Thanks to Kat Langford for giving me this beer to review. I had found it in the cooler at Great River at 6:00 AM while doing the inventory run and asked if she had accidentally left it there (apparently it had been in there for me for a while). Reviewed Wednesday evening after buying a new helmet and Bike rack for the winter commutes. Served in a Snifter.
Appearance: Pours a rich blackened color, with a rubied hue when held to a bright light. Initially the head is fluffy and densely held together. As it dissipates, a spiderweb of lacing is left behind, with some degree of speckled consistency.
Aroma: There is a perfect balance between a malt induced roasted sweetness in combination with a boastful hop background. I also get a lot of breadiness and spicy characteristics from the scent.
Taste: Initially I notice a confliction between flavors, and cannot decide which to acknowledge first. But I'll say that upfront, the hops make the foretaste juicy and fruity. I assume there is more of a biscuit malt backbone that lies completely masked. But as the palate decides which to notice, one could easily describe an upfront roasty flavor as well, even chocolate. To follow, there is orange peel, grapefruit and pineapple. Big tropical complexity. The finish has a more roasty flavor, especially as it transitions into the aftertaste. One can get a burn from the alcohol as well with the complement of the drying alpha acid bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and thick feeling. Texture has a bit of a zippiness to it that lasts mildly throughout. I'd expect more of a drying feeling from this breed, but given the bigger body, the hops cannot out do the sugar, resulting in a cloying feeling at the roof of the mouth (while the rest of the mouth is dry). Some tackiness on the lips.
Overall Impression: I think this IS the best black IPA I've had. Though big in alcohol, it is certainly well masked. This beer conveys the perfect mix of roasty stout and tropically hopped IPA, which is exactly what I'm looking for in a black IPA. Almost too drinkable! I love the label it's organic in appearance and it really incorporates an attention-getting profile, much like Dogfish Head.