Darkest Days - Bottle

Darkest Days

Mocha Stout

Homebrew Series

Inspired by one of Black Label Society's most moving songs, "Darkest Days" is an oatmeal stout originally brewed with Zakk Wylde's very own Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend coffee. Fueled by death and spiced with cacao nibs, this dark creamy beer eventually became a canvas on which to experiment with different blends of coffee and chocolate. Do you bleed black?

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  • Last brewedApril 15, 2023
  • Alcohol5.5%
  • MaltsPilsner, Black, Carafa II, CaraMunich II, CaraAroma, Chocolate, Flaked Oats
  • HopsNorthern Brewer
  • YeastLallemand Nottingham
  • ExtrasCacao Nibs, Coffee Beans
Darkest Days - Label Design

As a long time fan of Black Label Society, I wanted to make a beer explicitly designed for the band, all the way from ingredients to artwork. Being well aware of Zakk Wylde's very own Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend from Deathwish Coffee, I figured it would be interesting to go for a coffee stout. That's how I crafted the recipe for one strong, roasty, dark beer which I let smooth out for about 1.5 months after fermentation before adding the cold brewed coffee along with some cacao nibs for a smoother, rounder taste. With another 3 months of final cellar conditioning, the beer was ready for release just in time for the launch of the band's "Grimmest Hits" album. Since then I have experimented with several different coffee and cacao origins, as well as different periods of cellar aging before finally arriving at my current recipe. The most recent batch has a lower alcohol level for better drinkability, and by cold steeping the roasted malts and adding in flaked oats to the grist it's also much smoother and darker, allowing me to be more mindful of what coffee and chocolate to use. With a flavor profile of berries, cherry, and dark honey in mind, I went for a Red Kenibon coffee from Tecapa-Chinameca in El Salvador, locally roasted in Munich by Café Blá, and used it together with Maya Mountain cacao nibs from Belize, roasted also locally by Truly Chocolate. The resulting beer is a smooth and silky pitch black stout with a soft coffee backbone and notable aromas of dark chocolate and berries.

Darkest Days - Pencil DrawingDarkest Days - Ink IllustrationDarkest Days - Digital Print

The Artwork

Choosing the Grim Reaper as the subject for this label resonated both with the song itself as well as the band's new album. The illustration on its own took over 20 hours to finish, most of which was spent just on stippling. When it came to colouring, I wanted to add just a speck of it, so I went with the dark olive green matching the "Grimmest Hits" album cover and kept everything else just dark, gray and grim as it should be.

Darkest Days - Artwork
Darkest Days - Showcase
Darkest Days - Aging Experiment

Aging Experiment

With this being one of my first stouts, I though it would be a good experiment to let some of it age for a longer period to see what flavours I could get out of it, so I ended up packaging a larger 750ml bottle with a more vintage-looking label. With time, that bottle developed noticeable plum and raisin flavors while in the same time also becoming drier than expected for an imperial stout. This experiment was continued also with newer batches where I used different kinds of coffee, making the aging result even more interesting but always enjoyable to drink.

Darkest Days - Outdoor View
Gumpenspitze in Eastern Karwendel • 2,176m
Tyrolean Alps, Austria


This is a homebrewed beer that is not available for sale or distribution of any kind. It was brewed at home in small quantities to be shared only with family and friends simply out of passion for the craft and as a tribute to the music that inspired it.


If you dig the label artwork and would like to get your hands on some merch that features it, then check out the Hopsylvania web shop and snoop around for something you might like. All orders and manufacturing handled by Spreadshirt.

Gear up!
Darkest Days - T-Shirt

Other Beers

Check out some of the other things I brewed that might be similar to this one, or alternatively just explore the full range regardless of their style.

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