Monday, September 20, 2010

10 Barrel's S1nist0r Black Ale

Brewery: 10 Barrel Brewing Company
Style: Black Ale Rating: B (Community) Rating: 3.51 (92nd percentile)
Serving: 22oz Bottle

10 Barrels Brewing Company is a relatively small brewing operation with quite a mission; the desire to reshape the craft beer landscape of Bend, Oregon. Those are fightin' words considering Bend is also home of Deschutes Brewing, which from top to bottom is one of my absolute favorite breweries. While their distribution outside of Central Oregon is relatively small, I received a 22oz bottle of their S1nist0r Black Ale as a gift from a local store in Portland. More about it from the brewers themselves:

We craft our S1NIST0R BLACK ALE using a special German dehusked black malt that is free of astringency, giving the beer a rich black color without the traditional dark beer characteristics. You will notice subtle hints of chocolate with an easy drinking balance on the back end. In the glass the dark color may look intimidating to some, but don't let this beer fool you. Our unique combination of malts creates a very light body and smooth finish.

Before I get to the beer itself, let's take a moment to observe the bottle. I don't think I've ever taken a moment to do this, but let me point out that this bottle is edgy. I mean it's almost Mountain Dew X-Treme. Let's analyze the necessary elements:
1. The name. Not only is it edgy, but it contains both letters and numbers meant to represent letters.
2. A sticker across the bottle cap. Anything preventing me from opening a beer faster is hardcore.
3. No description of what I'm about to drink. It's drinking on the edge.
4. Silhouette of a chick in a short skirt. I hear the more you drink, the more she takes off.

Ok, I digress. At this point I'm kind of just being a dick, so let's move onto the beer itself and see if it makes up for their marketing strategy.

Appearance: What immediately strikes me about this black ale is that it is not black, but, in fact, brown. Albeit it a very dark brown, but a decent amount of light gets through this one. Only about half a finger's worth of head on the pour that quickly dissipates.

Smell: Lots of malt with hues of burnt coffee and a bit of caramel. Kind of reminds me of a mix between a brown ale and a porter (of which Block 15 Brewing made an awesome one).

Taste: Interesting. The taste is very much like a darker brown ale with a bit of a traditional stout flair. Lots of malt and caramel with a tad of coffee. The mouthfeel was also much thinner than I initially expected. That's not bad at all though as it makes this brew very drinkable.

All in all I'd say this is a good (not great) beer that tries way too hard to grab your attention with stupid marketing tactics. Is 10 Barrels anywhere near dethroning Deschutes as the king of Bend? Absolutely not. Are they potentially onto something with a decently unique brewing style? Yes. I commend the beer itself and hope to try more of 10 Barrels' offerings, but they really need to make a decent website and sack their marketing department.


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