Bitter Root Brewing released their much-anticipated Black IPA this week, so we stopped by their Hamilton tap room for a taste and a quick chat with the brewers, Jake Talbot and Tony Wickham.
First off, when they say that this is a “Black” IPA, they’re not fooling around. This unfiltered brew is like dark matter; black as the night, black as the dark side of the moon, black like a black hole from which no light escapes.
A big part of that is the triumvirate of dark malts they used to give it that dark character, namely: a French chocolate malt, a basic Brown malt and a debittered Black malt. Alongside those, you’ve got some ESB, Munich, Vienna, Honey, Carapils and some C-15. More on those later.
The first thing you notice when preparing to enjoy a frosty mug (superb caramel-colored head, btw) is the intense floral hop aroma. That comes from the GENEROUS infusion of Citra hops. According to brewer Jake Talbot, they used CTZ for the first wort, but then piled on the Citra throughout the rest of the brew, including a 13-pound dry hop (one pound for each barrel).
So, as any IPA should be, it’s a hoppy beer, but it is balanced, oh so well, by that all-star malt lineup. There is a depth of malt character that hits you immediately upon the first sip. It balances that hop profile and makes for a nice transition of flavors throughout each sip and the pint as a whole. Each sip ends with a feisty, hoppy zing that lingers on the back of the palate.
This will be a great beer to enjoy as fall gives way to winter. Cheers!
Beer buddy Jon brought this beautiful beer to a birthday party last night, and we couldn’t resist popping it open early, because the birthday boy was busy playing board games. Sorry Ryan. I noticed the name first, Leafer Madness, then I noticed the brewery, Beer Valley Brewing Company in Ontario, Oregon. What? Ontario was always sort of a joke to those of us who lived in Western Oregon. Occasionally our schools played each other in sports, and we’d drive clear across the state to play the tiny boarder town. Usually they travelled to our side of the state. And I’ve driven through the town dozens of times on my way to Boicraftse or points east.
At any rate, I was extremely pleased to see that they have a thriving little brewery to join other eastern Oregon breweries like Barley Browns and Terminal Gravity. These breweries are intensely local and dedicated to the art and craft of being community breweries.
Leafer Madness is billed as an imperial Pale Ale, and I was happy to find that it fit the style, if such a style there is. The main characteristic here is that the beer does not have a super heavy malt presence. The malt was light and poppy, like a good pale ale would be. But the alcohol and hops were definitely at a level that you could call Imperial for this style. This beer isn’t a gimmick. With a floral hop nose that leads into an amazing spicy, almost ginger-like taste on the palate with hints of white pepper, the brewers of this beer certainly put together what turned out to be a really good imperial pale ale.
The bad news is that you’ll have to travel to Spokane to find this beer at this point. However, it’s good enough that I’d like to think our renowned beer stores will likely pick it up soon.