Otter Creek Brewing – Black IPA

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Otter Creek brewing produces three beers all year round at its Middlebury, Vermont brewery, these being Stovepipe Porter, Copper Ale and Black IPA. All three of these beers, including Black IPA, are brewed using a strain of yeast unique to Otter Creek Brewing, along with hops and malt produced in the local area.

It is only over the last few years that the American craft brewers have started to carefully mix the bitter hop flavours associated with traditional India pale ales with dark roasted malts to produce black IPAs. When the British decided they had a preference for a lighter beer, rather than a dark ale, the future of India pale ale was virtually guaranteed, although before this preference became apparent, IPA tended to go in and out of fashion. So it is somewhat ironic that the traditional darker ales that India pale ale displaced many years ago, are now coming back into fashion in modern craft brewing, and that black India pale ale is now a hybrid of the two brewing styles.

Black IPA

Otter Creek Black IPAStyle: Black IPA
ABV:  6.0%
IBUs:  60
Serving Temperature:  54-58F

Black IPA is a very dark beer, similar to a traditional porter that appears virtually opaque until it is held in front of a light, although in reality, it is somewhere between dark brown and maroon in color. When poured there are tan bubbles which are medium sized.

There is a malty sweet backbone on the nose with the hops being very dominant. Liquorice and bread flavors are evident, but also some raisins and light coffee grounds. The beer definitely has a toasty aroma, with baked fruit and the more than ample hops give just a hint of citrus zest. On the palate, roasted malt is at first very noticeable, but then dark chocolate with a little bitterness beomes apparent as the malt and hops mix. Finally the hop and citrus flavors follow, along with the malt that lingers and a finish of roasted grain.

You could almost think you are drinking something other than an India pale ale because of the clean finish. You may think that perhaps this beer should have its own unique place on the shelf and not be placed alongside the more traditional India pale ales. But regardless of how it is categorised, Otter Creek Brewing Black IPA is a very balanced ale, well worth considering, regardless of whther it is placed with the IPAs or considered to be a special blend of hoppier IPAs and dark porter ales.

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