When one can lean against the air outside without falling over, you know it’s just too darn hot, humid and sticky. Seriously, I think I just saw a camel fanning itself in the shade.
Ol’ Scratch himself just walked in, laid his pitchfork on the bar and asked for some ice water. Brutal.
So, naturally, this is the time of year when we logically prefer light-bodied, crisp, fruitier beers to slake our Sahara-dry palates. Yes, of course, fine, except I’m in the mood for something hoppy.
India Pale Ale is usually the hoppiest thing out there, but as good – great, even – as some IPA can be, I get bored sometimes with the style and my yearning starts to go a little ADD. What else ya got?
I’m looking for the bright bitterness a hoppy beer can provide but with a depth of flavor not traditionally found in IPA. This calls for a hybrid style.
What began as “Black IPA” was quickly derided. How can it be black pale ale? That’s an oxymoron. New nomenclatures were developed and the one that seems to have stuck is American-Style India Black Ale. Basically, you take everything nice about IPA and use dark, roasted grains in the malt bill.
And why in the world would I want a dark beer on a sweltering, melty day like today? While summery beers like pale wheat ale satisfy one’s thirst, they have a tendency to drink like water. If it’s water I’m after, I’ll drink water. Today, I want a beer that’ll bite back and let me know it’s there. Also, the bitter hops and astringent roasted grain make my mouth water. Mouth watering makes me want another sip. Wanting more and more sips psychologically convinces my brain that this thirst is, indeed, being quenched.
So, if it’s a dark beer that’s being sought out, best to look no further than the dark beer specialists at Duck-Rabbit. I’m absolutely aghast that more so-called beer enthusiasts either don’t know Duck-Rabbit’s name or aren’t drinking us dry of their inventory. Hopefully, that oversight is soon corrected.
When I met their Brew Master, Paul Philippon, a while back, I was already well-aware of their Milk Stout, Russian Imperial Stout and Brown Ale. It was a treat coming across their Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale. This stygian glass of complex goodness is multiple things at once. Mouth, commence watering.
Pitch-brown with the most minimal of light showing around the edges, Hoppy Bunny sports a creamy beige cap that leaves a topographical map of sticky lacing. Stout-like scents of dark chocolate, toasted pumpernickel and espresso bean duke it out with lemony, piney hops. Drinking almost like the most flavorful black coffee you’ve ever had, here’s where it really gets good. Spruce and citrus peel wash back and forth over bittersweet chocolate, black oolong tea and slightly burnt caramel before settling into a long, minty, herbaceous bitter finale. And while it’s mega-bold it’s surprisingly light-bodied, so take that, summer sun.
Shoot, now I’m out of Hoppy Bunny. Hey, Mr. Camel, come here. I need a ride to the bar.