Black, Bitter, and Boozy: Homewbrew Black IPA

After brewing a tasty (though somewhat average) one-hop IPA, I set my sights on my third and final brewing kit — Black IPA. I find it amusing that despite the other two kits having cute or clever names (Caribou Slobber and Zombie Dirt), this kit was simply labeled Black IPA. Despite the hundreds of beers that I have tasted, I had never tried one of this style. Yet, here I was about to brew one. I had no idea what to expect.

The brewing day went by without any major issues. I finally bought some no-rinse sanitizer for my equipment, which worked great. The primary fermentation was very active and lasted 3-4 days (lots of bubbles!). In addition to the jar of malt extract that I added to the wort, the kit also included a decent-sized bag of corn sugar, which I added after the boil. Needless to say, the wort had plenty of tasty sugars for my yeast to consume.

After two weeks, I bottled the beer. Unlike the original brew day, this bottling day was a disaster. Instead of filtering out the hops from the wort when I added it to the fermenter, I had siphoned it all in without thinking of the consequences. And boy, were there consequences. When I began to bottle, I noticed that the liquid was not flowing well through my bottler. It turns out, a large amount of hops had become lodged in it. I reached for a spare bottler and discovered a new problem — it didn’t work at all. To be specific, its seal was not tight enough and beer leaked out onto the floor. By the time I had finished bottling, I was practically swimming in fresh beer! I tried mopping it up, but the floor was still very sticky the following day. Next time, I will definitely be filtering out those hops!

After another two weeks, I popped open a bottle and had a taste. It was very strong and bitter, like a highly-hopped American stout. It definitely overwhelmed the food I was eating. It also had a relatively high ABV (probably around 7-8%), and I felt more than a little tipsy after drinking it. Despite it being an IPA, it did not have much aroma, which really surprised me. I’ve read that there are different definitions for black IPA, ranging from “IPA but black” to “IPA with toasty flavors”, I think this one is closer to the latter.

To be honest, the taste of this beer is not really for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love dark, toasty beers and I love fruity, floral IPAs. However, I think that this beer had neither strong toasty flavor nor plentiful aroma. What it does have is strong bitterness and lots of alcohol, which is fine for certain occassions, but not something that I seek out normally in my beers.

Next time I would like to brew a much milder beer, probably an English Bitter. However, this time, I will not be using a kit, but rather using a recipe from Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer. Here’s hoping it goes well!

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