In the current issue of Brew Your Own magazine, there is an article about the birth of a new beer style; Black IPA. To some of us this isn’t necessarily a new style. We have seen previously pale beers cropping up with darker versions for some time now. Although it is not uncommon for US brewers to play around within the style guidelines while brewing, rarely do these experiments gain so much attention that they create a whole new style category. If I recall correctly the last real addition to the style categories was the addition of California Common beer (Steam Beer!!! Yes I am a bit bitter that Maytag and the Anchor brewing company trademarked that name).
You could say that this shows the innovation of those of us over in the US. Sure we may have been inundated with watered down versions of a classic beer style (and yet even making style categories in the process with those), but it is our need to create that has expanded and birthed whole new categories for the world to enjoy. Here comes my annoyance with the whole thing though… Here I am in middle America/east side of the country, why is it all the new innovations are coming from the West Coast. Ya, this style was birthed over in the Seattle/Portland area. Because of this, the style had the possibility to be named Cascadian Dark Ale. Mind you, I find that to be a really cool name. Too bad the people in charge of setting the standards felt that this seemed an unfair name.
Based on what I have seen in the brewing style notes, the beer is very similar to an American IPA, but it uses dark malts to murk it up a bit. I think this beer may actually be a bit more difficult to brew than a true pilsner. The key is to make the brew deep brown to black but without adding roasted flavors (otherwise it ends up becoming a very hoppy stout or porter).
As always this just means I have more and more styles I need to play around with. Too much beer too little time… but thats not a bad thing I think.
Next week I will be brewing a wheat of some sort. I am considering an American style wheat (maybe similar to Oberon) but its all a matter of how I feel on brew day. I am also considering brewing a “Froach” (pronounced frew ahk) soon. This is a Scottish style of gruit (unhopped beer) that uses heather instead of hops. Froach is Gaelic for heather. Its a fantastic style and falls into my love of Scottish and Irish style ales. Of course, I have also been meaning to brew an ESB again soon, but it seems to keep getting pushed aside for others.
I believe that somewhere in the next couple months I may actually brew one of the Cascadian dark ales, just for kicks anyway. I think that may turn into an interesting challenge.
Grab a pint … its time to go.