…once he slows down from the 2,000 or so RPM that he must have achieved in his grave, I hope that Edgar Allen Poe can find it in what remains of his – by now dusty – heart to accept my sincere apologies.
I got to try Thornbridge Raven Black IPA last night – which was exciting, but as if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also ran it up against my own Troublemaker CDA just to see if my handiwork was anywhere near the mark:
Raven: Deepest garnet when help up to the light, and blackest black when not. A fabulous creamy head
Troublemaker: Miraculously, bang-on for colour and head. Promising…
Raven: An avalanche of dank hops teeter on the edge of a long drop into darkly enticing malts. Perfectly balanced on the knife edge between hops and malt. Revelatory.
Troublemaker: Hops nowhere near as prominent as Raven. Dark malts win out by a country mile. This is where the lack of things like a hop-back or hop-rocket show-up. Needs way more hop aroma.
Taste and Mouth-feel
Raven: Resinous, dank and vivid hop flavours explode over a dark malt undercurrent. A solid malt body with a nice 6.6% ABV contributes to a decent mouth-feel whilst a satisfying bitterness provides air-cover for further random attacks of hop flavour through the swallow.
Troublemaker: Some Cascade hoppiness vies with -and probably loses out to, if I’m honest- a roast malt background. The hop flavour fades quite quickly to be replaced with that nice, but certainly not to style, dark malt. A decent-enough bitterness prevails at the swallow and offers a few glimpses of the residual hoppiness. At 5.3% I also think it’s a bit thin and needs an extra 1% heft.
Raven has definitely shown me what needs to change in the Troublemaker recipe: a ton more hops, a longer hop stand and way more dry-hopping. It also needs more bitterness and a more alcohol. But saying all of that, it’s eminently drinkable – although clearly not a Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale. Maybe I’ve invented a new style: Indian Dark Porter?
But, holy cow, black IPA is where it’s at; I’m liking it a lot and Raven is excellent and very much a beer that I’ll be returning to -and trying to brew myself- again and again.
Wild Raven: http://www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/beers.php