Beer Review: Harmon Brewing’s Black Tartan Black India Pale Ale, Is A Should Try

image sourced from Harmon Brewing's Seasonal beer pageWhether you want call it an American-style Black Ale, an India Black Ale, Cascadian Dark Ale, or Black India Pale Ale; the fact is there is something fracturing about this highly hopped, black-colored ale. So what would we be if we didn't introduce another beer that begs you to decide what to call it.

Brewed in Tacoma, WA; Harmon Brewing's Black Tartan India Pale Ale is the breweries rendition (in bottle and draft form) of what the Brewer's Association call's the American-style Black Ale.

Brewery Description

The Black Tartan IPA is brewed with with 5 different malted barleys, including a debittered black and black wheat barley. It's black like a stout, with aromas and hoppiness like an IPA. 6.8% ABV with 80 IBU's

The following review was written on October 3rd, 2010 after a purchase from Bottleworks in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.

Suggested style guidelines provided by the Brewers Association of America

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

Poured out of the bottle Black Tartan appears dark and unyielding as we attempt to view the glass in front of a light source. Further rest allows the head to form, whose colors are reminiscent of mocha. Unfortunately this crown of khaki, black, and brown; fades quickly leaving little behind in the way of lace.

Taking our pint and waving it under the nose releases notes of sweet fruits, fresh cut grass (earthiness), roasted barley, and some biscuit breadiness.

With a makeup like that released just in the aroma alone we take that eager first sip which is rewarded with earthy hop bitterness, before it's washed away by essences of roasted coffee and barley. Overall Black Tartan India Pale Ale has a medium weight to it as it rests on the tongue and there is only minor stickiness.

Our Thoughts
You Should Try It *If this was a Cascadian Dark Ale.
You Should Consider It *If this was a Black India Pale Ale / India Black Ale.

This beer challenges us to consider a Cascadian Dark Ale. This would fit right in with beers like Hop in the Dark, Oakshire O'Dark, and even *gasp Alaskan Double XX Black IPA.

However, as experience with India Black Ale (or Black IPA) has shown us, the only character that distinguishes it from say a India Pale Ale is the color. So we suggest you consider it if you are pondering another Black IPA / India Black Ale, but Should Try if you are looking for a Cascadian Dark Ale.

Thoughts by your Colleagues


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