Saturday, 21 November 2009

Black IPA

Black IPA. Why?

Names aren't random. They're plucked from the subconscious. When they stick. Coin as clever a phrase as you like, but if it doesn't stick in punters' heads, your head's playing bog brush. No audience, no song.

If "Black IPA" didn't smack the spot in the teeth (administer a knee to its groin and stamp on its head as it whimpered in pool of its own wee) word-wise, no-one would use it. Calling it stupid ignores its significance. It tells us of the meaning attached to IPA. By some drinkers. IPA - the sort of beer I drink.

I drink IPA. Not Stout. Not Barley Wine. IPA.

It explains why a beer that's really a Stout or a Barley Wine is called something IPA instead.

Black IPA. It's all about drinkers and their perceptions of themselves. Hardly anything to do with beer at all.

15 comments:

Matt said...

'Black IPA. Why?'

That's my feeling. I know what the brewer's trying to say: it's a black, hoppy beer. But there's already a word for that: stout.

You can't get away from the fact that the 'P' in IPA stands for 'pale', not necessarily as pale as 'golden ales' now but paler than the most popular beer when it was first brewed, porter.

'Black IPA' is a complete contradiction, it's like asking for a milky black coffee.

Pivní Filosof said...

I also see the "Black IPA" thing as rather ridiculous.

Shouldn't those beers be called IBA or IDA instead? What is next an Imperial Pale Tmavý Ležák?

Rod said...

Ron, I don't get this.....

Has some innovatory craft brewer somewhere launched a Black IPA?
(Or are you just still pissed from last night?)
I seem to remember my least favourite German brewer, Becks, talking about a black Pilsner at one time. Now that IS bullshit....

Kelly Ryan said...

Interestingly enough, Raven, our new Black IPA at Thornbridge has sold really well at our pub, the Coach and Horses. Even those that usually drink Jaipur and aren't fans of dark beers or stouts really like it.

It does have a lot of hops in it though :)

Or is it the power of the name??

Oblivious said...

"I seem to remember my least favourite German brewer, Becks, talking about a black Pilsner at one time. Now that IS bullshit...."


Schwarzbier !!!!!!!!!!!!


Köstritzer used to try and flog their Schwarzbier as a porter, is that not something similar to the black IPA thing

Bill in Oregon (or Cascadia) said...

It's a big style out here, but some local brewers and writers, also put off by the inherent contradiction of the name are pushing the name Cascadian Dark Ale instead. (Cascadia refering to that area of Oregon/Washington/Bristish Columbia that's west of the Cascade Mountains, where aggressively hopped beers are sort of the regional style).

The Black IPA name has got to go. I can live with Cascadian Dark Ale, but I'm sure many people will pillory me for that. If you called it stout (as Matt suggested), people would complain it's not stout, because it's not as roasty, and it has a bigger hop aroma and flavor (as opposed to plain bitterness) than most modern stouts do.

Rod said...

"I seem to remember my least favourite German brewer, Becks, talking about a black Pilsner at one time. Now that IS bullshit...."
Schwarzbier !!!!!!!!!!!!"

Well, mein lieber freund, if you think Schwarzbier is Black Pils, then we will have to agree to differ, with the greatest possible respect, because you obviously don't have the vaguest clue what you're talking about.

Lager Bore said...

Pale Porter, on the other hand... yeah, is just as bad.

zythophile said...

"Black India Pale Ale" - do the people who use this as a beer name not see the oxymoron in there?

Mind, pale stout was once an entirely legitimate style …

rod said...

Pale Stout.....

Well, sure - if I understand it, "Stout" simply meant "Strong" originally, didn't it? Therefore "Stout Porter" was the stronger version.
In principle, there could be a "stout" version of any beer, couldn't there? Special Brew could be re-branded as "Stout Lager".... thankyou Carlsberg, that's £10 grand you owe me for turning your dreadful product round :-]

(Incidentally, is it true that Carlsberg only brew the weak shit Carlsberg and Special Brew, and simply blend them to produce Carlsberg Export, or is this an urban myth?)

Rod said...

"Köstritzer used to try and flog their Schwarzbier as a porter, is that not something similar to the black IPA thing"

Sorry - this is gibberish

fillinn said...

What really grabbed me was not the newfangled beer, brewers are always doing silly things to get noticed.

I really liked this line: "It's all about drinkers and their perceptions of themselves. Hardly anything to do with beer at all."

Most beer ads are about the drinkers perceptions of themselves. Have you seen the budweiser ads with bus loads of cheerleaders, or the one (can't even remember the beer) with the man rules: "Man rule #57 Play Hard" etc.

Likewise guinness was pushing quirky with high production values and a hint of Ireland.

Seanywonton said...

Black IPA is simple, and non-regional, which I'm guessing is why it sticks. Some Black IPA's seem to be a clash of bitter-roast and bitter-hop flavors, but the best one I've had, I think it totally deserved the name. It was a homebrew made by a guy from NYC named Art, and it won a Best in Show a fairly large homebrew competition.

Art's beer used carafa and crystal malts for color, not roast, and I think that helped it get the color without the intense roasty flavors that can fight with a boatload of citrusy hops. He based the idea off recipe off of one of Stone's Anniversary ales.

I understand the regional pride of calling it Cascadian Dark Ale, but quite frankly it's a mouthfull. You don't hear many people going up to the bartender and asking for an "India Pale Ale", they just say IPA. And this style is not exclusive to the pacific northwest. I'm not sure where it "originated", but it's being brewed all oer the country at this point.

Barm said...

It's worth pointing out that McEwan's and Belhaven's "Pale Ale" has been dark for decades (for decades, read "an as yet unresearched, but long, period of time")

Barm said...

Also, Pale Ale is really a Beer not an Ale, so the term is already oxymoronic anyway. The Arbitrary Beer Categorisation Program (ABCP) is therefore currently considering whether to recognize Black IPA as a style.