Surly Brewing’s Blakkr Imperial Black Ale – Review

IMG_5438Early in 2014, at the end of February, Blakkr, an Imperial Black Ale collaboration from three breweries, Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing, Real Ale Brewing Co. from Blanco, TX, and Three Floyds Brewing Co. from Munster, IN, was released to no small amount of beergeek fanfare. United by their deep love of Metal (the music, not the solid material, though they probably all like that as well) the three brewmasters involved set out to make “the most metal beer ever”. They had me at metal. Actually, they had me at Imperial Black Ale, too. Actually, they had me at Blakkr (Old Norse for “black” or “dark”) as well. Hell, who are we kidding, they had me at beer. Those sons of bitches, it’s like they sat down and figured out the perfect way to get me to spend my money on their beer.

The Appearance:  C’mon, it’s called Blakkr, what do you think it’s gonna look like? Slightly less opaque black than a stout with a nice creamy, pale café au lait head.

The Nose:  Deep and complex, but quite hoppy, sweet, and fruity for something so…metal. There’s pine sap, black licorice candy, cocoa nibs, tropical fruits – perhaps passion fruit and under-ripe pineapple. malt-y, grain-y notes of buttered and brown-sugared porridge.

The Palate:  Caramelized, malty, and roasted to start, with brown sugar and sweetened toasted grains. Hops come through with more pine, grapefruit, and tropical fruit. Finishes slightly dry with black coffee with a bit of sugar

Thoughts:  Love it…fairly epic stuff. There’s a lot of complexity, ranging from dark, bitter roastiness to the fruitier notes, and it does a great job of reigning it all in and balancing those different elements. For me at times, it can cross the line a bit and be a little too rich, but that’s being pretty nit-picky. While Blakkr is certainly dark and has that broodingly sweet profile, I’m not sure how “metal” a beer can be. If a beer was truly as grim, cvlt, and aggressive as some metal can be…would you even want to drink it? Still, bravo to the three collaborators, I certainly hope they collaborate again.

Surly Brewing’s Blakkr Imperial Black Ale (collaboration between Surly Brewing, Real Ale and Three Floyds)

  • Imperial Black Ale
  • 9.99 % ABV (that’s 666 upside down, if you’re wondering)
  • Malts: Pale Malt, Carafa Special, Oats
  • Sugar: Brewers Crystals
  • Hops: Bittering – Warrior, Aroma- Simcoe, Centennial
  • Yeast: English Ale
  • Original gravity: 22 P
  • Color: 45 SRM

A metal beer certainly needs metal. Now that we’ve gotten the beer stuff out of the way, how about some music? Maximum volume yields maximum results…

Kvelertak, “Bruane Brenn”  

Iron Maiden, “The Trooper”  

Weakling, “No One Can Be Called as a Man While He’ll Die”  

Sunn O))), “Hell-O)))-Ween”  

Electric Wizard, “Funeralopolis”  

Powermad, “Slaughterhouse” (Todd Haug, Powermad’s guitarist, is also a master brewer at Surly. Yes, you’re right, that is awesome.)  

Mastodon, “March of the Fire Ants”.

Slayer, “War Ensemble”.

Judas Priest, “The Ripper”.

Amebix, “The Power Remains”.

Voivod, “The Unknown Knows”.


One thought on “Surly Brewing’s Blakkr Imperial Black Ale – Review

  1. What the hell? A beer review? I. Am. Shocked. Anyway…

    Well this certainly sounds tasty! Deep, dark, and delicious. Perfect for this time of year. As usual, nicely done!

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