Beer Profile: 21st Amendment’s Back in Black


Profiled by Maria Devan for PGA

If you know me then you know I am not fond of the black IPA. I find the style elusive to me personally. I think that the roasted and heavier stout like qualities of the malts clash with the citrusy and IPA like qualities. And that chocolate, while it does go with orange, does not go very well with grapefruit. This beer has changed my mind about the style.

“Inspired by Paul Revere’s midnight ride, we rebelled against the British style IPA, embraced the more aggressive American version and then recast it in bold, brave, defiant black. Our Black IPA is a Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of the expected.”

Pours very dark like black walnut with a crimson hue deep within the beer. A fat khaki head of foam falls slowly and leaves lace. The nose is bright with grapefruit. Really tart smelling and earthy with a bit of the peel. Some toasted sugar comes forward as it warms and a bit of dark malt scent like coffee. The taste is excellent. The mouthfeel is thin and has the quality of a good light IPA. The malt takes center stage in the drink as it comes forward with a touch of bitter roast and some weak coffee. A light caramel and some citrus take up the mid palate where the grapefruit has been tamed but still very much present. Finishes dry and roasty with a bit of the malt sweetness and a hint of char to linger at the back of the throat with some of the bright citrus peel. What it does not do is blast away at the finish with hop bitterness and that lets those roasted malts linger a touch with the citrus as a gentle compliment.

I really liked this one and I think 21st amendment has shown us what is possible with this style. They have struck a balance between what tastes good and what is just for show. Some may call the flavors weak or diluted but I think that one has to account for the idea that a lighter palate does not require as much effort to understand it. The balance in this beer is apparent as the malts come forward but not heavily. The malt is as light as it could possibly be and still be roasted almost black. Light and drinks lightly. I love it!



Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”


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meMaria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY and is frequent reviewer of beer and a beer lover deluxe.

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