My 2 Cents On W ’10


A big deal seems to be being made of Widmers ’10 Brewmaster Series release Pitch Black IPA. Personaly I’ve never been a fan of black IPA’s as I’ve always thought they were more poorly executed novelty then a distinct style. Anyway, here goes.


Imagine that, lots of hops. Very floral with some herbal and pine notes. Not really getting much in the way of malt aromas.


Looks black in the class but is a deep maroon color when held up to the light. Somewhat translucent for a beer that looks this black in the glass. Khaki head. I love the color of this beer when you pass light through it.


Lots of piney and herbal hops but not as overpowering as I expected. Widmer was fairly restrained with this one.distinct bitterness up front that shifts slowly to a charred grain flavor. Finishes with biscuity and grainy malt flavors.

Overall this wasn’t what I expected. I was thinking this beer would be a dark colored IPA that was a hop bomb like Widmer’s other Northwest IPA’s. This beer wasn’t. The hops and the biscuity malt flavors went well together. The charred malt flavors didn’t quite fit and felt out of place, but they didn’t hurt the beers drinkability at all. The IBU’s and ABV are restrained for a northwest IPA coming in at 62 IBU’s and 6.5% ABV. Even though I enjoyed this it’s not a beer I’d keep stocked. My personal rating would be a B. I don’t have alot of experience with this style though. This is only my third black IPA and all of them seemed to be blending beer flavors that just don’t harmonize. I will admit out of the three I’ve tried I liked this one the most which is why it got a B. Also this beer had alot of elements I liked. It was just the dis chord between the dark malts and the rest of the beer that ruined it for me.

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6 Responses to “My 2 Cents On W ’10”

  1. Beercentric says:

    Nice review!

  2. Capital Taps says:

    I’m looking forward to more of these beers. Oakshire Conundrum Black fresh hop ale was my favorite of 4 or 5 fresh hop ales I tried this year. Sometimes I find balancing hops with malt goes too sweet & cloying in IPAs. I wonder if by dialing up the roastiness, but dialing back the sweetness, it might be possible to find a better balance of hops and malt, especially where the focus is on aromatic hopping (especially citrus and floral profiles) rather than piney/resiny bitterness. I’m hopeful black ales will become a drier style of IPA/PA (though no longer “pale” of course!).

    In any event, they seem far less gimmicky to me than a lot of what passes as “innovation” in brewing these days. I think this is a legitimate and interesting experiment – it may well peter out, but I say give it time and room for an honest fail.

    (As for analogues in other domains – what about grilled seafood or vegetables? – like a grilled scallop or tomato, a hint of char on the outside and luscious creaminess inside. The hints of roasty char don’t need to be heavy-handed and can complement the other, lighter elements. I think developing this style could lead to a new elegance in hoppy west coast beers.)

  3. Jared says:

    I think this beer proved to me that the style wasn’t all gimicks, but until breweries are willing to step away from the novelty of a dark IPA and start worrying about harmonizing the flavors it will be hard to sell me on it.

    I can see the validity in what your saying about balancing a the sweet heaviness of a northwest IPA with dark grains. The fact is thught that these flavors need to blend. This one was to disjointed to me. I got the distinct hops flavor, followed by what I’d consider a cheap stout or porter taste (heavy on roasted grain, but not much else goin) and a nice malt finish. Blend those three elements and step back a bit on the roasted taste and I think this beer would truly have been brilliant.

  4. jbx says:

    ditto Beercentric’s comment.

    I have had several Cascadian Dark Ales; next time I have one I will refer to your review.

    Not entirely germane, but, not completely out-of-flock with the topic:

    Widmer Bros. is one of 3 Oregon craft beer brands available in SW Fla. Widmer Bros.’ Amber and Pale Ale and Hefeweizen are available at beer emporiums. What I found noteworthy was, the local Widmer is brewed at the Redhook Brewery near Portsmouth, NH, via the Craft Brewers Alliance.

    ? Not so strange ? Consider this, three varieties of Kona Brewing Co., Kailua – Kona, Hawaii, are also brewed in Newington, New Hampshire.

    Make perfect sense for cost and carbon footprint.

  5. I am a fan of the style to varying degrees. Some brewers are just getting the hang of it. Most brewers have just experimented with one. I would encourage you to give it a chance.
    I am curious which ones you have had? I think Deschutes and Widmer have done some really great ones as clearly they spend lots of time doing test batches and tasting panels. In fact I just got back from a Widmer media event with a dinner focused around the W’10 and it was clear they put a lot of work into it.
    I have had probably more than 10 varieties. The Hopworks Secession is coming out soon and it was created by one of the pioneers of the style Abe Goldman-Armstrong and it is a great example. I also think Walking Man’s is phenomenal. Sorry to plug my own blog but I will be doing a more in depth article about the style and a blind tasting of atleast 6 different kinds next week.

  6. Jared says:

    You going to mix in some normal IPA’s into the blind tasting?? That would make things interesting.

    One I tried was Dogzilla from the bottle, but I can’t recall the other one at the moment.

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