Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Founders Dark Penance

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1289) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 25, 2015
This is actually the second black IPA I’ve had from Founders this year. How this flew under my radar when it was release last fall I’ll never know. Though I do think Dark Penance would be substantially better if the bottle weren’t over four months old. That being said, it’s still a highly flavorful and drinkable brew. I’d expect nothing less from Founders.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a goblet. It was bottled on 10/11/14 and cost $4.95 ($0.41 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark black hue, but still translucent with some red highlights. Pours to a small, tan, soapy head that laces and retains fairly well.

Smell: Strong aroma of orange candy and some black licorice.

Taste: A truly great black IPA should be the best of both worlds: the rich maltiness and roasty flavor of a stout and the delicious citrus/pine flavors and bitterness of an IPA. Founders Dark Penance is a bit more of the latter and much less of the former. Orange is by far the most dominate character here – in the aroma and the palette. It’s sweet like candy, though in a way that leads me to believe this bottle may be a bit oxidized. The malty side is obscured by the hop presence, even in an older bottle like this. Instead of rich dark malt and chocolate, it’s more of a general dark malt base akin to that of a porter. Which would be fine if this weren’t purporting to be such an imperial Black IPA at 8.9% ABV and 100 IBUs. Still, I do like the hop character here. The orange citrus comes through (and how) on the finish, along with a dry bitterness to match. A little more balance and this might be world class, but as it stands it’s still very good.

Drinkability: What’s also nice about a Black IPA is it often has the mouthfeel of a beefy stout – calm, smooth and chewy. Founders Dark Penance has the mouthfeel of a traditional IPA – full-bodied as far as flavor, but thinner in viscosity and higher in carbonation. It goes down smooth with little alcohol flavor or warmth despite the 8.9% ABV potency. I appreciate its easy drinkability, but I’d prefer a thicker, softer mouthfeel that doesn’t finish quite so cleanly (though the hops definitely linger here). 
Grade: 8/10

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