So here we are again with the ‘Black IPA’, which I’ll just go with calling it for now (the brewery themselves went with ‘American Black Ale’) and which it seems is cementing itself as quite the trend — though to take a stab at for how long would be patently foolish, as always.
I like these hoppy-but-black / black-but-hoppy beers, as I’ve said a few times before. So I was excited to try Croucher’s ‘Patriot’, since I’m usually rather fond of their stuff — their ‘Vicar’s Vice’ is the only counter-example that comes readily to mind; it was just very much Not My Thing, but it seemed pretty well received by plenty of others, so I’ll just chalk that one up to the blessed subjectivity. Oh. Oh, wait — he says, flipping through his Diary a bit — there was also ‘Mrs. Claus’; I didn’t like that at all. But apparently the little memory-management trick I pulled on my future self by sneaking it into a double-whammy entry worked quite well. Which is nice to know. So let’s press on quickly and pretend we didn’t remember, future-future self…
But this. This impressed me pretty quickly. I was sufficiently enamoured of my first try of it — on Saint Patrick’s Day — that I took a quick snap of my taster glass. And I realise that you don’t all have anywhere near the particular kind of odd brain that I do, so please just trust me when I say: that’s rare. I had my first proper full pint — and thereby made a Diary entry — a few days later. Then had two more pints that day. And have had several more since; its differentness doesn’t outstay its welcome. Compared against its siblings in the Unnameable Style, I found it a bit lighter and thought it was deliciously Jaffa-ish,1 which is probably down to the usually-distinctly-orangey Amarillo hop they used. Really rather delightful, and easily capable of making friends with people ordinarily shy of both the very-dark and the conspicuously-hopped. Which is something of a clever trick, to say the least.
Verbatim: Croucher ‘Patriot’ 19/3/11 5.5% on tap @ MH, shouted by a regular. I am really liking this Black IPA trend, whatever we wind up calling it. This one’s all about the Jaffas, with the very orangey Amarillo hop in abundance. Very smooth; weird but not overwhelming at all. Much better than Croucher’s other recent one-offs, so I hope it joins the roster; which is rumoured. On the name issue, Croucher have gone with “American Black Ale”, which I don’t like because of the breezy “American = hoppy” assumption. This will be a tricky style to name.
1: Note for aliens from far-flung lands: I mean the chocolate-and-orange flavour of the eponymous candy, rather than the presumably-just-oranges flavour of the actual orange variety — nor do I mean to imply that the beer somehow tastes like a historic port city in Israel. Damn I love the many and varied things you can learn from a Wikipedia Disambiguation Page — and I positively adore the fact that there exists a page entitled ‘Disambiguation (disambiguation)’.