This beer was never brewed.
Brooklyn Brewery is one of the biggest breweries and best known beer brands globally, but they started small, too – just well before most of the players in today’s modern craft beer world.
Brooklyn’s Black Ops, a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout, is a resounding example of this brewery’s commitment to creativity and play from their very early days.
As Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery’s Brew Master, tells it, despite orders to fill of their core beers, like Brooklyn Lager, they diverted a small amount of their resources for recipe exploration and, with Black Ops, created the brewery’s first “ghost bottle.”
What is a ghost bottle? Beer that Brooklyn Brewery does not brew for sale, but for experimentation and to “make something beautiful,” according to Garrett Oliver.
When Oliver had the idea for Black Ops in 2007, his Sales Team told him not to bother brewing it if he wasn’t able to produce enough for all sales accounts… but he went ahead and brewed it anyhow, without telling anyone.
Hiding it under a tarp in the warehouse, the name Black Ops started as a joke for their covert operation, which was ultimately shared with the brewery’s employees for the holidays.
Flash forward a few years and Black Ops has been brewed again as part of the Brooklyn Quarterly Experiment, which is just what it sounds like, a beer brewed each quarter for experimentation and play. Fortunately, these experimental beers are released for sale (albeit in limited quantities!), so if you’re lucky, you might be able to get your hands on a bottle from this covert operation.
While a brewery is a business and orders need to be filled, there should always be time for a little fun. And if you can’t produce enough for all of your accounts, just do what Brooklyn does, stash them away as “ghost bottles” – a rarity your fans will clamor to get their hands on.
P.S. Keep your eye on Brooklyn Brewery’s social media channels…maybe some day you’ll get a chance to attend a Ghost Service with Garrett Oliver to try some of their (still) secret brews!