Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

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Black Chocolate Stout is the winter seasonal from the Brooklyn Brewery, and that's the perfect season for this rich, warming brew. An imperial stout by style, it's a sustaining, restorative brew of substantial character and flavor. Imperial stouts were brewed in England and shipped to the Imperial Russian Court in the nineteenth century, hence the name. To survive the shipping time, they had much more malt, hops, and alcohol than conventional stouts.

Brooklyn's version is brewed from two and a half mashes and has an alcohol content of 8.5% by volume. Only a limited amount is produced, one batch per year. Despite the name, there is no chocolate in this beer. Six different types of dark malts are used to make the brew, various black, chocolate, and roasted malts. Malt can be roasted to different degrees to impart flavors of chocolate and coffee to a brew, hence the name of this beer.

Here's what I wrote about the 1999-2000 batch:

Brooklyn Black chocolate is actually a tad lighter than most imperial stouts, and doesn't have the heavy licorice notes found in many imperials, though there is a touch. It is however an extremely rich beer with a thick, silky mouthfeel. Jet black in color, it forms a light tan head on the pour and a big chocolatey nose. The palate is full of notes of powdered cocoa and creamy, dark, bittersweet chocolate. The finish has some roasty bitterness in the finish but there is no big hop bitterness here. There's a warming alcohol sensation on the tongue too.

This beer begs to be served with a rich chocolate dessert, a box of chocolates, or even a Hershey bar. It would be an excellent ingredient in a dark chocolate cake as well.

The 2000-2001 tasted as follows:

Brooklyn Black Chocolate forms a huge tower of tan foam with a rich chocolate nose and a powerful licorice suggestions in the palate. The brew has a rich oily mouthfeel, lots of cocoa notes, some licorice but not as much as the nose promises, and warming alcohol in the finish.

UPDATE for 2001-2002:

The latest batch of this perennial winter favorite has been released, and it lives up to the expectations set by prior years versions. The beer pours to a jet-black color with a thick creamy tan head and a big licorice nose. The mouthfeel is thick and silky, luxuriant, chocolatey, full of roasty espresso notes and lots of licorice notes, much more than in years past. Warming alcohol in the finish but not much hop bitterness as in years past. One of the season's best beers, as per usual.

Update 2004-2005 Bottling:
It's August of 2006 as I type this, and I've just cracked a bottle of the 2004 release. That makes the beer almost two years old, and as one might expect this formidable brew has well withstood the test of time. To be sure, it's been safely stored cold in my Dedicated Beer Refrigerator (DBR for short). The wonderful chcocolate character has mellowed a little to reveal smooth notes of chocolate pudding and a touch of roasty espresso. I get a hint of licorice and some fruity prune in the nose and palate. The finish becomes slightly bittersweet. This is a real treat indeed, and a beer that will just get better and better with time.


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