2009 Great Lakes, Blackout Stout

Check. Check. This thing on?

Oh look! A keyboard! *blows off dust* Perhaps I can write something with it! But what about?

How about.....beer?

Pulling this one out of the cellar, and it has about as much dust on it as this blog does.

Great Lakes Brewing Company
Grade: B

I'll admit, I'm not much of a beer trader. The phenomenon appeared when beer geeks from across the country realized that they could trade beers with each other, going over the heads of distributors and negating the need to spend days in a car and hundreds on gas just to reach a state where their favorite beer was available. To me, Imperial Stout Trooper is a local treasure. Wonderful, but accessible. To someone in the Midwest, it's a legend only whispered in dark corners, talked about, but never seen. To a New Englander, New Holland's Dragon's Milk is just as legendary, and just as unattainable. So when this New Englander traded a couple bottles of IST with a Midwesterner for a couple bottles of Dragon's Milk, imagine this New Englander's surprise when the generous Midwesterner included a bonus bottle of Great Lakes Brewing Company's Blackout Stout in the box!

A thick, mocha-colored head leaps up from this beer and laces the glass very nicely. As it sits, the head forms a meringue that obstinately sits and doesn't move. The aromas are powerful, big pungant dark fruit and raisin notes, some brown sugar and some roast chime in too. Mouthfeel is smooth, yet not thick or viscous. The flavors of chocolate, toasted rye bread, and coffee are much more pronounced on the tongue than they were in the aroma. The raisin and fig elements are there, but they take a background to the more earthy, chocolaty flavors.

As a beer that's been cellared since 2009, it's remarkable how well this has held up. The flavors that you associate with aged beer are here, but the true flavor of those roasted malts still perpetuate. It's certainly not a bitter beer, either from hops or from the roasted malts (if hops were here, they've long since dropped out). There is a wonderful roundness with this beer, well proportioned ingredients that come together to make something more than the sum of it's parts. It's no lightweight, however. The 9% ABV is there, mostly in the warming sensation while drinking it, but also in a slight alcohol sweetness that can linger on the back of the tongue.

This is one of those beers that I would use as an example of "complex balance." Generally, this beer drinks good. I can take sip after sip, I can have another pint if you offered it to me (even in it's aged state). On a more in-depth level, there's no lack of flavors to explore. Chocolate, earth, mocha, spice, raisin, fig, bread, anise, burnt sugar...the list can go on and on. A plethora of flavors, but all coming together to work in harmony.