I’d Tap That: Black IPAs are dark and hoppy, fit for craft beer enthusiasts
Glassware: The roasted malt characteristics and hoppy aroma of Lead Feather calls for glassware that allows the beer to warm slowly and capture aromatics. The two best choices for glassware are the Spiegelau IPA or stout glass.
Description: Lead Feather pours a deep brown black with fluffy beige head that leaves behind a thick lacing on the glass. The aroma is filled with hints of roasted malts balanced with a strong hop presence; think dark bakers chocolate mixed with piney fruits. The taste follows the nose with a strong roasted malt presence up front with hints of dark chocolate and bitter coffee with notes of licorice and caramel finding balance against fresh pine hop notes that when combined present a semi-sweet taste that has a partially dry finish. The medium-full body and moderate carbonation present a beer that is incredibly creamy, smooth and perfect for a style such as this one. While hops are present throughout, this is not a traditional American IPA and the roasted malts make themselves known throughout. This is a beer that has something for everyone, but is one that some may not like. If you enjoy the Black IPA style, this is a beer you will love!
Food pairing: The rich roasted malt character balanced with the strong hop presence makes for quite a number of great pairings across an assortment of meals. If you are a fan of having a beer with brunch on a Sunday morning, try pairing Lead Feather with some hearty pancakes drizzled with boysenberry syrup or any topping of your choice and don’t forget the whipped cream for an added layer of flavor. It will make the beer even creamier and smoother. Looking for a lunch or dinner pairing? Try Lead Feather with a delicious burger topped with bacon, mushrooms, cheese, and anything else you can throw at it. The rich malts gravitate toward the meat while the hops sink its teeth into any toppings and leave the palate cleansed between each bite. Another truly great pairing for this beer is with a wide array of desserts, a territory typically not touched by many traditional IPAs. Try pairing Lead Feather with carrot cake, molten chocolate cake, German chocolate cake, and chocolate truffles.
The Final Word: The Black IPA style is not for everybody but when done right has offerings a wide array of craft beer lovers enjoy. Lead Feather offers both dark roasted malt features similar to a smooth porter but with great hop bitterness and aromatics that IPA lovers will enjoy. When done wrong the style can come across as a hoppy porter, unbalanced, and generally not enjoyable, but when done right, as it is with Lead Feather, it is a style with perfect balance and play on the light beer/dark beer standards. Lead Feather is a well brewed, smooth and balanced beer and is perfect to enjoy as the transition from crisp fall toward cold winter continues.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Half Acre Beer Company
Beer: Lead Feather Black Ale
Style: American Black Ale or Black IPA
ABV: 6.6 %