Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Lighthouse Belgian Black

Lighthouse gave me a bottle of Belgian Black to review this week. This doesn't happen to me very often. I have long harboured a fantasy of utterly panning a freebie just to prove I have integrity. Maybe that's why I don't get too many. On this occasion, I'm happy to risk looking like a sell-out, because I really like this beer.

A belgian black called Belgian Black. Not much to go on here. I anticipate something like Trois Pistoles as it's the blackest belgian-style beer I regularly drink. That or a dark dark dubbel that's not actually that black once you get it out of the (attractive) matte black frosted bottle.

The beer is brewed with a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain: more evidence that Lighthouse is taking things seriously (they have a reputation for being yeast sticklers). I enjoy Keepers Stout, and I'll drink a Beacon IPA from time to time, but Lighthouse hadn't tempted me too much until they ramped up the quality and invention with the Big Flavour series. Deckhand was a lovely saison and Uncharted is practically the only "Belgian IPA" worth drinking.

So the Black comes with some pedigree, yet still puts the bar into near orbit. It has the charcoal, roasted qualities of an imperial stout — with seared walnuts and some dry cocoa. But where you'd expect a battering ram body to follow, BB is lighter, almost dainty, with a fresh plummy flavour. There's a fair bit of booziness, but it is sweet enough to carry it off. Although not of the same flavour, the mixture reminds me of blackcurrant-liquorice candies I ate as a child — a confectionary contradiction greater than the sum of its parts.

Not only is Belgian Black the best of the "Big Flavour" series (which has had high highs and middling lows), but the style strikes me as the most promising and necessary of all the North American/Belgian crossovers we are mercilessly subjected to. Lighthouse should be doubly commended for underlining that fact with some authority. Nice one.


  1. Your photos always look better than mine.

  2. The Uncharted was the Belgian IPA.

    1. That's what he said...Uncharted is the only Belgian IPA worth drinking

    2. No, to be fair I originally mistakenly put "Overboard" or something. I edited when the poster noted by brainfart.

  3. I felt the same about the BB as well. Loved it. Picked up a second bottle to make sure I had an extra one in the cupboard for later :)

  4. It's so hard to look at beers I can't buy! We did our best to load up before we headed back to Ontario but flight allowances aren't exactly generous...

    Wish we could have sampled this one.

  5. Looks & sounds good. Wish I could have one. Reminds me of the Allagash Black I recently reviewed - wish I could have another one of those, too!

  6. I liked your review and definitely liked the Belgian Black but I'm curious about its style. Is there such a style as "Belgian Black" or is this just a black beer with Belgian yeast? I can't even figure out if its an ale or a lager? It tastes almost like a high alcohol dunkel with the signature belgian yeast flavor. Could you figure it out?

  7. Well, anonymous, it is certainly an ale — being brewed using an ale yeast (probably this one: ). The "Belgian" nomenclature usually applies to beers made using traditional belgian yeasts,with a typically low hop rate, and often using adjunct sugars ("candi" sugar etc). There are also types of malt used predominantly in Belgium, but there is no indication this beer uses them. This beer has the belgian yeast and dry fruit flavours associated with a dubbel, it also features roasted barley (not too common at all in Belgian beers, being more of a Euro/US stout thing) and more hops than you'd get in a Belgian. That's the crossover that they call "Belgian Black" — although there is no recognized style of that name. It's just a playing around with recipes.

  8. A true Belgian beer, sticking it to styled guidelines. No roasted barley. There is debittered black malt in it and other Belgian malts.

  9. Dude that's an AWESOME beer pic!


    Come back into #beer and visit sometime!

  10. It's amazing to visit this website and reading the views of all mates on the topic of this piece of writing, while I am also zealous of getting experience.

    My webpage - diet plans for women to lose weight fast

  11. Hello everybody, here every one is sharing these kinds
    of experience, so it's pleasant to read this web site, and I used to pay a visit this web site daily.

    Here is my web blog firma reklamowa
    My site > studio reklamy

  12. Please let me know if you're looking for a writer for your weblog. You have some really good articles and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd really like to write
    some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please shoot me an email if interested. Regards!

    Feel free to surf to my web blog: Diets That Work Fast

  13. This is usually considered a fun and effective learning method in general.

    Instead, focus on a single thing or just a couple of things,
    and try not to move forward until you have reached those goals.

    Feel free to surf to my blog post :: piano chords ama namin