Monday, 26 November 2012

Black IPA


Emelisse Black IPA

8% 33 cl

What actually is a black IPA? The answer is, rather a contradiction in terms and not actually defined anywhere, so far as I know. Well, let’s find out what this is like, if it thinks it is a Black IPA.

There wasn’t must fizz when I took the crown cap off but in pouring there was a reassuringly deep cappuccino-coloured head. There is an aroma that reminds me of gravy browning or Oxo cubes but without the savouriness. It comes from the malt I think and lots of it. There is chocolate aroma too, bitter chocolate, you know that 70% cocoa stuff. The first sip confirms that this is a beer to be reckoned with. The flavours are assertive and there is plenty of alcohol to entertain the tongue. It is bitter sweet, malty and hoppy (malty first, followed by the hops). It really is lovely. On smacking it around the mouth every millimetre of my tongue is being entertained, sweet at the front and on top, bitterness around the sides and at the back. Then a wave of alcohol soothes and reassures the palate that this is a quality beer.

This beer is as black as your hat and it retains a nice ring of foam and lacing on the surface. It just invites you to imbibe some more. So I do and it just gets better. I indulge myself and glug several drafts in one go, throwing it around my mouth to extract the maximum flavour on every taste receptor, all at the same time. Crumbs, this beer is a goer. It is so eager to please and to satisfy. I only bought one. I wish I had bought a crate but that would have set me back £46.20 for a dozen 33 cl bottles from RenĂ© at Beautiful Beers in Bury St. Edmunds.

Well, is this a Black IPA or is it an Imperial Stout? To be honest it reminds me of Guinness Extra Foreign Stout, which is a lovely beer and very good value for money because you can often find it discounted as it doesn’t seem to sell for some reason. I love it.

Surely an IPA needs to be both high in alcohol and assertive in the hop department. In fact the hops should be dominant over the malt in my opinion, although the malt needs to be pretty solid to support those hops. I reckon in this excellent beer the malt is actually the dominant partner, probably plenty of specialty malt too. There are plenty of hops but the flavour and sweetness of the malt actually carry the day. So in my book that places it into the stout bracket. It is not a beefed up pale ale/bitter, it is a beefed up stout, or even an Imperial Stout. God, it’s lovely. But nah, it ain’t an IPA in my book, black or not. On second thoughts I gather that American East Coast IPAs do favour the malt over the hop-bomb, so maybe it is an IPA. It is academic really.

Now we are down near the bottom I had better consider some of those elusive flavours. In the burp the hops are subdued, not your big in-your-face American IPA hops, not citrus but quite well mannered English or maybe American hops that would make a good modern-day session bitter but plenty of them and balanced with sweetness from the malt. There is bitter chocolate as I have said; a touch of coffee and cocoa. Am I imagining fondant cream? Maybe I am. It reminds me of one of those indulgent chocolate ice cream concoctions, but on stilts. I wish I had brewed this (You will Martin. One day, you will). It is the bottom of the glass now and there is just a dessert spoonful left. It is so lovely I don’t want to finish. I want to come back for more but if I do it will be gone. There, it is gone and all I have is the memory and the scrumptious flavours that are still playing around in my mouth.

They are still there.

Ooh. That was a good beer. Thank you, Emelisse. I am not sure this is a Black IPA but it is fantastic.

I went back to the bottle and found a couple of millilitres in the bottom. It was enough to give me another little hit of that flavour. Aah.

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