Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 094: Belgian Black IPA

Serve in Shaker, Tulip


on tap


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RATINGS: 299   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.65/5   EST. CALORIES: 231   ABV: 7.7%
#94 Belgian-style Black IPA—This beguiling black IPA takes a tropical detour with a dose of new world hops, featuring lemony Sorachi Ace and fruity Nelson Sauvin varieties. A Belgian yeast works with the exotic hop profile, emphasizing its complex and fruity flavors.

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ThisWangsChung's rating

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
ThisWangsChung (836) - Leonardtown, Maryland, USA - SEP 17, 2013
12 oz bottle into a pint glass. A: Pours a cola color. A tall (3 fingers), fluffy mocha-shaded head caps the body off well. Retention is pretty good, and the lacing left behind is monstrous. S: At first, it’s fairly chocolaty, but once it’s allowed to open up, it develops a strong note of hop-derived lemongrass. I really don’t pick up much Belgian yeast, sadly. Still, this has a very intriguing nose. T: There’s less chocolate than the nose suggested - in fact, the dark malt qualities are really buried beneath the hop flavors. That’s not exactly a bad thing. Here, they don’t sneak up on you; instead, the lemon, grass, white grape, and subtle (sadly, too subtle for me) tropical fruit notes play well with the doughy yeast notes and low bitterness. Only a slight note of toast on the back end. It’s well balanced when it’s chilled, but the trademark Sorachi Ace flavors (read: lemongrass) tend to overly dominate once this warms up. Not bad, though. M: It’s creamy with a good (not overly heavy) body and carbonation that isn’t overbearing. The finish isn’t very dry, but thankfully yeast astringency is kept in check. I wouldn’t call it easy to drink. O: This one’s okay. I think it’s main problem is that the concept is more interesting (Belgian-style Black IPA with highfalutin’ Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin hops) than the actual brew itself. For this to be a total success, I reckon it would need more Nelson Sauvin notes, a bit more roast, and a drier finish.

corby112 (2813) - philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - NOV 14, 2015
Pouts a dark chocolate brown color that appears black in the glass with faint mahogany edges and a one finger beige head quickly settles into a thin ring. Minimal spotty lacing left behind. Earthy, slightly chalky aroma with roasted dark malt notes and ester-y dark fruit notes. Most of the hoppy/IPA characteristics are muted with subtle resinous pine and grass. The tropical fruit notes mentioned on the label are nowhere to be found in the nose. Feels more like a roasted dry stout/Belgian strong dark ale hybrid. Toasted malts along with dark chocolate, coffee bean and oatmeal followed by plum, raisin and fig. Not offensive but disappointing for an IPA. Medium bodied with a stronger hop presence than the nose hints at but it’s still dominated by roasted dark malt and sweet dark fruit esters. Dry, earthy and bitter but the hop profile is one dimensional with grass and sticky pine needle flavor lingering throughout. Again, the tropical/citrus fruit sweetness is completely absent. The bitterness is complimented by roasted/acrid dark malts. Slightly smokey with burnt toast flavor along with bitter dark chocolate, stale coffee and oatmeal. Thankfully the Belgian yeast provides some much needed sweetness with hints of grape, fig and other dark berries. Still, it’s not enough to overcome the overwhelming roast and one dimensional bitterness.

Theydon_Bois (21484) - Hazlemere, the lower Xhitlerns, Buckinghamshire, ENGLAND - JUN 26, 2015
Bottle at my parents haus, from Callans Dundslk, still light at 2240 ! 26/06/15. Extremely dark mahogany brown with a decent tan covering. Nose is light charr, dark fruit, faint spice, pine, raisens, earthy. Taste comprises pine needle, dark berry fruit, earthy hop, light cocoa nibs, toffee fudge, trace of spice, touch of yeast. Medium bodied, fine carbonation, semi drying close peppered with light hop bitterness. Decent enough XDA.

arminjewell (9729) - East Lansing, Michigan, USA - APR 12, 2015
Pour on tap at Black Bottle, dark brownish black pour with off white head, aroma brought notes of pine, anise, dark fruit, cocoa powder into a bit of roasted malt, some ash with a hint of orange fruit. Taste was a mix of orange, pine, and herbal hops into roast, anise, dark chocolate and coffee notes, finishing bitter. Pretty decent.

nihtila (4007) - Edinburgh, SCOTLAND - MAR 11, 2015
29.7.2014. Beer camp #94 2013. Black beer, brown head. Aroma of roasted malts, liquorice, coffee, hoppy aromas. Taste is malty, roasty, citrus hops, chocolate.

mabel (10004) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - DEC 11, 2014
UPDATED: DEC 12, 2014 [6101-20131214] Tap. Roasted mashed grains aroma. Black body with a medium-lasting foamy tan head. Bitter roasted grains and milky wood flavour. Medium-full body. Interesting. (7/3/7/3/13) 3.3
(@ Abraxas, Miami, FL)

Darkmagus82 (2303) - - SEP 21, 2014
Transfer from BA review on 8-24-13- Poured from bottle into a pint glass Appearance –The beer pours a deep-deep brown nearly black color with a huge billowy brownish colored head. The head fades quite slowly, leaving a great level of streaky lace on the sides of the glass. Smell –The aroma is of darker roasted malts and chocolate mixed with a Belgian yeasty smell with lots of spice. Along with these smells there are some grassy hop and herbal smells as well as some earthy notes. Taste – The taste begins nice and roasty with a nice roasted malt and lighter sweeter chocolate flavor. With these flavors, there is a lighter Belgian yeast and spice flavor of clove and coriander which grow a bit stronger as the flavor advances more toward the middle of the taste. A bit of banana and some pine join the taste more toward the middle, with the pine growing stronger as the flavor advances. Toward the end the chocolate increases a bit and is joined by a rather stronger coffee taste as well as some herbal and earthy hop that in the end create a nice blend of roast and bitter leaving a very satisfying roasted, kinda sweet, but nicely bittered taste on the tongue. Mouthfeel- The body of the beer is on the creamier side with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. The creamier body and lower carbonation combo are quite nice for the roasted malt and chocolate flavors of the brew as well the blend of hop flavors that are present in the beer. Overall – While not a hop powerhouse, it has a wonderful roasted flavor as well as enough hop to keep it an IPA all while having a good sweetness to balance everything out.

slowrunner77 (13206) - Reno, Nevada, USA - SEP 9, 2014
"Can’t tell this was so strong. Solid entry, good deal, couldn’t really tell it was Belgian though. Maybe a touch dry in the end but the flavor (while good) was muddled enough that any Belgian yeast was indistinct. Just ended up a black ipa that tasted like it used spicy hop varieties with a good dose of dark malt. Poured near black with big khaki head. I liked the old India ink better than this, but this was good."

ross (2146) - weddington, North Carolina, USA - SEP 8, 2014
Bottle. Black colored pour with a tan head. Lively carbonation; malty, chocolate roasted flavors with of course, hops. Bitter, thick, and a sipper of an IPA. Not really my favorite style, but it works.

jimbad6 (23) - IRELAND - AUG 14, 2014
350ml bottle. Strong aroma, hops, roast malt, coffee, some citrus. Taste is the same. Medium carbonation .Bordering on stout?

ansermadide (1526) - Kyle, Texas, USA - JUL 24, 2014
Now this is a black IPA. It could easily pass for a stout in appearance, and it produces a truly beautiful fluffy, light brown head and there’s just enough stickiness to form some really thick, sexy lacing in places. The nose offers some roasted malts up front, which quickly balances out with some sweet, caramel/toffee sweetness. Something else, an alcoholic, fermented fruitiness deep in the aroma reminds me of a Tempranillo. The flavor is phenomenal for a black IPA. This is easily my favorite of the style, even if it leans Belgian. I often feel like I’m in search of the perfect black IPA, and sometimes, even often, remark at how a black IPA is really good - but this one has to top the bill. Some cocoa-like roasted malts form the base of the malt flavor, with a very distinctive herbal, citrusy lemon hop presence blending extremely well with the malts mid-palate. Sorachi Ace hops seem to really be amped up in this beer, but the complimenting heft and flavor of the malts really make this beer work. It’s truly impressive. Finally a dry, toasted/heavily roasted malt flavor, sans burnt bitterness, finishes out the flavor.

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