Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Deschutes - Hop In The Dark Review

Brewery: Deschutes (OR)
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 6.9%
Grade: A


My love of Black IPAs seems slightly weird to me — in the world of regular IPAs, I tend to like the ones with the lightest grain bills, and a minimum of malty sweetness intruding into my hop bouquet. Yet I love Black IPAs — screw all the stuff in the middle. Hop in the Dark calls itself a "Cascadian Dark Ale," which is a totally made-up and confusing term that northwest breweries need to stop using (I don't care if 'Black IPA' is contradictory; it's not confusing.) But you could make the argument that this is a particularly hoppy porter, or stout, too. Whatever it is, it's delicious.

I suppose what Black IPAs offer (that overly-malty regular IPAs do not) is added complexity without too much cumbersome sweetness. Let's take Hop In the Dark, since I am in fact reviewing it. You could point out some sweetness from those dark malts, but it's not rich, and arrives side-by-side with a dry, bitter coffee-ish flavor from those same dark malts. It's like the hint of sweetness you get in a dark chocolate, more of a suggestion than a sensation. Hop In the Dark has all the complexity of a stout, without the body, and with the nose and hoppiness of an IPA riding on top. The hops are both fruity and dank, heavy on the pine, with a thick rich mouthfeel that suggests dark chocolate, cherries, and dried fruit. The finish is somehow both rich and dry, sweet, hoppy, and clean all at the same time, a beautiful spiral of flavor that captures why I love this style. More than perhaps any other style, a good black IPA manages to be two things at once, melded perfectly, and perfectly complimentary.

I suppose it stands to reason that piney American hops would go so well with dark malts, but it's nice finding a beer that reminds you of this with exceptional tastiness. The hops chosen here are the perfect hops for a dark grainbill; the dark grainbill chosen here is the perfect balance of roasty, sweet and clean. Considering I picked this up entirely based on Deschutes' reputation and the coolness of the label art, I sure did get lucky. This is some of the best six bucks I'll ever spend on a vacation.

Availability: 22 oz bomber. Seasonal release, May to September.




2 comments:

  1. Derek, one reason Pacific NW brewers us the CDA term is because of disagreement over whether the style was created out here, or in Vermont: kind of a pride thing, although it may be misplaced. Anyway, I haven't had too many dark IPAs I'm nuts about, although there is a bottle of Uinta Dubhe in my fridge right now I'm itching to try, and last winter at a fest I had some Armored Fist, collabo brewed by Boneyard and Three Floyds. I really liked it, but at BA people who tried it at 3F in Munster weren't impressed, so maybe Boneyard's batch was better. Id say try it if you get the chance. Aside from all that, I have to applaud the tastebuds of anybody who rates Hop In The Dark, Uinta Hop Notch and Bell's Two Hearted over the Dogfish Head Minute beers. They're good, I just think they are continually over-hyped, over-praised and over-rated. Last, your blog is a fun to read, both because of content and because so well-written. Here's a thank-you, a link to a story about a visitor to my neighborhood not too long ago, with a video link therein:http://www.oregonlive.com/tualatin/index.ssf/2011/06/tualatin_bear_safely_captured_students_at_tualatin_elementary_stay_for_bear_curriculum.html

    Best, Indiana Pete Arsenfarger

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  2. Thanks for the kind words, IPA. I can definitely understand naming it out of pride. It's one of those things, I guess, where if the "CDA" name had caught on, people would know what it meant, and it would make just as much sense as India Pale Ale made when it was first coined.

    I always appreciate a good bear story!

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