Style: American Rye Black Ale/Black Rye IPA
Fermentation: 100% Stainless Steel
Malts: Pale Malt, Malted Rye, Dash of Cara-Rye, Midnight Wheat from Briess, De-Bittered Black Malt (Weyermann – Germany/Patagonia malting – Chile), Dash of Wookey dust
Hops: German Magnum (bittering), Citra & Amarillo (flavor/aroma and double dry-hopped)
The bottle is much like the Double Jack bottle, the only difference being the lovely touch of black that has been added between the arches, which I love both because it suggests the beer’s darker nature, and because it is even more visually appealing. My main complaint, as with Double Jack, is that the signatures at the bottom of the label, and the barcode and warning at the sides take away from the lovely label. If they sequestered all of that to its own ugly label on the back this beer would look quite lovely indeed. I love the wax paper around the cap; it makes the beer seem that much fancier, and I was also very appreciative of the lower price tag. This bottle is worthy of shelf space.
The beer pours like a lovely French roast coffee with a white sand head with big rocky bubbles. This beer is opaque and has velvet midnight black in the glass with an ever so slight hint of brown to suggest very dark chocolate, though there are some light carbonation bubbles working their ways up the sides. Lacing is thin but sticky and gorgeous like a complicated root system splaying out beneath a lovely fat ring of soil that surrounds the glass. The beer smells dank and tremendously fruity with fat mango, orange, pineapple and even some slight pine. This is the best fruity smell I can remember getting from any beer in a long time; it’s like a fruit salad in the hops aroma and I am absolutely digging it. Further whiffs suggest the tantalizing roasted coffee malts and dark chocolate below the hops. All the smells come together to overall remind me of a fruit salad lathered in dark chocolate and coffee. The smell alone has me salivating for this beer and upping my expectations tremendously. The beer’s taste loses a lot of that fruit and coffee, but that is not an entirely bad thing. Mango hops are still the dominant flavor for me with some nice side character fruit hops. The dark malts are very sideshow in the flavor, appearing mainly in the middle to provide some lovely creamy roasted flavoring before being flushed away by bitter, less-ripe fruit in the back and aftertaste. A ghost of the roasted chocolate flavor does dance on the fringes, in between the undulations of the fruit hops, but it is quite light. The rye spice is also a ghost in this taste, only slightly suggesting itself as the beer moves over the tongue and lingering a little to meld a spicy burn with the bitter burn. Mouthfeel is smooth and crisp and almost a touch watery. I kind of want a thicker beer too help bring more of the roasted malt flavor. The mouth is left with a good glaze of saliva and a fizzy, bitter-bitten tongue that is ready for more, if only in moderation. This beer is in between a sipper and a chugger, but I would suggest a more leisurely sip personally. Alcohol is hidden wonderfully for its 8%, with only the suggestion of a bite and burn hidden beneath the bitters. Overall this is a very nice example of the black ale style. Personally, I would love to see a little more malt action in a black ale, but this is very nice more IPA-based black. I also would have loved to see more rye action in this beer, but again the beer worked very well for what the brewer was going for. The smell of this beer is one of the best I have ever smelled, and has me dreaming of big hops and malts. This beer is definitely worthy of a sip and is quite enjoyable.