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Beer Review #220 Hop Noir

If you have read this blog for a period of time you will know that I think very highly of Peak Organic Brewing Company. While I haven’t reviewed them in almost 100 beer reviews, they still rank up there in my books. When I was at the beer store a month or so ago I finally saw a new beer from them, Hop Noir. According to the bottle Hop Noir is a black IPA and comes in a 5.3%. There is some debate if a black IPA should be called a black IPA. I only have one other black IPA under my belt, and regardless of the name, the style is wonderful.

Hop Noir pours a jet black color and has a dense tan head. The nose is fully of fun smells. There are some great chocolates, both milk and dark, that jump out at first and then give way to a dull sweet roasted smell. When combined, all of these aromas have a cocoa feel. There are some distant hops hiding behind everything, but the malt is the real start here.

This beer starts with a gentle malt upfront that is fairly thin feeling, but then it gives way to a really nice roast chocolate combination. Unlike a lot of dark beers where the roast is the main player, the chocolate malt really thrives in this ale. About halfway through the beer the hops finally kick in. The bitterness is mildly strong for an IPA but it meshes perfectly with the malt. Unlike a lot of IPAs the malt is the real star of this beer and, from my experience, style.

This beer is damn smooth. It has a great balance of flavors and really just strikes a cord with me. The only problem that I found is that this beer is a sneaky SOB. It comes in at a shocking 8.2% ABV, but it doesn’t have even the slightest hint of heat. My wife really liked this one, and she is not a fan of hops (but she does know craft beer well). I will be picking up more of this beer shortly.  (more…)

Beer Review #201 Demo

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
The final beer of my Magic Hat Brewing Company sample pack is Demo. Demo is labeled as a Black IPA and comes in at 6% ABV. According to Magic Hat, Demo is, “a deliciously dark lick of an India Pale Ale. It’s medley of roasted malts and heady hops will have your senses dancing to the beat of a different I.P.A.” Black IPAs and/or Cascadian Dark Ale and/or Cascadian IPAs have been increasing in popularity in the past few years. I believe that they even added a category to the beer styles to fit it. I have not tired many of these beers so I’m still a bit fuzzy on what a good example of this style is.

Demo pours a black color (shocker) and has a light tan head to go with it. The nose is nice and roasty. There are some hints of chocolate and deep caramels in there as well. Surprisingly I didn’t much if any hops on the nose of this beer. For something labeled as IPA, I would have expected there to be more hop aroma. It could be my lack of knowledge of the style, but I was hoping for more hops on the nose.

On my first taste I really loved the solid roasty flavor to this beer. There are some hints of chocolate and coffee, but mainly just a robust roasty flavor. The roastiness is not sharp, but smooth and round. The hops come into the picture on the back half of this beer. They mix very nicely with the roast and provide a good contrast of flavors. I was hoping for some stronger hops, but what was there worked well.

Of the three beers that Magic Hat sent me this is probably my favorite. It is super drinkable and it only comes in at 6% ABV. While I was expecting much more in the way of hops, the lack of a strong hop flavor allowed the malt to shine. If you are a hop head this beer is probably going to disappoint you, but if you like balanced beers (like I do) this one should be right up your alley. (more…)