Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Glarus - Blacktop

Confession time.  I have a lot of New Glarus beer in my beer fridge.  In fact, a lot of them are just a single bottle that I have been holding off drinking just so I can review it.  Some of them are varieties that I have had before and could drink without worrying, "Have I review this yet?"  Today, I begin to remedy this delightful problem by reviewing New Glarus beers ad nauseum until I can finally figure out what I can drink out of my beer fridge with a clear conscience.

The bad news:  Not much brewer variety in the coming reviews.
The good news:  I have some awesome varieties that I have been dying to try!

So buckle up, dear reader.  We're about to take a journey through the state of Wisconsin!  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art is used without permission for educational purposed only.
Aroma 10/12
Fresh, piney hops are very forward in the nose and even seem a bit herbal at times.  The dark roast is wonderful and speaks of molasses.  A muted citrus is present in the background, and is distant and sharp when it is allowed to faintly speak.

Appearance 3/3
A very nice dark mahogany color with scarlet trimmings.  The tan head is comprised of small, soapy bubbles that crackle as they descent the glass and leave a sticky lace anywhere they touch.  While far from the "jet black" that is claimed on the bottle, it still has nothing of which to be ashamed.  Even while not being dark enough to be called truly black, it is quite handsome in its failing.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 17/20
If this beer were a musical dynamic, it would sforzando crescendo.  It starts off with quite a shock of coffee-ish malt (despite no hint of it in the aroma) and resin.  This is some wonderfully roasted, dark chocolate malt.  It calms down unusually quickly in the backbone and features a musty hop, resin, a brief pine cameo, the faintest of burnt sugars, and a background barely-bright citrus note.  A quick slurp brings the hops to the forefront with bold pine and resin flavors on top of a nearly blackened roast malt.  Unfortunately, this is where our crescendo ends, but the finish of the beer is far from disappointing.  This beer's finish is not the tongue puncher that seems to be the norm for BIPAs and instead shows dark toffee, resin, pine, citrus, and a dull, muted citrus waaay in the background.  The aftertaste is cleaner than most BIPAs, but leaves the after taste of a robust, hopped brown ale on the tongue while leaving the mouth fairly dry.  As the beer warms the dark chocolate really steps forward in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel 5/5
This beer fills the mouth pleasantly and has some unusual characteristics to boot.  For a beer of this style, let alone for a beer this dark, the carbonation is pretty high.  It pricks the tongue a bit even past the half-way mark.  This beer is also ridiculously sticky.  They don't call it Black Top without cause!  It is evident everywhere from the lacing to the sensation in the mouth.  Perhaps they kept a high carbonation to counter the sticky and keep the beer from becoming to syrupy (some might say viscous!).  It did allow the beer to be fairly large, but without becoming burdensome to drink.

Overall Impression 9/10
While not the biggest, baddest, BIPA on the block this is definitely one you can pick up six of to drink on your own, even if it isn't all six in one sitting.  The flavor mimics the aroma almost to a 'T', and is more interested in complexity and range of flavor than a large wallop to your tastebuds.  The mouthfeel also breaks with the BIPA mold and happily forges its own, less heavy way.

Total 44/50
Is another superb offering from New Glarus really a surprise?  This score places it at the top of the "Excellent" category and it has earned every bit.  It has great flavor without weighing down the beer, a unique mouthfeel, and traditional BIPA flavors while adding complexity.  It's not the huge beer that some BIPA fans will be looking for, but that is far from saying it is even a moderate offering.  On a note not related to characteristics of the beer, it is nice to see a BIPA that is not in a bomber bottle.  This is a BIPA that I can enjoy all week long, not only because it doesn't insist on being a gargantuan beer, but because there are six of them!  The bitter notes and strong hop presence  show why this style won't be going anywhere soon.  Kudos again to Dan & Deb on a great beer that I will be buying again.

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