Quick Take: Rogue JLS #23 Black Brutal 2007

Every once in a while, Rogue Brewery will put out one of their John Locker’s Stock (or JLS) which is a special batch or limited edition. Kelly Coles Improper in Syracuse was serving #23 in the series, known as Black Brutal, a spin-off of their outstanding Brutal Bitter, which is available in bottles. I’ll tell you a little about it.

The Look: It looks like dark brown chocolate milk. Has a light brownish head. It’s incredibly thick-looking, like a suped-up brown ale or a slightly lighter porter.

The Aroma: I expected the burnt malt smell, but not the very powerful woody hop scent covering it up. Both smells, which wouldn’t seem to really go together that well, compliment each other nicely. It’s bitter but also a bit chocolatey sweet.

The Flavor: In addition to the burnt, roasted malt flavor that the smell foretold, there is a major chocolate accent in the taste. There is also a heavy, pungent molasses flavor that I didn’t see coming. And some black licorice? It’s both sweet and bitter. The hops are there too, but strictly as an accent to all the dark, roasted business going on. The malts are bitter and strong. You can almost taste the barley, as well as the alcohol. Yikes. Very good but not for the weak.

The Feel: It’s really thick, one you have to sip, not gulp down. It feels like a brown ale, but tastes more like a strong ale. This doesn’t mean it’s hard to drink, it’s just meant to be savored. No thin porter action going on here.

The Verdict: Think Rogue Dead Guy meets Saranac Caramel Porter. With a top layer of hops to boot. Technically, we are in September, and since football season has started, I’d say it’s okay to start delving into porters and darker fare now. This one is a doozy; thick and challenging but also comforting like a warm glass of hot cocoa. Or a tight bear hug from your largest college buddy: sure it hurts a little for a second, but it’s so comforting.

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~ by William H on September 9, 2007.

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