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Silk Scorpion - Karben4 Brewing

Not Rated.
Silk Scorpion
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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

54 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 54
Reviews: 7
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 4
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Karben4 Brewing visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: pschul4 on 02-20-2013

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 54 | Reviews: 7
Photo of kojevergas
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to Duff27 for sending me a 32oz grumbler in a trade!

Served cold into a pilsner glass at low altitude in Austin, TX. Reviewed live as a black IPA. Expectations are average; this is my first Karben4 beer.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: Boasts a healthy three fingers of foam. Creamy, supple, and luscious, with sufficient thickness. Could be softer looking and fuller, but for a growler pour it's not bad. Retention is good - ~5-7 minutes. Leaves some light lacing on the sides of the glass as it slowly recedes.

BODY: It's a conventional opaque black with no visible yeast particulate or hop sediment.

Pretty typical of the style across the board without standing out. The head retention in particular makes this an above average appearance.

AROMA: It has a fresh cocoa nib presence, which is a refreshing change from the usual generic chocolate malt character. I even think I find some oats? In any case, it doesn't come off too sweet at all, and the malts nicely check the hop bitterness. Hopwise, it's interesting. Not the usual pine/spruce/evergreen hop profile that usually does it for me in Black IPAs, but seemingly well-tailored to fit the malts: moderate resins, mild citrus...and that's about it. No off-putting bubblegum or onion here, and no dank bitter grapefruit to ruin the balance. There's even a kiss of coffee in here, lending it still more complexity. We may have a winner on our hands; this actually seems balanced. Constructively, I'd like more of a roasted barley presence, and they could commit to deeper coffee and chocolate notes.

No yeast character, off-notes, or alcohol are/is detectable.

Aromatic intensity is mild.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Easily one of the more balanced beers I've had in this often problematic style. Malt sweetness from dark malts and chocolate malts checks the hop bitterness nicely, and the brewers didn't overhop; there's an aptly restrained hop presence comprised of mild resins and tame citrus.

There's added complexity from some faint coffee, which also helps coarsen and dry out the mouthfeel to keep it more in line with an Irish stout - though it lacks an Irish stout's signature roasted barley presence, to its detriment. I also pick up on some oatmeal, but the mouthfeel isn't smooth or porter-like, so I'm probably wrong about that. I love that this doesn't have the sleek silky texture so common in bad examples of the style. Its medium body and moderate heft on the palate supports the flavour profile but never feels overbearing. Carbonation is almost perfect - and this from a growler.

I do find it well-balanced for the most part, though the hops sort of steal the show in the third act, and I'd like to see the malts continue to put up a fight. Still, this build has a cohesion that is rare in the style, and there's some impressive depth of flavour. Maybe it's not a real intricate build, but I'll take balance and elegance over complexity and messiness any day of the week. As it warms, I notice a slight powdery feel to the beer which accentuates the cocoa powder notes. The chocolate/cocoa presence here is surprisingly nuanced, and sets this beer apart from inferior offerings in the style.

Flavour duration is above average, as is flavour amplitude. Flavour intensity is average, however - but I consider this a good thing; it's a mellow Black Ale, not a crazy intense bitter bomb.

A Black IPA I actually like? Maybe the style is finally maturing...or maybe it just takes brewers who really know what they're doing. This is surprisingly well-executed.

OVERALL: A shockingly drinkable stab at a notoriously difficult (and often fundamentally imbalanced) style, Silk Scorpion is one of the few Black IPAs I've had that I'd want to drink again. I'll probably finish the entire grumbler tonight, and this has me very curious to try more of Karben4's ales. Its strength is its restraint; it leans more towards the malt side than most attempts at the style, and it has a downplayed hop profile that's proof hop selection is more important than hop quantity. The hops fit the malts, and that's more than I can say about 99% of beers brewed in this style. This will interest the discerning drinker, and I'd recommend it to friends. That said, this is a style which is still finding itself (if you'll forgive the pretension implicit in that phrasing), and as good as this is relative to most beers in the style, it's still far from world-class.

Huge thanks to Duff27. Who knew he could find a Black IPA that would tickle my fancy?

High B- (3.5)

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On tap at Baldwin St. Grill, for th NCAA basketball tourney. Badgers lost.

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Silk Scorpion from Karben4 Brewing
92 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.