Sunday, August 5, 2012

Black Ops 2009. How You Have Changed

So what does it take to get me out of a little blogging slumber?  One might think a great bottle share event held by Philly Beer Scene and Philly Tap Finder a few weekends ago might unleash my inner beer spirit.  The event offered up some  impressive beverages provided by a stellar group of beer aficionados from the area. Even though imbibing a mind blowing variety of beers did awaken my Beerwise spirit, my blogosphere remained silent. However last week's rumbling weather sent me into the basement for something equally dark and devious.  Brooklyn Black Ops (2009) seemed the perfect fit for a blustery night and it was all that was needed to break the blogging drought

Brooklyn Brewery was one of the first breweries to catch my attention eons ago when I got into craft beer. Black Ops was the first of the big barrel aged bourbon beers to find it's way into my cellar. Back in 09 when I bought the bottle I bitched a bit about the cost (here). At that time there were very few beers I'd willingly lay down over $20.00 for in order to purchase a single bottle. Now that's laughable.
Garrett Oliver & Mr. Iambeerwise
Philly Beer Week 2008 London Grill
(Brooklyn Brewery commercial description)                                                                   Barrel-aged in Woodford Reserve bottles. Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist. However, if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery. Supposedly, "Black Ops" was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oak notes. They say there are only 1000 cases. We have no idea what they’re talking about.

Black Ops has always been a good beer. Big dark chocolate, espresso, raisin and oak flavors with a hint of vanilla.  When fresh the bourbon flavors were never huge and the beer did come off boozy.  Age has knocked back the booze factor and made the raisin, espresso and bourbon blend more enjoyable. The key to enjoying this is to have it at room temperature. There is a HUGE difference. When cold the flavors are very muted. Once the chill fades the true flavors come alive.

So was it worth the hefty price tag back in 2009? Hmmm, almost. As good as it is I could never put it up there with some of the barrel aged heavyweights such as Parabola or KBS. There just isn't enough bourbon or that richness you would expect from an aged imperial stout. I haven't had the most recent version so I'm not sure how it compares. However if you're lucky enough to have an older bottle, no fear, open it and enjoy. Though it might not be the most impressive BA Bourbon Stout it is one that has improved with age.

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