In the ongoing discussion of is it or isn’t it a American-style Black Ale we took time out of our day to check out Kevin Forhan & Dave Leonard’s impressions of the style. Mind you at the time of the review the Brewery Association was still deciding what to call a Cascadian Dark Ale / India Black Ale / Black India Pale Ale.
The following review was written on September 7th, 2010 at the Ram Restaurant & Brewery in the Northgate Mall.
Brewers Association Guidelines regarding (what is now) the American-style Black Ale
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
Our recently draft-poured version of the Black Sheep Black IPA appears dark with only a sliver of amber resting at the bottom of the glass. As the beer settles a strong presence of a mocha-like, foamy, white-head ; rests on the surface. But as the beer slowly warms up a jagged crown of lace is discovered inside the glass with each sip.
Taking a healthy inhale through our nostrils we gather first impressions of earth tones (fresh cut grass, rich soil) along with bits of pine. A second sniff later on reveals some roasted coffee elements.
Within that first sip one is greeted by roasted caramel and a dry coffee bitterness, before a strong presence of piney hops takes you for a ride. Overall Black Sheep Black India Pale Ale feels light to slightly heavy on the palate.
You Should Try This. This is one of the few beers produced that in our opinion represents the Black Ale well. If this beer happens to make a return to the brewery (Dave / Kevin?) we would definitely advise you get yourself a growler or pint of this! In our opinion this is one of the better demonstrated examples of an American-style Black Ale.
Thoughts by your Colleagues
About the photo’s author
+Russ is a photo blogger and an avid beer fan who got immersed in beer and the Seattle beer culture through homebrewing and the thirsty pursuit of new craft ales to sample.