Beer of the Week: The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

More Brown Than Black IPA is a collaboration beer between The Alchemist, Ninkasi and Stone Brewing and was brewed in November of 2011. It comes in at a hefty 7.4% ABV and 80 IBU and was brewed with a veritable kitchen sink of hops (Super Galena hop extract for bittering, Nelson Sauvin and Delta for flavor, dry-hopped with a blend of Citra and Galaxy) and malts (Maris Otter Pale, Light Munich, Carafa III Special Dark, and CaraHelles) The notes on the beer from the Stone website:

Tasting notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

Appearance: Deep brown, a bit hazy, with tan foam.
Aroma: Whoa! This beer is all about, resiny, piney, dank and citrusy hops! The first shot is intense blend of pine and orange rind, and then as your sense of smell just starts to recover, the dankness and resiny herbaceousness come through with hints of grapefruit. This is a powerful hop blend!
Taste: The hops also dominate the flavor of this beer. Orange and grapefruit rind take center stage in the flavor, followed by, you guessed it: piney / resiny notes. The beer has a modest body…not sweet at all…and has a lingering bitter, drying end. Beyond the bitter end there are light hints of roasted malt and chocolate in the finish.
Overall: The hop character in this beer is unique and very pronounced. Galaxy is a newer hop variety from Australia that we think has strong tropical fruit and stone fruit characteristics. Citra and Delta are newer American hop varieties — Citra possesses strong citrus and dank flavors, while Delta has a milder profile with melon and berry notes. And of course Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand has its intense namesake’s white wine notes along with—surprise!—more dank notes. They all blended together well in this beer, a tribute to one of our favorite styles.

The beer was available in 12 oz. bottles for around $4 at the end of 2011. The beer that I consumed had been sitting in the cellar since then and I figured it would be a good idea to break it out to see how it held up.

The beer pours dark brown with a brown head. Hops and citrus permeate the nose on this beer – there is no doubt that this is an IPA. Slight hints of malt play hide and seek with your nose, but they are definitely there. Citrus and resin dominate the palate but they are balanced with the malt and grain. A slight malty sweetness quickly yields to green hops, resin and earthy citrus in a very long and not at all bitter finish. At no point in this beer does the alcohol dominate the flavor. As the beer warms, a slight smokiness shows on the nose and briefly on the palate. I had this beer fresh and it was a complete hop bomb and I think it is still enjoyable despite the recommendation to drink it fresh. The beer is slightly more restrained in its aged form and I think more approachable to the average beer drinker who is just beginning to cut their teeth on very hoppy IPA’s.

This beer was great when I originally had it and great when I had it a year later, which is unusual for an IPA. The character on this beer is amazing and I really wish they would brew it again.

More Brown than Black gets 4 Kumbyas out of 5.

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