In the pursuit of perfect homebrew, failure still makes beer.

Style Highlight: Black IPA

Recently, I’ve been taken aback by what seems to be a relatively new style of beer that fits my palette perfectly. If you’re like me, and you love yourself a malty, darker brand of brew but also consider yourself a hop-head at times, you’ve always had to settle on one end of the spectrum.

Sure, each general group (malty vs. hoppy) has their own benefits and their own champions. But what if I’m a typical supersizing, mobile-interneting, arms-bearing, goddamn American citizen who hates waiting and singularity? I want it all and I want it now!

Fear not, for there is a beer for you, Sir Wantsitall. The style is named American Black Ale, but more commonly is known as Black IPA. A description of this all-in-one concoction follows from BeerAdvocate:

American Black Ale: Also referred to as a Black IPA (India Pale Ale) or Cascadian Dark Ale, ales of this style range from dark brown to pitch black and showcase malty and light to moderate roasty notes and are often quite hoppy generally with the use of American hops. Alcohol can range from average to high depending on if the brewery is going for a “dobule / imperial” version.

Now, doesn’t this just tickle your liver? You get hops, malts, roastiness, AND average to high ABV all in one beer! Sign my ass up, Sergeant.

What initially prompted my interest in Black IPA was my visit to the Boston Winter Beer Jubilee a few weeks back. Of all 60+ brewers there, there was only one who held Black IPA at their table. 21st Amendment Brewery has canned their Back in Black IPA, making it not only the perfect example of this style but also one of very few craft beers you can find in cans. The others (as far as I know, correct me please if I’m wrong) are Dale’s Pale Ale and another one of 21st’s brews, a watermelon beer. I stayed away from the watermelon, but now I wish I tried it – oh well.

Locally, I also sampled some delicious Black IPA in Inman Square in Cambridge. At the Druid, where the brogue flows as thick as the beer, they featured Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA, which went down easy with fantastic American hop notes and plenty of roasted malt backbone.

I’m planning to brew a batch of Black IPA in the coming month, in order to age it for the late summer and fall seasons where lighter, more citrusy beers give way to malt and spices once more. I look forward to that adventure with open arms and open liver. If someone has a great Black IPA recipe, point me to it!


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