Buxton Battle Horse

Buxton: Battle Horse (England: Black IPA: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate loose bubbled beige head.

Nose: Pine cones. Resin and grapefruit. Apple pie. Hops. Malt drinks and roasted character. Light coffee.

Body: Sweet into bitter chocolate. Milky back. Apples. Charring. Shortbread. Light medicinal touch and slight smoked bacon back. Big hop bitterness. Grapes and peach undertones. Thick. Resinous.

Finish: Bitter, big hop character and roasted nuts. Toffee chocolate malt drink. Hop oils. Light apples and apricot. Grapes. Light smokes. Light medicinal and smoke.

Conclusion: Ah, the huge abv black IPA, the ever reliable beer style to go to when you want a beer to kick your teeth in and make you like it.

This one doesn’t push any of the core elements of a black IPA ahead of any of the other, instead it just lounges happily across the various opportunities of the style.

If you can dig down deep enough then at its base it has stout like bitter chocolate that leads out into sweeter notes, soothed over by toffee malt drinks. Combined with the creamy and thick texture I have the feeling that it would be fairly solid even as just a beer in itself without the other elements.

But you do have to dig deep to get that base beer – moving through a standard (Well, high quality, but within the standard range of a BIPA) mix of big resin and hop oils bitter introduction – which calls to the root IPA style much more clearly than most BIPAs. The use of the initially light, but quickly growing fruit hop flavours are sharp and clear.

There are alcohol influenced harsher elements – a touch of medicinal and salt – along which a peaty whisky feeling smoky bacon thickness to the body. Somehow despite the intensity of those flavours they quickly fall behind the creamy body and the big fruit hops. Even more so than that the rougher roasted notes seem to soon fall by the wayside, only resurging to add texture to the finish to underline the beer experience.

So, this beer is genuinely good – starts ok, like a good Black IPA but without a stand out quirk. Then the beer builds up layer by layer – the hop flavour comes out as it warms, it is such a contrast to the base malt and the combination of the two show how a Black IPA can be the best of both worlds.

Intensely sweet, fruity yet roasted and bitter – it is a BIPA up there with Sublimely Self Righteous Ale. It takes longer to show its greatness than that beer, but hits the high notes in a fresher, more call to standard IPA way. get this beer.

Background: Buxton’s 100th brew, a double black IPA. Buxton have a great reputation, I’ve only had a couple of their beers though. not sure why, just never really got around to having more. Picked up from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to some Sabaton, mainly Coat Of Arms.

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