Beer Review 0591: Big Boss The Big Operator Belgian Dark Ale

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Big Boss Brewing Company is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Started in 2006, the company is a collaboration between Geoff Lamb, a University of North Carolina graduate, and Brad Wynn, former brewer for Victory, Wild Goose, and Native Brewing Companies.

Big Boss does not use artificial preservatives, additives, or pasteurization. They have a year-round and a seasonal line; The Big Operator falls in the seasonal lineup.

The Big Operator is a Belgian-influenced Black Ale that is infused with raspberries, which are shipped overnight from the Pacific Northwest, and locally roasted cacao from Escazu, a nearby Raleigh-based artisan chocolate maker. The beer is 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) — yeah, that’s not a ton of info, but it’s all we have from Big Boss. Let’s hope this is a tasty brew.

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The pour makes for an average size, soapy and fast diminishing head. There’s a significant amount of yeast in the bottom of the bottle, and if you swirl a couple of ounces of the beer to get those dregs fully mixed, the head becomes creamy and has some staying power. Color is dark brown out of light; held in light, it’s a beautiful shade of deep ruby, and features a nice, clear body (sans yeast). There were no particles or sediment. Lacing was lacking, only leaving behind dots of singular suds.

On the nose, this brew is raspberry-centric, with a nice blend of sweet and tart. There’s more subtle layers of milk chocolate, orange peel, and a slight yeast character, but this doesn’t blow me away as a Belgian-style beer. As it warms, the roasted and toasted malt becomes more apparent. The raspberries are nice and fresh, and pair delightfully well with the milk chocolate.

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The taste presents some pleasantly sweet raspberry up front, full fruity flavor. It continues this way for a fair bit before the milk chocolate washes ashore, and The Big Operator is like The Big Raspberry-Chocolate candy bar. Very nice. Roasted malts begin to come out near the swallow, and the malt backing takes over on the finish, changing the beer from sweet to bittersweet, and it kicks off more of a medicinal tone with the raspberries. That’s a little sad, as the raspberry starts to detract on the conclusion, which is of dark chocolate, and heavily roasted and slightly toasted (burnt bread) malt. Big Operator is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel.

The good points: the chocolate and raspberry combination is very nice. But there isn’t anything overwhelmingly Belgian about this brew, and the finish is a touch medicinal with some alcohol warmth. I think its worthy of a try if you like raspberry in your beer, or fruit with your chocolate. Otherwise, you might want to think twice here, as the bottle is a bit pricey for what’s inside.

Big Boss The Big Operator Belgian Dark Ale, 84 points. Price: $3.99 US for one 12 oz. bottle.

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