Not long ago, I became aware of some rather interesting reports from accross the Atlantic. Reports of a covert operation going on at Brooklyn Brewery under the code name ‘Black Ops.’ Apparently, they had been creating a lucious Russian black stout each year, but when questioned they denied all knowledge. Still, the reports kept coming in from all over the web. Some said they had procured Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels in a deal shrouded in secrecy and they had been aging a stout in these casks for four months, bottling it flat and re-fermenting it using champagne yeast. Pretty decadant for a stout. So surely if it really did exist, I would have seen it on their website? One day in late January 2012, a covert operation was launched in Southampton UK. The mission? To find proof of whether or not Black Ops actually exists once and for all. It wasn’t long before the trail lead us to the door of Bitter Virtue (http://www.bittervirtue.co.uk/), a small, friendly, unassuming off-licence with a secret. They had been selling Black Ops!
What is Black Ops? In the glass, it is a rich, black velvet with a tight, luxurious, caramel head. At 10.7% ABV, the flavour is strong but impressively smooth. The rich bourbon shines through, closely followed by muscavado sugar, dark fruit cake and burnt toffee. Then you’re hit with the coffee wrapped up in soft sweet vanilla. Truely an exceptional stout and a must-try if you can track it down.
So if you couldn’t find this 2011 edition, when will there be more? A Brooklyn employee who would not give his name says ‘We have no idea what you’re talking about, and if there was such a beer, we would certainly not be able to tell you it’s released every November in exceedingly small quantities.’ My sources have revealed that Bitter Virtue may still have a couple of bottles. But I have a strong suspicion they are on to us. I’m going to buy another before it disappears without a trace.
At around £20, yes you could buy a decent wine or a few good bottled beers but I guarantee they won’t come close to this. At 750ml, it’s even more fun to share with a good friend (ok a very good friend). When Stella Artois coined their marketing slogan Reassuringly Expensive, I doubt they had discovered the American craft scene (or seen what their dross sells for in Asda come to think of it). It is even less likely that they would have encountered Brooklyn Black Ops, since Black Ops does not exist. Or so they would have you believe.