingers of frothy tan head. The head lingered for a surprisingly long time, considering the 9.5% ABV, and eventually subsided into a thin layer. Blankets of lacing.

Smell: Sweet chocolate and a dark fruit sweetness. A little bit of an alcohol astringency seeps through, but not much. Overall, fairly mild smelling.

Taste: Strong coffee and roasted malts, which fades into a smooth, sweet finish. Hints of chocolate are in the background. A slight warming sensation during the swallow is the only hint of the alcohol - it is hidden very well. A little bit of the roasted bitterness lingers into the aftertaste. The taste is a bit deceiving compared to the smell, as there's a strong coffee/roasted flavor, and very little of a fruit sweetness that I smelled. Some of the sweetness comes out as the beer warms

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick, but carbonation is a little too high, almost soda-like, which takes away from the creaminess.

Drinkability: This is an awesome Imperial Stout, and one I could drink all the time if it were more widely available. Very drinkable for an Imperial Stout. The carbonation prevents you from drinking it too quickly...but this is the kind of beer meant to be sipped, anyway.

 1,359 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Limited Edition 2008. Creamless coffee black with nearly nonexistent accents of cherry and orange (despite bright backlighting). The cappuccino colored cap looks good enough and is beginning to lay down a decent amount of lace. This is a solid looking double stout.

The nose is more than solid. IBMS is redolent of roasted barley and all the good things that entails. Bittersweet chocolate leads the way, followed by coffee, dark fruit and molasses. Although the citric quality of the hops are appreciated, it doesn't smell like this will be an especially hoppy stout... just a damn good one.

Since the standard Black Mocha Stout is so delicious, is it any wonder that *Imperial* Black Mocha Stout is as well? More of a good thing is an even better thing. Or, in this case, an equally good thing. Actually, I think this beer is better, but there's no way it deserves the ultimate taste score.

The brewery makes a point of saying that 'no flavorings have been added to this product'. That's probably because the word Mocha and the intense coffee flavor of the roasted malt might have suggested otherwise. It isn't as intense as in most coffee stouts, but coffee is the dominant flavor by far. Dark chocolate is still appreciated, as are raisins and plums swimming in blackstrap molasses.

Whether from hops or from charred black malt, there's quite a bit of bitterness present. The result is a beer that starts each mouthful with a surge of sweetness, is beautifully balanced in the backstretch, and wraps things up with a tight, focused finish. If it tastes like this at 6 months of age, it must have been a hoppy humdinger when fresh.

Even though the mouthfeel firms up with warming, it still falls just short of where it should be for a 9.5% double stout. The fact that it's nice and smooth with well-calibrated bubbles makes drinking quickly a summer breeze. I need to respect the ABV and slow down, but it's proving to be difficult.

Imperial Black Mocha Stout is yet more evidence that Highland Brewing produces nothing but good-to-outstanding beer. Let's hope they decide to release Limited Edition 2009... Limited Edition 2010... ad infinitum. Thanks to cvstrickland for sending me this beauty.

 2,205 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 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 athensbeermaster
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew starts off with a big dense tan head. Looked like a rootbeer float. The smell had rich mocha coffee aroma. The taste of dark plums and mollases that quickly fades into a rich coffee flavor that ends on a dry dusty mocha finish.
The mouthfeel was very smooth for the high alcohol content. The drinkabilty is ranked high for good reason. Rich,complex with great balance between the hops and the big malt profile.

 420 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle obtained in trade with unclejedi. Thanks for the opportunity.

Formed a 1/4" dark brown head over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Head quickly fades to anuneven layer of bubbles, with slow-falling lace. Aroma is deeply of roasty dark malts. Taste follows the nose, with deep sweetness throughout, and ample alcohol warmth on the close. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, and drinkability is dangerous for the style. Excellent offering.

 443 characters

Photo of beer2day
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick and black with thin tan head.

Nose comes off a little on the sweet side. Some anise and alcohol are present, but chocolate dominates.

Sweet hit on the tongue, swiftly cascading to coffee, chocolate, and bitters. Not quite enough malt to thicken the taste, but that's not a strong complaint. Just saying this one's not that thick.

The mocha is a nice twist on the chocolate coffee stout. A little sweeter, I think.

 431 characters

Photo of farrago
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown head, starts off two plus fingers yet recedes swiftly enough to a thin layering of mixed bubble sizes popping all over, scattershot lacing. Onyx black color, defies you to find any other hue anywhere in there, a solid block of black. The nose is like walking into a Starbucks, all roasted coffee, high-toned milk and dark chocolate, warmed caramel, sticky and a mix of sweet and burnt, deepens into plum/prune, date and black cherry fruit, scone to biscuit sort of dense breadiness to it, given the force with which it busts into the nostrils has credible lift and subsequent scent separation. Full-bodied, here one might even say that the sweetness of the plum, prune, raisin, date, blackberry, black cherry fruit trumps the malty coffee, dark chocolate, molasses accents, the latter has a certain bitter astringency through the mid-palate in its corner. Through the density comes a noticeable florality as well as a spoonful of orange juice. Nut oil more present than crisper nutty flavors, soaks in before crunching. Carbonation might seem weak but at least it doesn't try to interfere with well intentions. Not confused about what it wants to achieve.

 1,166 characters

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

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