After last week’s flirtation with a hint of Christmas cookies in my beer, a bit of rock’n’roll blackness seemed in order. So, we turn to Stone Brewing Co., whose marketing plan appears to be to put heavy metal biker tattoos on its bottles.
Specifically, we crack open a bottle of Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA.
A black IPA is something that crosses the bitter line from stout, like a band that crosses the metal line from the blues. Whether we’re talking Danzig covering Elvis’s “Trouble” or something a bit closer to its own roots, like early Black Sabbath, is for the drinker to decide.
Try to forget, though, that the beer comes from Southern California. What’s needed, here, is a cold, rainy New England autumn or a scene from the Old Country (for which I refer you back to early Black Sabbath) — the ghosts of our fathers invading the modern day. Maybe it’s the vampire Lestat.
The first crash of flavor is the IPA, leaving a hoppy sting in the mouth for the hard worker looking to bite back the pain of a sweaty day, but the lingering follow up is the rich flavor of a stout — the burnt aftertaste of smoke from the pub’s fireplace, used to burn up nut shells.
Like any musically sophisticated rock band, what you combine with the beer depends what you want to take from it. Spice and barbecue might bring out the attitude of the IPA, but if you want the beer to dominate, use it to add flavor to a heavy, but more mildly flavored, plate like mashed potatoes, steak, and cabbage.
But let’s be honest. Drinking a black, somewhat bitter beer goes with a strong meal, whatever it might be, especially when the beer itself is strong, weighing in at 8.7% alcohol by volume.