Held within the impossibly black, tear-shaped vessel awaits a dark and seductive force. Inky and opaque, the Brooklyn Black Ops bourbon barrel aged stout is a brew of profound and exotic luxury, the likes of which few other brews can be. Rich as can be, this special release is a creature of stupendous malt, elegant smoothness and a dynamic flavor profile in which elements of vanilla, chocolate, coffee and bourbon dance within the heavy black body. As rich as it is though, it presents itself as the definition of balance, with the heavy malt and supple, almost confusing sweetness complementing one another in brilliant form.
This beer is quite simply, decadence. With each sip, an excitement and appeal typically reserved for high-end supercars or private jets washes over whichever humble, lucky sipper happens to come into possession of a bottle. With a finish that is almost creamy, there exists a wonderful boozy character hiding behind it all.
It should be noted that my partaking of this beautiful fermentation with an APV of 11.6% took place at the beginning of what was a multi-beer Easter celebration, at the end of which I found myself quite drunk. Such is to be expected when a full spread of stouts, porters, belgians, IPAs and other assorted creations are enjoyed with friends over the course of a night. However beyond the notes I took while indulging in this stout, as well as the audio notes I dictated during my indulgence, the flavor, weight and beauty of the Black Ops remains as fresh in my, admittedly hungover mind this next day, as it did while I was finishing my first glass and desperately hoping enough remained for a second.
As memory serves, this Brooklyn special edition was awash in sex appeal. With a luxury offered that I can only compare to the feeling of sinking into a deep leather seat as one rides to some high class, upscale party in a top of the line Cadillac. A fellow drinker who had joined us for our Easter libations remarked that the Black Ops was a 70s style sexy, akin to a Barry White song. Now, while I personally lack any experience with the 1970s by virtue of my age, I can see what he was saying.
Pedestrian jokes about the bigness and blackness to this brew aside, there was something of a soulful living rhythm to it. The impulse upon each sip to close one’s eyes and simply groove to what was happening was impossible to avoid. Just as impossible, as it happened, as it was for me to write this piece with the secret agent theme and verbiage I had hoped to use within it. Rather, instead of harping upon the name or the fact that many shops, of which mine is included, will sometimes keep the limited stock afforded to them of the Black Ops in a back office (requiring a cloak and dagger style sale only upon special request) it was the sheer elegance and satiny sophistication of the drink which forced its way into my words and onto this page.
Naturally, there are no pairing suggestions to be made here. This, like the Old Stock Special Reserve which I reviewed recently, is not the type of brew one sips upon with a corrupted palate. Instead, this is one which only a true enthusiast would be willing to spend the coin on and one which can only be properly appreciated if sat down to with nothing else to muddy the waters of consideration while drinking. As with other limited releases and special editions, this brew is a palate crasher which in its presence and profile leaves no room for distraction or immediate comparison.
It is, within its luxury, a limited and annual release which should you be so lucky to find the opportunity to partake in, you would be fool to overlook. Should you find it, good on you. Should you not, then try harder. In either case, happy drinking.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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