The obvious imagery, the simple label, and predicability of this beer as a big stout kept me away from this beer for while. Not that I’ve not sipped my fair share of 11% Imperial Stouts. Honestly, the fact that the bottle idea (a pirate theme) was platitudinal practically repulsed me from Black Flag. It’s strange to see what appeals to one person and scares off another. We should all be beyond outward appearance, but facts seem to argue to the contrary. Yes!…I still buy or don’t buy the occasional beer based on looks. Anyone else here?
Finally, I overcame my own proclivity against this beer and gave it a try. Herein lies the account of this Oregon Brew. Also, I got the pic from their website.
The Pour: I expected quite a bit darker beer than I got. Frankly speaking, the color was much closer to a porter than a stout. This was a bit off-putting because I simply expected a huge beast of a beer—the kind of beer I would have to smack like a bottle of Heinz ketchup. At any rate, the color was not piratey enough for me. Even so, this scurvy dog had a nice off-white/light mocha, well-retained head, which was like the briny sea’s waves. Decent lacing on the glass was also created by the beer as it sank in the abyss of my belly. Okay, let’s not have this beer walk the plank just yet.
The Nose: Caramel, mocha, hints of coffee and some very nice citrus hops tones (something I don’t usually love in an imperial stout) were immediately evident on the nose. Touches of stale and burnt grains made their way to the surface as well. Bits of malty sweetness suggested that the beer might have a bit of sugar left in it.
The Taste: I can say that this beer was not as full as I expected it to be. Of course, I guessed as much on the pour. However, it was pretty nice to drink. The chocolate/mocha tones were pleasant. Coffee and burnt grains gave it a touch of stale coffee quality. The hops were certainly present and a touch citrusy, perhaps like a good coffee might be. A nice amount of residual sweetness kept the hops in check and made them perceptively less big. The mouth-feel and caramel pop added good balance to the brew.
Overall, I’d drink this beer again. It was certainly less big than the label seemed to imply but it was still very nice and pretty balanced for being 11% ABV. I could have used that bigness, but I still recommend picking it up if you see it.