As I was coming home from work early to prepare for the blizzard that hit Chicago, I decided I needed to pick up some beers that were appropriate for the occasion. The two bombers I ended up getting were this Southern Tier Iniquity Black Ale and the Avery Flying Hog Barley Wine. I didn’t end up drinking this that night, but after my pedestrian commute in this chilly weather (current temp 4ºF, I don’t want to check the windchill), it seemed like this beer could warm me up.
I think I might be a little biased against Southern Tier. Like most, it seems, I don’t know exactly why I tend to look past their beers, but I even with beers like this and their Back Burner Barley Wine (which I drank at my last brew day) are right in my wheelhouse. Well, after trying several of their beers that bias is gone. I can’t even blame it on their bottles, since Southern Tier puts out some really, really rad screen printed bottles.
Anyway, on to the beer itself. Southern Tier describes the beer as:
The hexagram talisman has been used around the world for centuries to invoke magic and good luck. The six–point star is also the customary symbol of the brewer, representing the essential aspects of purity: water, hops, grain, malt, yeast, and of course, the brewer. Wishes of good fortune often collaborate with the brewer’s creativity to yield dramatic results. We carefully chose the name for this Imperial India Black Ale, Iniquity – a word opposing goodness. Why? This beer is contrary to what one may expect from an IPA; this is an ale as black as night. It is the antithesis of Unearthly. Some may consider it an immoral act to blacken an ale. We suggest they don’t rely on conventional standards. Allow the darkness to consume you. Cheers!
And with that moderately descriptive chicanery, on to my tasting notes.
Appearance: The beer pour a thick, dark, opaque black/brown. You get brief hits of copper when held up to the light. The big, fluffy, tan head faded away a medium pace, leaving a gentle lacing down the glass.
Aroma: The nose is a mix of those citrusy, Pacific Northwest hops. The bottle said they dry hopped with Cascade and Centennial, and you definitely get those notes. Along with the hops there’s a very assertive chocolate, toffee roasted malt smell. I go back forth trying to decide which is more pronounced, so I guess we’ll say they’re balanced.
Taste: The first note is sharp, roasty and acrid. It’s balanced out by the malt sweetness. There’s a solid hop bitterness that works with the dark malts. The acridity doesn’t linger or coat, but it does come back and assert itself between sips every so often. Not much alcohol taste for a beer that’s 9%, but there is a gentle warming as you make your way down the glass.
Mouthfeel: Not very heavy, but it doesn’t feel watery. The bright, moderate carbonation helps keep the black malt from being too overwhelming.
Overall: I like black ales, and this is a super black ale. The flavors are all there in good balance, and it’s sneakily sippable 9.0%. I like that they didn’t go really hoppy and make this a black IPA or whatever the kids are calling those these days.