Tag Archive: Black IIPA

Fierce: Magic Rock: Black DIPA (Scotland: Black IIPA: 8.3% AHBV)

Visual: Black. Massive chocolate froth brown coloured frothy head that leaves suds.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Chocolate dust. Slight charcoal. Bitter coffee granules. Mocha. Good hop bitterness.

Body: Good bitterness. Bitter cocoa. Slightly creamy mouth feel and taste. Kiwi fruit. Chocolate. Mild choc orange. Bitter hop character. Chilli seeds, with slight heat. Slight pineapple.

Finish: Chocolate dust. Bitter cocoa and chocolate cake. Bitter hops. Peppery. Earthy and turmeric.

Conclusion: This claims on the can to have pine, citrus and tropical notes from the hops. Not the set of words I would have picked I have to admit.

On examination there are fresher hop notes that could justify those descriptors, but they generally just put a general fresher, slightly easier drinking feel to a heavy, hoppy bitter BIPA.

The Black IPA side is quite balanced between the stouty and IPA styled notes – showing solid chocolate and roasted notes, but the bitterness feels IPA like bitterness, backed by the slightly bitter chocolate, but definitely the hops are the main bitterness maker here. A lot of BIPAs end up feeling like just a more roasted bitter hopped stout, but, in fairness to the can’s description, the fresh notes makes this definitely a Black IPA, not just a hoppy stout.

However I would say that more than those fresh notes this emphasises instead the peppery, earthy, chilli seed heat character to make it more grounded and warming. It is less showy than say, to pick a random example and definitely not just picking my favourite BIPA, Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale. This feels more like a British IPA, made into a BIPA and with just a few American hop influences showing.

There is some sweeter chocolate character to offset, some creamier notes, which are welcome against the grounded hops. It is slightly creamy in mouthfeel as well – slightly fresh in taste over that – but at its core it is bitter hops, bitter chocolate and an earthy, peppery touch.

Very solid, very well brewed. Could do with more of the lighter notes it claims, but still a solid grounded BIPA. I wish there were more BIPAs, but I am happy enough with this one.

Background: Black IPAs! I freaking love Black IPAs for all I complain about the nonsensical naming convention. They seem comparatively rare at the moment, so I grab a new one whenever I can. Haven’t seen Stone Brewing’s Sublimely Self Righteous ale this side of the pond for ages. Beer shops, importers, whoever, pretty please get it back in again. Anyway, yeah I grabbed this mainly because it is a Black IPA, helps that this is a collaboration with Magic Rock who are decent. Anyway, went with the Algorithm: Brute Force for music to back this – techo, electronic, mathcore, whatever the heck they are tunes to again help burn off some energy in covid lockdown.

To Øl Black Malts and Body Salts

To Øl: Black Malts and Body Salts (Denmark: Black IIPA: 9.99% ABV)

Visual: Black. Huge coffee froth and a tight bubbled mound of a head that leaves coffee sud rings.

Nose: Coffee granules. Light granite. Bitter character. Burnt wood. Earthy.

Body: Bitter coffee. Charcoal dust. Blended whisky undertones. Salt touch. Some thick chocolate notes.

Finish: Bitter, especially bitter coffee. Charcoal dust. Salt touch. Earthy and spicy. Light strawberry notes occasionally.

Conclusion: This is a harsher black IPA than most of the style. Against expectations it seems to go down the more earthy and straightforward hop bitterness of a British IPA rather than the more fruity use of the word IPAs. But with a Black IPA here obviously. Or a coffee BIPA as it turns out.

Strange as I don’t think they use British hops – could just be emphasising the early boil hops for bitterness maybe? Not really sure, but that is how it ends up feeling anyway.

Now the coffee makes up a very big part of the overall character – and very bitter coffee at that, easily matching the raw bitter hop character. It gets smoother mid body and is backed by some chocolate maltiness, but top and tail is very raw bitter coffee.

The harsher edges are emphasised, with the burnt wood into charcoal notes that make what would be an otherwise smooth beer come out as very drying into the earthy end. It is a very robust beer, so much so that – combined with the abv – there is a spirity kind of blended whisky undertone. Odd as the beer is so smooth texture wise, but there are definite signs of the alcohol in there.

I haven’t ran into many earthy based BIPAs, so this gets points for doing that well, and the coffee is used well – so much so it seems to be basically coffee beer half the time. Overall though – it is only an ok beer to me, and in the market of Black IPAs which is filled with greats. I like that it is a different take on the style but it doesn’t really excite – it has a few notes it does well, but doesn’t really seem to expand out.

A solid well made beer, but nothing that declares it a must drink.

Background: Ok, erm, I just looked this up on rate beer and it is their #1 rated Black IPA. I swear I don’t just write these things to be controversial. Anyway, I picked this up from Brewdog’s Guest Beer section as I had heard a good buzz about it. Anyway this is a Black IPA brewed with coffee, and, according to rate beer – body salts. I have to admit I thought that was just a clever name. Anyway, drunk while listening to a bit of 8 bit zoo – a nice bit of cheery light heartedness to get over the fact I had basically just watched a vast amount of Marble Hornets and I kind of wanted to sleep at some point this lifetime.

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.

Brewdog Cap - Cap Dog

Brewdog: CAP: Cap Dog (Scotland: BIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black, with very dark red hints if held to the light. Inch of charcoal dashed brown frothy head.

Nose: Ash. Bitterness and hops. Smoked dried beef and peppercorn. Light kumquat touch.

Body: Good bitterness. Smoked bacon. Peppercorn sauce. Treacle into chocolate syrup. Sour cream twist and chives.

Finish: Peppercorn sauce. Steak. Bitter malt chocolate. Ice cream chocolate syrup. Digestives

Conclusion: You know, I was beginning to get disillusioned with Black IPAs. Ok, that is a lie, or at least disillusioned is the wrong word. Maybe more I was getting worn out by them. While they were generally high quality, the range of takes you got seemed very small compared to IPAs. So many did such similar hop kicks, possibly because fewer hops worked well against the darker malt.

This then, is interesting – the hop bitterness is there, with that prickly hop feel, but the flavour of the beer, the base it works from, is much more towards the malt. It is more meaty, and more a mix of treacle and smoke than it is the hop flavours. It wavers precariously close to the stout styling, which admittedly is a style BIPAs are often not entirely far from, but here it really lets go with the syrup texture, and the sweet touch against the raw hop bitterness.

However, make no mistake, this is definitely a BIPA. Here is that different, drier, mouthfeel, and the bitterness. You can’t mistake it for anything else, but it does seem to trust the hops to be needed primarily as a bittering agent, so to create the spirit of an IPA, then let the malt handle the complexity.

It seems like it should be rough – it has bitter hops, smoked meat, and a slight sour twist. So, it should be rough, but is smooth – the texture may be slightly dry as to be drinkable, but they lace it with touches of syrup sweetness that brings a smooth feel with it. A contradiction? Maybe, but then so is the idea of a Black Pale Ale, so I’ll roll with it. This embraces the contradiction and makes it work for it. It is about how it feels as much as how it tastes – dry up front, prickly as it goes down, seeps onto the tongue and then rises into a smoked air. The flavours are simpler than most, but still the beer manages to have character with those textures.

So, definitely something different and something quality. A very good BIPA.

Background: Yes I’m still listening to the Guilty Gear XX soundtrack while doing beer reviews. That stuff is serious pumped up 80’s style rock. Anyway. Beer. This is a collaboration with CAP. Shocking I know, or Curious Audacious Products, as it goes. CAP was one of the first two Breweries to benefit from the “Brewdog Development Fund” which is cool. This is a black IPA made with Coffee Berry. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB06 (Scotland: Black IIPA: 11.2% ABV)

Visual:  A very dark reddened black with a solid fudge brown bubbled head.

Nose: Grapefruit, pineapple, all mixed in with a touch of custard. As that settles down roasted coffee beans come out along with hazelnuts. Hop character, but not overwhelming despite its strength. Dry., Strawberry after a while.

Body:  Roasted. Lots of nuts and a good amount of hop bitterness. Light fudge sweetness. Fresh grapefruit backing it up. Texture seems smooth, but the hops soon turn it to a prickly sensation. Lots of fluffy hop character builds. Bitter chocolate.

Finish: Good dose of hops with milk chocolate traces. Still a touch of citrus about it. Quite bitter and hop oils. The hops grow noticeably throughout the bottle to become a resolute presence.

Conclusion:  Straightforward, but potent.  With all its talk of triple dry hopping I was wondering if this was going to end up firmly in the assault (black) IPA camp.  While it is very bitter, it doesn’t quite go overboard, though it does build throughout the bottle.  Either that or maybe I just killed my taste buds off years ago, one or the other.

So then they have taken a roasted BIPA, added a hell of a lot of citrus hops and this is the result. The huge amount of dry hopping seems then to give it the great aroma, without making the beer itself undrinkable.  The beer seems very much a massively ramped up Bashah, and that was no light going itself.  It also has some calls to Stones Arogant Bastard Ale in its hopping style.

Despite this it doesn’t seem to make itself seem as special as the other beers in the Abstrakt line, possibly due to no simple high concept hook to hang itself upon.  The extra ABV doesn’t seem to have brought a huge amount extra to the table, it’s more the dry hopping that gives the extra character.

Now, as always with beers like this I may be being a little harsh. When you are asking a tenner plus for a bottle I tend to be a bit more critical of any flaws I find.

It’s a very solid BIPA, with its hop influence as its main selling point, a beer that fights you, but doesn’t thrash you.  This is the thing, for all it doesn’t have that high concept hook, a solid Black IPA done well is a bloody good beer, even without all the bells and whistles.  The halfway mix of a roasted stout and an American IPA, and oddly while I find highly hopped stouts annoying I don’t mean that as a bad thing here. This walks the line between the styles nicely. Don’t go expecting a revolution and you will find a lot to enjoy.

Background: As I have frequently mentioned I am not an unbiased actor when it comes to Brewdog.  Black IPAs are a style that amuse me, if only for the intrinsically contradictory involved in their naming.  This particular Abstrakt is a triple dry hopped version of the beer, with dry hopping being the process that tends to commit the most hop aromas to the smell of the ale.

Brewdog/ Stone: Bashah Reserve: Imperial and Tayberry (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 8.7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown black, a fizzing brown head as poured but none settles.

Nose: Milk chocolate, sour berries – gooseberry. Light smoky whisky,  Sea breeze. Raspberry, blackberry and chocolate cream.

Body: Sour berries, blackcherry and pips. Bitter with a decent malt run. Gin, smoke and slight woodiness. Milk chocolate. Lots of sour and tart elements.

Finish: Bitter chocolate, gin air and more chocolate in shavings form. Smoke and salt. Sour and slight charring remains.

Conclusion: Another take on the Bashah and this one racks up the sour and smoke.  Whilst it is a powerful as heck beast like its blackberry aged brother, it seems to give a bit more room for the Bashah base beer to come out which I definitely appreciate given that the other reserve was damn near overwhelmed by its ageing elements.

Generally this is the less popular of the two reserves, however I found I enjoyed it more, the massive sourness it brought to play and the interactions with the base Bashah made for a very interesting beer, playing well with the bitter chocolate body.

It doesn’t play well with subtlety, the strong flavours do mask the edges of the taste range from Bashah, but it des retain the bitter edge trail in the finish.  A bold and brash beer, not balanced or subtle but for a massive sour and bitter kick it is very nice

Background: Bashah was initially a double Belgium style black IPA (for all the contradictions that entails) from Brewdog and Stone back in 2009, and was a delicious and very bitter beer.  Small amounts (about 700 to a thousand bottles of each type) were aged with berries in whisky casks.  I have previously tasted and enjoyed standard Bashah and the Highland Park and Black Raspberry and enjoyed both.  Disclaimer: I am not an unbiased actor when it comes to Brewdog beers but aim for objectivity.

Brewdog/Stone Brewing: Bashah: Highland Park and Black Raspberry Reserve 2009 (Scotland: Black IIPA: 8.7% ABV)

Visual: Opening the bottle results in an explosion of froth not seen since the De Dolle beer days, resulting in hastily grabbing a glass to catch the cascading froth.  Unsurprisingly then it has a massive brown head with dashing of red dust upon, the head leaves lace over the dark brown black body as it diminishes.

Nose: Cinnamon, smoke and peat. Blackberries, iodine traces and sour mash. Ground bitter chocolate, mulled wine and fish oil.

Body: Very smooth front before the main assault, then bitter with sour blue berries, iodine and chocolate. Very tart. Raspberries, an almost lambic sourness at the back and touch of salt.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and hops, the dry hops remain the longer of the two. Salt and sourness.

Conclusion:  The original Bashah was a bitter delicious thing, with lots of hops and rich layers of flavour.  This one, well it dials down the hops a tad but otherwise brings a hell of a lot of force to play.  From its explosive emergence from the bottle, to the still bitter to the core Bashah body, to the sour berries or the salt and medicinal whisky influence, this is a monster.

Strangely, considering Highland Park is one of the more subtle islands, it brings a huge amount of medicinal peat and salt to the game here, most likely because the Bashah and berries overpower the more subtle notes that it normally brings to the game.

Still the bitter as hell Bashah can only just keep up with the forces brought to bay by the added elements, the different elements rampage against each other, explosively fighting on your taste buds.

The Bashah core does managed to hold its own just enough to bring its bitterness back to the fight, even if the ageing has muted the hops.  Well worth a ride if you can hold on, if only for the experience of doing so. A demolition derby of a beer.

Brewdog/Stone Brewing Bashah (Scotland: USA: Black IIPA: 8.6% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black, light brown and frothy head that settles quickly but has a creamy look while it lasts.

Nose: Orange, sharp, lots of hops. Chocolate malt. Light spices with a festive touch (cloves?)

Body: Bitter, smooth creamy mouthfeel. Egg whites and whipped cream. Lime. Carrot cake.

Finish: Lots of bitter, sweet cream in coffee; dry hops finish that last for a long long time.

Conclusion: Well I believe Will captures the sentiments well in his conclusion next but may I add that this does bitterness better than the ruination IPA. It has less IBU but with less sweet notes to counter act they all add up into a mighty drink.

Lots of hops with a nice bit extra. A rough cut diamond of a centre to make an IPA with a heart of darkness.

Not a beer that appeals to all but it is a treat for those who handle it, with a finish that lasts forever and lots of depth. Not as good as the collaborating companies peak beers but a fine and distinct collaboration in itself.

Guest Taster: Will Ashworth

Visual: Rich caramel brown head.

Nose: The bitter alcohol comes through strongly with a fresh…

Body: A hoppy tang…

Finish …

Conclusion: I don’t think that I can write a review of this beer. It is a good looking complex beer and many of the tastes seem unique to me.


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