When first released as the brewery’s winter seasonal in late 2014, Blackrocks Brewery let it be known that its North Third Stout wasn’t meant to be the kind of beer you cozy up to and sip by the fire. Rather than some imperialized malt monster, North Third would instead be a lighter, more drinkable stout you could enjoy while getting outside and taking part in wintertime activities.
Named for the street the brewery is built on, North Third is stylistically said to be a foreign extra stout. Beers of this type are intended to be flavorful, but less intense than an imperial stout, and not as hoppy or bitter as some American interpretations. With that in mind, if only three words could be used to give some insight into the style, you’d probably do well to choose descriptors like dry, dark and roasty.
As for North Third’s take, it hits on many of the so-called style guidelines for a foreign extra stout. The beer has a flavor profile characterized by roasted grain, coffee and chocolate, with an earthy feel and a hint of dark fruit thrown in for good measure as well. These elements are balanced and moderate in terms of overall presence, which keeps with the idea of having the beer be bold, but not overly intense.
North Third does have a bit of sweetness, but it’s somewhat fleeting and easily balanced by a slight bitterness in the finish. Even then, things dry out by the time the aftertaste comes around, leaving you with lingering notes of dark roast to send you on your way. The beer isn’t heavy or boozy in the least, and even though I might like a touch more body, it’s lack of heft just makes it that much more easy to drink.