Back in Black - 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco
Black IPAs are a trend I've noticed picking up steam lately, and I couldn't be happier. I say that now after having drank my way through this Black in Black from 21st Amendment in San Francisco. Had I been asked for my opinion of Black IPAs even an hour ago, it would have been a bit different. If I'm known for one thing it'd have to be my "hatred" of IPAs and all things hoppy. Breweries who already make two or three different kinds of IPAs and are releasing Black IPAs on top of their regular line up? That seems like overkill... especially considering I tend to enjoy one out of every ten or so IPAs I drink anyways... I kept an open mind and poured myself a glass of Back in Black. I'm glad I did.
Pouring the 21st Amendment Back in Black was interesting. It came in a can and poured a dark brown color. It looked exactly like Pepsi or Coke being poured from the can. The body developed a great head as it went into the glass. It was a light tan, almost khaki color that left tons of lacing all over the glass as I drank through this beer. The aroma was not at all what I was expecting. It was hoppy at first, and that was exactly what I had expected from a beer with IPA on the label, but there was also a really roasted dark Porter aroma to this beer. That caught me a bit off guard. I knew this beer was going to be dark of course, but I'd expected the hops to win out, that's usually how these IPAs go... No matter what else is in the beer, the hops win in the end. The Back in Black was a bit different and made me excited to taste this beer.
My first sip was a lot like when I went in to smell the beer. It was hoppy right up front but then you're greeted with a big malty hug. The Porter style kept coming to mind, maybe because I just had one before drinking this beer... but it really stuck with me. You've got the hoppy IPA component up front but before you've resigned yourself to drinking just another IPA you're hit with loads of roasted malt and a creaminess that screams Porter! It's a great combination of flavors and it's made me excited to try more IPAs.
The distribution of 21st Amendment beers isn't that widespread so it goes without saying that you should pick up a six pack of Back in Black if for no other reason that its rarity. If you're a hophead you may have mixed feelings about an IPA brewed with this much roasted malt, but it's definitely worth your time. Likewise, if you aren't the biggest IPA fan the Back in Black is a beer you should try at least once. It may give you a new appreciation for the style.