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Royal Black | Elk Head Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Elk Head Brewing Company
Washington, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by RedDiamond on 07-25-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 1 |  Reviews: 1
Reviews by RedDiamond:
Photo of RedDiamond
4.76/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the tenth and final Elk Head beer I would try during multiple sessions over several months, and all nine previous efforts were disappointments. Some were severe disappointments. Serious sanitation issues were revealed as a widespread trend corrupting Elk Head’s beer menu and causing me to pretty much give up on them as a brewery.

So I wasn’t expecting much from this experimental big beer brewed with coffee and honey and aged with vanilla bean and oak chips. No, let me correct that. I did have expectations about this beer prior to drinking it. I expected it to be awful. Disastrous. A colossal flop. Imagine my surprise then when my first sip of Royal Black resulted in an involuntary utterance of “whoa!” That’s “whoa!” in the sense of intrigue, fascination, and enjoyment. This is a remarkable beer. It is a monumental achievement in brewing.

Though Royal Black defies every established category known to the brewing world, “oak–aged imperial coffee stout” is probably as accurate a moniker as we can expect for now. But the flavor is far more complex than this tag would imply. The vanilla and oak elements achieve a refined, copacetic integration enhanced – but not defined -– by notes of honey. Coffee flavor projects the least emphasis of all listed ingredients, while hints of chocolate, chicory, woodsmoke, and crushed almond meander and coalesce at will. Vanilla then returns in a delayed burst. It’s like an uber-porter that’s been psychedelicized.

True to its word, the beer is black. The nose is strong and engaging and slightly syrupy with a strong nod to the vanilla bean. The mouthfeel is rotund and serene. The sensation of alcohol works well to fix the other elements in place. And if a few stray solvent-like notes attempt to intrude, they arrive as masked guests at your party. Perhaps they weren’t invited, but they sure know how to dance.

Royal Black scores high for originality and would make a superb dessert beer. It is an elixir of astonishing complexity – like something served in goblets at a pagan equinox ritual. Though I was surprised to unearth this one gem among the fallen beers of Elk Head’s distressed roster, after enjoying a half growler of this rare beer, I was thankful for having made the effort.

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Royal Black from Elk Head Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.76 out of 5 with 1 ratings
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