26 Feb Sigma Black Drizzle BA Stout
Sigma Black Drizzle BA Stout
EADO, Second Ward, Houston
Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Mexican Chocolate and Chiles
Packaging: Draft, 330ml bottles delivered by Hop Drop
What does black rain mean to you?
Is it the post-apocalyptic, black, soot-filled rain after a nuclear fallout?
Is it the 1989 Michael Douglas cop movie in which he aggressively probes the seedy underbelly of Japanese organized crime, leather jacket and dangling cigarette in tow?
Or is it a decadent, complex, big ‘ol chili-chocolate stout that spent over a year in some barrels to become even bigger and… ‘ol-er?
If you’re anything like me, the answer is the latter. I’ve never lived through a nuke, and I can’t think of a single Michael Douglas movie off of the top of my head. Sue me. If you’ve been reading for any amount of time, you know that I have to Google it almost every time the beer’s named after a movie. I’d rather drink a beer than watch a movie anyways!
But I digress. Before we get too far without an umbrella, let’s look at how Black Rain turned into the beer you see today.
The base beer for Sigma Black Drizzle is Black Rain, and the guys over at Sigma gave it such an ominous name because it sounded like a good one for an aggressive imperial stout loaded down with chocolate and chiles.
“Nick and I aren’t particularly fond of chile beers. Well, beers that use green chiles in them, I guess. Dried chiles, however, are a different story. We use dried red chilies because we love the tobacco, leather, and woody type flavors that they bring to the table.”
I remember tasting the first batch of Sigma Black Rain back in 2017 when they brewed it for the first time. It was then that Nick and Matt decided to make Black Rain even bigger, blacker, and rainier. So of course they decided to age it in Yellow Rose Bourbon and Rye barrels for 14 months and name it Black Drizzle.
The irony is a common theme at Sigma. “We named the beer black drizzle because it’s bigger and badder than Black Rain in every way, so thought it funny to give it an ironic name… That’s a lot of the motivation behind a lot of other sigma names as well.”
To accompany the chocolate and barrels for this batch, they chile negro peppers for some extra spice because it fades out with aging. Then Sigma Black Drizzle was conditioned for another couple weeks on top of vanilla beans, cinnamon, and even more cacao.
Matt explained how they adjust recipes for barrel-aging, “We have a rule at Sigma that we do not blend barrel aged beer with non barrel aged beer, so we tend to have to tweak recipes to ensure that the beer coming out of the barrels won’t be too overwhelming. This typically means that we brew the beer a little heavier, so that the final result would have some greater residual sweetness to counteract the booze and char that you naturally get from a lot of spirit barrels.”
The adjustments were worth it because Sigma Black Drizzle pours like used motor oil, and it smells just as big. The syrupy black beer oozes out of the tiny little bottles as the boozy barrel aromas dare me to dive in.
Upon further Michael-Douglas-esque investigation, notes of dark fruit and cinnamon make their way to my nose like a double-dog dare, and finally it’s time to just drink it.
I let it warm up a bit while I was writing the intro above, and while those aromas continue to open up, they remain pretty subtle. That’s likely due to the quickly fading, chocolate-milk-brown head leaving no bubbles to carry the scents up. It’s not uncommon for barrel aged beers to lack head retention, though.
Each sip of Sigma Black Drizzle is a reminder of how complex beer can be. The flavors read like an odd grocery list as the beer oozes and coats my palette: dark fruit, dark chocolate, roasty-char and rich barley, and then the finish is cinnamon, spice, vanilla, and everything nice.
It clings to my tongue between sips where these flavors all pop up, disappear, and reappear like wack-a-mole. Despite all the booze on the nose, there’s not much alcohol heat from the Yellow Rose barrels, surprisingly. It’s hard to say that a beer this big can be balanced, but hey, they did it with Resinlord. Somehow there’s no domination of flavors from the long list above. They’re all discernible.
As far as comparisons go, it’d be crazy not to say I find some similarity between this and Burial in Space. There’s a thick, richness in both the flavor and mouthfeel that are becoming distinguishingly Sigma. While the beers themselves are leaps and bounds apart flavor wise, I also think of Southern Star Black Crack because the barrels are so well balanced.
Sigma Black Drizzle was released last Sunday (2/24/2018) at the brewery, and it’s probably all gone. But you can hit up the homies at Hop Drop to get some bottles delivered because they always got the goods. If you’ve never had a 330ml bottle, go ahead and get 2. They’re small, and while this beer’s shareable, you’ll probably want to have one to age. Use code “BEERCHRONICLE” for 10% off your beer delivery.
Sigma Black Drizzle BA Stout
In conclusion, I’ve always been really transparent with y’all as well as with the brewers. I don’t prefer barrel aged beers, and I never have. I don’t love the taste of any liquors, and I’ve never learned to appreciate good wine. I seek balance when it comes to adding barrels to beer, and Sigma nailed it with this one. This beer checks all the boxes in my book, but don’t take my word for it. Get some for yourself and see.
Or have you already? What’d you think about Sigma Black Drizzle? Let us know in the comments below or by rating it with a single click of the stars. Beers to you, Houston!