Troublemaker on the left, Raven on the right. Colour isn’t everything, though…
Then, methought, the aroma grew denser – perfumed by an unseen censer
enriched by sensuous malt and hop that knocked me to the tufted floor
“Raven!” I cried, “Thy God has lent thee and courtesy of Westholme Stores has sent thee”
“Respite; respite and nepenthe from memory of beers that bore!”
“Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget those beers of yore!”
Quoth the Raven “Evermore…”
…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