Black IPA, beer review

Black IPA is an “oxymoronic” ale bursting with warm chocolate flavours made by one of Scotland’s most established independent brewers, writes Ray Philp

Published 8th Mar 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Brewery: Stewart Brewing
Style: IPA
ABV: 5.0%

Stewart Brewing is a relatively established player among Scotland’s beer-makers. Based in Edinburgh since 2004, you can find a Stewart Brewing product in pubs and shops stretching from Inverness to Newcastle. The firm predates the craft beer movement by quite a margin, but Stewart Brewing is now a notable part of that landscape nonetheless. In this spirit, Black IPA, which the label says is “an oxymoronic ale”, is one of many Stewart beers that falls into the craft beer bracket.

The Black IPA’s chocolatey colour is matched by a strong cocoa aroma. (And, comfortingly, a hearty swig confirms the old saying: “If it looks like a chocolatey beer, and smells like a chocolatey beer, then…”). A topnote of grapefruit splits the beer’s balance of hops and malt; the overall effect is one of a beer with soft, even malleable edges that makes the IPA a surprisingly inviting proposition. The beer’s roasted malt flavours underpin its woody character, and there’s a residual burnt finish to the beer that is quite appealing—that said, drinkers with a taste for something sweeter might prefer something a little more forgiving.

Ray Philp has been at the Scotsman since 2011. Since then, he has written widely about music in magazines such as Red Bull Music Academy Magazine and Resident Advisor, and was a former editor and regular contributor at The Skinny magazine.
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