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.