Darkest Days - Bottle

Darkest Days

Mocha Stout

Homebrew Series

Inspired by one of Black Label Society's most moving songs, "Darkest Days" is an imperial stout brewed with Zakk Wylde's very own Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend coffee. Fueled by death and spiced with cacao nibs, this beer packs quite the punch in both flavour and alcohol. Do you bleed black?

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  • Last brewedApril 22nd, 2019
  • Alcohol8.5%
  • MaltsPilsner, Carafa II, CaraAroma, Chocolate, Roasted Barley
  • HopsNugget
  • YeastLallemand Nottingham
  • ExtrasCacao Nibs, Deathwish Coffee Valhalla Java
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. Since most of the time I'm fueled by Deathwish Coffee anyway, I figured it would be interesting to go for a coffee stout brewed with Zakk Wylde's very own Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend, and so I crafted the recipe and brewed myself one strong, roasty, dark beer. Once fermented, I let it smooth out for about 1.5 months before adding the cold brewed coffee along with some cacao nibs for a smoother, rounder taste. After another week, the batch was bottled and moved to the cellar for an extra 3 months of final conditioning. Ready just in time for the launch of the band's "Grimmest Hits" album, this beer ended up being everything I hoped it would be: rich black pour with a dark tan head, medium bodied with roasted coffee flavours all over and just a hint of chocolate in the front. With some of the bottles left in the cellar for over a year, this stout just kept getting better and better.

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 pointilism. 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 - Labels
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 - Mountaintop 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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