Mikkeller Black Hole Series

Mikkeller Black Hole, Wine-Barrel Aged Black Hole, Rum-Barrel Aged Black Hole, Bourbon-Barrel Aged Black Hole & Whiskey-Barrel Aged Black Hole

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is one interesting man.  One whom I affectionately call “The Nomad Brewer”, as he hops from brewery to brewery, contracting out space to make his own brews.  This young brewer is a revolutionary, in my mind, focusing on beer collections that study the various aspects of brewing that can affect the taste of beer.  Series so far include the single hop series which features the same base and uses one each of different hops so that the drinker can taste and compare the flavorings of each hop, and the following series which I am to review- the Black Hole Barrel-Aged Series. (Blogger’s Note: I understand that there is a new release happening of a Yeast Series- exciting!)

The Black Hole Barrel-Aged Series contains the same base brew- a stout brewed with coffee, vanilla and honey.  That base is available as is, Red Wine barrel-aged, Rum barrel-aged, Bourbon barrel-aged, and Whiskey barrel-aged (see picture above- they even had a cute color coding system on the labels and foil that wrapped the cork!)  The results, I think you’ll agree, are very interesting:

Black Hole Stout brewed with coffee, vanilla and honey:

On the nose, this brew has a deep alcohol aroma that is reminiscent of Sharpies mixed with polyurethane and wood stain.  Moreover, though, it has a glorious mixture of dark chocolate ice cream, damp earth, caramel flavored coffee, butterscotch and crumb cake to offer your sniffer as well.  The sip is glorious as well- in fact, the only word that kept coming to mind while drinking this confection was “glorious”.  Godiva liquer with an espresso bite dances on the tongue.  The mouth-feel on this brew is that of confectioner’s sugar mixed with carob powder- thick and damp but ashy and sweet.

Wine barrel-aged:

The wine barrels introduce raspberry fudge to the scent of this brew.  The vanilla cuts through more, hinting at strawberry malted.  The taste is brighter and creamier; less ashy and dirty.  The wine undertones are definitely present on the smell and taste, making the wine barrel-aged version tart versus the bitterness of the original.

Rum barrel-aged:

Immediately, rum barrages my nostrils.  Dark rum swirled with brown sugar and topped with chocolate ganache.  The honey is more pronounced on this version, as well as wood chips.  This is the most drinkable of all of the Black Holes, not as boozy on the mouth (or throat or tummy) with a bright fizz that meets the throat.  This brew is deliciously balanced, which adds to its scarily drinkable (at 13.1% ABV) persona.  The aroma definitely has more fire than the taste, which finishes off with a gingerbread, nutbread and spice cake feel.

Bourbon barrel-aged:

Peat, moss, rain, onion grass, sap, and vegetation all greet my nasal passages for the bourbon barrel-aged Black Hole.  Cacao is also thoroughly present.  While very similar to the taste of the base Black Hole, this brew has an even boozier flame, so that it’s rough going down in that classic bourbon way.  This is my least favorite of the bunch and makes me think of dirty chocolate.

Whiskey barrel-aged:

Surprisingly, the first thing I smell on this beer is Dentist’s office- fluoride, Ben-gay, soap and sanitizer.  The taste looses a lot of the chocolate flair that the base Black Hole brings to the plate, replacing it with very earthy flavors, such as grass, peat, seaweed, and ashy carbon.  The whiskey influence is clearly evident in this version.

Clearly, while each one of these brews started out as the Black Hole proper, the barrel aging had a deep effect on what their eventual taste and aroma would be.  I was quite surprised at just how different each of these brews were- but I’m not joking when I say that it was almost impossible to realize that they were from the same base, had Mikkeller not packaged them that way.  This was quite an eye opening experience for me, one I hope to bring with me in my eventual homebrewing escapades.

I hope that my fellow beer connoisseurs can have chances to partake in beer studies like the one that I have just completed.  The learning curve is fascinating.  But, for now, those of you who cannot partake in these brews will just have to take my word for it.

Cheers, frienditos!

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