Another Fantastic Experience
A Review of Blackout Stout by Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Posted on 1/9/2013 by Chops
                   
Exquisite
The Great Lakes Brewing Company out of Cleveland, OH caught my undivided attention last year with their amazing line of perfect beers. I started my journey with the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and have since sampled my way through their Burning River Pale Ale, Dortmunder Gold Lager, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, and their seasonal Nosferatu Imperial Red (my personal favorite). To say that Great Lakes is a reliable brewery at this point would be a gross understatement. They fall firmly into the ''can do no wrong'' category. On a recent trip to my favorite local pub, a fresh new tap caught my eye: the Great Lakes Blackout Stout, their seasonal Russian Imperial. I believe my wide eyes and slack jaw prompted the bartender to pour me a pint. The conversation went something like this:

Bartender: ''Great Lakes I take it?''
Me: *nods and claps*
Bartender: ''Have you tried it yet?''
Me: ''Hell no, but it's fantastic!''

In the glass, this beer has a stark black appearance with only a slight ruby red edging (and that was using bright sunlight). It comes with a thick creamy tan head that likes to stick around for a really long time. On the nose, I was greeted with a milky sweet roasted aroma that was very clean and welcoming. I also found a lot of faint notes resting underneath that foreshadow a array of flavors: dark chocolates, dark fruits, molasses, and espresso beans to name a few. It's a really interesting aroma to study and you can't help but devote plenty of sniff time like some sort of eager tracking hound. Going into that first sip, I knew there was a lot more to the equation, so I had the expectation of a pleasant surprise.

It didn't take long at all to discover another piece of the puzzle: a very well hidden bite. I was not expecting a hop assault on the first sip, but that's exactly what I got. This is not a bad thing mind you and it goes a long way in quelling any pungent sweetness. Consequently, Blackout ends up being a very well balanced beer. Many of the aroma notes appear as solid flavor traits, namely dark chocolates, rich strong espresso, molasses, a touch of smokiness, and dark fruit flavors like blackberries. The beer has a mid-level mouthfeel and a moderate alcohol warming, which softens the profile a bit and allows for a lengthy session. But, this isn't to say that the beer is warm and cuddly because that signature gritty harshness of an aggressive Russian Imperial Stout is still present. I'm merely comparing it to others within the style. The beer finishes with a lengthy semi-sweet roasted aftertaste that seems to linger forever. The warming effect also comes into play here, which smooths out the mouthfeel and allows some sweeter chocolate notes to emerge.

Overall, the Great Lakes Blackout is a fantastic Russian Imperial Stout. I can easily recommend this brew to any beer geek with an imperial palate. Fans of darker brews will definitely appreciate this delightful nectar. Although, I will warn novices that this beer might be too big for you. I would explore the Great Lakes core line before tacking Blackout (the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter in particular would make a great stepping stone). On the other hand, Blackout has a such high level of accessibility for the style and I would not begrudge anyone for wanting an exciting new experience. It's a subdued aggression that won't offend any curious beer fan, so by all means give it a go. Once again I must tip my drinking hat to Great Lakes. Another new brew, another fantastic experience.

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Blackout Stout by Great Lakes Brewing Co.
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