Monday, January 16, 2012

De Struise Brewers - Black Albert

I wasn't planning on doing anything special for Friday the 13th (maybe "special" isn't the right word). Then I saw an idea on beeradvocate that was too good to pass up- drinking a 13% beer to celebrate (another poor choice of words. "Mark"? "Commemorate"?) the day. What a great idea? And what was even better: I happened to have a 13% beer that I had been aging for over a year, just waiting for the right occasion to open it. The beer is called Black Albert.

Black Albert is a Russian Imperial Stout from the De Struise Brewers of Belgium. Clocking in at exactly 13% ABV, it's not exactly the kind of beer you should take on if you're in the mood for something light and refreshing. Luckily, on Friday the 13th, I was not.

Black Albert pours an oily black color with a beautiful 1 1/2 finger mocha colored head. The head showed great retention and left some trickles of lacing down the glass. The smell really lets you know you've opened up a monster. Huge notes of raisin and dark chocolate jumped out of the glass right away and were pretty much all I could smell until the beer warmed up a bit. Once it did, the complexities in the smell began to emerge and I started to get notes of espresso, fudge, some dark fruit and a little bit of oak.

The taste is rich, complex and very, very dark. Lots of dark fruit and espresso hit the palette first and are quickly followed by notes of rye bread, raisin, black licorice, charred malt and just a bit of milk chocolate sweetness. For a beer this big, it actually hides its alcohol surprisingly well and the slick and velvety mouthfeel goes perfectly with the complex flavors. It's definitely not a beer for everyone, but if you like your stouts about as dark as they come (like I do), this beer is about as good as it gets.

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 34

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