Mikkeller Black 黑

Some beers eyeball you every time you open the beer cupboard, stare you down, almost dare you to take the risk. Not today you think, another few months and it will be perfect.

A bottle of Mikkeller Black (aka 黑) Imperial Stout has been doing just that since I bought it at a beer warehouse in Ghent, Belgium, around three years ago. Not only is it an intimidating 17.5%, but it's a beer that has a reputation as weighty as its abv, and a 'best before' that stretches into the decades.

Thankfully it didn't dissapoint.

As you would expect, this pours an inky, syrupy black. Not overly thick but certainly sticky and oily with very low carbonation and little in the way of a head. So far, so intimidating.

The aroma is pencil lead, sake, boiling sugar, ash, and hot alcohol (sherried whisky if I was pushed).

The flavour is initially a rush of sweet sherry and red current jelly, before a rich, strong espresso flavour jumps in, spiked with two teaspoons of brown sugar. In the finish there's chocolate syrup and just a hint of bitterness (the hops have long since left the party).

Lush, decadent, HUGE, yet surprisingly soft edged.

It seems that despite first impressions, the years have mellowed this monster


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