Monday, August 24, 2009

Black Attack - From ale to pilsner

The black ale is finally bottled. The name of this brew is "Kiss of Winter Black Ale" and it is in the American Black Ale style I am developing. It smelled great while bottling, we shall see how it conditions. This one was in the secondary for several weeks and here's to hoping it aged to beauty.

Out of respect to Stone Brewing, I have decided to finally try and review their black Pilsner. This is their Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. A collaboration amongst them, BrewDog (the brewery in Scotland that is kicking it and taking names) and Cambridge Brewing Company. I found the story of this brew quite interesting and knew I just had to try it. It was of very limited release, but I was able to get some at Jungle Jim's in Fairfield.

From the pour, you know this ain't no ordinary pilsner done in a weird, black style. This is Stone, they do things over the top and this one does not disappoint. The pour is a bit thick and the head stands up strong and light brown. This is going into a Stone branded glass, of course, and it holds all 12oz well.

The aroma gives hints of hops and Belgian debittered malts. It feels like it wants to impart roasted malt tones, but the dehusked nature does not allow such. The hit on the tongue is all hops and hints of the Pilsner style. The chemical composition of the water needed for the malts differs slightly from that needed for Pilsner and it does show a bit. After all, this is a style taken to a high extreme. The hops presence though feels like a Pilsner; there but not overly bitter.

Mid-tongue, the magic that is Stone starts to happen. The feels is quite full given to its malts and a bit less refreshing than a Pilsner. The malt sweetness comes out and says hello. This is the same sweetness noticed in the nose. Again slight hints of the roasted malts give the enjoyer a chance to imagine a Belgian ale influence.

The finish lingers around a Pilsner then moves to a more hoppy base. The double dry hopping really shows up here. The bitterness felt is mostly hop, but there still is that lingering influence of the debittered malt. The roasted malt still make their presence known, they just don't overpower the beer's Pilsner ancestry.

I am sure some might want to call this beer a hybrid, Pilsner mixed with a Belgian stout, but I think that does a great disservice to what the brewers are trying to do here. Sure, this might be a one-off, but it may also start a new fade amongst the homebrewing set. Perhaps someday we may reflect at where it all started and thank the visionaries of Stone, BrewDog and Cambridge.

Thank you gentlemen.

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