In this latest installment of Tasting Notes, we start our day as pirates do by cracking an early bottle of Blackbeard’s Breakfast Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter Brewed with Coffee from Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland).
The folks at Heavy Seas Beer release Blackbeard’s Breakfast once a year as a part of their Uncharted Waters Series, a lineup of barrel/wood-aged limited releases that exhibits elevated levels of brewing prowess. This offering is an Imperial Porter that has been brewed with English malts and Dark Sumatra coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company. Once the brewing is completed, Blackbeard’s Breakfast is finished off with a long rest in Bourbon barrels so that it may pick up notes of vanilla, oak and whiskey. Weighing in at a sizable 10% ABV, Blackbeard’s Breakfast promises to be an experience that “will please coffee and beer connoisseurs alike.” Blackbeard’s Breakfast had an official release schedule set from May to June, but you can still find this limited release gracing shelves (22 oz. bottles) and taps at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Maryland and throughout the rest of Heavy Seas Beer’s distribution footprint.
With all that background information now covered, I do believe that means we can allow the day-drinking and Tasting Notes to commence!
Tasting Notes for Blackbeard’s Breakfast (2017) from Heavy Seas Beer
Appearance: Blackbeard’s Breakfast fills the glass as an inky black brew that wears a full finger of brown sugar-colored foam. Held to direct light, the darkness holds and the beer remains opaque, glossy and reflective. The creamy head eventually gives out and is reduced to a thin, but complete ring. Since the beer is slick on the glass, any lace that grabs ahold ultimately slips back down into the dark depths below.
Aroma: Dark sugars and molasses grab the nose immediately with a deep, rich sweetness. Chocolate and caramel easily build off of that base, and the aroma opens further to expose subtle notes cherry, coconut and toffee. All of this is enrobed in a warm, comforting bourbon note that is filled with oak and vanilla tones. Just a waft of coffee breezes through at the end to finish off the profile.
Taste: Although nearly lost in the aroma, the coffee really finds its home here in the flavor. Pronounced with a beautiful roasted character, the coffee acts as the ideal note to introduce all the flavors that await their moment. Those flavors include notes of dark chocolate-covered almonds, nearly burnt caramel, creamy vanilla, brown sugar, and sticky toffee. Bourbon laces itself through all these notes to administer the perfect dose of booze and woodsy character.
Mouthfeel: This Imperial Porter falls on the lighter side of full-bodied with a soft carbonation presence. This makes for a chewy experience that still remains a bit silken. Mostly sweet on the palate, the coffee and hops do add a necessary level of bitterness to keep the beer from becoming cloying. Although they do take their time to clear out, this beer’s flavors are more than welcomed to linger. Noticeable but not overwhelming, the 10% ABV adds a building warmth in the belly and throat to the experience. The aftertaste is all molasses and roasted coffee.
Final Thoughts: If you have been looking for a wildly consistent and affordable Bourbon barrel-aged brew to stock up on, look no further than Blackbeard’s Breakfast. This beer is exactly as it should be. To start, it avoids the pitfall that many barrel-aged beers fall into, and that is completely losing the base beer behind the barrel character. Blackbeard’s Breakfast is a big ol’ Porter and it reads as such. Its English malts retain their integrity to lay a firm and established base of nutty, roasty, chocolaty and toffee-filled notes. The coffee then enters the picture to support the malts with added roastiness while also lending a touch of balancing bitterness to the equation. The bourbon waits for that foundation to be properly set before it glides in with its tones of vanilla, oak and booze. The bourbon has personality, but it is not brash. It knows it place and that is as a piece of a whole. The base beer benefits from the Bourbon just as the Bourbon benefits from the base beer. Blackbeard’s Breakfast finds this harmony, and it truly is a beautiful thing to experience. Be sure to check it out before this year’s release disappears from shelves and taps. Prost!