From the Beer Writer: There was a time not so long ago that black IPAs flowed in San Diego like bubbling crude from a freshly tapped oil field. They were everywhere…then, just like that, they were gone, replaced by the likes of session, fruited and hazy IPAs. Dark beers have always been a tougher sell in San Diego, but the abundance of hops in black IPAs allowed them to enjoy a significant, if short-lived, heyday. This, despite their niche nature. The majority of drinkers aren’t looking for a combination of bright, fruity, floral hops and dark-kilned malts. And all too often, the latter led to overly roasty black IPAs that came across more like American (hoppy) stouts. An ideal black IPA is low on roast and doesn’t hit the palate like coffee or espresso. Take, for instance, Kensington Brewing‘s Bedford Black IPA. Because most of its color is derived from black malt versus onyx specialty grains with huge roast presence, this beer is dark as night, yet dry, clean and crisp as all get out. Evergreen hop notes easily shine through a baker’s chocolate body, giving way to a bitter, almost tobacco-like finish. Even with all those sharply expressive flavor characteristics, the beer remains easy to drink and, for me at least, an argument that San Diego could benefit from a few more well-engineered, highly balanced black IPAs.
From the Brewer: “The Bedford Black IPA slowly but surely has become my favorite beer on tap. With other IPAs, I shift between them to experience different flavor profiles, but with a black IPA I feel like I can get many of them in the same place. It starts off with a great balance of sharpness from the piney hop profile and roasted malts but finishes light and crisp from a unique lager hop we use in the dry-hopping process. I would highly recommend this beer not only to those who love a complicated IPA, but also to anyone looking for a very unique beer.”—Zack Knipe, Founder & Co-owner, Kensington Brewing