I recently reviewed Stouterik, a stout at the lower end of the alcohol range. Black Albert, an Imperial Stout, with 13% alc. vol. is at the other extreme.
The origins of (Russian) Imperial Stout date back to the 18th Century in England where it was first brewed as a gift for Katherine the Great of Russia. Over the next two hundred years the beer sank in popularity until the craft beer revolution brought it back into play at the end of the 20th century.
Nowadays, most of the top examples come from the USA but there are now also a number of notable European competitors. Black Albert, from de Struise in Oostvleteren is one of them.
Originally brewed for Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine (USA), it has become one of their true classics. Its name relates to Albert II, the sixth king of Belgium who abdicated in 2013 in favour of his son.
As one would expect from an Imperial Stout, the beer is an impenetrable near black with a thin light brown head. It looks like a glass of espresso but the additional rich fruit aroma and alcohol give it away.
The coffee theme, however, comes back with the taste; the more I sipped at it the more I was reminded of a coffee mixed with cognac and dark chocolate.
The overall effect tends toward dry with minimal bitterness. Towards the end hints of creosote and warm rubber mix in but are so laid back as not to ruin the overall balance.
Not my favourite strong Belgian beer but it’s well worth a try. Sip it and enjoy it.