Beer: Back in Black
Brewer: 21st Amendment Brewery
Style: Black IPA
Description: 21st Amendment’s Back in Black pours a lovely russet brown/black with a rocky khaki-colored head that sticks around for a long time and leaves a significant amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is a perfect blend between piney, earthy hops and roasted toffee, caramel, and coffee from the malts, but I do recommend letting it warm up a little bit to truly unleash the aroma. The taste is dominated by roasted malts up front with flavors of toasted caramel, bitter chocolate, and roasted grains quickly followed by piney, earthy, and resiny hops that grab onto to the taste buds with a vengeance before a long, semi-dry finish takes over. The medium body and moderate carbonation give a very smooth impression on the beer and an almost porter-like mouthfeel, but with more carbonation. Back in Black is a great balance between hops and malt with the 6.8 percent ABV being very well hidden.
Food pairing: The semi-aggressive hops and roasted malt profile make this beer a great addition to many dishes to provide an added layer of complexity. However, red meat dishes are perfect with this beer, as the malts will highlight the mineral and iron flavors of the meat, while the hops will cut through and impart an earthy/spicy taste to the dish. Try pairing Back in Black with BBQ ribs; the malts will enhance the caramelization in the meat and sauce while the hops will cleanse the palate nicely in between bites. This is also a great beer to have with your next burger, and any spicy toppings will only enhance the hop bite from it. A great pairing with this beer that will warm you up on these cold winter nights is with a shepherd’s pie; the hops create a wonderful added layer of complexity to this straightforward dish.
The final word: The Black IPA style, or Cascadian Dark Ale as some call it, is relatively new for the general public, as larger craft brewers only started brewing it around 10 years ago, but the style has gained a cult following in that short time frame, and it is starting to creep over into being a more mainstream style. 21st Amendment’s Back in Black is a fantastic Black IPA to try if you are interested in this style of beer. The hops are certainly present, but not overpowering, and the malts are perfectly balanced against the hops for a true showcase of this style. It is also a great style of beer to have in these cold months, and if you are a fan of IPAs, it gives you the best of both worlds: the great dark beer look and taste that many of us crave in the darker months, balanced against a great hop presence for the overall impression of an IPA.
Rating: W W W W
Where can I get it? Available in 12 oz. cans at the following locations: Exit 190 Beer Deli, Dickson City; Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer, Wilkes-Barre; Backyard Ale House, Scranton; Joe’s Six Packs to Go, Dunmore.
Remember, enjoy responsibly! Cheers!
-Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour on 102.3 FM Saturdays at 10 a.m.