Brew Review – RJ Rocker’s Black Perle

RJ Rocker's Black Perle

I find myself on occasion having to push myself outside of my normal beer box.  When I go into the liquor store I scan the shelves looking for something to try, and find myself being continually pulled to the same breweries.  I find that leaves breweries that I always say I’m going to try and then realize later that I never have.  Just like that movie you told yourself you were going to go see when it opens in the theaters and then when you see the TV ad for the DVD release it dawns on you that you never did.  This is the case with RJ Rockers out of Spartanburg, South Carolina.  So the other day I dug my heels in, scanned the selection and pick one that I thought looked interesting.  What I walked out with was their dark India pale ale, Black Perle.

Now to be honest, I have had RJ’s before but only on draft.  But up to this point I’ve never bought a bottle from them.  I was drawn to Black Perle for several reasons.  One, the packaging is pretty neat with it’s blue/black label and matching blue wax dipped seal.  Second, I’ve had several “black” IPAs before and enjoyed them.  Even though I always laugh at the style because the “P” in IPA means pale (and yes I realize that stems more from that fact that the style is made from pale malt rather than a description of the color, but still) and I always joke about how I can’t wait until gene splicing and stem cell research gives us other mutations like a sour bitter or a golden stout.  Let’s taste.

THEM:  This is their first release from their “Ales from the Dark Side” series.  They say it’s their biggest beer to date, clocking in at 9.5% ABV.  The grain bill consists of an “absurd amount of malt” and is “octo-hopped” (is that like Octomom?) with German Perle hops.

ME: I fore go my usual tasting glasses and poured it into my Myrtle Beach Hard Rock Cafe glass.  I don’t know why, just seemed like the thing to do.  The beer pours black (as you’d expect) with a nice cream colored head that dissipates into a fine lace around the edge.  I’m instantly confused when I take my first whiff and discover no hops what so ever.  The nose instead contains chocolate, malt and a hint of roasted grain.  My confusion deepens as I take my first sip and find the same.  The beer starts with a malty chocolate in the front which changes to a bitterness in the back that’s not crisp like you would find in a stout (maybe it’s a bit of the alcohol), with still no hop flavor to speak of.

This is the type of beer that caused DoB co-founder Chuck to coin the term “a cruel joke”, a beer that doesn’t seem to fit the style it’s purported to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d drink the crap out of this beer.  I love the chocolate flavor and the grainy finish, but as far as seeing the IPA in the lineage – I just don’t.  But like I said, that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the rest of my glass.

Time for another beer.

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Author: Ed (The Dogs of Beer)

Beer Blog focused on Delaware & surrounding area. Drinker of beer. Writer of stuff. Over user of commas. Dangler of prepositions.

2 thoughts on “Brew Review – RJ Rocker’s Black Perle”

  1. I’m glad you posted about this conundrum. I too, having experienced my first black IPA, had the same reaction. The restaurant I visited was featuring Magic Hat’s Demo. When I got my brew, I was sure that the waitress had messed up. Of course I didn’t say anything to her, and I’m glad I kept my mouth shut. When I got home, I did some research and found that that is exactly how those beers are! I did enjoy my experience, it just wasn’t what I expected at the time. I will definitely be on the lookout for the Black Perle!

  2. Thanks for the comment J. I haven’t had Demo, so I’ll have to keep an eye on it. As far as the beer style, Full Sail’s Bump in the Night is a nice combination of the qualities of a stout, plus the hoppiness of an IPA. And I have it in my mine that 21st Amendments’ Back in Black, although not as hoppy as an IPA, did have hop notes present. Maybe my first two experiences with the style were just the two that are the most hoppy lol. This of course, means that I’ll have to do more tasting.

    Again, thanks for the comments!

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