Black IPAs are a difficult beer to pull off for brewers. Some people think of them as really hoppy brown ales. They are darker and much hoppier than any brown ale. However, they are also a little more complicated than just changing the malt bill on an IPA recipe. A good black IPA uses the bitterness of the roasted dark malts to help take a bit of the edge off the hoppiness of an American style IPA.
What is really impressive is when a new brewery can make a good beer when executing a difficult beer style, and black IPAs are a difficult beer style.
Hop Dab pours a nice clear deep dark almost black. It has a nice fluffy off white head that sticks around a while. However, that isn’t the first thing you really notice. Any good BIPA pours a nice color like that. What will catch you is the aroma. This is where Hop Dab sets itself apart. The dry hopping for this beer gives it a big piney and resinous nose that is a good break from all the floral and citrus west coast beers on the market. This east coast hopping is why they call it a Vermont style BIPA at the taproom. You also get a strong hint of the dark roast malt.
The taste mirrors the aroma. The only difference is that while it has a very hop forward taste it is well balanced with the bitterness (think coffee and dark chocolate) from dark roast malt taking a bit of the bite from the hops while keeping the characteristic hoppiness. That is the reason BIPAs are slowly moving into the mainstream of beer geekery. You get the American style hoppiness while mitigating some of the hop bitterness that puts a lot of people off IPAs.
Hop Dab is a well-balanced beer from a young brewery that is starting to impress many in the NC beer world.
How does when and where you taste a beer effect the taste of the beer? How do your preconceived notions of the brewery itself affect how you taste a beer? To keep my feelings about this beer in check after the tasting that led to this review at the Newgrass taproom, I tasted it again in a different place and with another beer geek to see his reaction. His mirrored mine, but that first question is still an interesting one. You state of mind does affect your perception of what you taste. As reviewers and judges, we must always be vigilant to make sure those preconceptions don’t mess with our objective reviews.
I had to miss yesterday’s Five Articles and the blog post I have planned. That means I have a new post today and a new post tomorrow. The plan is to have one Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On to a short and sweet Five Articles for today.
There are two beer stories that fascinate me. One is the fight over putting beer into Colorado grocery stores. The other is the Georgia taproom law fight. It is a fight and the fight makes little sense. This was a bill that was doomed from the beginning because the language of the law was ridiculously complicated which let the Georgia Department of Revenue interpret the law however they wanted to interpret it and put the brewery taprooms right back where they started. This is a good column discussing why it has been so hard to get a common sense beer law passed in Georgia.
Texas A&M and College Station, TX fascinate me. There is some quasi-military idea of what the school is that the people that go there love about it. Every time I here someone who attended the school, it sounds like a weird place. Here is a beer story from there.
Craft beer is not a marketing gimmick. Craft beer isn’t some Quixote quest. Craft beer is about good beer served fresh. The threat big beer companies pose isn’t making craft breweries sell out. No matter what your local brewer may tell you, everyone has their price. It’s just that some people’s price is really high. The biggest threat big beer companies pose is turning beer into a simple commodity akin to widgets.
It isn’t that ABInbev bought Goose Island and put it under its umbrella. It’s that they have increased the distribution of Goose Island by ramping up production and putting it in every grocery store they can find. Everyone should have access to great beer, but that great beer needs to be sold in places where they care about the beer and don’t treat it like a bag of dog food.
So, yes, big beer buying craft brewer bothers me because I don’t want the beer to get worse, not because I have an attachment to being part of some small cadre of people who know the “truth” about good beer. I went through the indie/alternative music wars of the 90s and watched as the music I liked became commodified into some unrecognizable pop music pushed out off of an assembly line by interchangeable bands. That is what I don’t want beer to become. Interchangeable IPAs produced on an assembly line with the only difference being what the can looks like.
Friday is here. I have a weird relationship with Fridays. I don’t have Saturday’s off so Friday is just another day for me. For you, however, it is probably the end of the week. Go out and enjoy pretending to work this afternoon as you wait for the clock to finally get to 5:00. On to the links.
Of course, the Georgia wholesalers and distributors orchestrated this whole mess. Their lobbyists helped write the law and then turned around and helped the Department of Revenue see the interpretation of the law that hurt craft brewers. I don’t believe in most conspiracy theories because they assume a core competency that I have not experienced from most others I’ve encountered in life. In this case, the conspiracy is so transparent and straight lined that to not assume it is intellectually dishonest.
Hi-Wire Brewing is moving headlong into sours from a standing start. This is an interesting move. Honestly, I don’t know if I understand it. This is something that breweries around the country are doing. They are moving away from specialty ales and into sours and barrel aging. While that is great in one sense, this is a high risk, high reward proposition. If you don’t do it right, you’ve wasted a great deal of time and product.