Posted by: Scott | January 21, 2010

Black Albert Review

About a week or two ago I bought a 12-ounce bottle of Black Albert, a “royal” stout from Belgium. It left my wallet 10 bucks lighter. In response to all skeptical looks: The Buds and the Millers and the PBRs of the world have their time and place, and the Black Alberts have theirs. Here’s my favorite analogy: Compare a classy Italian restaurant’s artisan pizzas with an 8-pound sack of Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Each fits a certain setting, and each satisfies in its own way.

I carefully transport my trophy home and crack it open. It pours like ink and foams up mocha. Grapes and figs waft noseward, but the lack of stoutish coffee beans perplexes. I do smell flowers though — how odd. Oh! Hints of dark chocolate drag it back to earth.

My first taste reinforces the smell; like most imperial stouts, this one’s a malt bomb. Chocolate and spice simmer on the tongue — you can barely taste the substantial ABV. A second sip unearths the coffee, which was hidden at the finish with the smokey malt and oak. Creamy textures in the foam thicken the beer’s medium body, which, combined with the chocolate flavors, makes you feel as if you’ve hit the wedding reception jackpot by remaining undetected whilst yawning beneath the cascading hills of the chocolate fountain.

All in all, I enjoyed Black Albert thoroughly. It was a flavorful, complex beer. But, at $10 a pop, I doubt I’ll purchase it again. I can find beers for half as much that I enjoy more. And, when I do feel the urge to burgle my piggy bank for a single beer, I’d rather try something new. Black Albert receives a respectable score for being an exceptionally well-balanced stout. For its slightly unbalanced price tag, however, it loses half a cap.

Stats:
Brewery: De Struise Brouwers (Belgium)
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13%
IBU: 100
Glassware: Snifter
Serving Temp: 55° F
Price Range: $10 per 12 oz. bottle

Monday: Another peek into the mind of a famous beer lover.


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Responses

  1. In case anyone is wondering, the beer’s name (I think) is a reference both to the color of the beer and to Albert II, the current king of Belgium.

  2. Nice little review.. once again, you made me crave beer (our friendship is doomed to rehab wards). I must say, for the price tag, the beer better make me feel like the most invincible person in the world and my tongue like a millionaire. Question though, does it come in a can?

    • Haha, probably not! Despite my appreciation for cans, it seems to be a slow-catching trend.

      Price is an interesting thing when it comes to beer. Many people still scoff at paying $10 for a world-class ale but wouldn’t think twice about paying the same for a bottle of wine that’s only pretty good. On the one hand, I look forward to a day when both drinks enjoy equal respect; on the other, I enjoy getting my world-class beers on the cheap. When you look at it that way, $5-10 (especially for a 750 ml bottle) is a pretty great deal! 😀

  3. yeah, but if I pay that much, it should be the best beer!!! (Consequently, Debby buys the wine, so I’m exempt to that rule) and ps – my can reference was to the age-old “Prince Albert in a Can” joke. Stupid as it may be.

    • I can’t believe that went over my head. I tip my hat (in shame) to you, sir.

  4. Great review once again. The $10 price point does seem a bit much, but all beer deserves a shot and I probably would have done the same thing and picked up a bottle myself. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout both run $10/12 oz. bottle here in IL and I picked those up a few months ago. Keep the great posts coming.

    • Thanks! I will.

      I’ve purchased both those beers at one time or another, too. There’s actually something fun about spending that much for a single bottle. In fact, I may have come down too hard on Black Albert’s price — I guess it just seemed more like a fantastic $5-7 beer to me.

  5. Ooh, this sounds interesting. I’ll have to see if Missouri carries it.

    $10 is pretty expensive for a 12 oz. bottle, though. Usually if you’re dropping a Hamilton you can expect a 750 mL bottle, or at least a 16.9 oz. Still, some beer is definitely worth it, especially when those beers have high ABVs—it’s very efficient drinking! The two Dogfish Heads the jmwerry mentioned are both worthy of a $10 price tag, especially the world-wide stout. That baby is incredible.

  6. Oh, also: Would it be possible to include the name of the brewery in the stats? Makes it easier to track the beer down 🙂

    • Great idea, Tom! I’ll edit the post now … but you’re right, some beers are definitely worth the price 🙂 And honestly, this one’s worth trying at least once. Thanks for reading.

  7. In Belgium it’s only like 3 dollar for a bottle of Black Albert. I guess its a fair prize.

    Charles

    • Wow, now that is a great deal … and one more reason why I want to move to Belgium! It’s already my favorite beer region, but their beers are really pricey in the states. Thanks for commenting, Charles 🙂


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