Beer On My Shirt: My New Favorite Imperial Stout

J. R. Shirt, March 26, 2015

Blackout Stout, by Great Lakes Brewing Co., is balanced, drinkable, and delicious. It is, maybe, my new favorite Imperial Stout.

I realize that perhaps the season for Imperial Stouts has passed. And frankly, I do not care. This stout, this Blackout Stout, while technically seasonal as it is released each November, transcends seasons.

This beer has been the brightest of bright spots, not just in a basement filled with stouts, but also in the solitary time of a man currently struggling with winter blues and the reorganization of a tiny house, making room for the coming of a second child, the first son.

As I type this, the room formerly known as the Beer On My Shirt office is cluttered with musical equipment (soon to be available for purchase), deconstructed baby furniture, and just absolutely too many CD's, 7 inch records, Baseball Prospectus Annuals, mathematics journals, paperbacks, and beneficiary forms I've put off signing for months because there is a strong chance I am immortal. So again, if this review of a beer that was released in November is coming a bit late for you, I apologize - I've been busy listening to Elliot Smith and giving myself quizzical looks in the reflection of my iPad.

The idea that in about a month I will need to find time to mow the lawn is absolutely terrifying to me. I might just burn the whole mother down (by 'mother' I mean lawn). Or truck in stone and just bury it all and then drink nothing but vinegar and piss on any green that dares to work its way towards sunlight. Fetch me my robe and my boots, I'm headed out to tend to the lawn.

But seriously, this beer! Some Imperial Stouts can be a real chore, especially as you get to the end of the glass, they hit room temperature and get all syrupy. Sure, the super-duper, thick coffee and chocolate flavors were a revelation for the first half of the bottle, but then what?

Blackout Stout is like a great porter had sex with a great Imperial Stout and you want to watch the grainy Internet video of it all night long. And then you drink four of them and Eddie Murphy shows up singing and dancing and your so grinning happy because The Golden Child was your favorite movie growing up.

Sometimes I drink too much and shout quotes from that movie. And then Wife comes downstairs and asks me what the hell I'm doing and I snap whisper - “Naan of your business!” - which is a call back from earlier in the day when she called me on the way home from the grocery store and asked if I had, in fact, found and purchased the naan, an Indian oven-baked flatbread (I include that last bit for those that, like me until recently, did not have clear understanding of what naan was exactly).

If Blackout Stout was at a party it would be the guy that could hang with anybody.

One minute you see him talking with the bike-messenger-looking guys that are drinking the one-off artisanal brews (not actual bike messengers, just guys that spend a bunch to look like bike messengers – nobody breaks into an actual bike messenger clique but actual bike messengers. Bike messengers are the Russian Mafia of American parties) and then the next minute he is in the small kitchen talking to all the middle managers, the guys wearing shirts and ties and pants that fit in a way that screams middle management, with Dos Equis bottles in their hands. Later he's by the stereo singing along to Ani DiFranco with a bunch of people wearing plastic rimmed glasses, all obvious free thinkers, all teachers.

But what does Blackout Stout drink? He can't drink beer – that would be cannibalism. It would be like that billboard in my hometown for Yocco's Hotdogs that shows a giant cartoon hot dog person wearing a crown and eating, of all things, a hot dog. I'm pretty sure the entire Game of Thrones series is based on this billboard.

Perhaps he would drink whiskey, but that just gets confusing, unless he's the barrel-aged version.

You'd think a beer named Blackout would have to be drinking something, but then you do a little research and realize the beer is named after the giant power outage back in 2003 that impacted a majority of the Northeast. So maybe Blackout Stout is that guy that is balanced enough to have a good time and be social without drinking a thing. I mean, who needs beer when you have electricity.

Blackout Stout, Great Lakes Brewing Company 

Appearance = 3/5

Dark brown, light khaki head that goes quickly

Smell = 4/5

Roasted malt, delicious chocolate aromas with a touch of sweetness, not super potent for the style, but super inticing.

Taste = 4.75/5

So solid and balanced and perfect with a great combination of roasted, chocolate flavors and some subtle hop bitterness. Nothing is pounding your over the head. Everything is just working together.

Feel = 5/5

Maybe light for the style but such an easy drinker for the style. Not a hint of sticky sweet syrup, and not overly dry. Just delicious, great feeling beer.

Overall = 4.75/5

An Imperial Stout that you don't need to sip. You can treat it like a beer, not a dessert. It really showcases the play between the roasted flavors of the malt and the bitterness of the hops that tends to get lost in the larger than life flavors of some Imperial Stouts.  


J.R. Shirt also hosts the Drinking With Shirt Podcast - listen here at Beergraphs or on iTunes. Follow J.R. on Twitter or Untappd @beeronmyshirt.