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Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPASpecialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

167 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 167
Reviews: 81
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 8.79%
Wants: 29
Gots: 12 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Specialty Imports' specialty wine and beer import business, Midnight Sun Brewing Company brewed a very special beer--a black double IPA--to honor this Alaska company's long-term success.

This Specialty Beer Black Double IPA celebrates Specialty Imports' success in importing and distributing the world's best wines and beers to the appreciative folks in Alaska. This "Specialty Beer" brings together smooth, dark malts with intense aromatic hops to create a wonderfully balanced yet committed-to-flavor ale.

87 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-17-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 167 | Reviews: 81 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed 4.9.11

22oz bottle

A- Deep dark brown with a 1 finger tan head.

S- Smells like oats and corn.

T- Different, like slow roasted hops, or over cooked hops.

D- A bit bitter, but drinks very easy.

O- I didn't know what to expect, but I enjoyed it.

Photo of BretSikkink
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burled walnut mixture of black and brown, slight notes of ruby-orange along the edges. Head is creme brulee-toasted, tight, and leaves great lacing. Perfect so far.

As expected, espresso and chocolate notes form the backdrop for a full range of citrus and fruit notes. Solid herbal component from the Amarillo.

Midnight Sun, this is my first of your beers. I'm sad about that. This is great.

Hoppy enough to be noticeable, with lots of grapefruit and orange peel alongside the herbal notes of evergreen and mint. Wash that down with herbal tea, espresso, and a bite of dark chocolate and you've got XXX.

I thought this might have turned out a slight bit thinner than I was hoping; as it warms it reaches a nice creamy expansiveness. However, if there's any looking for improvement, that's the place.

Highly drinkable, dangerous even, and a damn fine beer. I would like more.

Photo of HopHead84
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

4/8/2011

On tap at the Olive Tree tasting room.

A: Appears deep brown, nearly black, with a frothy light brown head. Faint ruby tinge near the edges when held to light.

S: Nice moderate roast with aromatic pine notes and a dash of chocolate. Grapefruit and orange waft from the glass with each swirl. Light earthiness.

T: Smooth moderate bitterness with a nice balance between grapefruit, pine, chocolate, and roast. Nice flavor, with some noticeable booze in the roasted bitter finish. Booze lingers.

M: Medium in body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is creamy and sticky.

Overall: An enjoyable black IPA, though a bit boozy.

Photo of daveytheformer
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce into a nonc

Pours black with a slight reddish hue when held up to the light. Tan head that fades to some lacing.

Smells like roasted malt and a little bit of hops.

Tastes are very malt forward with a noticeable hop bitterness rounding out the flavor.

Mouthfeel is thin with decent carbonation.

Overall is not something I'm really into but don't hate. From what I'm aware of this is a decent representation of the style just not the best.

Photo of zeff80
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a dark, dark brown color. Opaque with a small, off-white head of bubbly foam. It left some sticky patches of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus fruits with a good roasted malt nose. It was a really great blend of strong aromas.

T - It taste of bitter piney hops with a citrus-like tartness. Good roasted maltiness is reminiscent of a big porter.

M - It was crisp, sharp and very smooth. A medium bodied ale with snappy, dry finish.

O - This is a really tasty black ale. I would love to find more of this.

Photo of Tone
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and good lacing. Smells of citrus hops, sweet malt, hint of roasted malt, and slight yeast. Fits the style of an American Black Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, slight roasted malt, strong citrus hops, hint of alcohol, and a hint of yeast. Overall, good appearance, aroma, body, and blend.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ, moving it to its appropriate locale, 3/24/11 review,

A: Pours black with a medium white head, good retention and lace.

S: Notes of roast and charcoal, noticable hops.

T: Heavy dark chocolate and light espresso initially, but the hops come in and carry the beer to the end. Well balanced with an attractive piney juicy hop flavour.

M: Medium to full-bodied, smooth, soft frothy carbonation.

D: At this point a DBIPA is looking like a hoppy imperial stout, and this is what is it in my book. If you're a fan of Yeti or Storm King you'll like this, just don't know why these MS beers have to be so expensive.

Photo of billshmeinke
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic.

A finger of pale khaki head. Very dark black with dark amber hues on the edges.

Nose bursts of citrus and stone fruit. Peaches, mangos, oranges, and even papaya as well as a nice earthiness. Not much in the way of malts on the nose very much hop driven.

Taste follows the nose ...at first. Then chocolate, bread, licorice, molasses and a touch of tar. Then papaya, mango, apricot, and a touch of orange zest finish things up.

The beer is fairly light on it's feet for such a big beer. Full booed with lots of crisp carbonation to lighten things up. Prickly alcohol spice and a bit of heat is present, but not in a bad way.

Really solid beer, one of the best black double ipa's I've tried.

Photo of Kadonny
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this as an extra from Dabecassis in a trade. Thanks David! Poured from a bomber bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A: A jet black color with a perfect one finger off white head. Full glass lacing that does receede.

S: Citric hops with some earthy and floral notes and a heavy roasted malt smell. Chocolate and some licorice. Wow!

T: Wow, this isn't a stout? Flavor starts with the citrus and earthy hops that gets quickly beaten down by the huge roasted flavors. Dark chocolate, licorice, tar and roasted malt flavors take over that remind me of a hoppy stout. Hops come back to finish out with a huge bitter finish. Again, wow.

M: Full, bitter, prickly, alcoholic and nice carbonation.

D: Pretty good but the alcohol does limit drinkability.

Overall a beer that really reminds me of a hoppy stout more than a black IPA. Storm King anyone? Still, it was really enjoyable and a wonderful beer. This is the first that a beer that was an IPA really tasted like a stout...really. Still a very nice beer that I enjoyed immensely.

Photo of tl00camaross
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured pitch black with a thin tan head and decent lacing. Piney hops dominated the smell with a light roasty character and boozyness towards the end. Taste comes across the same with hops dominating except the boozyness hits you in the middle and leads to a nice roasty aftertaste. Still suprised just how boozy this tasted even at just 8.5%, but not a total knock on it for me. Carbonation is perfect in my opinion nice and crisp like a good IPA. A pretty good beer but at $10 a bottle, I can find better offerings.

Photo of lnashsig
2.83/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to AugustGarage for the chance to taste this-however I am not a huge fan of this beer. Poured into a bourdeaux wine glass (I was at a party, they had no fitting beer glasses). Pours a silky black color, a little bit of white foam that leaves very little lacing. Smell- some citrus hops flavors, but I can smell the alcohol heat already. Taste- definite hops presence, but nothing there to counter. A real lack of malt flavor, aside from some cloying sweetness. Big alcohol heat makes this a real tough beer to drink. My biggest peeve with this beer is how badly the alcohol is masked...and its not even that big of an IPA at 8.5. Mouthfeel- this lacks carbonation to a fault. Makes this even tougher to drink. Drinkability...bad. I wasn't inspired to finish the second half of the bottle, and left it for some friends to try. I am becoming more and more skeptical of the "black IPA" style in general...is this a farce, or a true style?

Photo of GRG1313
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black carmel brown with an off-while/light khaki head.

Nose is very IPA with a fresh pineapple assertive smell that is almost strange considering the color. One expects something "roasty." Nice nose although a bit one dimensional and simple.

Mouthfeel is medium full and creamy. Rich and complex with nice balance and an "expensive, thick and rich" quality.

Flavors are big and assertive. Front palate is very much like a bitter and fruity IPA that then quickly goes to big roasted malts/grains and espresso. Layers of rich bold flavors and the big alcohol comes through with richness and without a hot character. This is a really complex and nice effort. The best of both worlds...IPA and there is a rich "roasted" quality as well.

Very long bitter espresso/grapefruit skin finish.

Photo of chickencoop
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into my kids cinderella plastic sippy cup. Huge overflowing tan head, big ass chunky bubbles. Smell was malt dominated, a smoky maltiness. Taste was more porter than ipa, but what do i know. Nice sweet mouthfeel, very drinkable and very smooth at 8.5%. I like this for a one time bomber, and if your into the black IPA's, solid. I've beeen pounding a ton of velvet merkin from firestone and this is a tad hoppier, different style, but pretty much the same. This is top notch if you can find it, ledgers/ berkeley....

Photo of OregonHopmonster
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle from By the Bottle in Vancouver, WA

Well formed light tan head with tight, compact bubbles that unfortunately do not last, although this is probably due to the high alcohol content. Label says black, but it pours more of a deep, deep ruby.

Aroma is right where it should be- plenty of piny hops and lots of roast, coffee, campfire.

Flavor presents a very good balance between the piny hop flavors and the roast flavors typical of a dry stout. For a double black IPA though I expect the hops to shine through more. Some sweet malt shines through as well, though this is not surprising again given the beer's elevated alcohol content. Considerably bitter in the finish, first from the high hopping levels and later just as much from the heavy roast character.

This just doesn't have the hop presence of the better black IPAs, but despite the 8.5% abv. it still drinks substantially like an IPA in both mouthfeel and it's crisp aftertaste.

I may have considered drinking this again, but at $10 a bottle there are much better options out there, at least in Oregon.

Photo of Ryan011235
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 2/20/11

Bottled the third week of either November or December (notched between the two)

Much appreciation to Nickd717 for the chance to try this

Medium brown color; settles dark - caramel brown at the base with crimson and ruby highlights. The head poured just shy of two fingers. Thinner layer of retention and copious amounts of ringed lace. Looks really nice.

The aroma boasts a good bit of pine and some citric notions, though the latter isn't at the fore. Some earthy hops, too. The malts take a back seat to the hops. Subtle roastiness and hints of dark bread. Pretty vibrant overall without much, if any, booze. A little coffee and cocoa as it warms.

Dry throughout, the taste is otherwise rather mercurial. Sticky, resinous pine bitterness leads off, bolstered by a mild citric juiciness. The mid-section finds roasted flavors and some toasted bread emerge. Onward still, the finish is bombarded with an intensely dry, roasted coffee/espresso flavor.

Medium-full body with some resiny intrigue. Carbonation is moderately low and is spot-on for this beer. Though it isn't at all hot, there is a undeniable warming sensation after about a third of the bottle. The finish is dry and very roasty.

What can I say? This is a freaking great CDA. It gets better with each sip. Even at a few months old this is one of the best I've had. This is also my first Midnight Sun beer; they're killing it right out of the gate. Definitely recommend. Thanks Nick!

Photo of Bubba83
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Tyranena Nonic at around 45 degrees. Thanks Bryan Brick for getting this one in at K&L.

Initial impressions are good. A rather simple label of text, but it manages to stand out. Pours into the glass in a silky fashion, body color is a very dark cola color. It's not completely opaque by any means, and clarity is good. I kinda like the fact that it's not completely black. A very nice two finger width helping of creamy smooth tan head top it off and provides good retention and excellent dispersed lacing.

A very appealing brown porter malt smell kinda switches it up for the style. Cocoa powder, cola, and toast and mild roast are accentuated by a big floral/citrus hop punch, likely from the Amarillo. A very nice contrast and seems well constructed.

Yum! Some nice cola flavor up front, but not quite that sweet. The cocoa and the roasty bits kind of bring up the rear and ramp up through the sip. Meanwhile, a beefy toasted grain character comes through and finally a big smacking of indiscriminate citrus, spruce tips, and spicy herbal quality finish things off. Complex, yet everything is working together here.

A nice silky smooth mouthfeel. The head is quite milky and the carbonation is kept in check, relatively low in-fact. Medium thickness coats well, and it finishes somewhat dry, but it's not giving me dry mouth.

A great example of a Black IPA. I like it a lot. I think keeping the roast in check really helps balance the flavors in the beer. Something about really roasty black IPAs just doesn't mesh quite right with the American hops for me. This one just hits the spot and does everything right. I'd love to put this side by side the mighty Sublimely Self-Righteous ale and see who comes out the victor.

Photo of brotherloco
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Trying to decipher the poorly placed microscopic notches on the label, this was bottled on the 3rd or 4th week of November or December, 2010.

In any case... definitely skewed more towards the black malt side than the other Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale/American Black Ales I've had.

Smell is the most balanced mix of bright citrus and sweet chocolate malt I've had in this style. They fight for your attention.

Taste isn't nearly as sweet as the nose. A dry roasty flavor is dominant, close to a porter or a stout, but with more of a hop presence. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, really like that about this beer. Finish is bitter espresso with a touch of spice and alcohol. Packs a bit of a punch that makes this less drinkable and more of a sipper.

Overall a really nice complex beer that stands out from the ones I've tried so far in this style.

Photo of veinless
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this one to kick start the super bowl festivities, and boy did it get things going. Appeared jet black, with a nice grayish head that was not ample, but certainly held its own. No tinges of color on the sides, even when held in the light. Lacing was phenomenal - this one was a great looking beer.

Smell was of roasted malt, toasted grain, coffee, and some non-specific hop bitterness. It was crisp while still being full bodied in terms of aroma, although the lack of a specific hop smell was a bit off-putting.

Taste more than made up for that though, with an awesome combination of strong roasted coffee and a clean hop bitter body. Toasted grain and dark chocolate fight an ongoing battle with an awesome leafy, earthy bitterness that doesn't quit. Finish is a fantastic blend of black coffee and hops, both of which end bitter, that leaves your mouth semi-parched and aching for more.

Really a fantastic, chewy beer in terms of texture, and coated the palate like a champ. Drinkability was great too, as you couldn't taste the abv at all, and each sip led you to want that next one. Finest beer I've had thus far from Midnight Sun, and that's saying something.

Photo of augustgarage
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Seal brown, very dark but clear I think, with very faint auburn highlights. A thin cap of buff foam recedes to a lasting collar and thin slick. Average retention. Decent lacing.

Fresh hearty C-hops in the nose; earthy temperate-rain-forest-floor notes; a bit of citrus; vague smoke and black malt.

Cocoa powder, chocolate malt, light coffee, darkly toasted almonds...just a hint of char - leading into the bitterness from hops followed by a bit of citrus and a sharper pine note. The malt dominates, but the interplay between acrid and hoppy notes is unusual and interesting. Finishes dry and moderately astringent.

Medium-light bodied, low but sufficient carbonation, gently warming with a lingering smokey aftertaste that seems to cling to the palate.

Perhaps a bit too much specialty malt in here...lowering the drinkability a touch. More a hop-forward porter than anything else...

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a pitch black color with good carbonation and a dirty white cap

S: Cocoa, coffee and some citrus

T: This beer is pretty sturdy. Plenty pf black malt here, the citrus and pine come in about halfway to the very end. Some cocoa, coffee, roasted notes are present throughout

M: Well carbonated, nice amount of booze and hop bittering

D:Very good

Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a super-dense mahogany, near to opaque. Pours thick and syrupy, so I'm guessing this is a sweet beer. A short finger of head pogos up, then right back down. Sticky lacing, all things considered. Aromas are a tad faint and reminiscient of a porter, more than an IPA. I get some overripe pineapple notes in the far back of this. I reckon it's an IPA because of that. I get roasted malt and a hint of espresso more than anything else. Sort of "mehh" thus far. Flavor is very robust. I get some porter and some IPA notes. I guess that's what is meant by a black IPA - it's a melding of the two styles. A lot of chocolate and coffee finish off this ale's flavor profile. This has a very creamy texture, almost like thick hot chocolate. As this ale warms up, it gets better. I am leaning more towards stout world as it warms. Very interesting. The one thing I'm not getting a lot of, or either it's masked by the roasted malt, is hop bitterness. Sure, this beer is bitter, but it comes off as a malt bitterness akin to a heavy stout rather than typical Left COast DIPA hop bitterness. Interesting and unique beer, but I'm not sure fans of IPAs will be stoked. This is more for Porter and stout drinkers. Price tag is hefty at $10.49/bomber. 8.5% ABV is warming and well masked. OK, but the price causes this bomber to drift into "not worth it" territory.

What I like most: The unique and robustly malty flavor profile.

What I like least: The decided lack of IPA typical qualities.

Verdict: Good and unique, wirth trying, but not worth the big price tag.

Edit: This beer got very good as it warmed up...really a lot more expressive and nuanced. The hop resins are now very apparent. Much better at cellar or even room temp (in Winter, of course)...

Photo of dragonWhale
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

had the opportunity to have this quite a few times this summer. a beautiful beer.
black, smelling divine, little bit of roast and piney hops. slight citrus.
flavor is big, big hops dominating with mostly pine, some citrus, the roasted edge on the sweet malt is in nice alignment with the hops. bit of chocolate. medium bodied, very drinkable. one of my favorites for the style.

Photo of sholland119
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Brouwers' Hopfest, 9/10/10.

A-Pours black as night, deeply opaque with a frothy mocha head and some good lacing.

S-Caramel malt, good roast and a hint of sweetness.

T-Mild roastiness in the front with sweet caramel and chocolate malts. Also a bit metallic in the finish with some earthy hop bite.

M-Medium bodied, a nit slick.

D-Nice at first but the metallic flavors become more prominent as the beer warms.

HV

Photo of womencantsail
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Bobby for providing this tick.

A: The pour is a dark brown color featuring a substantial amount of reddish hue, with a thin layer of tan foam.

S: The nose is not all that much like other Black (D)IPAs I've come across. Fairly roasty with a bit of coffee, dark chocolate, and smoke. The hops are rather woody, and not the usual resinous piney sort.

T: Again, this beer leans more towards the "black" part of the name rather than the IPA. Soft roast notes along with some coffee and hints of smoke. The hops are subtle, providing a bit of bitterness and citrus flavor.

M: The body is slightly watery with a moderate level of carbonation.

D: This was a total miss for me. I usually enjoy this style and Midnight Sun has made some pretty nice beers, but I can't say this is one of them.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Sometimes XXX just means 30."

--label

Pumpernickel brown with slim cherry and orange accents along the edges. It isn't a black hole, nor should it be, but the beer is definitely opaque. The cappuccino colored whipped creamy crown looks great, lasts, and lays down lovely looking lace. We have ourselves a looker.

This is exactly how a black DIPA should smell. The bottom end is anchored by roasted-chocolate malt and the top end features the fantastic citrus fruitiness of Amarillo and Columbus hops. Excellent choices all around.

XXX Black Double IPA is very well-crafted ale that is a perfect combination of two of my favorite styles, DIPA and American double stout. Kudos to Midnight Sun for getting the proportions of malt and hops just right. Seven months in the bottle have undoubtedly tamed the lupulins to some extent, but this is still impressively hop-soaked beer.

Specifics include bittersweet chocolate, a small splash of cold coffee, black tea leaves, loads of orange and grapefruit zest, and a handful of spruce tips. Any more or less of <anything> and XXX wouldn't be as good. If big hops scare you (hey, that's crazy talk!) then wait until the winter snows fly before cracking the crown.

Body/mouthfeel is the only place where there's even a slight chink in the armor. Even then, warming firms things up and smooths them out in wonderful fashion. In the end, this score just does manage to keep pace with all the others.

Midnight Sun delivers the big beer goods much, much more often than not. If there are any American craft brewers looking to venture into Black DIPA territory, they need look no further than XXX Black Double IPA for the blueprint. Thanks to sprucetip for yet another fantastic beer from one of this country's finest breweries.

Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 167 ratings.