Brewdog: Prototype: Black IPA (Scotland: Black IPA: 5.3% ABV)
Visual: Black. Thin brown creamy head.
Nose: Fresh kiwi. Citrus. Vanilla. Strawberry. Clean.
Body: Toffee. Kiwi. Roasted nuts. Treacle. Chocolate liqueur. Peanuts. Caramel. Lemon sponge. Dried apricot.
Finish: Charred taste but clean feel. Cocoa. Some bitterness and hop character. Rougher hops as time goes on. Roasted nuts. Toffee. Dried apricot.
Conclusion: You know how the USA IPA style is kind of split between two main interpretations – the drier, more bitter take, and the actually quite sweet style that uses hops for fruit more than for bitterness? OK, yes I know that is over simplistic, I’m trying to set something up, it makes the point, right?
Anyway, this is a very sweet and fruity take on the black IPA which makes me think it is the dark cousin of that sweeter style. The actual bitterness is way down, instead giving a soothing toffee and chocolate base and a fresh kiwi burst from the hop character.
Bit unusual and doesn’t really shout BIPA to me, more a slightly higher hopped than usual black ale. Yes there is a difference. Honest.
It is pretty easy drinking – the texture is smooth as, and the flavours are bright on the hop side, and slightly roasted on the malt side. No real harsh hop notes, or overly bitter or charred base. Feels like it would session well, the abv is a bit high, and please don’t let anyone take this as a cue to start a trend of a session Black IPA style -we already have far too many misuses of India * beers.
As a beer it doesn’t shine and it doesn’t shout, however, also it doesn’t suck. The most easy going BIPA I have encountered, so much so that it doesn’t entirely seem to fit the style.
I don’t know if it is what Brewdog intended, but they have really reined in the dark hopped beer style to something you could kick back with for a while. At a tad lower abv it would be perfect for this. However if lowering the abv would hurt the flavour I say leave as is.
Background: Black IPA? I guess Brewdog are saving the decent names for whatever ones get chosen rather than using them up on prototypes. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers, though it is a complicated one. You may notice a shiny new glass? Craft Beer Sis gave me a Christmas Present of three specially designed glasses- this one designed for IPAs. Many thanks sis! Yes I know it isn’t Christmas yet. Regular readers may realise I don’t attach too much to keeping to correct timescales for Christmas. Anyway, glass seemed to work well at retained the head – without trying another bottle in a different glass I can’t say if it enhanced the beer, but it certainly didn’t seem to hurt. Drunk while listening to some of the excellent work by Akala.