It's been a while since I've had one of these. I remember liking the malty vibe to it but not being a big fan of the hop profile. I picked a few up for a trade that didn't go through, so I figured I may as well give it another chance.
Blackheart is an English Style India Pale Ale that has been aged in toasted oak barrels. According the BJCP style guidelines in an English IPA "The hop flavor should be similar to the aroma (floral, earthy, fruity, and/or slightly grassy)."
English IPAs were made in the 18th century when the British Raj wanted English beer in India. It was created because standard English beers didn't hold up to the sea voyage. The IPA was a functional beer made to stand up to the long trip and the heat on ships from the UK to India.
American's have created our own tasty treat that is technically either an American IPA or an APA depending on what flavors are involved. The BJCP says "Hop flavor is medium to high, and should reflect an American hop character with citrusy, floral, resinous, piney or fruity aspects. Medium-high to very high hop bitterness, although the malt backbone will support the strong hop character and provide the best balance." The American IPA is no longer a functional brew, it's a creative monster of a beer. Brewers that are more like mad scientists have been mixing and matching different strains of hops, while developing new strains, to create some impressively bitter beers.
An APA tends to be more bitter (the focus is on the late hop additions in the brewing process) broader hop varieties to choose from. It also tends to have a bigger malt base with some unique specialty malts. This is a crazy specific distinction, but with so many new brews popping up, it's what we end up with. It seems like more and more brewers aren't making the distinctions. When you go through ratebeer, beer advocate and untapped you can get all sorts of different answers as to what style certain beers are.
- English IPA is going to be maltier
- English IPA is going to be floral and earthy
- American IPA is going to be citrusy and bright
- American IPA is giong to have a light malt base
- APA is going to have different types of hops in weird combinations
- APA is a little less regimented, it is a bit of a brewers choice wildcard
Although Three Floyds is known for their big citrusy American hop profiles, they knocked Blackheart out of the park. It pours a beautiful orangey yellow with a nice big fluffy cloud of white head. It had a great oak and malty smell with a nice floral hop flavor with a ton of earthiness to round it all out. The beer is sweet, without being too sweet. There's great caramel and oaked flavors upfront. The hops are citrusy with some great spicy earthiness. There is just a bit of boozy heat on the back end of the brew. Three Floyds proved that the UK style of IPA doesn't have to be only functional. It can be just as big as the American IPAs with their fruity flavor just in a different way. Citrus is replaced by spicy and earthy hops. The malt is ratcheted up in a sweet and delicious way.
All in its an outstanding example of any type of IPA. I give it a solid four and can't wait to drink my last one!
All information came from the 2008 BJCP guidelines