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|Tasting Panel Black IPA|
|Written by Paul Sullivan|
|Wednesday, 06 October 2010 17:00|
(India Black Ale, Cascadian Dark Ale)
This style seems to be all the rage now, although even after the tasting was concluded we still weren’t quite sure what exactly a Black IPA is.
This was the most polarized tasting in recent memory for this panel, especially coming after the last one where we were nearly unanimous in our ratings. This time everyone had different opinions about each beer, as reflected in the ties for second and third place. First place went to Hop in the Dark from Deschutes Brewery, second place was a tie between Tommyknocker Hop Strike Black Rye IPA and Grand Teton Trout Hop Black IPA, and third place was a tie between Weyerbacher Lima and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. As always, the entries were blind tasted, and panelists received no information on any of the beers until the tasting was concluded.
Hop in the Dark, 6.5%, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR: Poured a dark brown color with mahogany highlights and a decent tan head. Earthy roast nose with dark fruit notes and light citrus hops. “Nicely balanced, very drinkable. Bitter chocolate finish lasts a long time. Roast and hops integrated really well.” “Very drinkable but not hoppy enough for an IPA. More like an American Brown.” 4 stars
Hop Strike Black Rye IPA, 7%, Tommyknocker Brewery, Idaho Springs, CO: Medium brownish red hue with a beige head. Slight aroma of roasted malt up front followed by a big floral, resinous hop nose. “Big roast flavor, hops come in second. Finish is drying roast and coffee. Roast fights the hops a bit.” “Light and dry finish, medium bitterness. Very balanced, if a little thin. Good hop bitterness, flavor and aroma.” 3.5 stars
Trout Hop Black IPA, 8.5%, Grand Teton Brewing Co., Victor, ID: Dark brown root beer color with a tan head. Citrus and floral hop nose with dried fruit, berry, and coffee undertones. “Nice roast brown ale. Very chewy and roasty, good hops — not over the top. Great balance.” “Medium body, good bittering, nice hop levels, not much roast.” 3.5 stars
Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, 8.7%, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA: Dark brown color with a tight off white head and good lacing. Big citrus and pine aromas with light roast and sweet malt notes. “Very good, big bitterness. Could use a little more roast.” “Bitter up front, roast lingers, as do bitter chocolate and hops. Big, but very well-made and drinkable.” 3.5 stars
Double Black IPA, 8.5%, Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK: Very dark brown with garnet highlights, poured with a thin brown head. Citrus, licorice, dried fruits in the nose with roast, sherry, and grass underneath. “Citrus and roast right up front, fighting it out. Bitter chocolate lasts into the finish.” “Very bitter chocolate, very alcoholic — Sherry, Madeira.” 3 stars
Back in Black, 6.8%, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco. CA: Medium brown hue, fairly clear, with big beige head that fell quickly. Delicate aroma with light roast and slight citrus hops. “Sweet up front with a slightly roasty counterpoint. Then more roast and gentle hop bitterness in finish.” “More of a brown ale. Caramel flavor, drying roast, lasts through the finish. Not real black, but nice beer, very drinkable.” 3 stars
Blackwatch, 6.1%, Vermont Pub and Brewery, Burlington, VT: The original Black IPA first brewed at VPB in 1994 (as substantiated in the last issue of ASN). Poured a dark reddish brown color with a smallish head. Roast malt and coffee nose, with some piney hop notes. “Very smooth roast, hops come in next and last into the finish, but roast dominates. Nice beer — is it an IPA or a porter?” “True to style I guess, which would be hops and roast and not too much malt. Still a good combo, hops and roast.” 3 stars