|You shall not take my beer, swarthy Gnome!|
I thought I’d kick ‘010 off with something different, and RJ Rockers’ Black Pearle fits the bill. (I wrote a full feature on the brewery for the HopPress earlier this week, if you care to learn more about the brewery.) Black Pearle is described as a dark IPA. A dark IPA, you ask. How can this be? Well, let’s explore the depths.
The color is as the name says, dark. Sitting in the glass on the counter, the beer looks black, like a stout. However, hold it up to the light and you can see a deep ruby color and it is slightly transparent.
The aroma brings in some citrus hops and candied sugar. It has a strong malt aroma which allows the hops to be somewhat understated. The flavor is certainly reminiscent of a strong IPA. Solid malt backbone and sweetness topped with a bitter hop finish.
The twist with the Black Pearle, which to me makes it unique, is that is also comes with a roasted toffee flavor that you would not expect from a traditional IPA. I’m assuming that’s from the roasted malt that they used to produce the deep ruby color.
I believe that the Black Pearle is the perfect example to debunk the misconception that many people have that a dark beer must be heavy. This beer shows that color does not necessarily correlate to body.
Brewers can use a small proportion of very dark malt and produce the same color as using a large proportion of a not-as-dark malt, but with very different flavor and body.
The Black Pearle a 9.5% ABV beer, so it’s going to have a big body and intense flavor. However, if I drank this beer blind, I would not call it a stout. It doesn’t have the creamy mouthfeel and intense roast of most big stouts.
I’m sure there are some purists out there that scoff at this notion. “How can they call it an IPA when it’s that dark!?” Well, I don’t care.
So often we feel like we have to play within these established style parameter, but what fun is that? I say push it, do something off the wall, and give people a new experience. Who cares what’s on the label?