Friday, March 2, 2012

Buxton Imperial Black IPA

The last of the three beers sent to me by the Buxton Brewery. This is my first-ever British black IPA (unless you count Brewdog's Bashah?). So far I've liked their attempts at mainstream American craft beer styles, but the black IPA is a niche style within a niche style. Would a fairly new brewery from across the pond be able to nail the style? Watch and find out.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (624) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 1, 2012
The Black IPA is one of the few wholly American beer styles, but now everyone wants to get on the bandwagon. Buxton Imperial Black IPA is impressive not only for the fact it’s a British take on the style, but an excellent example of what can be done with it. Citrus, pine, light sweet maltiness and amazing drinkability make up the palate of this beer and they do it very well.

I received a 500ml bottle from Buxton Brewery (thanks, Mike!). I poured it into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Opaque black body with just the faintest hints of ruby red edges. Forms a creamy khaki-colored head which laces and retains very well.

Smell: Big pine notes of sticky sap and resin, coupled with raw orange fruit and hints of candy.

Taste: Buxton Imperial Black IPA has everything I’m looking for in a beer of the style, mostly in that it’s so well-balanced. It’s very bitter, slightly sweet, slightly tart and slightly dry - yet all these components blend pretty much perfectly in this palate.

It begins with a Guinness-like palate of light coffee and chocolate notes and some porter-like qualities I might compare to cough medicine. Through the middle comes a bold flavor of sticky pine bitterness, which eventually gives way to an orange juice-like taste and tartness. The end is a crescendo of all the flavors that came before it - almost exploding with flavor on the tongue. You wouldn’t think these components would work so well together, but they actually do. It’s a fantastic balance of hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness. I didn’t get much roasty notes on it, though, but that’s okay because the end result is a tasty, delectable beer.

Drinkability: The first thing I noticed even before the taste was just of smooth and comfortable the mouthfeel was. It’s soft and velvety, but not thick or syrupy. Closer to that of a porter than a stout, but does have a bit of carbonation crispness of an IPA at the end (especially with that hop bite). It was difficult to drink this beer slow because it went down so easily and was so satisfying. It’s surprisingly big at 7.5% ABV, but it has the energy level that comes with a beer of the size. I think Buxton Imperial Black IPA is a versatile brew as this would be complement a meal, cheese or act as a liquid dessert. Not a perfect beer, but pretty damn close.
Grade: 9/10

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