Once You Go Black

I’ve found a new dark place to hide. Among my world of Craft Beers, tasting the amber, golden, yellow, and crystal clear, there is a deep, dark and refreshingly hoppy alternative. The Black IPA. I’ll go ahead and admit it. I’m a hop head. My standby beer is a good IPA but I do go off path and take in a good Pale Ale or Wheat beer too. Occasionally, especially when it starts getting cooler, I will take in a few Stouts or Porters. And let’s not forget Guinness. Dark beers have there place with me but they always seemed to lack a little something. Yes, I’m talking about the hops.

Over the past few months I have been reading about a relatively new entry in the Craft Beer marketplace, Black IPAs. Wait, what? Could it be the perfect melding of a dark, roasty beer with an over the top hop kick? As I came to find out last night, yes it can! The Beer Advocate description states that these beers “range from dark brown to pitch black and showcase malty and light to moderate roasty notes and are often quite hoppy”.

The first Black IPA that I tried was a Stone Brewing 15th Anniversary Imperial. Not being a huge fan of Imperials it was about what I expected. Dark, roasted, and hoppy. The alcohol content killed this one for me. Not bad, but definitely not great. Next up, Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA. Now we’re getting somewhere. A good balance between the dark chocolate flavor and a recognizable hop kick. A little disappointing that they called this one an IPA though. Not a big hoppy beer in my opinion. Lastly, I reserved the hard to find, and definitely worth the wait Olde Hickory Black Raven. This beer is like drinking a stout but getting kicked in the face with a good hop blast. Is this what Guinness would taste like if we hooked it up to the Randall?

So the Black IPA has made it to my rotation. Maybe I’ll even try this one in the Homebrewing schedule. There are plenty of Craft Brewers adding the Black IPA to their menus. Local brewery, NoDA Brewing Company has a limited release of Midnight Madness. Terrapin, Sweetwater, Sierra Nevada are all offering the style. The list is growing and I am buying. Looking forward to trying many more Black IPAs as we make our way though winter.