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Volume 2, Issue 2 - January 17, 2013

The Great American Brew Caper


Black is the new pale ale!

Yes - if you’ve missed it - then get ready.

The newest craft beer style has been given official status.

Get out your beer glasses and crank up the music. We’re heading over to the beer cooler and pickin’ up some winners.

Oh, the speaker representing The American Brews Association below is just a figment...And so is The American Brews Association. :)

The person in charge of selecting the keynote speaker slipped up and... Well...

Just read on and you’ll see.




David Ivey

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American-Style Black IPA!

Oxymoronic Name?

So you walk down the long wide row filled with shiny gleaming coolers, pick up a brew, and look at its bold and colorful label: American-Style Black IPA!

“Black IPA?”

Yes, Black India Pale Ale.

“How can that happen, both black and pale?”

Widmer Pitch Black IPA

 Well, that’s a good question, but I’m not sure that it really matters.

True, for something to be “pale and black” is an oxymoron.

Black Pale Ale - Name Needed: Apply Here

Don’t miss out one of the latest beer styles to evolve from the craft beer revolution - we just don’t know its official name yet.

Take your pick:

  • Black Ale
  • American Black Ale
  • Black IPA
  • American-style Black Ale
  • Cascadian Dark Ale

Collection of American Style Black Ales

So many names for one style can be confusing. One will likely be the winner soon enough. Don’t sweat it - it’s just beer. Great tasting beer!

There are probably at least 99 different brand named bottles of this beer (on the wall) being made currently. We’ll look at a couple later, and see if we can sneak into a refrigerator and get some.

Just the Facts - Please!

OK. Introducing the new style is our (fictitious) representative from The American Brews Association. Let’s give her a hand. (applause...)

“Don’t be fooled by what you see or hear. American-style Black Ale is not just for Americans.”

Good to know that the entire world can enjoy this malty, hop-infused dark wonder.

“Thank you, and keep you seats please. I will answer everyone’s questions. All of us can have a relationship with this dark and complex brother of the IPA. Just remember that all are not created equal. Some of them may... smell differently.”

Hmm, smell differently?

“Yes, and please! Do you mind, you are interrupting my presentation.”

Sorry, ‘scuse me.

“They may smell like a giant grapefruit has been stuffed into a lemon grass salad. Or there may be hints of chocolate, coffee, caramel, a wee bit of smoke, or even... grass. But be assured, this is not a lawn mower beer. It is the beer of champions.”

“Many have climbed the Cascade Mountains to get the hops that are needed to make these creamy-white heady brews that, if consumed too quickly, will make... one light-headed. So do exercise caution. The alcohol content is generally between five to ten percent, and...”

Please, please - ladies and gentlemen - give a big round of applause to the lovely and informative representative, Lady HaHa. I’m sure she will be too busy to make another appearance anytime soon. Whew.

You might be about to leave the room - but wait!

We promised to introduce a couple of the best known of the American-style Black Ales. And here they are:

The Envelope Please (drum roll)

(spotlight up and on cue) - - -

1. Wookey Jack
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (California)

Wookey Jack - Firestone Walker Brewing Company

The first official name for this is American-Style Black Ale. This is given by the Brewers Association in the USA. Other associatons and groups will be adding or perhaps affirming the one above.

You know that there will be many creative and cool brand names that reflect this style. Whatever its style name is.

Brewers Association guidelines:

American-style Black Ales are very dark to black and perceived to have medium high to high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content, balanced with a medium body.

Fruity, floral and herbal character from hops of all origins may contribute character.

The style is further characterized by a balanced and moderate degree of caramel malt and dark roasted malt lavor and aroma.

  • Alcohol by Volume 6 - 7.5%
  • Bitterness (IBU) 50-70
  • Color SRM 35+

Now - From the brewery:

Wookey Jack is our first foray into the dark outer world of black IPAs. Rich dark malts and spicy rye careen into bold citrus laden hops creating a new dimension in IPA flavor. This brew has been left unfiltered and unfined to retain all of its texture and character. At 80 IBUs, Wookey Jack is gnarly on the outside yet complex and refined on the inside.”

  • style
    Unfiltered Black Rye IPA

  • abv 8.3%

  • ibu 80

  • color 45

Of course we’ve deviated from the Brewers Association stats already. I’m sure greater moves to the edge will be in sight. I guess that the rye malt and high gravity will make for an interesting and tasty brew. Expect the edge to move farther soon - Imperial American Style Black Ale is probably out there somewhere. Look for it now!

2. Iniquity Imperial Black Ale
Southern Tier Brewing Company (New York)

Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale

From the brewery:

Iniquity, depravity, sin, wickedness. The opposition to goodness. Iniquity is an ale as dark as night, hops and malts conceding the victory over conventional standards with this unapologetic black ale. Why do we call it Iniquity? It’s contrary to what one would expect from an IPA. A dark, malty ale with a huge hop profile seeping forward. A blackened ale, the antithesis of Unearthly.”

Particularly tasty when paired with roasted or smoked foods, blackened fish, oysters, steak.

  • STYLE: Imperial Black Ale
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • FERMENTATION: Ale yeast, two types of malt, four varieties of hops
  • COLOR: Black
  • NOSE: Roasted malts, dark fruits, coffee, cocoa, hops
  • FLAVOR: Bittersweet chocolate, caramel, coffee, piney, citric hops, burnt toast (in a good way)
  • BITTERNESS: Medium
  • BODY: Velvety smooth, medium-full body

In general, I suggest staying away from iniquity, but this one is very tempting. :) And after a little Iniquity, you may have need of some Righteousness:

From the west coast USA -  

3. Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
Stone Brewing Co. (California)

Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

From the brewery:

“We're brewers whose substantial mettle and idiomatic approach to brewing allows us to consistently create works of art such as this justifiably self-righteous ale. Its bitterness hits our sweet spot. Its blackness lightens our hearts. Its liquid dichotomy pulls it all together in this sublimely sacrosanct ale.”

“First brewed in 2007 as the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, this ale was an instant hit. With us. Other folks with great taste loved it too, but we were focused on how much we liked it, and we felt it was truly sublime. That euphoria didn't last long though, as it was soon replaced with the grim reality that when we sold out of it there wouldn't be any more. For us. And that was simply unacceptable. So, we are now blessing ourselves, and you the enlightened, with this ale.”

OK. So that was three Black Ales, but who’s counting? :)

Hey - the best is next in line. Don’t miss Number 4! Tune in below and read about the Great American Brew Caper. Until next time,


"Life With Beer" - The Beer Review Series
4. Duck Rabbit Hoppy Bunny

The Visitor

By John Michael Brinson

With my backpack strapped across one shoulder, I made my way out of the apartment. I was in a hurry as always when I’m working, but something made me pause by the kitchen door.

I stepped from the living room’s soft carpet to the elegant tiling of the kitchen floor, running my gloved fingers across the ornate curvature of a table. I opened the refrigerator. Various bottles glistened in the soft light, calling out to me, “Pick me!”

My eyes rested on one that was badged with an optical illusion I had seen before. It was a silhouette that could either be a duck or a rabbit, depending on your perspective - or both, if you studied the image long enough.

Duck Rabbit - is it a duck, or a rabbit?
Duck Rabbit - is it a duck, or a rabbit?

I pulled out the Swiss Army Knife I always carry on the job, flicked open the bottle opener blade and popped the top. Did I really have time to pour it into a glass and savor the flavor before I left?

The clock on the wall said 11:15. Yeah, sure... Why not? I reached into a glass-fronted cabinet and pulled a mug down from the second shelf.

“Duck-Rabbit Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale”, I spoke aloud, as I poured a brew as dark as any I’d ever seen.

The foamy froth rising from the surface was caramel in color, creamy in texture, and laced the sides of the clear mug as it began to recede back from where it came.

I brought it up to my nose and inhaled its goodness. Aromas of floral hops, oranges, toasted grains and fresh pumpernickel bread straight from the oven splashed across my olfactory.

My lips touched the cool glass and the first tastes washed over my tastebuds. What a delight!  What character! The bitterness of hops hit me like a soft slap in the face from a teasing woman, awaking my senses and sending my mind in search of words to describe that which I was feeling.

I swirled the taste in my mouth; pine, citrus and... pepper?
...Yes, pepper!

Another sip and swirl brought out chocolate, coffee and malt - and still more citrus and pine. 

The medium body beverage tickled my mouth with a fizzy carbonation and went down smooth and satisfying.

I couldn’t help myself, I finished off the mug and put it down on the countertop next to the spent bottle.

Now the clock on the wall said 11:27.

I pulled the backpack from my shoulder and opened the fridge. “This will come in handy later,” I said to myself with a grin, as I took the other five bottles of “Duck-Rabbit Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale” and placed them into my pack. I couldn’t pack all of them in, so I pulled out the jewelry box I had in there and placed it on the floor.

7.3% ABV was creeping up on me like a mugger. Unable to wipe the silly grin from my face, I threw the backpack across my shoulder and left, exiting the apartment.

Down the hallway the elevator doors opened and a guy about my age, wearing a red plaid flannel shirt, steps out.

We pass with a nod of acknowledgement, my grin still unwilling to leave me. I stepped in the elevator and turned around. As the elevator doors eased shut, I saw the guy in his red plaid flannel shirt open the door to the apartment I had just left, and step inside.

I wonder what he’ll do when he sees his most prized possessions gone. I’m referring of course to his “Duck-Rabbit Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale”.

Duck Rabbit Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale
Duck Rabbit Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale

Black Bucket Brew is very pleased to have yet another short story / beer review from the talented and imaginative author, John Michael Brinson. Read more about John on this page of Black Bucket John Michael Brinson

© Copyrighted. This short story may not be used in any way without the written permisson of John Michael Brinson and Black Bucket Brew.

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*"PubFood That Rocks!"
*Life With Beer - Original Fiction

Whassup Ahead?


A broad flavor palate of interesting, craft beer related topics is coming in future issues. Every article - even if it's not your fave - will have lots of interesting and informative info about what makes delicious craft beer or home brew such a great beverage!

Topics will broadly include:

  • Craft Beer and Food: Beer & food pairings, original healthy recipes using craft beer, entertaining with craft beer.

  • Home Brewing: Extract with steeping grains, to all-grain techniques, equipment, tested and approved original recipes, recipe development.

  • Breweries: Tours, Brewery owners, brewmeisters & their unique stories, business beginnings.

  • Lifestyle: Beer & fitness.

Cheers, David

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