From the hop producing state of Oregon, it’s fitting that Deschutes Brewery would produce a line of “hop-forward” ales. Hop In The Dark is part of their Bond Street Series seasonal ales that celebrate their original brewpub and are available from May through September. Deschutes calls it a “Cascadian Dark Ale”, a style of beer also known as a “black IPA” (yeah, it’s an oxymoron) due to its dark color and 75 IBUs at 6.5% ABV. So is it a dark IPA or a hopped up porter or stout? Let’s find out.
Hop In The Dark pours a dark mahogany brown. Overall very little light gets through the beer but holding it up to a bright source produces red around the edges of the glass. The one and half finger tan head fades soon after the poor. Carbonation appears to be on par with an IPA and therefore higher than what you’d expect with most stouts and porters. On the nose you immediately get the hops with their grassy, piney, floral and grapefruit notes. Deschutes is using Cascade, Centennial and Citra hops – all widely used hops for IPAs – and the nose contains elements of all three varieties. What you don’t get with a regular IPA is the sweetness and roastiness of the malt underneath the blanket of hops. Because of the dark malts used, the hop aroma is not as intense as a regular IPA.
Following the aroma of the beer, the taste of Hop In The Dark begins with the hops hitting the front of tongue with sour grapefruit bitterness, once again a characteristic you’d expect from an IPA. But the hops are not quite as intense with the roasted malt coming in mid tongue to smooth out some of the bitterness. The malty finish at the back of the tongue is reminiscent of an oatmeal stout – smooth, mellow roasted malt with some faint chocolate and coffee notes – no surprise considering they used dark, crystal and Munich malts with a blend of oats. Something you don’t get in an oatmeal stout is the grapefruit bitterness that lingers through the finish letting you know that this is still a very hoppy beer. Will all the flavors mixing, it’s no surprise the alcohol is hidden from the palate. While I prefer an IPA at colder temperatures, I recommend that you let Hop In The Dark warm up like a stout or porter to get all the characteristics the beer has to offer.
Hop In The Dark is very drinkable but somewhat confusing ale to quaff. The beer has a very nice hop component but I find it lacking somewhat on the malt end. I’d prefer some more dominant flavors from the darker malts to be more prominent in the taste profile to compliment the grapefruit notes. For my tastes, the beer drinks like a hopped up oatmeal stout instead of a dark or “black” IPA. Thankfully Deschutes does not use the term “black IPA” for this beer as Hop In The Dark is a dark ale reminiscent of the hopped up porters they had in Great Britain long ago. If you are a hop head that doesn’t like dark beers, this might be your gateway to the dark side of beer.
Beer Geek Nation rating: B
Beer Advocate: B+ / 3.8
Rate Beer: 3.8