Sunday, August 14, 2011

Deschutes Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale review

Deschutes Hop in the DarkDark IPA's? Where have you been hiding? This beer has been on my to-try list for a while now. The thought of a dark brew with lots of hops had intrigued me, but I've always wondered how the roast would mix with the extra IBU's. With Deschutes Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale (C.D.A.) I was about to find out.

Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon) is no stranger to Colorado, its been around for several years, but until now I'd yet to try a Cascadian Dark Ale (aka Black IPA or American Black Ale). I'm a big dark beer lover. You can't stop me from trying a porter (regular or smoked) or a stout (regular, milk, coffee, imperial) and when I spied this at my local store for the first time I wanted to try it.

Hop in the Dark C.D.A. is rated at 6.5% ABV (reasonable) and a surprising 70 IBU (not common in my dark beer experience). For calorie counters, this beer pours at 200 calories per 12oz serving. Since this came in a bomber bottle I knew I'd be piling on nearly 400 calories. I knew I'd be going for a long walk the next day.

Appearance: I started pouring this beer very gently and when I didn't see much of a head building I quickly tilted the bottle for a much more aggressive pour. The light brown head quickly came about and showed me what it could do.

The ale itself poured nearly black, just a hint of lighter brown on the edges of the glass. As the head settled a bit the brown bubbled formed a smooth consistent lacing on the glass. Perfect. When swirled later in the sampling, instantly another half inch head formed. I heard a good hiss when the bottle opened and I knew this brew had some carbonation to spare.

Aroma: I chose a tulip glass for this as I wanted to bring out as much aroma on this beer as possible. Just as soon as the bottle was opened the rich dark malts filled the air, but also I caught a whiff of pine as well. You don't get that with a regular stout, but this was no stout, it was billed more as an IPA. I picked up on an aroma that reminded me of having coffee in a pine forest, a smell that instantly calmed me. Very inviting.

Mouthfeel: Hop in the Dark immediately felt like a rich full bodied brew. It was creamy yet drying, and with a bitterness that snuck out more on the end. This was big flavored and I knew I was going to have fun with this sampling after a few sips.

Taste: The one thing I like about Deschutes' dark beers is that they seem to know how to blend the right amount of dark malt, sweetness and bitterness to make it wonderful. I got a nice roasty coffee taste up front that quickly followed with a IPA citrus and pine bitterness. It almost felt like I was drinking both a stout initially and then finishes like a lighter colored IPA. Quite a pleasant experience. Half way through the sip I picked up a some of the dark sugar but only slightly.

The very end of the taste reminded me of bitter coffee grinds laced with grapefruit. Every so often I think I could taste some chocolate but the hops kick that away before you can get used to it. The blending of dark malts and 6 different varieties of hops seemed to work very well. While it's not a dessert beer, its more like a main course beer - steak comes to mind instantly.

Overall: Wow. As I let this beer warm further I just got more and more into it. Now I'm wishing every dark brew had this much IBUs in it. I'm really going to enjoy this style and will look for even more like this.

It's hard not to like Deschutes. It's a shame they aren't a Colorado brewer as I could really go for more of their recipes. Definitely a big Thumbs Up on this ale. Deschutes Hop in the Dark C.D.A. is a winner on my page, even on a warm summer day. Anyone else love this beer?

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Related articles:
- Deschutes The Abyss review (Imperial Stout).
- Deschutes Black Butte XX review (Imperial Porter).
- Deschutes 19th Anniversary Golden Ale review.

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