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Blacks Of Kinsale Black IPA

September 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.35

A second Irish beer in a row now and another IPA from the country, this time a black IPA that follows on from the Bo Bristle IPA that I reviewed here last. Like that offering, this one was another that I picked up a bottle of from the Ennistown SuperValu when travelling through County Clare in the summer. As with most of the beer that I tried in Ireland over the summer, this bottle from Blacks Of Kinsale is a beer I had read a little about prior to my visit and have been on the lookout for during my travels; especially because if is a rare black IPA from Ireland. I’ve also managed to reach another milestone upon reviewing this one here as well, the beer will be the fiftieth unique offering from Ireland that I’ll have tried and it is also the penultimate beer of those that I brought home from Ireland that I have left to try, with only Galway Bay’s Of Foam and Fury double IPA left to open after this one.

blacks-of-kinsale-black-ipa

Appearance (4/5): An opaque and really dark mahogany colour that looks black on first glance and is topped with a huge, two and a bit inch head that holds pretty well and actually seems to gain a little height as it settles. The texture of the head is a foamy one and retention is excellent and there is plenty of lacing on the sides as the head recedes a little more.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a dark nose with some coffee and caramel coming through in the early going alongside touches of bitterness and a little citrus as well. The hops start to come through around the middle with some faint pine and herbal touches in there too. It’s not the strongest beer on the nose but some darker roasted notes feature towards the end, as do some darker malts.
Taste (7/10): Much like the nose, this one starts quite dark with some roasted malts and a few burnt ones too but the hops from the nose seem more pronounced here and there’s a touch more of the citrus too. It’s not an overly hoppy number but a little pine does come through before being followed by a little caramel sweetness. A few grassy hops feature towards the end off this one and it was quite easy to drink as well.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and fairly smooth, it seems crisp in places but doesn’t have anywhere near as much carbonation coming through as I’d expected. It’s pretty well-balanced on the whole and easy to drink as well with quite a wet finish that touched on some light bitterness.

Overall (13/20): Not a bad attempt at a black IPA here, this one wasn’t quite as hoppy as I’d have liked but there was some touches of bitterness and a little pine coming through but I felt these could have been a little stronger. The dark malts and roasted flavours, alongside some chocolate seemed to be the easiest to detect but the beer held a nice balance and was quite an easy one going down so I’ll not complain too much about it.

Brewed In: Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Brewery: Blacks Of Kinsale Craft Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Type: American IPA
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: SuperValu (Ennistown)
Price: €3.59 (£3.08 approx.)

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Black Hammer

July 6, 2016 2 comments

Rating: 3.75

The second new offering in Brewdog’s ‘Hammer Series’ now, this one being a new take on their ever popular Jack Hammer offering and this time it’s been given a darker twist and turned into a black IPA rather than its original American IPA style. The beer is the follow-up to their Monk Hammer offering in the series, one that I enjoyed a couple of months ago and it’s also one that is likely to be followed by a Chilli Hammer and finally a Rye Hammer later in the year, two more beers that I’m looking forward to picking up but it was probably this one I was most excited about when the series was announced. I’ve tried quite a few black IPA’s of late, something that’s fairly unusual considering how difficult new ones seem to be to find but I’m hopeful this will be a good one and perhaps even find itself as an occasional brew from Brewdog in future; I guess I’m about to find out.

Brewdog Black Hammer

Appearance (4/5): Quite a deep, dark brown colour that’s bordering on black and is topped with a thin, half-centimetre tall head that’s a tan brown colour. There’s a slight break-up at one end of the surface of the beer but other than that there doesn’t seem to be much head movement initially and the body of the beer is an opaque one.
Aroma (7/10): Starting quite fresh with some tropical fruits opening things up alongside pine hops and citrus notes; there’s some pineapple, oranges and a touch of grapefruit too in the early going. This is followed by some touches of roasted notes and darker fruits coming through alongside a little bitterness. The beer wasn’t an overly dark one though but some coffee notes and a faint bit of cocoa appeared from the middle on wards with some grassy notes seeing things out.
Taste (7/10): Starting off quite dark with more earthy malts and bitterness showing earlier here than with the nose, there was some coffee and touches of chocolate in there too. The fresh, tropical fruits and pine flavours were present again too though with some citrus and oranges coming through first. These were followed by some mango and pineapple which added to the sweetness and was complimented bu some caramel malts that featured too.
Palate (4/5): Slightly darker than expected without being overdone, the palate was a dark and bitter one with an oily, light-medium body and crisp carbonation. The balance of the beer wasn’t bad either with the tropical fruits and sweetness working well with the roasted bitterness and earthy feel that opened things up but it was very slightly thinner than I’d have liked.

Overall (15/20): Another nice beer in the series from Brewdog, this one struck a good balance between the darker malts and the sweeter, tropical fruits flavours but the former bit seem slightly more pronounced in places. There was good variety to the beer and it was fairly easy to drink but it still probably fell short of the last in the series, the brewery’s Monk Hammer offering and it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the regular Jack Hammer either sadly.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Black IPA
Abv: 7.2%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £2.70

Espiga Black IPA

June 21, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 3.7

The final beer that I sampled on my trip to Barcelona earlier this month and it will be my second review of a Espiga beer, this one following on from their Hop Collection Series – Mosaic beer that I reviewed a short time ago and enjoyed. This particular offering is their stronger, more established black IPA which also makes it the 2nd of the style that I managed to try in Barcelona after sampling a pint of Black Comedy from the BlackLab brewhouse based in the city as well. Anyway here it is, what is likely to be my final review of a Spanish beer for a while now but hopefully I’ll be back soon and able to check a few more off the 1001 beers list next time as well.

Espiga Black IPA

Appearance (4/5): This one was a dark, opaque black colour with a thin, bubbly head on top that was beige looking and had a few patches across the surface, and in particular towards the centre of the beer but there was a bit more build up round the edges of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Dark and quite a hoppy beer, this one had a lot of caramel early on in the nose and there was faint coffee notes too. I could detect a semi-sweet aroma throughout and it was complimented by pleasant, tropical fruits that included peach, mango and apricot. The fruits also helped balance out the nose some before a few roasted malts and touches of liquorice seen things out.
Taste (7/10): Much this the nose, this is quite a dark tasting beer with a lot of hops coming through in the early going – more so than the nose hinted at in fact. There was a lot of roasted malts in there as well though and some pleasant vanilla sweetness as things progressed towards the middle. I also got some cocoa and a few hints of roasted barley before the mango and citrus flavours from the nose came through quite strong around the middle too. Towards the end there was a decent alcohol kick to proceedings and quite a strong bitterness towards the end to see things out.
Palate (4/5): This one was a medium bodied beer that came through quite dark and with a lot more bitterness than I’d been expecting when I first opened the beer. There was a nice sweetness throughout though, thanks in part of the subtle vanilla flavours but also the tropical fruits than were a little stronger come the taste than when compared to the nose. There was moderate carbonation levels and the beer was quite dry with a sharp, strong finish that had some alcohol showing too.

Overall (14/20): This one was quite a strong beer, even when taking the 8.5% abv. into consideration and it was also quite a bitter offering, particularly towards the end of the beer. There was a lot of dark malts and roasted flavours kicking things off but the mango and tropical fruits, alongside some nice citrus, weren’t far behind and balanced things out quite nicely. There was some nice variety to proceedings and the beer was pleasant enough to sip away at but it was perhaps just a touch strong and the finish seemed ever so slightly harsh; other than that it was a pretty good beer though.

Brewed In: Sant Llorenç d’Hortons, Barcelona, Spain
Brewery: Cervesa Espiga
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Black IPA
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: La Vinoteca Voramar (Barcelona, Spain)
Price: €3.25 (£2.54 approx.)

BlackLab Black Comedy

June 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

Another Barcelona beer now and one that I managed to try at the source when I visited the BlackLab Brewhouse & Kitchen in the Barceloneta area of the city earlier this month and opted for this black IPA from the brewery. The beer is seemingly a new one for 2016 from the brewpub and is a fairly strong offering, coming in at just under 7% abv. and packing quite a punch in the process. Only established back in 2014 as the first brewpub in Barcelona, the brewery offers approximately five year round offerings as well as upwards of sixteen rotating, seasonal offerings of which this particular beer is one. Although no mention of release periods for each seasonal beer is made on the brewpubs website, it does look like the only place to sample their beers is on the premises so this is definitely one that I’m glad to have stumbled across whilst in Barcelona recently.

BlackLab Black Comedy

Appearance (4/5): A very dark mahogany colour that borders on black, the body is an opaque one and it’s topped with a thin, quarter centimetre tall head that is a light tan-brown colour that leaves a little bit of lacing on the sides of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Dark roasted malts and some coffee notes kick this one off with some subtle hops and touches of pine not far behind. The beer had some faint citrus in the background and a little sweetness showing from the caramel notes running through it. There was the odd bit of tropical fruit making an appearance, with touches of grapefruit on top of the malts at the end to see things out.
Taste (7/10): Starting with some nice pine and grapefruit flavours, the taste of this one was a little more fruity to begin with and this provided a lot of bitterness in the early going with some nice citrus flavours in there too. There was some mango, orange and touches of apricot too before some of the darker flavours started to appear around the middle and give the beer a roasted, almost earthy taste. There was some light coffee flavours coming through around the middle with touches of caramel sweetness and light toffee to give the beer quire a dark, strong finish that held the bitterness well.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite a refreshing beer that came through with a nice citrus tang and plenty of bitterness. The beer was quite a bit darker than I’d anticipated, particularly the nose, and there was some faint alcohol showing in areas but overall it was quite a fresh, strong beer with a solid kick and moderate to strong carbonation.

Overall (15/20): Quite an enjoyable beer from Black Lab and one that got off to a pretty good start thanks to the strong pine and citrus flavours sitting on top of the darker, roasted malts and touches of caramel sweetness. The nose was definitely darker than I’d expected going in but it thankfully wasn’t overpowering with the sweetness helping to balance things out before the tropical fruits started to make themselves known. There still wasn’t quite as many hops and fruits as I’d have liked from the beer but it was a pretty good offering nonetheless and one I’m glad I managed to try.

Brewed In: Barcelona, Spain
Brewery: Black Lab Brewhouse & Kitchen
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Black IPA
Abv: 6.9%
Serving: Draight (500ml)
Purchased: Black Lab Brewhouse & Kitchen, Barcelona, Spain
Price: €5.25 (£4.10 approx.)

Northern Monk Eternal Darkness

June 1, 2016 2 comments

Rating: 3.6

The first of two beers from Leeds based Northern Monk Brew Co. that I managed to try on my recent visit to Manchester now and both of them happen to be keg offerings that I sampled at the Piccadilly Tap bar near the station of the same name in the city centre. I initially went for this one after spotting it as one of around seventeen craft offerings the bar had on-tap during my visit since it was the only black IPA they had and I wasn’t sure of ever trying one on-tap previously but I could be wrong. Coincidentally the beer will be quickly followed by the second beer from the brewery that I tried, their Eternal Session IPA which was the original version of this beer. This one though, their Eternal Darkness, is a pretty new offering that only appears to have been released last month as a limited release so I’m doubly pleased to have managed to try it and be able to compare it with its sister beer so to speak.

Northern Monk Eternal Darkness

Appearance (4/5): This one poured a really dark, chestnut-brown colour that bordered on black and was topped by a half centimetre tall, foamy head that was a light tan colour and held quite well over the opening few minutes, leaving some nice lacing down the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a strong nose kicked this one-off, with plenty of chocolate and darker, roasted malts featuring in the early going alongside some caramel sweetness and a touch of brown sugar. It was definitely darker than expected with more emphasis on the malts than there was on the hops but some fresh notes and citrus aromas did come through. Towards the end there was some pine and grapefruit along with the odd tropical fruit but the roasted notes came out strongest.
Taste (7/10): Matching the nose well, the taste is again quite dark with plenty of roasted malts and earthy flavours in the early going before the chocolate and touches of caramel sweetness made their first appearance with the taste. There was a few bitter hops and citrus showing a little earlier here though and I got a few touches of brown sugar again which helped boost the sweetness before some pine and tropical fruits rounded things off at the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body but a lot darker than I’d anticipated when ordering this one, this one was a crisp and dry offering with some nice sugars and background fruits to add a little sweetness. Quite earthy a to start but with a solid bitterness throughout, things balanced out better towards the middle of the beer and it was quite easy to drink with a lingering bitter aftertaste too.

Overall (14/20): This one was an okay first offering from Northern Monk with plenty of bitterness throughout but it was certainly a lot darker on the palate than I’d been expected and it seemed a lot more earthy too with plenty roasted malts at the expense of some of the hop presence. It was an enjoyable offering with some nice caramel sweetness and plenty going one but it wasn’t quite what I’d expected and it’s probably not one I’d go back to in future.

Brewed In: Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Brewery: Northern Monk Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Black IPA
Abv: 4.1%
Serving: Draught (Pint)
Purchased: Piccadilly Tap, Manchester, England
Price: £4.20

Big Black Bicycle

April 6, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.1

A first ever Warpigs beer for me now, this one comes straight from the source after I ordered it on-tap at their Copenhagen brew pub on my recent visit to the city. Prior to arriving in the country I had planned to stop by the Warpigs brew pub after reading about it online since it appears to be the only place to try any of their beers and I’m all about seeking out new brews. The brew pub is located in the cities meatpacking district and of the twenty plus taps they have available I opted for their Big Black Bicycle black IPA given it’s a style that I really enjoy and don’t get to try as often as I’d like although they had about 20 beers available on-tap the night I visited (as well as a couple of draft cocktails too). From what I gather reading online, this one is a 2015 release from the brewery that was released around Easter time and has only been available at the brewpub where I managed to sample it a year after its initial release; here’s what I thought of it.

Big Black Bicycle

Appearance (5/5): This one sits pitch black with an opaque body in the glass and is topped with a creamy looking,centimetre tall head that is a nice tan brown colour and has excellent retention over the opening couple of minutes. The beer looks quite thick and creamy in the glass with some nice lacing around the edges as well; excellent stuff so far.
Aroma (7/10): The nose starts with some subtle hops and pine along with a pleasant citrus backing and some faint grapefruit, this is followed by touches of chocolate and some floral notes around the middle. The beer wasn’t the most pronounced on the nose but it wasn’t a weak beer either, there was some pleasant earthy malts and light caramel coming through towards the end and giving the beer a fairly balanced nose.
Taste (8/10): Following on well from the nose, the taste comes through with a moderate bitterness and some excellent tropical fruit flavours that features some mango and apricot along with touches of orange and grapefruit too. There was some floral hops and pine in there as well before the darker malts showed around the middle. The malts and roasted flavours were definitely more subdued than with the nose but you could detect them without too much effort, although there was none of the chocolate showing at this stage with a faint sweetness coming from elsewhere right at the end.
Palate (4/5): This one was a medium bodied beer that wasn’t quite as full-boded as the appearance suggested but it was far from being a thin or light bodied beer so I’m not complaining. It was a well-carbonated offering that came through with a pleasant bitterness that got stronger as things went on and the finish was quite a dry one. There was a slight citrus tang to proceedings and the balance was good throughout making it an easy and surprisingly refreshing beer to drink.

Overall (16/20): This one was a very enjoyable black IPA that came through stronger on the hop bitterness side of things but still maintained a decent enough balance on the way down. There darker malts and roasted flavours could have been a touch stronger and I’d have liked to have seen the chocolate make it from the nose to the taste but other than that it was a pretty good beer with some nice tropical flavours and subtle fruits coming through from the start. This was a nice introduction to Warpigs beers and I definitely wouldn’t mind having this one again.

Brewed In: Copenhagen, Denmark
Brewery: Warpigs Brewpub
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Black IPA
Abv: 6.3%
Serving: Draught (400ml)
Purchased: Warpigs Brewpub, Copenhagen, Denmark
Price: 65 Danish Krone (approx. £7.15)

Arcade Nation

January 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.3

The first new beer from Brewdog for 2016, this one is a black IPA from the brewery, it was released in early January of this year and was one that I originally planned to pick up a bottle of before spotting it as a draft offering in the brewery’s Glasgow DogHouse bar. Described as a cross between an American IPA and a stout, the beer uses Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra hops whilst coming in at 50 IBU’s so it should be a fairly hoppy offering from what will be my 97th Brewdog beer (I should really make number 100 a special one I guess) and my first since trying their Bounty Hunter offering just before Christmas at the end of last year. Arcade Nation will also be a third black IPA from the brewery that I’ll  have had, following on from their CAP DOG collaboration I had in late 2014 as well as their Libertine Black Ale from way back in 2012, so despite being a style I like I’ve not tried too many of them from Brewdog.

Arcade Nation

Appearance (4/5): A dark amber colour, maybe even a touch lighter than that and topped with a thin, foamy white head that leaves a little lacing on the sides of the glass and remains covering the surface for the first few minutes at least. The beer doesn’t look to bad but I was definitely expecting something a lot darker given it is a ‘black IPA’.
Aroma (7/10): The beer kicks off with some decent strength hops that includes some pine and grapefruit as well as a little citrus in the background before  a few grains start to appear. There is some lively notes around the middle as well as some earthy hops and caramel sweetness. The end is mainly some roasted malts and a faint chocolate bitterness that is the first hint of this one being a black IPA really.
Taste (6/10): Matching the nose, this one again starts quite hoppy with some pine and grapefruit; the citrus is also present and slightly more pronounced here as well but still not overbearing. There was some nice roasted flavours coming through a little earlier than with the nose and there was some faint coffee present too. Like the nose, the beer seemed relatively fresh although not quite as lively but there was some floral touches and background fruits that did come through towards the end making this a decent enough beer without it being a classic taste-wise.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium to medium bodied but definitely a little thinner than I’d have liked without it being weak or watery. There was some nice hop presence throughout and a subtle bitterness running through the beer with a little grain showing it what was otherwise qutie a smooth beer with touches of dryness at the end; it was definitely an easy to drink beer without it being truly engaging.

Overall (12/20): This was quite a strange beer really, on the one had it was enjoyable enough without really exciting or proving memorable but on the other it was labelled as being a black IPA and didn’t seem that to be, the only exception being the faint roasted flavours towards the end of both the taste and smell. It was a nice beer but perhaps came through a little thinner than I’d have liked for the style and to be honest I doubt it is one that I’ll pick up again.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Black IPA
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Draught (Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: £4.30