What’s not to love about a good IPA (that’s India Pale Ale for the neophytes)? Piney, floral, bitter … like chewing a pine cone.
Wait … that doesn’t appeal to you?
OK, I get it, not everyone is a hop head (I once held great disdain for anything overtly hoppy), so enter the Black IPA – also known as the American Black Ale or Cascadian Dark Ale (read more about the difference between the two names, visit this site), ales of this style boast malty and light to moderate roasty notes and are often quite hoppy generally with the use of American hops. So, in a nutshell, it’s the best of both worlds. Roasty malts and moderately hoppy. The India Pale Ale joins the Dark Side.
The Black IPA is relatively new to the scene, having been added to the Great American Beer Festival guidelines in 2010. It’s origins are hotly debated, some claiming it was first brewed in the early 90s in Vermont while others give credit to brewers in the Pacific Northwest, namely Portland. The debate still rages on, though for now, the style stays as the Black IPA.
So, in trying several variations of my beer buddy, Jim’s Black IPAs, when I spotted Clown Shoe’s Hoppy Feet Black IPA, my interest was immediately piqued.
This beer pours BLACK … there’s no mistaking the “Black IPA” name here, folks. The tan head left amazing lines of lacing down the side of the glass as I imbibed, but we’ll get to that in a second. The nose was first and foremost hops – grapefruit and floral, almost sweet – cocoa, roasted malt and coffee. This is one of those beers where you really enjoy quick sniffs as the beer warms and allows the malts to come forward. The first sips presented dark, charcoal malts, dark cocoa with a grapefruit/citrus backbone thanks to the Amarillo and Columbus Hops. The velvety carbonation is thanks to this beer’s bottle conditioning, and really gives it a delicate and creamy drinkability.