Editor's Note: So many beers, so little time. One Big Bottle spotlights the brews we're sipping, one by one.
Almost every time I decide to try another Black IPA, I end up wanting to brush my tongue. The two-pronged aggressive bitterness of hops and roast often clashes like a couple of guitarists trying to play over one another. If the two elements are overused, the resulting dissonance rarely motivates me to finish the glass, let alone order another. New Glarus Brewing Co.'s Black Top Black IPA, which won gold at GABF this year, takes a more measured approach.
In the glass Black Top is opaque and black in all but its deep mahogany highlights. The aroma opens with a big wave of pine and juicy grapefruit. Chocolate, molasses, pineapple, and mango follow before ending with a bit of roast.
Citrusy American hops also take the lead in flavor. The roast is more prominent here than in the aroma, but it's still in second position to the hops. Chocolate and dark, slightly sweet malt ride underneath. The flavors are big, but there's no harsh roast or bitterness. This smooth, medium-bodied beer is ridiculously well balanced. Black or pale, this is one of the cleanest IPAs I've ever had.
Sample provided for review.
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