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Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)

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1,487 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,487
Reviews: 616
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 147
Gots: 135 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: ClockworkOrange on 01-12-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,487 | Reviews: 616 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of marvin213
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As expected, it looks like an IPA...but black. It leaves some semblance of a web as it settles and stirs, and a heady foam dissipates to a thin layer of head coating interspersed with bacterial culture-looking bubbles. It looks like an IPA, but it's black. I suppose that's neither good nor bad, but +0.5 for novelty.

The smell is good and unlike an IPA. I don't know if it's a jedi-mind trick or not, but I smell chocolate. I also smell wood. Surely not everything that makes beers black (malts) has origins in chocolate. And I feel like I smell more oak than some oak-aged ales. Maybe it's one of the hop varieties. Though it's far different smelling than your traditional IPA, it certainly offers a pleasant aroma.

I taste toasted malts and hops. A hint of the chocolate I smelled strikes my tongue and lingers on the palate. The hops are there for the IPA effect, but not at the forefront like most imperials. With all the hop monster copycats flooding the craft beer market these days, this is a welcome effect. It tastes like an Imperial IPA with the hop presence and warming alcohol, but I suspect it's the "blackness" that presents the balance so many other doubles promise but fail to deliver. If it really is balance your looking for, this could be your beer.

That malty hoppiness makes for a magnificent mouthfeel. Though I admit I love enamel-pulling hoppiness, this beer is a fulfilling DIPA. It's a unique twist on a style ever-increasing in popularity, and it's unlike any other. The hexagram talisman on its label is appropriate because it is sorta magical--an imperial IPA is not supposed to feel this way.

The sweet sort of blackness blended with genuine IPA hop maks for a drinkable beverage. It's a really light sweetness--I don't know the calorie content, but (minus the alcohol) it seems like a dieter's dream...uh, as far as sweet beers go. A really strong offering from Southern Tier--not just the antithesis of Unearthly (as the bottle suggests), but better.

Photo of bobsy
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up this bottle in Buffalo. Pours a pure black with a finger of off-white head. Decent retention and lace. The aroma is good - a mix of chocolate and coffee with some lovely c-hops. The flavour is not quite as hoppy as I expected, and shows more balance than usually found in southern tier's big beers, while also dropping the booziness that they tend to have. Chocolate and lightly roast coffee mix in with some smoke before hitting a good splash of grapefruit and some pine in the finish. Simple, but good. Medium body and carbonation. Drinkability is high for an imperial. Nice stuff from ST!

Photo of goblue3509
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cola like dark brown almost black color with a tan head that gives way to good lacing. The smell is of coffee and chocolate as well as citrus and piney hops. The taste is of malt chocolate and sweet malts at the front end. The taste is balanced out by citrus and piney hops for a bitterness. The mouthfeel is a little syrupy but overall it is very good. The overall drinkability is very high, it is an overall very complex beer with a lot of malt and hop balance.

Photo of jbhuxley
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.

Pour immediately produces a cloud of tiny bubbles which form one finger of smooth tan head. Color is black, almost opaque. When held to light some dark ruby tones show.

The smell is not reflective of the appearance. I can only pick up traces of toastiness, maybe a bit of molasses. I mostly only smell the hops. A little bit of citrus but mostly earthy hops.

At first, there is a sweet coffee/chocolate feel, I can barely pick up the hops until the finish. I get a bit of pine and citrus, but it is a bit masked by the sweetness. I think would prefer this slightly more bitter.

I poured this beer at about 42 degrees, as recommended on the side of the bottle. I enjoyed this beer much more as it warmed up. The bitterness comes out and the complexity of the beer is amplified.

Mouthfeel is light, but sticky. The carbonation is just right.

The 9% is a bit dangerous. The combination of sweetness with the light body and hops make it very drinkable, and very easy to forget that you're drinking 9%.

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

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a dense black body with a light tan head that fades to a thick ring and sticks to the glass with each sip. There is a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles gliding to the surface.

S- The full aroma of green juicy hops has a nice pine resin quality to it.

T- The big taste of green pine hops is juicy with a slightly sweet pale malt flavor. There is a mellow roasted malt note with no bitterness at the finish. As the beer warms the roasted note increases and turns sweeter and covers some of the hops. The finish has a pine resin flavor that lingers along with a roasted malt note.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with a soft alcohol bite.

D- This beer is a nice IPA with a twist of some soft mellow dark malt notes. Interesting concept that was nice to drink.

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The folks at Wine World in North Augusta, SC cracked open a couple different beers they are sampling in an upcoming tasting and invited me to join in on the fun.

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a 1-2 oz. sampling cup.

Pours a deep, dark brown, perhaps a bit cola-like. Clarity is decent; gives rise to a thick head of dark tan foam that is a bit creamy and holds itself together very well, leaving nice rings of lace on the vessel that come near to sheets in breakage.

Aroma is quite appetizing, with rich dark chocolate and notes of dark roast wafting up initially, melding with brighter grapefruit-like citric hop notes as the beer warms up a bit.

Medium-full in body with a nice zippy, moderately carbonated mouthfeel that helps keep it a bit more drinkable despite its weighty 9% ABV. Flavors mimic the nose rather well, with nice dessert-like notes of milk and dark chocolate and roasty, toasty malt showing themselves in the beginning, but with liberal notes of American-variety hops showing themselves as it warms a bit, doing sort of a turn-around from a dark-souled yet lighter-bodied Imperial Stout to a bright, citrusy, weighty Double IPA. Finishes with a medium-dry, nicely balanced citrus-and-caramel fade that lingers well afterward.

Imperial Black Ale? That's what Southern Tier calls it, and the name is rather fitting. In character, perhaps a bit of a combination of New Belgium's Enlightened Black Ale and a nice hefty DIPA, but with pronounced Imperial Stout leanings as well. Very interesting and very, very tasty. Definitely a must-try.

Photo of nasty15108
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

A - Poured black with a thick head of tan foam. Nice lacing.

S - Malty with herbal undertones.

T - Malty, with complex layers of smoke, citrus and herbs (Anise/Licorice).

MF&D - Medium bodied and slightly sticky. Very enjoyable.

Photo of bfields4
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very dark body with a light amber hue. Nice lacy head.

Very herbal hops are accompanied by a light roasted malt. A little citrus zest to boot.

Extremely complex brew. Begins with rich and chocolate flavors. The hops then hit with a bitter very light citrus to herbal flavor. The finish is a more roast malt smoothness.

A little boozy, not overwhelming but there for sure. Chewy and nice light carbonation.

Photo of damienblack
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly dark brown, somewhere between a traditional IPA and a stout. Head like a stout, same mocha color and billoweyness. Smells like sweet hops basically, except unlike a busy malty IPA like DFH 90, they really blend together quite well. Mostly earthy, a bit of pine, not much citrus. Taste is great - the flavors compliment each other. It's like drinking a real earthy IPA, except without the huge pine sensations, the malt sweetness drives it. Almost like a real hoppy brown or some such. If you're looking for a real strong DIPA, this isn't it. If you're looking for a great balance between malt and hop, this is the target. Nice coating mouthfeel, and sublimely drinkable. For me, who isn't a huge fan of IPAs, especially huge malty confused ones, this walks the line perfectly. Bravo!

Photo of cavedave
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Antithesis of Unearthly (a brew I recently enjoyed) it says on the label. Yeah, bring it on.

The look is a deeply dark brown, opaque, thickly made beer which affords a thin beige head that dissipates rapidly to a cap. A gentle swirl leaves thin streamers of lace on my snifter.

Smell is a strongly insinuative blast of chocolate, molasses, and caramel, all wrapped in herbosity, citrus, and floral sweetness. There is a sense of alcohol to the aroma, but not an overt presence.

The taste, good gosh, what a new and different taste, what flavors! Chocolate and molasses ride a tsunami of fruit, herbal, toffee, citrus, and sweet flowers into a finish that is stupendously juicy and long. During my first few sips there's a strangeness to the mix of citrus with the deeper flavors, but after that this beer just takes off. It's a flood of alcohol, herbosity and bitterness, with undernotes of pine and citrus. As it warms, and as my palate comprehends this brew, its flavor range, its balance, and its boldness become exceedingly enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is perfect for this edgy style. Low carbonation, very viscous, light mouthfeel despite all this, holds the mouth well without a chewy or metallic feel.

Just had to check the ABV. 9%. Wow, be careful with this one, it drinks real easily.

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Jet jet inky black. About an inch of light sandy head. Good retention and lacing.

S- Hops! I love that these black IPAs look like stouts and drink like IPAs. Delicious blend of citrus hops and a light malt sweetness.

T- Wow... exactly what it looks like... starts with a rush of dark malt--chocolate, coffee notes--the hops wrestle for the forefront. Citrus hops give way to a piney finish. Sweet molasses/caramel flavor lies underneath. I could go for a little more bitterness, however. Some alcohol is apparent, but it gives another sweetness to it.

M- Smooth and creamy, syrupy even. Good amount of carbonation.

D- Way high. I'm loving this.

Here's what I love about Southern Tier. I haven't had too many of their stuff yet, but everything I've had is robust and flavorful. Good stuff all around.

Photo of Reaper16
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

served on-tap @ Flying Saucer, Kansas City, into a snifter

I knew that this was coming, but it was intriguing and perplexing just the same... pours a deep, dark brown (might as well call it black). The head was insignificant and unimpressive; trace lines of off-white lace formed, but that is it. All in all, this beer looks just like a porter. Were this a porter, I'd rate it average, but seeing as I appreciate the sense of play here, I'm scoring it significantly higher.

Citrus and pine abound in the nose of this one. If you didn't know that this very dark beer was an Imperial India Pale Ale in onyx disguise, then one deep sniff will set you straight. Not much complexity or anything, just a nice IIPA aroma.

This beer hits you upfront and strong with the citrus hop flavors. Its kind of orange-dominant at first, but gives way more-and-more to grapefruit as the beer warms. I didn't detect much of a malt presence trying to assert itself, but there was an underlying, sugary sweetness that has to be accounted for. That sweet element plays well with the pine finish. It is important to note that this is not a bitter beer by typical double-IPA standards. Sure, there is the alpha acid/hop resin aftertaste that one would expect. But nearly ever other IIPA worth its salt is going to be more bitter. Take that as a positive or negative depending on your own palate.

Okay mouthfeel. More than okay, I suppose. It didn't serve to highlight any of the flavors but it did not work to diminish anything either. Overall, it is definitely flavorful; the drinkability score might be raised some by its fun-factor alone.

If this were a normal-colored Imperial India Pale Ale, I might not score it as highly as I am. The fact is though that this beer tastes like a double IPA and looks like a porter. The sensory head-trip is really fun and makes this a great beer to spring on a party. The sense of play that the brewmasters at Southern Tier imbued this beer needs to be acknowledged and taken into account. Fun, tasty, hoppy... this is a recommended beer.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Iniquity? There's certainly nothing evil or unjust about this beer. I was quite surprised and charmed by it. It's very dark, almost black, but there are brown highlights to it. But it's not roasty or chocolatey. There are notes of dark caramel, and soft notes of mocha, but it's nothing like a porter or stout. I thought it was more like a schwarzbier or dunkle. Very nicely rounded maltiness to it!

On top of that, it's pretty damned hoppy! But I look at the label and it reads "...this is an ale as black as night. It is the antithesis of Unearthly" (their hoppy IPA). Well, the color might be different, but with juicy-citrusy and softly piney hops this is far from the opposite of "Unearthly"! It is much less bitter though, and remarkably smooth. The alcohol (9%) never shows, even in the finish.

Oh, another thing about the label, they call it an Imperial IBA. Firstly, I thought the TTB did away with any abbreviations on labels, but regardless, I'm guessing they're calling it an Imperial Brown Ale, or is that Imperial Black Ale? Imperial Blacl Ale fits better. But whatever you call it, I'm drinking it! The darkened malt and citrus-pine hops just go together so well, and despite its strength it's oh so drinkable! Additionally, althought it's not really complex (...a couple of malt notes here, some yeasty fruit there, a few shining hop flavors, and some bitterness...), it's actually very unique. I've never had a beer like it before, and that makes it interesting enough for me. Well done, and given that uniqueness, well worth trying. Kudos once again to Southern Tier!

Photo of mltobin
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served on-tap at the Ginger Man in Norwalk
The appearance is a very dark brown with a two finger white head.
Iniquity smells like roasted malt, dark chocolate, a dose of hops in there as well. Sipping this offering from Southern Tier, it tastes rich, sweet, some of that strong alcohol comes through in the taste as well. Mouthfeel is thick and strong, but interesting in this imperial black ale, good idea to have some water after this beer. Drinkability is average on this heavy beer. It makes for a great beer to pair with a dessert such as a brownie sundae.

Photo of tpd975
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice deep dark black hue, this one is stout black. nice creamy two finger head with good retention. Nice sheet lace as well.

S: Nice bold citrus with notes of dark roasted malt, caramel, and chocolate.

T: Wonderful blend of malt and hops. Tons of grapefruit and orange up front. The malt hits in the finish. Nice dark roast with hints of chocolate and a touch of dark fruit. The finish is and grassy.

M: Medium in body, smooth, with wonderful carbonation.

D: Tasty and drinkable

Photo of SpecialK088
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass

Pours like a cola near the same color and carbonation leaves the same ring around the edge of the glass

Very sweet malt and grassy hope notes in the nose also has a distinct sugary sweetness almost like candy.

Flavors of rich roasted malt and some grassy/floral hops overall the booze kinda outweights all the other flavors which are very good

Medium to light body carbonation level seemed to be a little low

Not a bad beer to drink and I would like to see if some time on it would mellow the alcohol, would also like to try it alongside some other foods, like something spicy.

Photo of atsprings
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into two DFH Signature glasses shared with rtratzlaff. The beer pours a nearly opaque black with a thin diminishing head. Aroma is a nice blend of brown malts and citrus hops. The taste is a nice balance of brown malts, cocoa, citrus hops and traces of pine and caramel. The beer is medium bodied with slight alcohol presence. I'm always eager to try hoppy dark beers, but this one was a bit of a let down.

Photo of grayburn
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark reddish brown with a huge head that stays and laces very well.

The smell and taste both start with a caramelized brown sugar sweetness that is quickly and seamlessly transitioned into a pine and citrus bitterness. Very nice, the flow between elements is quite impressive in this brew.

The mouthfeel is thick, moderately carbonated, works damn well here, hides the alcohol well...these guys are freaking magicians.

I could drink this all night...well...ummmm...I could drink this for a couple of hours only to wake up the next day in a puddle of chocolate colored drool, my thumb in a glass of lukewarm water, and my jeans soaked to a deep navy; With a headache and a smile.

Photo of cokes
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shadowy dark burnt maroon (or just black when viewed from any distance) with a modest beige foam of limited retention and somewhat better lacing.
It noses of blackberries, java, XO dark rum, chocolate, ferns, seaweed, pepper, and grilled pineapple.
Intially sweet upon hitting the tongue. Caramelized apples, concord grapes, various barries, and smoked papayas. Java and char lap against the fruitiness. Some lingering sweet grape notes are soon covered in chocolate. This could easily turn into "Rasinette" given Southern Tier's propensity towards candy-flavored psuedobeers. Gratefully, it doesn't. Mostly because the hops say "fuck that". Brittle, dried herbs, dried pine needles, and dried citric peels add flavor and assertive bitterness that's harmonic with the general mien of the beer. It lingers forever with that grape/berry/fudge/smoke/roast/pine/citric melody.
Everything that arrives never seems to go away.
It's a deft medium body, toting a bit of alcoholic weight. Though, as usual, ST has done a alchemist's job in hiding the booze quotient. It's bracing intensity limits drinkability far more than it's 9% ABV does.
Fun and brutal. I couldn't see drinking a lot of this, or even very often. But this has a great deal of deviant charm.

Photo of jmz62565
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

They're not kidding when they call this a black ale,it's very dark,no light will shine thru. This has a giant tan foamy head that lasts forever and leaves great lacing. The smell is pungent with dark fruit,hops,and roasted malt. The taste is nice with a buttery roasted malt,dark fruit,chocolate,and alcohol. This is a very unique brew. The m/f is light for a high octane beer and all the flavors mix well. A very memorable beer that you really must try.

Photo of tai4ji2x
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. no date. tasted in late april/early may 2009.

dark brown with amber tint, gem clear dark ruby under the light. large, light tan head, gradually fades to constant thin layer. great lacing.

aroma: dark caramel, brown sugar and coffee note meets classic cascade and chinook citrus/pine combo, with fresh grapefruit zest and pine needles. touch of dried black cherry fruitiness. more coffee into the backend.

taste: sweetness of the *hops* comes out upfront, melding with sweet dark caramel, hint of molasses, and fruit esters, but then back to citrusy/piney hops, with bold, resinous bitterness. touch of roast and a faint coffee hint again into the finish.

medium to almost lightly syrupy body, with touch of resins towards the end. mild to moderate carbonation for some additional body and flavor lift.

interesting take on the new "black IPA" style, with slightly more roast and coffee character than you would expect from a regular IPA. perhaps tough to drink more than a pint or two though.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours darker than any IIPA I've seen. A pretty syrupy pour as well. Mahogany and cherry hues can be seen if you hold the beer in front of a strong light. A light mocha head of a finger in thickness has great cling to the glass as it recedes.

Aroma - lots of pine and grapefruit. A touch of base malts but only occasionally.

Taste - a sweet caramel grain starts out, but has no where to go. Juicy orangey hops are on it immediately, turning more bitter like grapefruit on the swallow. Breathy alcohol on the exhale, ushering in a final, drying hit of bitterness on the finish. Very flavorful, but doesn't come across as huge for the style. With warming, some malt roastiness begins to show through. Very good beer, the flavors grow more intense as the bottle progresses.

Mouthfeel - nice and full, but doesn't possess the big body I have become accustomed to for the style. Carbonation is on the zippy side, giving it both a smooth and fluffy character.

Drinkability - pretty tasty for a 9%er. The closest thing I've had to the local Double Dark IPA by Barrelhouse. Rock on, ST.

Photo of bort11
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Tall khaki head with sticky rings of lace. Color is a shocking purple/black. I honestly thought it was hyperbole that it was a black IPA. No, ST is not kidding here.

Smell is a lot maltier than a standard IPA, dark roasted malt very much like a porter. However there is still very much the citrus character of an IPA. Taste is sweet like a ruby red grapefruit with a little licorice. That doesn't sound like it would work, but it does.

Mouthfeel has a silky smooth feel with a mild carbonation. ABV is masked well. Crazy interpretation of the style.

Blipped a crazy cover of "Black Hole Sun" by Handsome Hank

Photo of Bung
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz. Fairly translucent black pour, with a whitish head. Roast malt aromas on top of some earthy pine. Taste-Roasted malt and nut like characteristics combined with some sweet malt, light pine, red fruit and citrus. Not a real heavy brew, with nice carbonation. Very drinkable, alcohol is non-existant.
Very interesting blend of IPA characteristics and porter/schwarz. One of the more unique brews out there and a good one on top of that. Just don't come in with any expectations.

Photo of ckeegan04
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black with dull ruby highlights when held up to light. Creamy, espresso like head that is light brown in color. Decent retention and leaves rings of lace.

S - Citrusy hops dominate the smell. Hints of some roasted malt mixed in as well. The aroma is defintiely dominated by the juicy citrusy smells though.

T - Initially a touch sweet with some roasty bitterness. Citrusy hoppiness quickly comes in and takes over the entire taste. The juicy bitterness carries through to the very end of the drink before the sweetness sneaks back in providing just enough balance. A very well crafted beer with the roastiness I have come to expect from India Black Ales and a big hop punch to match.

M/D - Medium to full bodied with very active carbonation. The bitterness coats the mouth and lingers. Definitely one I could sit down with for a long time.

Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 1,487 ratings.