Monday, November 21, 2011

Otter Creek Black IPA

Introduced in October of 2010, Otter Creek Black India Pale Ale is an unfiltered Black IPA that packs a large amount of malt flavors accompanied by a bold hop bitterness and citrus aroma. The style of Ale is characteristically dark in appearance while retaining the large amount of hop bitterness and aroma consistent with IPA's. This style was also pioneered by Greg Noonan (founder of Vermont Pub & Brewery) in the early 1990's and is not yet recognized by the BJCP.

Alcohol Content: 6.0%
International Bitterness Units (IBU): 60
Malts: 2-Row, Caramel 60L, Carafa III
Hops: Apollo, Centennial, Citra

Medium: 12oz bottle purchased and poured into a standard pint glass
Price: $13.00 for a 12-pack Otter Creek Sampler

Aroma: Upon pouring, a plethora of hops release a grapefruit or orange-like citrus aroma. After about 15-20 seconds, the citrus aroma is slowly overcome by a pleasant toffee and roasted aroma similar to stouts.  Reminiscent of Ales' and IPA's that use the fairly common Cascade hop (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for example); however, it's less floral. The aroma of this beer undergoes quite an amazing evolution with some spicy notes
Appearance: Black/ extremely dark. Unfiltered so it is probably very cloudy, despite its color making it difficult to tell. Embraces a great off-white layer of foam around the rim of the glass that only slowly dissipates after many minutes. I can see very small bubbles around the edges but again, it difficult to determine the visual carbonation.
Flavor: Minimal astringency. Hops assume the dominant role in the overall flavor profile, but thats not to undermine the sweet caramel and slightly roasted flavors that linger from start to finish. Also, there are definitely some toffee-like flavor contributions from dark caramel malts. There is a slightly spicy and robust bitterness that leaves a "resiny" aftertaste with some dryness.
Mouthfeel: This full-bodied beer has a thick mouthfeel with a distinct creaminess and an astringent aftertaste perceived as a slickness on the tongue. Moderate carbonation.
Overall Impression: One of my new favorite styles and gaining in popularity amongst home brewers, this beer is a great "gateway" beer for the hophead looking to bridge the gap between full-bodied dark beers and IPA's. I do recall it being more hop driven (and better) during its introduction back in October of 2010. Definitely an amazing experience for any beer lover looking to relax after a delicious meal.


  1. Diacetyl and still a 44/50?
    Did you get the butterscotch flavor or slickness on the roof of the mouth. According to BJCP, 44 is borderline World-class.
    -Outstanding (45-50) World class
    -Excellent (38-44) Exemplifies style
    -Very good (30-37) Generally w/in style parameters
    -Good (21-29) Misses the mark with only minor flaws
    -Fair (14-20) Off flavors
    -Problematic (0-13)

    It's easy to give high scores in the beginning (unless you are going more towards simply a personal rating system (if so, you should define it on the homepage))

    Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks Tim,

    I definitely had a hard time rating this one because I love this style.

    I do believe there to be some diacetyl (minimal though) due to my own home brewing experiences having a hard time reducing this off-flavor. It felt slick. Also there was some lingering harsh dryness that I believe to be an off-flavor/ not from the hops (astringency?).

    I find that as I go, I will be rating them based on comparison. For instance, I do believe Long Trail to be an outstanding beer, and it is one of the best Vermont has to offer. On the other hand the Otter Creek Copper Ale was also extremely delicious but I felt lacked certain characteristics that Long trail had (for the same style). Therefore I just ranked it lower than Long Trail.

  3. I do suppose you're right though. The beer really isn't all that great but I don't have anything to go off of for the style.

  4. Rating beers against eachother is perfectly OK! I do it. In fact that's preferrable. But the higher and higher you rate beer, you lose credibility over what the "perfect" beer may be. I doubt I'll find anything much better than 96/100. But who knows.
    Keep this up. it looks good

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