Nebraska Brewing Company - Barrel Aged Reserve Series: Black Betty
- ABV: 10.6%
- Bottle Size: 500-ml
- Serving Temperature: 52–59° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Small Nonic, or Pinot Glass
Barrel-aged Black Betty seems the perfect way to cap just about any tasting. This hits much darker notes—chocolate, coffee, deep levels of roast—than the barrel-aged Fathead in this series, but it offers a similarly ideal match of unexpected smoothness and explorable depth. Which is all to say: We found this an immensely enjoyable beer to dig into and savor. This pours the deep and dark chocolate-brown color one might expect from the imperial-stout style—though with a surprising degree of lasting tan foam on top. Rich notes of cocoa powder, coffee, and toasted marshmallow fill out the aroma, feeling almost silky, with milk chocolate and mineral bitterness underneath. Exceptionally smooth, chocolate-driven aromatics lead, with sweet oak contributions and touches of caramelized sugars and spice from the whiskey’s residual impact. The barrel contributions are seamlessly integrated throughout and provide substantial secondary character atop an already decadent stout.
So much of Black Betty’s drinkability reminded us of creamy indulgences like North Coast’s Old Rasputin, but this beer feels significantly more appointed: licorice and rich nuttiness are present from the first sip, playing out alongside familiar roast, bitter chocolate, and cocoa. It proves to be such a generous barrel-aged imperial stout, incorporating sweet vanilla and almond character from its time in whiskey barrels, as well as those spicier, burnt-caramel elements from the preceding whiskey. A perfect enscapsulation of this Barrel Aged Reserve Series, combining a highly drinkable and decadent imperial stout with just the right amount of time spent in freshly emptied whiskey barrels. Impressively smooth big beer.
Black Betty’s approaching 11% and bottle-conditioned, so don’t be afraid to set some bottles in the cellar. But this is drinking smoothly as is—no additional aging required. The brewery suggests pairing with equally lush chocolate dessert. Alternatively, we’d be interested in sipping this alongside a pepper-crusted steak from the grill.
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