If you frequent brewpubs, you’ve most likely heard of the term “beer flight". However, if you’re…
Black IPA is generally characterised by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) as a Specialty IPA. Specialty IPA is a blanket to reference any IPA that is not a standard American IPA. But what exactly is a black IPA?
A Brief History of the Black IPA
Trying to nail down an origin for this modern “Specialty IPA” style is no easy task. Author Frank Faulkner writes on page 260 of his 1888 book, The Theory and Practice of Modern Brewing, of a black beer brewed by Burton, saying it “has been universally described as a mere black pale ale…” He goes on to describe it, “though black in color, its palate taste reminds one very strongly of the pale beers produced by Burton firms.”. There hasn’t been much change since then, as this is practically exactly what the 2015 BJCP rules say a Black IPA should be.
What to Expect – IBU, ABV
Their SRM varies from 25 to 40, indicating that they can get rather dark. They are also quite bitter, with IBUs ranging from 50 to 90. They can get rather alcoholic, with ABVs ranging from 5.5 to 9%.
Black IPA Style Profile Tasting Notes
A Black IPA can range in hue from dark brown to opaque black. It should have a good head of foam that ranges from light tan to mocha in color. Head retention is excellent. The ale should be transparent, except for unfiltered dry-hopped examples, which can be hazy. A Black IPA has dark malt aromas ranging from medium to low. These aromas can have a mild caramel-like sweet background with traces of chocolate, toast, and/or coffee. Hop scents will be medium to strong, with notes of resin, pine, melon, berry, tropical fruit, stone fruit, and citrus. Dry-hopping can add distinctive herbal, flowery, and/or grassy scents. This, however, is not a prerequisite of the style. These beers often have a clean base malt flavor profile of low to medium strength, with subtle toffee or caramel flavors.Roast flavors should never be overpowering, nor should they taste burnt or ashy, and they should not clash with the hop profile. Although the bitterness may linger in the aftertaste, it should never be considered as unpleasant. Hop taste will be low-medium to high in intensity, with notes of berry, pine (resinous), tropical, stone fruit, citrus, and melon. Some fruity ingredients, whether from hops or yeast, are acceptable, although they are not required for the style. In bolder beers of this style, alcohol flavors may be detectable.
Black IPA Food Pairings
Black IPA can easily cut through fat and handle richer, bolder flavors. Fried chicken, spicy BBQ short ribs, a butter-ladened steak, shrimp stir-fry, a cheeseburger, and even foie gras on toast are all options. Wild game meats also go well together.
For the cheese platter, choose blue cheese, Cheddar, or Aged Gouda.
For dessert, consider everything chocolate. Chocolate truffles, chocolate cheesecake, or coffee-flavored chocolate cake. Another nice option is carrot cake with spice and cream cheese frosting.