Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Review Date 11/8/2001 Last Updated  5/1/2020  By John Staradumsky


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 chocolaty 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 chocolate 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.

Update, December 4th, 2009:  It's amazing how quickly the years fly by, but as they do, I close each one with Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. Brooklyn has steadily ramped this one up over the years, and currently Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout clocks in at a whopping 10% alcohol by volume. The beer is still massive in the flavor department, too, packed with huge notes of licorice and cocoa, espresso and roasted barley. Big in body, bold in flavor, and incredibly rich in the finish, this is a beer to look forward to. Sadly, it's sold in four-packs rather than six-packs this year. But to soften the blow, Brooklyn has adjusted the price down as well, and I picked up four bottles for just $5.99 at Total Wine. At $1.50 a bottle, this is certainly a steal. Don't miss it this holiday season.

Update, January 25th, 2012: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is back for winter 2011/2012. It's a bit more pricey at $6.99 a four pack this year (but only a bit more so). Still a great value at less than $2 a bottle. 10% alcohol by volume and with perhaps more espresso notes than I recall int he past. The nose is amazingly roasty, and the palate still packed with licorice and chocolate, though the espresso and maybe even some chicory notes come through strongly. Simply amazing, once again.

Update April 1st, 2014:  This year, I paid $7.99 for my 4-pack of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. It's worth every penny, and then some. Absolutely packed with dark bittersweet chocolate, hints of licorice, prunes and raisins. Smooth as silk and full in texture. I can't recommend this beer enough. Not to be missed!

Update 12/29/2015: A first I think! Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout on tap at Taco Mac. As I sipped this wonderfully chocolaty bittersweet licorice and cocoa infused brew, it occurred to me that this may well be One of the best beers in the world. At $7 for an 11-ounce glass, it's only slightly expensive, and the 4-pack of the 2015 edition I have at home ran me $8.99 this year. I've got a few bottles of 2014 and 2013, too, so don't be surprised if I'm back before long with another update.

Update 5/6/2018: One of the things I love about Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is that you can buy extra and enjoy it all year, or for years for that matter. Today I'm enjoying a bottle of the 2017 release  in early May on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The licorice, cocoa and warming alcohol might seem better suited to cold weather, but I assure you they are quite at home in the mild May temperatures as well.

Update 5/1/2020: As I keep digging through my stash going on the second month of COVID-19 quarantine, I have had to drain pour more beers than I would like. I have not aged these beers intentionally (not all, some I have), but the simple fact of the matter is that I buy beers that strike my fancy, more than I can drink. Well, more than I can drink in normal times when I drink draft beer at Taco Mac, too. Of late, that is not practical, so I go through my bottled beer accumulation, and once in a while find gems like this that make the lost beers worth while. A 2014-2015 BBCS that is smooth and rich with dark chocolate covered dark raisin fruit, licorice, powdered cocoa, and a warming alcohol finish. A truly magnificent sipping beer, and one that after all these years remains my very favorite example of Russian Imperial Stout.

Glad I tried it?  T

Would I rebuy it??

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned