While fans are waiting for the fourth season of Game of Thrones to return, HBO and Ommegang have unleashed the next in their collaboration beer series. Take the Black Stout claims to be deep, dark, and complex like those who have sworn the oath to defend Westeros against threats from the north. Though I wasn’t sold on Iron Throne, I have high hopes that Ommegang will be able to deliver on this brew.
The Night Watch is the focus of this beer so let us take a look at what characteristics might lend themselves to a beer in their honor. The Night Watch is a military order dedicated to holding the Wall, an immense fortification on the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms, defending the realms of men from what lies beyond. The men of the Night Watch, also known as Crows, were once of noble origin but, over time, have become a collection of the dregs of society (including the notable bastard Jon Snow). The name of the beer, Take the Black Stout, is a reference to when a man joins the Night Watch. In doing so he must say an oath at a sacred location (like the Weirwood tree on the label) and wear all black from that point forward. So we’ve got a strong, dark, slightly haggard bunch that must defend a giant icy wall on the edge of “civilization”, which seems to go perfectly with a stout. Ommegang also added star anise and licorice root to the brew, which hopefully won’t overpower the malts.
The beer pours black with a good amount of tan head (though the kegs were pouring a bit foamy). Aroma has a rich chocolate malt with a good amount of red fruit. The mouthfeel has an average carbonation with a medium body. The flavor starts on a rich red fruit flavor, reminiscent of plum, that moves to a roasty malt with hints of chocolate and molasses that finishes on a subtle licorice bite. The aftertaste has a slightly dry, chalky mouthfeel possessing a lingering licorice flavor with a slight bitterness. As you drink it a slight warming develops in the back of the palate.
I feel like, compared to the Iron Throne, Take The Black Stout brings a bit more to the table. At the Los Angeles release event, it was hard to find anyone that wasn’t happy with this brew amongst the beer nerds and fans of the show (even the actors who were dressed up as Night Watch members liked it). It is definitely is on the lighter end of the stout spectrum, which will appeal to non-beer enthusiasts and might be a welcome change-up for more seasoned beer drinkers.Though they definitely went easy on the star anise and licorice, the final product is a strong example of a Belgian stout. Compared to the last release in the series, Ommegang doubled the production amount of Take the Black Stout to hopefully help keep up with demand. So in theory it should be easier to find in LA, but that is kind of hard to predict as fans of the show might start buying up cases at a time to hoard away for next seasons premier. Bottles should be hitting Southern California in the next few days at most retailers that carry Ommegang. If you’re interested in getting this beer, I’d recommend checking out your local bottle shop this week as it’s not clear how long this one will be on the shelves.
|Name||Take the Black Stout|
|Availability||One time limited draft
and bottle release
|Rating||4 out of 5|
Beer Guy LA