Monday, August 12, 2013

Black IPA Taste OFF!

This post picks up where I left off from my post on Danny Boy Beer Works attempt at a Black IPA or American-Style Black Ale.

Remember I was hatching that plan... you know... about having a head to head style off?  I'm not talking models and hipsters crowding around a runway, but getting a bunch of beers of a particular style, grabbing friends and seeing what beer wins the Taste off!  Enter the Italian Stallion... err Black IPAs!

The short list:
Pitch Black IPA - Widmer Brothers - Portland, OR
Sublimely Self-Righteous - Stone Brewing - Escondido, CA
The Name of Suffering - 3Floyds - Munster, IN
Notorious B.I.P.A. - People's Brewing - Lafayette, IN
King of Hop - Union Brewing Company - Carmel, IN
Nunmore - Flat 12 - Indianapolis, IN

Previous Tastings:
Black IPA - Danny Boy Beer Works - Carmel, IN
*Komodo Dragonfly - Upland Brewing Co. - Bloomington, IN

*I had Komodo fresh off tap a few hours before I had my first King of Hop a few months ago at their Carmel tap house.  I couldn't get my hands on a bottle for the taste off, but I will still rank it in the list.

Complete disclosure, I was waiting until Union Brewing Co. (UBC) had King of Hop on draft again before attempting the taste off.  For those who don't know about cask beer I will direct you towards our previous post on Union Brewing Co.  The quick and dirty is that they don't bottle and don't do cask growlers, however they now have growler-friendly versions of their beer!  Fun limitations to work around when doing a tasting! 

Cameron Fila Owner/Brewer at the UBC took it upon himself to let us host the tasting at his brewery. Not only that, he also sat in on the taste off!  I know he wanted to see where his brew stacked up with other locals and non-local breweries.  To be honest I did as well.  It was fun hearing Cameron's take on a style that really hasn't been sussed out.

After a long and arduous task of swilling beer and formulating responses/notes, find below the master list of final standings of what shook out!

Big thanks to:
Cameron - Owner/Brew Master
Tony - Celler Man
Hannah - UBC Groupie
Nick - Guilt by Association to Big Guy!
Nathan - Marketing Director/Bartender

Final Standings
1 : King of Hop - Union Brewing Company - Carmel, IN
     -Roasty coffee nose with notes of burnt carmel.  A medium to light body.  Creamy and sweet coffee roast polish.  Finishes dry with a hop nip bitter finish at the back of the pallet.  Hands down the best of the group!  The only thing that was holding it back from a perfect five was the nose.  Cameron prefers the roasty nose in this latest batch, however the Hop-Head in me sides with the floral hop nose in the previous batch paired with the body and finish in this latest iteration.  "Hail the King, BABY!"

2 : *Komodo Dragonfly - Upland Brewing Co. - Bloomington, IN
      -Very similar to the King of Hop, but missing that creaminess and great hop finish!

3 : The Name of Suffering - 3Floyds - Munster, IN
      -Hop malt nose.  Light body. Sweet and bitter. Fizzier than expected.

4 : Sublimely Self-Righteous - Stone Brewing - Escondido, CA
     -Nice toasty floral nose.  Carmel, malt and molasses notes.  Medium body. Sweet at moments.

5 : Notorious B.I.P.A. - People's Brewing - Lafayette, IN
      -Raisin malt nose, sweet.  Medium body. Notes of camel & raisins. Finishes dry & tart.

6 : Pitch Black IPA - Widmer Brothers - Portland, OR
      -Floral raisin nose, balanced hop malt body. Wet finish.

7 : Nunmore - Flat 12 - Indianapolis, IN
     -I don't think the bottle did anything to enhance this one.  Better off draft until the next batch of bottles.  Upon pouring the same as the other BIPA's this fizzed up about as bad as Oak'n Barrels Epiphany.  Other notables were the great floral nose and much lighter body.

8 : Black IPA - Danny Boy Beer Works - Carmel, IN

the Big Guy: So I dig this style of brew, but not as much as O-Dawg and for the most part I like mine a little bit sweeter. King of Hop is sweet hoppy and roasty, really everything you could ask for and a little bit more from a BIPA. My second favorite was Notorious BIP by the guys at People's. My third favorite was In the Name of Suffering by Three Floyds. Theirs was a sweeter New Orleans style brew and I totally dig it. All of these were rated at 4 for me, so it was a very close race. I have Komodo listed as a 4 on Untappd as well, but I only wanted to comment on things that we drank while doing the taste test.



  1. Great post! Thanks for including this "UBC Groupie" in your tasting!


  2. Thanks for helping us make sure we didn't make a mistake on any of it