Bottle Logic - Darkstar Novemberin Products
This time of the year we always look for beers that are going to warm our belly’s as much as our souls and Darkstar November from Bottle Logic Brewing is no exception.
Darkstar November is the Buffalo Trace Barrel aged version of Bottle Logic’s Project Aurora. The bourbon notes are big and strong but the flavors from the original are still present in this new rendition. This beer was a very limited run with only 300 cases produced so if you missed it, there are very few chances to get to taste it again but read on to learn where this beer may be in the near future!!
Bottle Logic Brewing
Darkstar November – Stasis Project Level 1 Limited
Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
True to Bottle Logic style this label is scientific, informative and classy. The label looks like a secret file that was pulled from a scientists trash can before his laboratory burned down and includes a crinkled paper look. Darkstar November itself was the top-secret call sign for the current Blackbird spy plane, a fitting remembrance considering the original version of this beer was Project Aurora, the name for the theory of the spy plane itself. This label includes all the standard info that you would expect including the beer name, style, ABV and other pertinent information, but it also includes potential food pairings (smoked gouda, wild game, or raspberry chocolate mousse), the head brewer’s signature and a description of the beer that is out of this world. This label even includes serving and cellar recommendations!
Darkstar is the color of the blackest night; no moon, no stars and no streetlights. It’s almost like a black hole in that it seems to eat the light right out of the room. Every picture that I took of this beer came out like a glass full of jet-black ink. The head is tan to light brown and held as a thin foam, initially around ½” in height but falling to cover only the surface of the beer rather quickly.
There isn’t much lacing on this beer as the head seemed to diminish quickly but when swirled after being warmed, legs are noticed. This is expected with an imperial stout that clocks in at a whopping 13.7% ABV.
This initially came out of the fridge a little bit cold but the overall tasting took well over half an hour, allowing the beer to warm up and express more of its volatiles. There is an initial sweetness in the aroma that is reminiscent of toasted marshmallows, with just a touch of toffee with it. There is a noticeable aroma of bourbon but it is a clean aroma and doesn’t mar the other scents. Slight vanilla comes through as the beer warms, most likely contributed from the barrels.
Underneath these layers is a backbone of roasty malt with a light spice; almost like a touch of pepper. The roasty is clearly from the grain bill that focuses on a traditional Russian Imperial Stout recipe, the spice I’m guessing is contributed by the addition of rye in the grist. The molasses is evident too in varying degrees but I picked it up as a contributor to the sweet aroma rather than a distinct, identifiable aroma. As Darkstar November continues to warm a smooth alcohol presences develops. I can’t pick up any specific hop notes in the aroma.
This is a welcoming smelling beer in a strange way. The aroma isn’t overpoweringly bourbon or roasty or alcoholic, it is all of these things in perfect moderation. The initial sweetness and toasty marshmallow aroma is incredible and takes me back to campfires as a kid making s’mores. This smells like an adult version of that traditional camping treat!
The initial flavor of this is that of toffee and chocolate with a touch of bourbon burn. Through the middle of each sip the toffee notes are replaced by roasted barley, an almost burnt taste, while the chocolate fades into a boozy note. The finish is strongly alcoholic with a mild spice note. The finish lingers for what seems like days with this beer, even after a sip and writing a paragraph I can still taste bourbon on my tongue. Interestingly, you can taste the bourbon and the booze but it’s not a “hot” note.
As Darkstar November warms smoothness develops in the flavors causing the initially big boozy notes in the middle of the palette to be subdued with more toffee and caramel notes. There is still a strong roasted flavor but it is pleasantly supportive of the bourbon notes and vanilla undertones. There is a note of bitterness from the hops but no prevalent hop flavor.
Darkstar doesn’t have the big chocolate note that I have gotten from some other recent releases of barrel aged Russian Imperial Stouts. For example, during the Inland Southern California Brewers Guild Beer Fest, I talked about two big beers that are similar to Darkstar; Ironfire’s Boot Hill 6-Killer Barrel Aged Stout and Hanger 24’s Pugachev’s Cobra. Both the 6-Killer and Pugachev’s Cobra had notes that were reminded me of a brownie (check out that review HERE). The chocolate and bourbon were in the forefront of the flavor and aroma but with the Darkstar, it’s the other more delicate flavors, toffee and caramel with a hint of vanilla all hiding in a cloak of bourbon. This is a fantastic take on this style that I’ve never had before, it’s interesting and unexpected which is what I’ve come to expect (wait what?!) from Bottle Logic.
Initially this beer is a bit abrasive, especially when cold from the fridge, but as it warms there is a smoothness that develops. The body of Darkstar November is medium, with a medium-low level of carbonation. The flavors of Darkstar seem to linger for days but there is a noticeable dryness to the finish.
Darkstar is another inspired brew by the team at Bottle Logic but unlike some of the other beers that I’ve fallen in love with, this one is meant to put some age on. The good news is that I have a second bottle of Darkstar November that is peacefully slumbering; the bad news is that I was only able to get two bottles.
If you were fortunate enough to taste this beer either on the Black Friday release, in the taproom, or with the amazing twist of added vanilla and coffee beans during the 2014 Orange County Brew-Ho-Ho you are lucky few. For those who weren’t able to try this all I can say is rumor has it you may have one more opportunity. Bottle Logic turns 1 year old February 2015. Keep tuned into their social media feeds and make sure that you are at their birthday party.
About Bottle Logic:
Established in February 2014, Bottle Logic has been brewing up classic examples of beers in addition to a rotating variety of experimental brew in Anaheim, California. With their recent Gold Medal from the Great American Beer Fest in the Dark American Lager Category, Bottle Logic is establishing itself as a top tier brewery. The brewery, located at 1072 N. Armando Street, Anaheim, CA, includes a state-of-the-art taproom with staff that help to enhance the customer’s knowledge and appreciation of high quality beers. Check them out online at www.bottlelogic.com, on Facebook and Instagram at /BottleLogicBrewing!