American stouts are typically, well, stout. Not so for British and Irish breeds—those are limber beers that can be imbibed casually and in good volume. Minneapolis’ Able Seedhouse + Brewery created BLK WLF to fill this niche in the American beer market. A full-flavor stout that’s only 3.7% ABV, BLK WLF is a curiosity. We’ve been so conditioned to big-body warmers and chewy malt bills that something so plain and easy-drinking feels like a myth.
BLK WLF is black in a way that deserves the omitted letters. It’s ominous, Norwegian death metal black. It looks like you could dip your fingers in it and use it for paint. Though not a flat as a cask beer, there is surprisingly little carbonation. You’d expect a jetstream of bubbles leading to a mocha head. This is the beer’s first obvious misdirection.
Close your eyes and you could be sniffing a Guinness. Able never hinted that BLK WLF is supposed to be a clone, but the nose is unmistakable. You get that Heath Bar mix of toffee and chocolate malt and a lovely bloom of toasted oatmeal coming on its heels. The creaminess is evident from the first sniff.
The most spectacular thing about this beer is that more beers like it don’t exist on this side of the Atlantic.”
Able recently released BLK WLF in tallboy cans, and it’s a good thing, because this one goes too quickly to be served 12-ounces at a time. It disappears, resplendent sip after resplendent sip. I don’t want to bog down the description with too much detail, because that’s really not the point of the beer, so let’s leave it at this: BLK WLF is an archetypal pub beer.
If you go into a Dublin bar and order “a beer” with no further clarification, this is what you’ll get. And you’ll be glad you did. The most spectacular thing about this beer is that more beers like it don’t exist on this side of the Atlantic. BLK WLF is Able’s attempt at reintroduction, and let’s hope it takes. We could use more beasts like this stateside.