Recently I realized something was missing here at sevenpack (minus consistent posting of beer reviews), reviews of Black IPA. The Black IPA would certainly qualify as one of* the biggest beer style fads of 2010. It felt like every other day beernews.org was posting about a new Black IPA being brewed by some brewery; at least one brewery (there could be more) had a Black IPA as its initial beer release; the style was Imperialized, of course; to top it all off, there was a controversy over the style’s name. All of this, and we have one Black IPA review… and that dates all the way back to 2007 with my review of Stone 11th Anniversary Ale (which is one of the beers credited with starting the fad, and later became Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale). Well its time to change that one to a two my dear reader, with a review of Blue Hills Brewery Black Hops!
The beer poured black (which is good considering this is a Black IPA) with a light tan head that possessed a physical characteristic of custard. The nose of the beer was quite malty. This was significantly different from other Black IPAs I have had (I have had a few, they just haven’t been reviewed, sorry), which were more hop forward in the nose. Pumpernickel bread, almonds, and an inkling of molasses played together in my nose, and memories of German dark Lagers from drinks past danced through my head. There was a faint fruit punch aroma in the background, as if it were shy and did not want any notoriety. I had plenty of time to enjoy the beer’s aromas, because the head lasted through out the session.
The taste was… not what I expected (this beer is just full of surprises). With such a malty nose, I was expecting a malty beer (seems a reasonable conclusion), but that was not the case. Sure there was malt, but the hops hit me first. The aromatically shy fruit punch came out of its shell in the mouth with a good dosing of apple, orange and grapefruit hitting the tongue right off the bat. This progressed to the beer’s malt profile that surprisingly (again) was chocolate in character. Chocolate with a trace of roast seemed to envelope my mouth but did not fully overwhelm the original fruit flavor, which only faded into the background. This chocolate-fruitiness played so very well together. The light on the tongue beer then finished dry with a tinge of hop bitterness.
This was a great beer that showcased the two sides of the Black IPA style very well, and better then most Black IPAs I have had. At 6.75% the beer is not an alcohol bomb but considering how easily and enjoyably it goes down, that abv could sneak up on you. The subtle nature of all the aromas and flavors of this beer made this a delectable drink, and one I will pick up again.
*The other fad would be barrel aging. It seemed every brewer was putting some type of beer into some type of barrel and aging it for some length of time.