Black Friday. The phrase evokes images of crowds busting down doors, throwing elbows, and enduring long lines in order to search for the ultimate bargain.
It’s not a pretty sight. Here’s a better suggestion: Celebrate Black Friday by staying home, sinking into your favorite chair, and indulging in a delicious tummy-warming Black IPA. OR, if you absolutely must go out and brave the throngs, be thankful that you’ll have an icy cold black IPA in the fridge waiting for you.
For those unfamiliar with Black IPAs, or Black India Pale Ales, it may seem like there’s a contradiction – how can something be black and pale at the same time? An American Pale Ale, or the stronger India Pale Ale, is a brewing style that involves aggressive hop profiles. However, when brewers add dark malt, derived from various dark wheats, barleys, or sugars to the brew, it becomes very dark, hence a Black IPA. Unlike porters and stouts that are thick, malt-forward, and lightly hopped, Black IPAs are thinner (usually), heavily hopped, and offer subtle malty notes.
And, if you really are yearning for Black Friday, just remember, there’s always Cyber Monday.
Stone Brewing: Enjoy by 11.27.15 Black IPA. (Escondido, California)
If you’re on the West coast, Stone’s Black IPA is the beer for you. Stone Brewing, never shy about its love for hops, designed this beer to be enjoyed at the height of freshness; it’s only available for a month. The dark malt color and flavor owes itself to German Sinamar and Patagonia Black Pearl barley. Meanwhile, the hops arrive from Australia – Vic Secret, Ella and Galaxy. If you can’t have this one, never fear; Stone has a knack for brewing an array of hoppy beers, including black IPAs.
Southern Tier: 2XIBA (Lakewood, New York)
For many craft beer aficionados, double the hops means double the taste, and Southern Tier has embraced that idea with this bold, markedly hoppy, Black DIPA. They use dark muscovado sugar to produce the black color, which also aids the ale yeast in achieving an 8% ABV. 2XIBA has a stronger hint of roasted malt than many other black IPAs, but nothing overpowering. There is also the added bonus of noticeable carbonation, which works well in this bold brew. Given that it is a little bubbly, it makes sense to serve it as they suggest – in a champagne flute. Who says an in-your-face beer can’t be sophisticated?
Uinta: Dubhe Imperial Black IPA (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Dubhe, an Imperial (Double) Black IPA, is named for the bright star at the front-top tip of the Big Dipper. Just as that star shines brightly amidst the black sky at night, this award-winning brew is a star among black IPAs, and its 9.2% ABV is as noticeable as the Big Dipper, itself. Dubhe offers a prominent hoppy bitterness and the use of Falconer’s Flight hops provides notes of citrus, floral, and grapefruit. The addition of toasted, chocolaty malt provides Dubhe with its black color and adds a little sweetness, which delivers balance to the aggressively hopped Dubhe.
O’Dell: Mountain Standard Double Black IPA (Fort Collins, Colorado)
Hops come in many varieties and not all of them are patently bitter. Mountain Standard is a fine example of that idea. They use hops picked directly from the Colorado Rockies’ Western Slope, which provides profound, and multidimensional, hoppiness that includes notes of pine, citrus, and earthiness, yet with gentle bitterness. The roasted malts give it its dark tan color and provide a subtle licorice taste. Each sip provides a complex set of flavors, but they meld seamlessly into a well-balanced Black IPA.
21st Amendment: Back in Black, Black IPA (San Francisco, California)
Some Black IPAs are actually dark-brown IPAs. This one is not – it’s the color of a midnight sky. Four malts are used in this brew, with de-bitterd black malt and Crystal 45L providing the dark color and caramel flavor, yet without the added bitterness. The addition of Columbus and Centennial hops adds gentle notes of licorice and citrus, along with a floral aroma, but Back in Black also provides a hoppy and bitter kick. It’s exceptionally smooth and incredibly drinkable – it goes down easy.