Black Oak Ten Bitter Years
Black Oak Brewing Co.

Black Oak Ten Bitter YearsBlack Oak Ten Bitter Years
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Style:
American Imperial IPA
Ranked #684
ABV:
8%
Score:
92
Ranked #3,390
Avg:
4.14 | pDev: 9.9%
Reviews:
80
Ratings:
198
From:
Black Oak Brewing Co.
 
Ontario, Canada
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  12
Gots
  26
SCORE
92
Outstanding
Black Oak Ten Bitter YearsBlack Oak Ten Bitter Years
Notes: To celebrate our 10th Year Anniversary in 2009, Ken wanted to put out a hoppy, bitter brew as a witty way to commemorate a decade of survival in the craft brewing industry. The result? Our 10 Bitter Years Imperial IPA. This strong brew pours a burnt orange colour and has a fresh, bright citrus and tropical fruit aroma. This beer is double dry hopped using three different varieties of North American hops leading to a full flavour of bitter pine and citrus. Although it packs a good hoppy punch, it finishes as smooth as possible for the style, with just enough alcohol warmth to enhance the flavour.
Reviews: 80 | Ratings: 198 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by SammyMacAttack:
Photo of SammyMacAttack
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of CantankerousCaveBear
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bomber purchased from LCBO- poured into Tulip glass

The appearance of the beer is amber, burnt orange or even saffron in colouration, depending upon the lighting. There are some streaks of red and gold. Head is a cream white, about 2 fingers worth. It is hazy and turbid upon pouring. Carbonation seems to be on the higher side of things.

The nose is quite lovely. Immediately hit with grapefruit, pineapple, resin, orange rind, pine, and delicate floral notes. I can detect a malt presence, a shot of caramel, and biscuit in the background. Upon warming, I can detect some further smells of intense peach and mango.

Taste is crisp, medium body, with a smooth and oily mouthfeel. Finish is long, bitter and dry. You can detect a certain pithy quality and earthiness in the finish. Really smooth, drinks like a regular IPA, alcohol is only present in a warming sensation, there is no astringency. Again, the juicy tastes of jaffa orange, mandarins, blood orange, grapefruit, peach and mango are all present. Powerful citrus and pine notes are underpinned by a toffee/caramel/honey malt backbone.

Delicious, and almost restrained in a way. A treat to have. One of the better examples of the style in this province. I like sweet and juicy DIPA/IIPAs and this fits the bill.

Edit: Having another bomber, the malt backbone is sweeter and tastier than I remember!

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Photo of pootz
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Decants a turbid orange-amber color with a frothy white cap. Decent lacing.

Aroma Is big on citrus and pine resins, some exotic fruit tones and a whaft of malt.

Mouthfeel is oily,

Flavor gives a big blast of hop mixture throughout the profile; piney resinous, leafy, citrus rind...very bitter but without a sharp delivery ...just enough malting to keep the bitterness from becoming overly astringent. Semi-dry finish alcohol shows...long lingering metallic bitterness.

Sure is a hop bomb but if it were a tad better balanced it would be a great DIPA.

UPDATE: On tap Second batch: Taps a clouded gold-amber with a billowy puffy 3 finger cap which rides out the drink. Massive aroma of citrus, passion fruit rich toffee lalts. Tastes about how it smells with a long drying finish with fruity esters and citrus-pine hops battling it out on the palate. Best West coast styled DIPA I've sampled in this market. Bottled version doesn'r do it justice

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Photo of canucklehead
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Meisterburger for this one:

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. This is on the darker side for a DIPA. Nose has a heap of hops coming off it ( especially for an Ontario beer). Beer is smooth and well rounded with notes of vanilla showing up with the hops. Would never know that this is a 8% beer as it drinks very well. Not as hoppy as some West coast DIPAs ( even double Hophead is bigger in the hop department ) but still a fantastic beer that ranks among the best I have had from Ontario

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Viggo via CanBIF6. From a 341 ml brown bottle, says "Ken's Bitter" on the back of the label. Pours out a bright clear copper hue, tall frothy off-white head that eventually settles to a thin creamy cap with a thick frothy ring.

Mostly citrus hops on the nose, leaning more towards bright tangerine and mandarin, some pine, spicy, some dry earth, some alcohol warmth.

No real discernable malt in the flavour, all hops. Citrus rind, earthy, spicy notes, more pine and herbal on the finish, some warmth in the aftertaste with lingering dandelion greens. Dry, bready malt comes out in the middle as it reaches room temperature.

Medium-full mouthfeel, assertive carbonation, quenching.

One-dimensional leaning towards the hops, however the hops have a variety of character to keep things interesting. If you're looking for bitter then this one delivers with several facets, with a good quenching mouthfeel. Yet in the end it didn't leave me craving more.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a dark amber color ale with a medium size foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of citrus and piney hops is quite dominant with some light spicy notes (some rye malt maybe). Taste is also dominated by powerful citrus and piney notes with some bitterness with light spicy notes and a dry malt backbone. Body is average for style with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed and very enjoyable. Glad they kept making this anniversary beer.

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Photo of TerryW
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on-tap at Rhino's. This beer is the rage, and a rare DIPA in the Ontario market, worth the try. Pours cloudy grapefruit with sitting pretty white crowning head, and a sheet of lace. Hop aromas. The taste is big bitter, with malting to tame it somewhat. A DIPA all the way, and alcohol is well hidden. Full mouthfeel.

Had on cask at Volo's, and the aroma came through a little stronger, the drinkability better, however the appearance and mouthfeel were not the same. Just as good, overall, on cask, which is saying a lot.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brass color with a patchy rather shortlived head that manages to muster up a lot of lace. Citrus and pine sap mix with lightly roasted malts in the nose. The taste is assertively hoppy with a pithy, resinous PacNW profile like the nose. Light vanilla, oaky notes mix with the doughy, caramelly malts in the back. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a light to moderate carbonation level. The finish is moderately bitter with a balancing maltiness, The ABV is well hidden throughout.

I pretty decent DIPA, but perhaps a bit anemic in the bitterness and hop aroma departments. Still very complex and drinkable.

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Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at Volo.

Pours a hazy orange/amber, thick off white head forms, drops to a solid layer on the glass, good lacing, looks nice.

Smell is neat, big grapefruity hoppiness, some pine and floral, caramel sweetness, a bit spicy, alcohol comes through but is well hidden, more grapefruit, a bit yeasty, some toasty bite to it.

Taste is nice too, brown sugar and caramel, a bit sweet, nice grapefruit, yeasty, toast, earthy, pine, big herbal bitterness, alcohol, but still well balanced, yeastiness is throwing me off though.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, goes down too easy for 8%. I've heard this is better on tap, so I'll have to check that out. It was a little muddled on cask. Still a great accomplishment for a brewer here to make a beer this in your face.

*Had this on tap a bit later and it was quite nice. Very clean compared to the cask version. Pretty drinkable stuff as well, its like an 8% session beer!

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Photo of Derek
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sort of a strong ale or between a DIPA and an IPA and a half, so it's a little hard to rank to 'style'.

On cask this was phenomenal, but I didn't take notes. :(

A: Copperish-bronze with an off-white head, some retention, good lacing.

S: Apricot, sponge toffee, fruity ale esters, marmalade & hints of pine & resiny hops.

T: Sponge toffee, piny hops, grapefruit rind, nice fruityness, slightly resiny, plenty of bitterness, alcohol is subtle.

M: Moderate body has a very dry, crisp finish.

D: A good drinker for its weight.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.57/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear amber with a light cover of foam.

S - Soft, floral and fruity aroma. Hints of citrus and grapefruit in the back.

T - Bitter for sure. Light sugary sweetness, apples, raisins and pine.

M - Slightly astringent and lightish in body. Sharp carbonation.

D - Not bad. A different balance on the DIPA. Could definitely use some smoothening out.

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Photo of grub
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

sampled on cask at volo nov 29/09.

pours hazy orangey amber with a small off-white head. the head drops fairly fast but leaves lots of spotty lace behind.

aroma is good. big juicy citrus - tangerine, mandarin orange, bit of blood orange, bit of grapefruit. light alcohol. white bread and cracker. touch of toasty and woody character.

taste is great. again the big juicy citrus hits - mandarin orange, tangerine, blood orange, light grapefruit. bit of pine. just over medium bitterness level with a nice lingering but pleasant finish. slightly toasted white bread. bit of cracker and biscuit. touch of caramel. bit of tropical fruit in the background too - pineapple and mango mostly.

mouthfeel is great. just over medium body. silky smooth medium-low carbonation level. semi-dry finish.

drinkability is great. 8%? drinks more like 4 or 5%. great balance. nice malt presence. excellent hop character and depth. although the brewery refuses to classify this in any particular style, i'd probably call it an american imperial ipa - ontario's first commercial iipa too! i wish this was a regular offering!

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Photo of biegaman
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at C'est What?, in Toronto.

For a ten year anniversary you're suppose to give tin or aluminum, but from the looks of 'Ten Bitter Years', Black Oak went with copper; the contents of the pint glass resemble brand-new electrical wiring or a mint penny. This lustrous brass is capped by a filmy lather that carves into the glass scratch marks like you'd see on a prison wall.

True IPAs have aromas that speak for themselves; just one sniff of it and you know that this beer doesn't care to be your friend. It is loud and bright and obnoxious and it is plenty-full of dank, rotting citrus and resiny pine. This is a pungency so probing it could shiver the walls. I wonder: Did Black Oak find a liquidation sale on hops?

And it really starts picking up speed in the taste where all those hoppy flavours of grapefruit, orange, lemon, guava, pine and spruce clash into this toasty, hard toffee-like taste of gooey malts in a battle that belongs in the movie '300'. As good as that aroma is, the flavour is truly the eye of the storm. Although it's still a little more malty than many American IPAs it's no worse off for it and still tastes like a many good number of them.

It wouldn't be enough to just brew a beer that smelled gluttonously hoppy; if this brewer wanted to make a mean, obnoxious American-style IPA he'd have to make the bitterness so razor sharp that it cut and scraped like bits of broken glass passing down the throat. Mission accomplished. This potion of semi-cloaked alcohol and pithy resins drinks like a poison hemlock that twists your larynx, trachea, stomach and liver inside out. Perfect.

I'm not the first to say it but I'll say it anyways: nice! For too long there has been a hole in the Ontario (and Canadian, for that matter) brewing scene where gluttonously hopped IPAs are supposed to go. Although this wasn't conceived expressly as such, we can consider it that so as to have a stick to beat it with. And as such, it matches up pretty well against its American counterparts - now if only the brewery would keep making it!

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Photo of cratez
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Multiple bottle samples at the Black Oak Beer Dinner at Chancey Smith's in London, ON. Ken and Adrian were kind enough to bring this beast down three weeks ahead of the official second release. Thanks guys!

Pours a hazy amber orange with one finger of cream white head and speckles of webbed lacing all over the shaker.

Smell is a strong bouquet of flowery hops, pine needles, citrus, and herbal aromas.

Taste is red grapefruit, mandarin oranges, lemon, toasted wheat cracker (a little buttery), sweet caramel malt, slight woodiness, and alcohol. Finishes with a bright, fruity, and citric hop bitterness that sticks to the palate for quite some time.

Full mouthfeel is juicy and acidic with a bold and spicy hop bite and mild dryness to end. A beautiful DIPA, and no doubt one of the best beers brewed in Ontario.

EDIT: this is even better on tap, with mango, tangelo, and pineapple on the nose and palate. Truly excellent stuff.

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Photo of bcrossan
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of mintjellie
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Orange toned copper in colour; capped by off-white foam that, here and there, clings to the walls of my glass in small patches. Ten Bitter Years smells citric and tropical, also showing notes of bread and cedar. It's a laser guided tangerine bomb aimed straight for my taste buds, leaving behind an aftermath of citrus pith, pine, and lingeringly embittered taste buds. Mildly sweet. Medium bodied and smoothly carbonated. Feels oily, resinous, and a little bit sticky. Sadly staring at my empty glass, I wish I had more of this extremely moreish drink. It's a damned shame this is a one off.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650 mL bottle picked up at the LCBO; served slightly chilled and poured into a tulip.

Pours a hazy orange-amber colour, topped with one finger of dense, creamy off-white coloured head. It recedes fairly rapidly over the next minute or two, settling into a generous collar and thin cap, but not before depositing a generous ring of lacing. I am loving the aroma on this one - lots of grapefruit citrus and pine, with additional notes of apricot, mango and lemon. Toffee or butterscotch is also detectable, but the hops steal the show here (and I'm completely ok with that).

Very tasty stuff, and fairly well-balanced for a DIPA. The malt backbone provides some toffee sweetness, but hopheads need not worry because the focus here is definitely the complex hop profile. Fruit dominates right off the bat, mostly of the tropical persuasion - pink grapefruit pith, mandarin orange, mango, apricot and even a hint of strawberry. It becomes increasingly bitter toward the finish, with earthy notes that intensify into a pine resin flavour. Lingering, bitter aftertaste with pithy undertones - almost as if it's begging me to take another sip, or at least have a snack on hand to help scrub the palate. On the heftier side of medium-bodied, with a slick, juicy feel in the mouth and mild carbonation levels. Very smooth-drinking; the 8% abv is not really detectable, easily lost in the wonderful astringency of the finish.

Ten Bitter Years is an awesome Imperial IPA that Black Oak should be exceedingly proud of. It is packed with bold citrus and tropical fruit flavour that will delight hardcore hopheads, yet it remains surprisingly balanced and drinkable for a brew of such significant intensity. Absolutely worth a try, and something that I hope becomes a year-round offering some day.

[Updated Nov 24 2017]

Now in tallboy cans; this one is dated Nov 3 2017, making it about three weeks old (and so a fine candidate for a review update). I served this one at room temperature, and enjoyed it immensely. This beer came out at a time when top quality, Ontario-made DIPAs were far more difficult to find than they are in 2017, and positively blew me away. While at least a few members of the competition have now caught up (with their own takes on this style), the truth is that not very many have managed to surpass Black Oak's. 10 Bitter Years is still a hophead's delight, and IMO remains one of the best beers in their portfolio.

Final Grade: 4.35, an A grade.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Jason for picking these up from the brewery, and big thanks to Eric for schlepping them down to Dark Lord Day. Served in my Kuhnhenn tulip. This can't be more than a few weeks old.

A - Pours with two fingers of creamy off-white foam that leaves behind glass-coating lace as it recedes to a thick cap. Transparent dark copper-gold color.

S - Pine, citrus rind, light tropical fruits. Definitely hop-forward, with a slightly spicy and bready backbone. There's a bit of catty pungency too.

T - The taste is a bit disappointing compared to the smell. The malt character is more sugary than spicy, and the hop character is one of bitter grapefruit, pine, and only light sweetness. Aftertaste gets pretty intense bitterness-wise after half a bottle. This is probably a 3.75 but I'm going to invoke "homer" bias here.

M - Carbonation is a little higher than I like, but not harsh. Medium body that is sufficient for 8%. Finish is more sticky than dry. Not what I prefer in a DIPA, but still solid.

D - At 8% this is on the lower end of the ABV spectrum of DIPAs. However, the aggressive bitterness and so-so feel keep it from being super session worthy. It also has the misfortune of being consumed a few days after the incredible Kern River offering.

All that being said, this is the best beer of this style that I've had from Ontario. Kudos to Black Oak for brewing an East Coast American-style DIPA that I wouldn't be embarrassed to serve to my American friends. Look for this on the Canada Top 25 any day now.

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Photo of papat444
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

***1st batch***

Thanks to grub for this one. Paired with my supper, turkey sandwich with potato salad.

Appearance: Pours an amber body, very hazy especially with the sediment. Head takes awhile to form but settles at a strong 2 fingers.

Smell: Very resiny with a good dose of hops and either mango or grapefruit.

Taste: Starts out with lots of fruit, peach and grapefruit then gets a little sweet in the middle with something akin to caramel but not quite and ends with a nice bitter edge. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Never overpowering and a great balance.

Drinkability: Easy to drink for a DIPA. Not a sipper that's for sure.

Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this beer despite its age. Lots of rich flavor to go around and never a chore. Though the hops are on the decline, this is still a great brew. Worth grabbing a few for sure.

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Photo of Reinheitsgebot71
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had the chance to sample this one on tap at rhino while waiting for my girlfriend to return from a meeting.

What came to my table was a beautiful clear dark amber beer with a very nice thick off white head to crown it.

The aroma was simply wonderful. A powerful fruity, floral hoppiness greets the nose. Aromas of blond raisins and peaches drizzled with fine honey mingle3 beautifully with a hint of malt toastiness and hope resin character.

A fine bitterness first hits the palate followed by caramel coated peaches and other fruits playing around in the mouth. Rich honey malt sweetness with a sense of infused spices perfectly plays between resinous hop flavours. The bitter sweet ballet works wonders on the tongue all backed up by a wonderful viscous full body which is marvelously smooth.

Well I think my girlfriend put it best when she sipped the beer and I quote "holy shit that really is 10 bitter years" as she scoffed, She's not much of a hop head. An excellently balanced beer with a wondrous bitter taste and aroma, a pity this is only a one off as its one of the best I've had from an Ontario brewer.

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Photo of Electros
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of wizo
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of irishkyle21
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of biboergosum
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

650ml bottle - wow, I've tried to acquire this perennial Canadian Top Beer list denizen for a while now, only to have it plunk onto the shelves of my local bottleshop, of course. Not that I'm complaining.

This beer pours a clear, bright medium copper amber colour, with two pudgy fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and mildly bubbly ecru head, which leaves some low-lying fog bank lace around the glass as it lazily recedes.

It smells of edgy and somewhat metallic pine and spruce tip bitters, acrid citrus pith, gritty and grainy caramel malt, some dried-out honey, and more leafy, floral, and pugnaciously herbal hoppiness. The taste is grainy, lightly doughy caramel malt, a further faint biscuity toffee sweetness, some chalky flintiness, muddled fleshy citrus, and a rather heady leafy, herbal, grassy, and floral green hop bitterness.

The carbonation is fairly restrained in its come-hither frothiness, the body a decent middleweight, and generally smooth, the various hoppy esters stepping outside for a smoke, or something. It finishes off-dry, the base caramel malt holding tight, while the piney, citrusy, and herbal hops start to consider why that 16-proof booze hasn't quite shown up yet (or maybe that's just me).

Overall, a pleasant, and mildly challenging DIPA, the hop schedule leaning more towards the green forest floor, rather than the fruity side of the spectrum. I am happy to report that this is one of those quasi-whales that certainly lives up to the expectations built up around it, for better or for worse.

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Black Oak Ten Bitter Years from Black Oak Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 198 ratings