Best Black IPAs: Bold, Hoppy, and Dark

Hey beer enthusiasts! Ever tried a Black IPA? These intriguing brews combine the roasty, malty goodness of a stout with the hop-forward punch of an IPA.

Imagine a dark beer that’s rich and roasty but also bursting with bright hop flavors. It’s like the best of both worlds. Ready to dive in? Let’s explore the world of Black IPAs and see what makes them so unique and delicious.

1. Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA is a fan favorite, known for its bold hop flavors balanced by rich, roasted malt. Imagine a dark chocolate bar infused with citrusy hops—intense, satisfying, and unforgettable.

2. Deschutes Hop in the Dark

Deschutes Hop in the Dark offers a smooth blend of roasted malt and hop bitterness. It’s like enjoying a cup of dark coffee with a hint of citrus—complex, robust, and refreshing.

3. 21st Amendment Back in Black

21st Amendment’s Back in Black is a well-balanced Black IPA with notes of caramel, chocolate, and pine. Think of it as a cozy campfire in a glass—warm, inviting, and full of character.

4. Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA

Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA combines the smoothness of roasted malt with the boldness of American hops. It’s like a midnight stroll through a pine forest—dark, aromatic, and invigorating.

5. Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet

Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet is a playful take on the Black IPA, with rich malt flavors and a strong hop presence. Imagine a dance party where the DJ is spinning both hip-hop and classic rock—energetic, fun, and full of surprises.

History and Background

Origins of Black IPAs

Black IPAs, also known as Cascadian Dark Ales, originated in the Pacific Northwest in the early 2000s.

Brewers in this hop-rich region wanted to create a beer that combined the dark, roasted qualities of stouts with the bright, hoppy flavors of IPAs. The result was a new, exciting style that quickly gained popularity.

Evolution Over Time

Since their inception, Black IPAs have evolved, with brewers experimenting with different hop varieties, malts, and brewing techniques. The craft beer movement has embraced this style, leading to a wide range of interpretations.

Despite these variations, the core characteristics of Black IPAs—bold hop flavors and roasted malt—remain consistent.

Key Regions and Their Influence

The Pacific Northwest is the birthplace of Black IPAs, but the style has spread worldwide. American brewers often emphasize hop character, while European brewers might focus more on the malt profile.

Each region adds its unique touch, enriching the diversity and appeal of Black IPAs.

Characteristics of Black IPAs


Black IPAs typically have a dark brown to black color with a thick, creamy tan head. They look as bold and inviting as they taste. Imagine a starless night sky with a full moon—dark, mysterious, and captivating.


The aroma of Black IPAs is a delightful blend of roasted malt and fresh hops. You’ll often find notes of coffee, chocolate, pine, and citrus. It’s like walking through a forest in the early morning, with the scent of pine and earth mingling with the freshness of dawn.

Flavor Profile

The flavor of Black IPAs is where they truly shine. Expect a harmonious blend of roasted malt and bright hop bitterness.

Notes of coffee, chocolate, caramel, and pine are common, creating a complex and satisfying taste. Each sip is like a symphony, with each flavor note playing its part perfectly.


Black IPAs have a medium to full body with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. The carbonation is typically moderate, providing a refreshing yet satisfying finish. It’s like enjoying a well-made espresso—rich, balanced, and utterly enjoyable.

Types of Black IPAs

Traditional Black IPA

Traditional Black IPAs focus on the balance between roasted malt and hop bitterness. They’re smooth, bold, and perfectly balanced, offering a classic and satisfying experience.

Think of them as the sophisticated elder sibling in the IPA family.

Flavored Black IPA

Flavored Black IPAs take the traditional style and add exciting ingredients like coffee, chocolate, or spices. These variations add depth and complexity, creating unique and delightful flavors.

Imagine your favorite dessert transformed into a beer—decadent and indulgent.

Other Regional Variations

Brewers around the world have embraced the Black IPA style, adding their unique twists. From Belgian-inspired Black IPAs to those brewed with local ingredients, the possibilities are endless.

Each variation offers a new perspective on the classic Black IPA, providing a diverse range of flavors and experiences to explore.

Pairing Black IPAs with Food

Best Food Pairings

Black IPAs are versatile and pair wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas:

  • Traditional Black IPA: Perfect with grilled meats, BBQ ribs, and smoked sausages. The roasted malt complements the charred flavors, while the hops add a refreshing counterbalance.
  • Flavored Black IPA: Great with chocolate desserts, spicy foods, and rich cheeses. The added flavors of coffee or chocolate in the beer enhance the sweetness of desserts and balance the heat of spicy dishes.
  • Other Variations: Pair with hearty stews, roasted vegetables, and even pizza. The complexity of the beer can elevate these comforting dishes.

Why These Pairings Work

The bold flavors of Black IPAs make them ideal for pairing with equally robust foods.

The roasted malt flavors complement the savory, smoky notes in grilled and smoked dishes, while the hop bitterness cuts through the richness, cleansing the palate. It’s like finding the perfect dance partner—each step enhances the experience, creating a harmonious balance.

Homebrewing Black IPAs

Basic Recipes

Interested in brewing your own Black IPA? Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


  • Pale malt
  • Chocolate malt
  • Caramel malt
  • Roasted barley
  • Hops (like Cascade or Centennial)
  • Ale yeast
  • Water


  1. Mash the grains at 150°F (65°C) for 60 minutes.
  2. Boil the wort, adding hops at the start and near the end for bitterness and aroma.
  3. Cool the wort and pitch the ale yeast.
  4. Ferment at 68°F (20°C) for about two weeks.
  5. Bottle or keg, carbonate, and enjoy your homemade Black IPA!

Tips and Tricks

For the best results, use fresh ingredients and high-quality malts. Experiment with different hop varieties and malt combinations to create your unique flavor profile. Pay attention to fermentation temperatures to avoid off-flavors and ensure a clean, smooth finish.

Common Challenges

One common challenge is achieving the right balance of roasted malt and hop bitterness. Start with a balanced recipe and adjust future batches based on your taste preferences.

Another challenge is ensuring the beer has the desired clarity and color, which can be managed by adjusting the malt bill and using proper brewing techniques.

Trends in Black IPAs

Current Trends

Black IPAs are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with brewers experimenting with new ingredients and techniques. Flavored Black IPAs, such as those with added coffee, chocolate, or spices, are particularly trendy.

There’s also a growing interest in sessionable Black IPAs—beers with lower alcohol content but full flavor.

Future Predictions

Looking ahead, we can expect more innovation and creativity in the Black IPA category. Brewers will likely continue to experiment with exotic ingredients and hybrid styles, such as combining Black IPAs with other beer styles.

Sustainability and local sourcing will also play a bigger role, with brewers using locally sourced ingredients to create unique and regionally inspired Black IPAs.


To wrap things up, Black IPAs are a fantastic choice for those who love bold, complex beers. Whether you’re enjoying a commercial example or brewing your own, these beers offer a world of flavor and excitement.

Their versatility in food pairings and their unique flavor profile make them a standout style among beer enthusiasts. So next time you’re in the mood for something special, reach for a Black IPA and savor the experience. Cheers!

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