Last year, around this time word was spreading about this beer called a Cascadian Dark Ale. To some the CDA was an oddity, much like the South’s Jackalope. And much like the horned rabbit of the plains, this beer was 100% not homogeneous in regards to its characteristics. With the color of a porter and the bitterness / aroma of an India Pale Ale, many people didn’t know what to think of this dark ale in a glass.
It wasn’t just the public that was struggling with the term Cascadian Dark Ale. From local breweries to the Brewers Association, to even the of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; no one knew if CDA fit. In the end this story has an unhappy ending, as the beer is now been officially (if you believe in the Brewers Association) called an American-style Black Ale.
So for those who are curious what defines a CDA (American-style Black Ale), we have attached the Brewers Association guidelines.
American-style Black Ale is perceived to have medium high to high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content, balanced with a medium body. Fruity, floral and herbal character from hops of all origins may contribute character. The style is further characterized by a moderate degree of caramel malt character and dark roasted malt flavor and aroma. High astringency and high degree of burnt roast malt character should be absent.
Secession pours dark as pitch without a glimmer of light. As the beer rests in the glass a mocha colored foamy head appears (over an inch thick) before disappearing over time leaving behind an antique curtain of lace inside the glass.
Swirling around we pick up an overall burnt toast (bread) elements along with dark fruit, hints of earth (grass, mint), but an overall strong bitterness.
Sipping on this you first pick up bitter earth (green grass) notes before an overall mild burnt biscuit breadiness (reminiscent of toast) covers your tongue. As the beer makes it way down past the back of the throat a slightly citrus bitterness finish remains. Overall Secession is a medium to strong CDA with minor stickiness.
The emerging beer style features organic pilsner, C60, chocolate and black malts and a healthy addition of Magnum, Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Mt. Hood hops. All of this results in a beer that is an alliance of Northwest hop flavors as formidable as the Cascade Mountain Range and roasted malts as dark as a moonless night.
You Should Try. As more and more breweries, potentially, decide on the approved (by the Brewers Association) style name of American-style Black Ale, it's nice to see a brewery still willing to keep the Cascadian Dark Ale name alive. If you are pondering something to have with this, we might suggest a black bean or lentil soup, along with some whole wheat or multigrain bread. To us, the Cascadian Dark Ale will live on through beers like the Secession. Secession should be around till mid-March, after which it will be gone till next year.
About the photos’ author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.