Brew team confidential: Hoppy Black Beers
The lowdown on the dark side...
We are your father; come join us on the dark side.
This month the brew team are giving us the inside line on the styles of beer that have been lured from light to dark and are all the better for it. Unlike Luke.
“If you’re making a black IPA you use a lot of fruity, resinous hops similar to those you would use in traditional IPAs.
“Simcoe, Citra, and Australian hops like Karma Citra, are perfect for this and usually they’re quite bitter so you get a nice interplay between the dark roast malts and the big, fruity hops.
“Our very own black lager - Zeitgeist - is hopped with Cascade and I really like it. Cascade goes well in a lager; it’s not too fruity and the resulting beer has a nice crisp taste. Cascade lets dark malts shine through too, it’s a good bittering hop and it’s not too overpowering.”
Bowman & Russell
Bowman: “I was hosting a beer dinner last week and we paired our Libertine Black Ale with a roast pork belly and a parsnip and cashew butter.
“The roasted malt balances the rich fatty texture of the pork as well as harmonising with the heavier flavours of the roasted meat; the gentle carbonisation really cuts through the fat of the pork and the richness of the parsnip and cashew butter.
“To be honest, I love the fact that Black IPAs have so many different aspects to them; roasted malts, heavy malt aromas, fresh citrus hops, heavy resins…There are so many possibilities that work really well.”
Russell: “Libertine is very quaffable and I think a schooner is the perfect serving size considering the ABV. I also suggest that on those more contemplative occasions, chill your beer; start your consumption cool and progress to room temperature. This way, all the different flavours and aromas of your black beverage should intensify progressively.”
“Pale beers have been around for a long time now and with just a few new procedures and raw materials such as special malts we’ve been able to produce the black stuff without including the typical flavours you’d expect from traditional black ingredients.
“So the likes of black saisons and black imperial IPAs - like To Øl's Black Malts & Body Salts - are new and exciting and are rounded off with nice malt notes without roasty bitterness like stouts or porters.
“All good things are black: black metal, the night, my car, coffee…”
“When home brewing black beers, I always tend to steep the dark malts, this will help to get more colour, feel and flavour from them. If you don’t steep them it can be tricky to attain these qualities.
“Put the crushed malt in a jute bag and steep for around 20 mins at 70 degrees; if the temperature is too high or if you steep the malt for too long you are running the risk of extracting excessive tannins ."
“One of my favourite black beers is a black saison by Bridge Road Brewery. These guys really succeeded in making a beer that uses just the right amount of dark malts so that special saison yeast isn’t overpowered. That saison yeast is what everyone looks for in this style of beer so you don’t want to use a roast malt as the astringent, bitter flavours would overpower it.
“If you can’t get your hands on Bridge Road’s black saison, why not try Dieu Du Ciel’s! Isseki Nicho – a hybrid between a black saison and an imperial stout; a complex little beer.”
“Malt is the main ingredient in a dark beer. A pale beer like an IPA would generally be made using a pale malt base with the addition of a few lightly coloured malts to get that recognisable amber hue.
“If you go any further roasted however, the malts start to change the colour of the beer. The brew will quickly become very, very dark red or black completely. Carafa is a good malt for imparting a dark appearance. Combined with the right hops you end up with a jet black beer that smells like a crazy IPA!"
You can start your hoppy black beer journey in our bars, or by keeping an eye out on the online shop on our guest beers page. What are your favourite hoppy (or even just unusual) black beers? Any questions about the process of brewing black beers? Let us know!