Asheville Brewing: Ashe Villain (USA: Black IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep brown black, slightly greyed dash of a head.

Nose: Passion fruit and dried apricot. Toffee mixed with fresh hoppiness. Malt chocolate drinks.

Body: Good bitterness and smooth textured. Slightly milky with lime and kiwi floating throughout. Lime jelly. Chocolate.

Finish: Hops. Kiwi fruit. Growling bitterness and grapefruit. Coffee beans.

Conclusion: The first black IPA I tried whilst in the USA and boy was It a stonker! The smoothness and thicker texture work great together, there is a real hop bitterness but it still feels smooth and easy drinking; A very hard combination to do, but one they manage here with seeming ease. The only other two examples I can think of that do similar is Bristol Beer Factory’s Indian Ink, and Brewdog’s now defunct Equity For Punks 2011.

The main body runs less tart than a lot of the examples of the style, with the fruit leaning more towards juicy kiwis than sharp grapefruit. Whilst I logically know there is no such thing as a session BIPA I would happily give it a go with this one with all the smoothness it brings to the flavours.

The usual coffee flavours are also quite restrained giving a good background for the beer to work from, it’s one that lets the flavours seep in rather than kick them out instantly. In fact with the mellow coffee and juicy kiwi it reminds me of some of the connoisseur coffee I’ve found in the coffee houses around Bath.

Nowhere near the harsh levels of, say Bashah, this plays in the same rarefied area as EFP 2012, but that softness of the fruit flavours makes it stand out as a beer on it’s own.  Seriously drinkable, and well worth having. With EFP2011 now gone I can’t compare the two, but from memory I would say it either matches or possibly surpasses that, making it one of the best Black IPAs I have had and the first beer on the road trip of awesome to get included in my “My favourite list” great work.

Background: Found during the road trip of awesome, at Asheville (shockingly). The company also seems to be called Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, because they also do pizza. It’s all pretty straightforward.  I tried it at their Coxe avenue brew house and had a great time there, the bartender was funny, and offered a sample of a jalapeno infused golden ale (nice, but OUCH!), and was cool about the whole beer review thing. The customers were great as well and pointed me to a beer map of Asheville which came in very useful. Seriously I could do a full week at that place and not have tried half the different breweries beers.  Of all the Asheville breweries this was probably my favourite, and I was very disappointed I couldn’t get the crew to go there for pizza and beer as I would have loved to go back. If anyone from the place reads this, please find some way of getting your beers to England, I will buy and drink them I promise! Thanks to everyone for making me so welcome.