This week comes with a newer style on the block, an Imperial Black IPA. I’d say this one can be enjoyed year round, although best enjoyed in the evening as they are usually around 7.5%.
Let’s start with Buxton Brewery‘s description of the beer:
Full bodied jet-black ale with a pale-tan head. Abundant fresh hop aromas suggesting zesty citrus pulp and forest fruits.
Quite a brief description, but Buxton has been known to be more modest with their blubs and leave a lot to the imagination which I think is a good idea for such a complex style.
Let’s start with a bit on the style, as I think a great new style such as this needs more recognition. An Imperial Black IPA/Black IPA or American Black Ale. It’s often mistaken for a hoppy Porter or Stout but this is not the case. Whilst this beer has the roasty flavour (hints of coffee and dark chocolate) this usually takes more of a back seat then it does in a Porter or Stout. Don’t get me wrong, the malty roasty coffee/chocolate tones are there and they are still a big part of the flavour. The main showcase however, is the nice fresh citrus/pine hop kick from the hops which is a lot different to a hoppy Porter or Stout as they tend to use Dark Roasted Malts like a Black IPA, but they use English hops sparingly to give it the true character of a stout or porter (usually). Black IPA’s use as many hops as an IPA and sometimes even more in order to get the flavour to cut through.
I contacted Buxton Brewery about the recipe of their beer, but unfortunately they didn’t reply so I have to take an educated guess. Usually with a Black IPA, you start with the base for a normal American Hopped IPA and add Carafa III Special Malt. I’m guessing the recipe is something similar to this: Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Malt and the Carafa III Special Malt. This beer also has some Wheat in, so I think that is most probably a German Strain as the head has very good retention like a bock. The hops are definitely American and going from the fresh Citrus and Pine flavours I think Chinook, Simcoe and Amarillo have been used.
When you pour this beer, the first thing you will notice is the smell of roasted coffee and citrus. Then you’ll notice that the head is spilling out the glass due to the wheat in the beer and possibly to do with the Bottle Conditioning. Once poured it looks very impressive, extremely dark with a crazy Tan coloured Head. The smell is still quite overwhelming and very inviting. Once the head reduces it stays on top of the beer as a medium cap the whole time, which really is quite impressive. Once you taste this beer it initially hits with hints of Fresh Roasted Coffee, Caramel and Brown Sugar. After this the hops kick in with a great punch of fresh citrus and hints of pine. It’s a bit like eating a Key Lime pie with a cup of coffee without it being so sweet. Although it is 7.5% there is no sign of the alcohol in the flavour and instead you get this sweet and sour aftertaste from the malted barley and wheat. It really is quite a complex brew but very enjoyable. Unlike the standard IPA it doesn’t have a dry finish and instead finishes sweet with medium carbonation.
This is definitely a beer to enjoy slowly after a long hard day at work.
I’d purchase this beer again and I’m glad Buxton Brewery have made this a year-round beer instead of a special release.
You can purchase Buxton Imperial Black IPA in the UK at:
At the time of posting, you can also grab a bottle from The Pint Shop, Cambridge in person For any bars, shops etc that are interested, I would contact the Brewery directly. Black Imperial IPA comes in Bottles, Kegs and Cask.
EST. CALORIES: 225 ABV: 7.5%