I know I’m posting this in the middle of the Blue Moon Fall Sampler Series. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to that next time. Right now, though, I need you guys to take a seat, maybe hold onto something. This is important. Everyone ready? Ok, let’s do it.
Southern Tier. The Pumking guys. I present another bottle of their awesomeness: Iniquity Black Ale. What’s a black ale? It’s a super dark IPA. Seem’s like an oxymoron, I know, but it’ll make sense at the end. Now, this is a style that I’ve only tried twice before, and I’ve had mixed results. But, Southern Tier knows how to make a beer. So buckle up, it’s beer time.
Upon opening, the first bottle smell is super rich. It is a thick, earthy, chocolate aroma, pretty much like a stout, except there are some creeping bitter notes from the hops that push in from the sides. Some deeply roasted malts chill out at the back, completing the overall aroma. Actually, after a few seconds, another batch of scents show up. A slightly floral sweetness of vanilla, that seems to cling to the chocolate darkness, like they belong together (and they do).
After that, you bet I’m excited to taste it. And, I’m not disappointed. I’ll need a thesaurus to describe this beer. The first taste is thick, with dark chocolate arriving as a deep, syrupy richness. Next is the bitterness from the hops, bringing some floral citrus crisp in with the sweetness of the chocolate, and then some vanilla that makes an appearance at the same time as the hops. All these combinations make this beer taste sweet and earthy at the same time. The dark flavors aren’t quite as hardcore as a stout, but they’re much more so than a normal IPA. After all of these flavors show up, a second wave arrives, bringing roasted coffee in place of the chocolate. This is a super complex beer that is combining the best traits of IPAs and stouts, and I haven’t even poured it yet. Not only that, the aftertaste lasts forever. But, it is a chilled out, mellow sweetness that lingers on the back of the tongue. Hints of dark chocolate and coffee show up in the aftertaste as well, but the major component is sweetness.
I decided to pour this into a snifter, to see if I could bring out even more scents and flavor. And, it worked. In the glass, the aromas change a bit, sending the sweet, floral vanilla and sugar notes to the front, while the hops, chocolate, and coffee fill in behind. Roasted malts swirl throughout as well, making sure you remember they exist in the middle of this crazy black chaos.
As far as the poured flavors go, the keyword is more. More dark notes, more sweetness, more robust base flavors. The main flavor is an earthy sweetness that’s present throughout every moment of drinking, and even when you’re not drinking. Citrus and bitter hops swirl forward much more than they did in the bottle, mingling with the rest of the flavors. The chocolate and coffee show up immediately afterword, making for a multi-layered masterpiece of complexity. The flavors are creamy, and when placed all together, give the beer a taste similar to chocolate coffee, with a hoppy kick. Even better, all of these flavors cling to your tongue well after you’ve finished drinking. It’s awesome.
As far as looks, it pours onyx black that glows a deep, dark brown when held up to the light. It has a thick, tan colored head that lasts for quite a bit, even while drinking.
Southern Tier’s Iniquity Black Ale is a cross between an IPA and a stout, which morphs into a sweet, robust beast of a beer. It has a crazy amount of complexity in both aroma and flavor that some people might find discouraging. Rest assured, though, there’s nothing gimmicky to be found here. Just bold and powerful from start to finish. It’ll send you through a journey of self discovery and some kind of cosmic realization. Why? Well, with this many flavors crammed into one bottle, you’ll need to do some soul-searching to even find the capacity to handle everything. I know I did. Maybe try watching a few Rocky training montages and put “Push It To The Limit” on repeat as you’re drinking. That should help. Taste, looks, and lasting strength all receive perfect 5’s. Drinkability drops a tad to 4.5 because the sheer number of flavors, plus the potency of each of them, could turn some people away. But, for those that enjoy both IPAs and Stouts, it’s like this beer was brewed especially for you. Just remember to go slow and take your time. It’s worth it. The only negative I could find for this beer is the price, but really, if you have a bottle of this in your hand, just put it in your cart. And then add a few more. You’ll thank me later. Southern Tier’s Iniquity Black Ale receives a Giant A.
Lasting Strength: 5/5
Overall: 4.7/5 A