Brewdog: Black Hammer (Scotland: Black IPA: 7.2% ABV)
Visual: Black, but merely very dark brown at the edges. Middle sized dark brown froth for a head.
Nose: Pine and resinous. Pineapple. Hops. Very milky coffee.
Body: Pine. Good hops and bitterness. Fresh. Slight charring back. Kiwi. Slight white grapes in a juicy fashion. Light toffee.
Finish: Charring, bitter chocolate and bitter hop character. Bitter coffee granules. Bitterness rises to kicking levels over time. Hop oils. Caramel.
Conclusion: This is possibly the most IPA like Black IPA I have ever had. That is neither intended as an insult, nor a complement, just an observation. Most BIPAs are a distinctly different thing from the IPA that they are influenced by -often feeling closer to stouts that the IPA they are named after. This, probably due to its Jack Hammer roots, feels more like a standard IPA that has a few BIPA trappings added on top.
It is very noticeable in the quite clean bitterness – coming in quite fresh, juicy, fruity, and definitely backed by that trademarked Jack Hammer hop kick. That is not to say that it does not show its BIPA side, but from early in the aroma to until late body they are very lightly done. During this time it feels very much like the straight fresh IPA with a mild dash of malt chocolate and charring as mellowing notes.
In the finish though – this is full on Black IPA, bitter coffee, chocolate, and hops, all kicking to hell. It is like the finish is trying to make up for all the previous lack of BIPA notes. It take all that missing BIPA style and hammers it home with Jack Hammer relentlessness.
Now, Brewdog may call this the best black IPA, but I have to admit I prefer my Black IPAs to make the most of the style trappings rather than the style that inspired it. I feel aiming for an IPA style is best left to IPAs. That said, this is very good. As an IPA it has lots of what made me love Jack Hammer – the bitterness, the big flavours. The BIPA alterations, while quote unquote restrained ( No I don’t know who I am quoting, probably myself) does add to the experience.
Not the best BIPA, but it is very good and I will admit interest in the mix of BIPA and standard IPA styles. A very worthwhile take.
Background: James from Brewdog has described this as “The best black IPA” he has ever tasted. However I feel he may be biased. Speaking of bias, as always I may not be an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This is a black IPA take on Jack Hammer, the second of the Jack Hammer variants out this year. This was the first tasting note I did after my roughly week long hiatus due to ballacks happenings in the UK. Sorry about the delay. The beer was grabbed straight from Brewdog’s store.