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Monday, January 7th 2013

Black IPA
(Santa Fe Brewing Company)

Clad all in black and containing a liquid that closely resembles a color close to that of the can, Santa Fe Brewing's most recent canned release, their Black IPA, is one badass can of beer. The design, which is very similar to that of their Happy Camper IPA, is the sun symbol, or Zia, that is also a part of the brewery's logo and represented on the New Mexico state flag. 

From the Black IPA can:

"What is Santa Fe Black IPA? It's everything you love about a delicious IPA, minus that incredibly predictable orange-yellow color. You're welcome. Santa Fe Black IPA. Big. Roasty. Tasty. Hoppy. Black."

Here we go...

Pour - pretty damn dark - perhaps one might even say black. Seriously though, this is close to pitch with a very nicely contrasting off-white head on top that is looking like it is going to stick around for awhile. Nice lacing as well.

Aroma - wow. Ever visit a brewery and while doing the tour they take you into the cooler where they keep all their hops? Its a place you never want to leave, we know. This beer smells like that place. Big whiffs of fresh hops, citrus and pine with some hints of malt and caramel...and Tootsie Rolls.

Taste - first sip brings about some great hop flavors like grapefruit, oranges, and pineapple. The dark roasted malt adds some bitterness and some dryness and compliments the 95 IBUs slanging hoppiness quite well. Its like someone took an amazing IPA and an amazing shot of espresso and somehow magically combined them to make something altogether fantastic. 


Overall - if you're a fan of Black IPAs/Cascadian Dark Ales/American Black Ales than you'll want to get your hands on some of these beauties. Loads of uber hoppy goodness backed up with some roasty/toasty malts. At 7.1% and 95 IBUs this is a serious beer but its also scary easy to drink. 


Note - Santa Fe Brewing Company's can designs are done by Matt McCaffree and Brad Jungles. These guys have done an amazing job giving Santa Fe Brewing's beers some great branding. Keep up the good work, we can't wait to see what comes next!


Hops Scale:
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Can Scale:
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Black IPA
Style: American Black Ale
Brewery: Santa Fe Brewing Company
Santa Fe, New Mexico  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Two-Row Pale, Crystal, Chocolate, Midnight Wheat
Hops: Columbus, Citra, Eldorado, Simcoe, Amarillo
ABV: 7.1%
IBUs: 95
Date: January 7th, 2013

Posted by Russ

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Thursday, December 8th 2011

Eclipse Black IPA
(Crabtree Brewing Company)


Fresh from the source! Thanks so much, again, to Mike out in Colorado for hooking us up with a can of this recently released Black IPA from Crabtree. Eclipse, formerly known as Syzygy, is the first canned release from Crabtree and the canning was done by Boulder-based Mobile Canning. The cans were individually labeled using shrink-wrap labels, talk about a labor of love! If you're lucky enough to get a can of this in your hands you should know that a LOT of work went into getting it there. Cheers!

From the Crabtree Brewing site:

"Eclipse, our Belgo-Style Black IPA is an exquisite fusion of black, roasted chocolate malts, and a generous heap of hops. It's bitterly aggressive with a roasty quality, fruity esters and a spice scent making this one superior brew."

Here we go...

POUR: super dark brown to pitch in color as this floods the glass. Great looking coffee-colored head on top that sticks around for quite some time. Carbonation levels look spot on which can be tricky the first time around with canning. Looking at this now we'd have to say that it's a pretty nice looking pour!

AROMA: a bit of cirtrus up front followed by licorice, dark chocolate, French roast coffee, chocolate malt, anise and caraway seeds. Some hints of spices as well but nothing too overwhelming.

TASTE: one sip of Eclipse and we're certain you'll realize that this is not your ordinary dark beer. Lots of flavors coming flooding into your mouth and wreak some havoc on your palate. One second you're getting citrusy hop flavors and the next you're getting bombarded by caramel, apple cider, brown bread dough, rye bread and coffee. On the tongue this is soft as silk and smooth all around. A nice lingering sweet citrus flavors is all that's left after each swallow and it lights the way nicely for the next mouthful. 

OVERALL: excellent beer. We loved the complexity of this beer and all the subtle nuances from the sweet dark malts to the bitter hops and the citrus and spice notes that came along for the ride. Perhaps the yeast strain is what makes this "Belgo" and brings along with it some of those telltale spicy notes. It's a guess anyways. Overall, we loved it and having only one can is almost as bad as never having a can at all! Just kidding. We're very lucky to have gotten a chance to try this very special beer.



NOTES: Crabtree Brewing also releases a Barrel-aged version of this beer called Syzygy Barrel-Aged Black IPA. The brewery's description of this beer sounds pretty amazing!

"Behold! A provocative variation of our enticing anomaly! Our rich and complex Syzygy has consumed the wine and wood characteristics of Sonoma County Cabernet barrels. Aged for 12 months in French Oak Cabernet Sauvigon Barrels and then intensely dry hopped. It's a once in a lifetime occurrence."


Can Scale:
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Eclipse Black IPA
Style: American Black Ale
Brewery: Crabtree Brewing Company
Greeley, Colorado  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 71
Date: December 8th, 2011

Posted by Russ

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Monday, July 19th 2010

Back in Black
(21st Amendment Brewery)

One of 21st Amendment's most recent canned releases, Back in Black, just hit shelves in the past couple days. The first of the so-called Black IPAs or Cascadian Dark Ales to be canned, Back in Black was previously a draft only release. I can't wait to crack this open! 

From the 21st Amendment site:

"Inspired by Paul Revere's midnight ride, we rebelled against the British style IPA, embraced the more aggressive American version and then recast it in bold, brave, defiant black. Our Black IPA is a Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of the expected.

Back in Black is our newest year-round beer available now in six pack cans and on draft. Brewed like an American IPA but with the addition of rich, dark malts, this beer has all the flavor and hop character you expect with a smooth, mellow finish."

Here we go...


Pour - dark auburn and ruby reddish in color as it floods the glass. A thick, rich, pancake batter-esque head develops on top. This looks both impressive and inviting. Hold this to the light to really see how dark this IPA truly is!


Aroma - spicy, piney, citrusy goodness emanates from the glass as soon as the beer hits the bottom. There are also some rich chocolate and malt aromas that give this almost a chocolate covered candied orange aroma. I'd like to dive in now please.


Taste - not quite an IPA meets stout flavor but it does have some IPA meets American-style Porter qualities with the maltiness and the more pronounced hop profile. I taste chocolate and orange, or even pineapple, along with the very unique flavor that the simcoe hops impart (eucalpytus?) as well as the boldness of the Columbus and Centennials. The hops truly shine in this unique brew and it makes me realize that this whole "Black IPA" thing is pretty badass. It's awesome. It's all awesome! 


Overall - This is absolutely delicious. The flavor combo of hops and dark malt is perfect and my taste buds are left wondering what the hell just happened. Sweet citrus meets chocolate and then is walloped with a dose of Pacific Northwest hops. Hooray for new styles of beer! American brewers never stop innovating.


Would I buy more of it? - definitely, this is unique and delicious. As soon as this glass is empty another can will be opened and it will be refilled. 


Note - Wikipedia never ceases to amaze me. Someone has contributed the following about this emerging style of American craft beer:


The Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) or "Black IPA" is a relatively new variant of IPA, with a characteristically dark or black appearance, due to roasted malts, while retaining the hop aroma typical of the IPA style. Examples of this style include Hopworks Urban Brewery Secession Black IPA, Widmer Brothers Brewery W'10, Laughing Dog Brewery Dogzilla, Cascade Brewing Dark Day, Deschutes Brewery Intergalactic Black IPA, Thornbridge Brewery Raven. The name refers to the Pacific Northwest Region of the United States ("Cascadia"), where many current commercial versions are made. The style was invented by Greg Noonan in Vermont in the early 1990s, and by the mid-2000s there were several commercial versions made in that state.

Hops Scale:
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Can Scale:
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Back in Black
Style: American Black IPA (Cascadian Dark Ale)
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, California  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Rahr Pale Malt, Crystal 45L
Hops: Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 65
Date: July 19th, 2010

Posted by Russ

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