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The Great Dismal Black IPA - O'Connor Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
The Great Dismal Black IPAThe Great Dismal Black IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

51 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 51
Hads: 169
Avg: 3.88
pDev: 20.88%
Wants: 11
Gots: 34 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
O'Connor Brewing Co. visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: blackie on 11-20-2010

The Great Dismal Black IPA, named after the wildlife refuge.
The Great Dismal Swamp, in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, once used as a part of the Intracoastal Waterway, is a dark, full bodied ale, extensively hopped both in bittering and aroma.
"Great with bold hop flavor, Dismal in color, Delicious all around" ~ 7.5% ABV 65 IBUs
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 51 | Hads: 169
Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Surprisingly good drinkability and taste though overcarbonated. Pours fast disipitating off-whte head on black body. Roasted malt aroma. More IPA than roast in taste and that worked. Citrus hops are there and most drinkable. Worth seeking out.Thanks Radek.

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Photo of brentk56
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color with a very nice head that leaves a few shards behind

Smell: Roasty dark malt and charcoal, with hints of caramel and earthy hops

Taste: The roasty char flavors appear first, along with some chocolate and dark fruit; in the middle, the earthy hops add some bitterness but they are overwhelmed by the char; in the finish, it is the roasted malt and char flavors that again leave the dominant impression

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: I prefer a bit more hop character in my ABAs; this one is interesting, but is primarily about roast and char

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Photo of AlexFields
3.25/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark near-black mahogany, decent head but not super impressive.

Smells like a barleywine--some malty raisins, grassy hops, pretty sweet.

Tastes like slightly bitter coffee, mild grassy hop character, touch of dry cocoa. Decent but not terribly hoppy really.

Decent mouthfeel--carbonation is really good but the body is a tad thin.

Reasonably good but nothing special, a bit disappointing.


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Photo of clayrock81
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a blackish body w/ one-finger head that died slowly that left some lace. A hoppy aroma with strong, roasted (maybe even burnt) malts in there as well but not really much in the sweet malt for the nose. I enjoyed this beer and on tap may have added carbonation (which is large and gives a sharp, cutting edge to beer), but the roasted/burnt malts overpower the citric hops and the sweet malts for me. Still, even though I'd say this is a dry beer that needs sipped on, it has a touch of hoppy goodness for IPA fans and there are some minor sugary sweet malts (burnt chocolate, java, toffee...I am getting these sweet-like taste sensations). A hard to do style and this one comes out good.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Dogfish Spiegelau glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 3/4 inch tan head that bears great retention time before slowly falling to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a solid sheet of surface foam. Frothy, resilient lacing clings to the glass.

S- Very sweet aroma with some brown sugar, heavy caramel and mild anise notes. Very enjoyable actually but has little hop character which is surprising.

T- The sweetness continues but now the dark roast of the malt steps in and shows itself. There's a considerable amount of bitterness but the forceful roast and sugar flavors win in the end. Quite drinkable for a 7.5 percenter.

M- Slightly thick with a small afterbite from the hops. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- My first beer by this brewery and I have to say I'm quite impressed by the sweetness it exhibits. Also nods for the ABV-to-drinkability ratio. American Black Ale is definitely a better label for this one than Black IPA. Either way, thumbs up.

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Photo of tigg924
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours clear dark brown with 1/2 inch head and moderate carbonation. Taste is pine, dark chocolate, and cream. Overall the beer is slightly hoppy with a medium body. Tasty and worth seeking out. This is right up there with my favorites from this brewery.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Drank 3 pints from the tap.

appears almost black, frothy white head that fades. nice hoppy aroma, a bit earthy. Very mild roasted aroma and flavor to balance out the hoppiness. No too bitter or sweet either way. Medium body and carbonation. Overall a nice beer, easy to drink a few of them.

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Photo of blackie
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: shaker pint, deep chestnut in color with some garnet hues, served with a light layer of carbonation that still manages to retain well

s: big dark pine needle hops, nutty deep roasts with a balance of pale malt and light toffee sweetness as it warms, burnt sugar, pine bark, the roasts and hops work fairly well together where in other examples they have clashed, good start

m: moderately carbonated, body just around medium with a nice drying effect in the finish

t: loaded with big pine hops and sappy bitter bark flavors that power over the base beer of roasted malts balanced with pale and toffee malt, burnt sugars, dried nuts, brief sweetness in the middle as it warms, clean and mostly dry, toffee and bark, big bitterness lingering, warming

d: the few examples of the style I've had were over-roasted, but this one does fine by me, easily drinkable, don't see much of their stuff around nova but keep an eye out if you're in the hampton roads area

pint at the Taphouse, Hampton, VA

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Photo of ncaudle
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from tap into pint glass.

pours very dark, not quite black, with a sizable head off-white that quickly dissipated leaving a nice lacing around the glass.

very hoppy aroma. not sure of the hop varietal but it was much more citrus than pine. not that much bitterness which was kind of surprising considering its a "IPA" but I'm not complaining. there's a little sweetness but I dont think it's coming from the malts...

light bodied and nice carbonation levels. easy drinker.

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Photo of n2185
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown with a finger of off-white head that fades into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Roasted malts with creamy chocolate up front with dry pine and grapefruit aromas from the hops.

T: Roasted malts here as well with bitter chocolate, some char, and an earthy, piney, hoppy finish that is lightly bitter.

M: Medium body and carbonation, this beer is nicely carbonated and avoids being too thick or watery.

O: A good black ale overall with a nice balance between the hops and the roasted malts.

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Photo of JayQue
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dense brown color with ruby highlights showing throughout. Cream color medium size head fading to a covering of the glass. Filmy lacing on the glass.

Pleasant aroma of roasted malt, caramel malt and some floral hops. Tastes a bit like a barleywine light. The big flavor of malt, toffee and floral hoppiness is there without the alcohol bite or harshness.

Mouthfeel is crisp and rich with the right amount of bitterness.

Tasty and low enough in abv to enjoy a second one!!!!

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Photo of jvillefan
2.85/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

A: It is a very dark brown with a ivory white laced head that disappears very quickly.

S: Not very good. There is old dark fruit (not in a pleasant way) with some stale chocolate malts.

T: There is some indistinguishable dark malt. It doesn't have a specific coffee, chocolate, or toffee flavor available. There is some hop bite but not nearly enough to call it a black IPA.

M: There is some thickness to the body with an excellent carbonation bite.

O: It is an average black IPA, there are many way better ones that are easily available (Sublimely Self-Righteous). Not worth getting.

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Photo of Jayli
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on draft at Buffalo Wind Wings in Harborview, VA 10/9
Served in a pilsner glass

A: This beer pours an opaque, deep brown with light brown hues around the edges when held to the light. Two fingers of khaki colored, foamy head that retains for some time. Big sheets of sticky lacing are left on the glass.

S: Nose is burnt malts, bitter chocolate, and orange zesty hops.

T: Taste is roasted malts at t he forefront, bitter baker's chocolate and coffee. Burnt notes come through mingled with lingering coffee notes and orange, citrus hops.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, crisp at first and then creamy.

O: Goes down easy, very tasty, somewhat filling, nice kick, excellent representation of style. If we hadn't gotten the last pints of this, I would have drank it all afternoon. By and far, this would be a go to beer for me!

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into dimpled mug.

This was an extra from lambicking-- thanks man!

Very dark-- virtually black. Kinda cloudy... Some chunks floating around inside... Toffee colored head. Weak lacing, but decent retention.

Pretty full-bodied beer. Firm feel with plenty of carbonation. Oily residue with a coffee-like bitterness.

Lots of roasted malt with some sweetness up front as well. The beer has a strong bitterness that lingers for a good bit. Citrus hops poke through, but herbal/floral notes lead the way.

Overall-- not a bad black ipa. This is a style I would put low on my "list of favorite styles," but I try to be fair in reviewing styles such as this... This is a decent beer, but I don't find it refreshing. It isn't one I would drink or buy again, but it isn't a bad attempt at the style.

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Photo of Beejay
3.52/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Very dark brown/black in color with a large tan head.

S: Chocolate and coffee come out first with a little bit of an earthy bitterness after.

T: Coffee with an earthy bitterness. The hops are a bit subdued at first but start to come out more in the finish.

M: Medium in body, with a fairly high carbonation.

O: Not too bad, but not astounding either.

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Photo of Ri0
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

poured 12oz bottle into snifter

A - Dark cola with a 1.5 finger off white head. Fades into a thin collar with almost no lacing.

S - Roasted and sweet malts, with hints of cola. It's somewhat Porter like. I don't pick up much for hops.

T - Starts with roasted and sweet malt with that cola flavor. Hints of bitter chocolate. I get a bit of hop bitter and tang on the finish. It has a very nice flavor profile for a Black IPA as the everything comes together nicely.

M - Medium to light body with decent carbonation. Some bitter on the finish.

O - This was a very nice Black IPA and it drinks easy. There is a sweet and bitter balance that holds the beer together nicely. Thank you Matt for this.

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Photo of ohiobeer29
3/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A solid black ipdea had it from bottle pours black smells of IPA and malt taste is that of a poor man's founders black rye which was a nice surprise definitely a nice black IPA worth a try

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another great brew from my Dr. friend.

This ale pours a nice dark mahogany brown with a very nice light tan head that has true staying power, and solid lacing. Nose of chocolate, spicy hops, toffee, and earthy undertones. Flavors exceed the nose with a great chocolate/toffee malt back bone that gives way to lightly piney and spicy hops flavors that are not overbearing in any way. A SOLID brew that maintains balance through to the last sip with moderate carbonation, smooth lightly creamy mouth feel, and a light bitter finish. Outstanding. First brew I have tried from this company----looking forward to trying more.


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Photo of Minkybut
3/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I ppoured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The firtst thing you notice is the black color then the Xmas tree smell hits you. Like somebody bottled a spruce tree. The beer poured a okay head. However the taste was just too hoppy for me. If you like high hopped IPA beer this is good beer. I would like to try some more from this Co. since they are only about 50 miles from me. I will not try this one again though.

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Photo of Kadonny
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. Gotten as an extra from a trade with Hanzo.

A: A deep dark brown color with a one finger light brown head. Nice glass lacing.

S: Earthy and herbal hops mix with some dark fruits and slight roastiness. Nice.

T: Roasted flavors start first with some charred wood notes. Some chocolate sweetness and slight coffee mix with dark fruit flavors and sweeten out the hops momentarily until the finish turns back to the earthy and herbal floral hops. Bitter prickly finish is real nice.

M: Medium mouthfeel, perfect carbonation and very little if any alcohol flavor. Again, nice.

O: A very nice black IPA that was not spectacular, but solid. I liked it.

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Photo of teromous
2.98/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer is extremely dark. It is completely black, and shows very dark shades of brown when exposed directly to the light. The head stays at about half a thumb. It is colored off-white and nearly tan. The head is very nice looking. There is decent lacing.

S: It has a very interesting smell. There is a light floral hop characteristic, but then there is this distinct oak aged porter scent to it. If I didn't know it was a black IPA I would think it was a barrel aged porter from the smell. There is also a sweet smell to it...kind of like chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. There isn't quite as much of a breadth of hop character as I'd like to smell, but the scent is good.

T: I am a bit disappointed in the flavor. It is barely hoppy at all, and it is greatly overshadowed by the roasted malt flavor. The roasted flavor is very nice, and there is a nice bitterness to the beer. Much of the hop flavor is not present. Some of it comes back after the sip, but not while drinking.

M: The mouthfeel is nice and bitter, fairly dry, with a nice backbone of carbonation.

O: Overall I think this is pretty close to a good black IPA (as the label states) ABA/CDA whatever you wish to call it. I wish it had a more hop-forward presence to the flavor. If you are a stout or porter lover, you will undoubtedly enjoy this. If you are a standard IPA or IIPA drinker, you will most likely find it to be substandard. I feel that I can not give this an average score, because it does not live up to the expectations of an average black IPA where it counts the most...the flavor.

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Photo of PhageLab
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Taphouse in Hampton. Very cool looking tap marker depicting the Great Dismal Swamp. Poured into a pint glass.

A - Dark brown opaque brew with a nice big fluffy brownish head that stuck around for a while. Nice lacing.

S - Some pine hops and a bit of toast, but the aroma is faint.

T - Effectively tastes like a stout mixed with an IPA. Very odd, but tasty. Nicely bitter with a good hop bite, but as soon as you think you're enjoying an IPA a wave of roasted malt and dry chocolate notes wash over you.

M - Medium bodied, mild carbonation, dry finish.

D - I caught myself drinking this one a little too fast, but I couldn't help it. By the time I was halfway done I realized that I really really enjoyed this beer. Definitely try it if you manage to find it.

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Photo of dragonWhale
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got a chance to have a couple of pints of this beer and meet the brewer at a pretty cool new beer bar in Richmond. He was on his seventh or eighth stop of the evening, so our conversation was deep and meaningful, obviously. I asked him what he hopped with and he said he bittered with Amarillo and then used something that he mumbled and Cascade. What was the final gravity? It started at like 1.08 and ended at 1.04something. And I laughed and let him on his merry way. Perhaps later I shall get a chance to talk beer with him for real. It was hilarious though.
Dark brown, bit of red seams. Piney, a bit floral, the malt is not doing too much. Slight bit of roast, but not much, no sweetness. It finishes very thin and dry. A bit overattenuated for my particular taste, but, as a result, finishes very lightly as well. A good beer, worth trying out. Not too roasty, no big citrus and roast battle going on, which I feel is the downfall of many of these CDAs. Good show.

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Photo of obywan59
3.86/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From notes.
Sampled at the Chesapeake Grill on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Dark brown with ruby highlights. 1/2 finger light tan head with light but attractive lacing.

Rich malt aroma with good herbal hops.

Tart and bitter with dark roast malts. Rather hoppy.

Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Warming.

An excellent bew. Very rich and full flavored.

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Photo of uvachief
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle. No bottled on date. Aggressive pint glass pour results in huge white head that lingered forever. Nice dark purple brown color. Little light filters. Smell is hops but not overpowering. Taste is hops upfront but surprisingly not bitter. Smoother than I expected. Wouldn't say exceedingly hopped. Not north of 75 ibus I would guess. Love the black cherry tea color. Head just stays forever. Taste something sweet offsetting the bitter like licorice maybe. Unique. Not gritty or sandy like a lot of black ipas. Really smooth actually. Want to say some tobacco in there as well. Interesting complex ipa. Try if you get the chance.

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The Great Dismal Black IPA from O'Connor Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.