It’s November, the dark evenings are here and it’s time to start thinking about those winter beers. What better way to start this than an evening of black beers, hosted by us in conjunction with CAMRGB and suitably titled #BackinBlack.
I’d been quite excited about this for a while now, in fact we’ve been previewing my selected beers on the show for a few weeks running up to the event. I’d been watching Twitter and noticed that a few of the show’s ‘official fans’ jumped the gun and were in early. When our co-host for the evening, CAMRGB jumped in shortly after, I couldn’t hold back any longer and cracked my first beer.
My first of the night was planned to ease me in – a lovely little black number in the form of Crouch Vale ‘Black’ at 6%. This is a beer that I’ve had before, but it does seem to have aged really well. Lovely sweet aroma and flavours with a strong citrusy back bone and subtle roasted notes coming through towards the end.
It was still fairly quiet at this point with a few #BackinBlack hashtags here and there – check our little Storify feed to get a feel for what was going on.
Next up for me was Weird Beard’s ‘Fade To Black’. A black IPA weighing in at 6.3%, this had lovely piney aromas and gave an initial hit like a big, hoppy IPA. A light bitterness but with a really balanced roasted aftertaste coming through. The flavours changed as it warmed and it finished very smoothly.
It was around about that this that #SomeRandomBlokeOffTwitter waded in with his usual, innovative take on beertography and shared his planned beers for the evening with us. It was also about now that I had realised that I had got so carried away with the chatter on twitter that I hadn’t been checking any of my beers in Untappd!
Moving on to my next beer, one that I’d been looking forward to for a while in the form of Camden vs Odell ‘Baltic Porter’ at 7%. An absolutely stunning aroma and went down far too easy. This is probably the easiest porter I’ve ever drunk. Sweet and smooth at the same time with light, hoppy hints and no bitterness on the aftertaste.
As the evening progressed, we were even getting live reports from Bristol courtesy of Mark Landells – have a look at the Bristol report on Storify.
Now, had I stuck to my original plan, at this point I would have moved onto my last beer of the evening. This is quite possibly where it all started going wrong and I decided to throw in a joker and the last of my GBBH beers, the Ridegway Brewing Querkus Smoked Porter. At 5.8% this has a lightly smoked aroma but a tasted like a mouthful of bonfire. No bitterness and a smooth finish but very, very smokey. In fact, by the end of the bottle, the smokiness was overpowering and bordering on becoming unbearable.
There was an observation at this point that very few of the black beers being consumed across Twitter were lower than 6% in their ABV and as I continued to deviate from my plan I chose this moment to let Twitter choose my next beer. It was between two heavyweights in Brewdog’s Psycho Cocoa (10%) and Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh 16 (8%). Some bright spark (thanks David Martin) suggested I blend them – and having already had four beers in me, my beer bathed brain decided that this would be a good idea and ‘Psycho Dubh’ was born!
The resulting brew had strong coffee aromas, with a sharp bitter aftertaste akin to a good espresso. The undertone was typically Brewdog-esque but was complemented by strong dark chocolate and coffee favours. God knows what the ABV would have been on this brew and common sense should have been telling me to have stopped at this point.
We were joined at this point by Jim Chaney, who is a show regular from the States and a few others who were continuing to share their beers (another Storify) and in my demise also it would seem.
I still had the half bottles of Psycho Cocoa and Ola Dubh 16 left so polished them off for good measure. On their own, the Brewdog was all coffee with citrus undertones and was really smooth and easy to drink. In direct contrast, the Harviestoun was amazing with smooth coffee notes all the way through and a lovely dark, bitter after taste just makes you want to keep diving in for more.
As 10.30pm approached there were only a couple of us still going, and continuing to ignore common sense I decided that it would be a good way to finish the evening by entertaining a Bearded Lady.
At 10.5% I’ve probably had better ideas but once again Magic Rock Brewing haven’t disappointed with the rich, imperial brown stout. I found it very smooth and warming, with subtle roasted notes. It was at this point that I decided to have a ‘beer off’ with Justin to which it would appear I lost – you can see for yourself via this Storify link.
With my stocks depleted and feeling fairly worse for wear (I only originally intended to drink 4 beers) I decided that it was time to call it a night.
Back in black, I hit the sack, it’s been to long I’m glad to be back. Indeed.
Thanks to everyone who took part in #BackinBlack and thanks to Simon for allowing us to host the event under the CAMRGB banner.