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Back In Black - 21st Amendment Brewery

Not Rated.
Back In BlackBack In Black

Educational use only; do not reuse.

677 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 677
Hads: 2,211
Avg: 3.67
pDev: 24.25%
Wants: 50
Gots: 306 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
21st Amendment Brewery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  6.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: tpd975 on 11-23-2008

ABV varies around 7%.
65 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Back In Black Alström Bros
Reviews: 677 | Hads: 2,211
Photo of Teleweizen2
3.13/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - lives up to its style. Black in color, completely opaque. Big three fingers worth of very light tan head that looks like dirty snow.

S - hops and malt seem balanced. Overall aroma is slightly dank. Citrus resiny hops. Bitter sweet dark chocolate and a roasty coffee undertone.

T - slight malty sweetness. Piney hops in the middle along with some coffee roastyness. Dry finish.

M - thin. A little watery. Mild carbonation.

D - decent ale. Black IPA, American black ale, whatever you want to call it, it fit its style guidelines and was easy drinking but not something I'd probably seek out again.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.12/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Very rich dark chocolate brown with a one-finger tan head that last and deposits a fair amount of lacing. Just a hint of light transmission through the bottom of the glass.

S - Wonderful balance of toasted malts and earth-tone hops. Not much past that.

T - Starts out promising but then develops a tinny/sour flavor rather quickly. From what I can tell the beer has a nice malty flavor but not a very good hop presence due to the sour off-taste.

M/D - Medium to light body with a semi-sweet aftertaste. Low ABV not present. Smooth/creamy on the palate but the drinkability is low due to the strange sour off-flavor.

Beer had promise coming out of the can but fell on it's face when it hit the palate.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.12/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter on 7/21/10

Dark scorched brown settles black. The head is just shy of two fingers & rather billowy. It drops in a modest amount of time with nice swaths of lace left behind. Ok retention, hardly any lace.

Smells like a hoppy Porter to me. Roasted notes abound - dark malts & hint of coffee. Maybe a spot of baker's chocolate. The roastiness is the focal point, intentional or not. Still, the hop profile seems decent. Piney with some citric aromas, grapefruit & lemon zest.

Hmm, the aroma set the stage for the taste. Hoppy Porter, indeed. Moderate hop bitterness upfront. Muddled citrus & pine give way to plentiful dry, roasted flavors. Quite similar to the nose - dark malts, coffee. Maybe not the chocolate. Not bad, but kind of messy, overall.

Rather full bodied. Moderate carbonation; close to spot on. Slightly resinous with a mild grittiness. Roasted residuals. Standard fare.

Seems more like a hoppy porter than a Cascadian Dark Ale. It's definitely a hoppy Porter, though it's pretty decent. Nothing spectacular though. I'll just stick with Edmund Fitzgerald.

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Photo of herman77
3.11/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Near black, about a shade away, with a moderate light tan, foamy head. Good retention and good wispy lacing.

S: Lightly roasted and pale malts. Some breadiness. Hops are barely detectable, what is there is a little pine and a little citrus. I do get a little bit of putty like smell. Silly putty like?

T: Light roasted malts, pale malts again, like in a pale ale. Grapefruit and earthy pine hops come after the maltiness to provide a nice balance. Its pretty much backwards from traditional balanced IPAs, malty to hoppy. Finishes with some roasted acidic malt qualities and coffee bitterness. Something about it is a little off in the malt profile, I pick up that odd putty/plastic again, just like in the nose.

M: Medium to light body. Moderate carbonation. Feels a little smooth, more like a porter.

D: Not bad, but not good, just... average.

Not feeling any of the 21st Amendment beers I've had so far.

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Photo of Zraly
3.11/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with tan head. Decent head that loses itself quickly, although some nice lacing to follow.

I've had this on tap before and recall being a bit more impressed with it. There is an odd taste that I cannot place. There are on and off moments were there is almost a hint of mint lingering around somewhere. Or there is something funky going on in those cans (I normally find canned beers of this sort to be of tighter quality). There is a bizarre "candy" note at the top and I wasn't expecting that. Besides the oddness, there are definitely notes of roasted malts and a decent amount of hop bitterness in the finish. It's fairly smooth and is drinkable -- I just wish I could identify with it better.

I do like it but think it is a bit odd for a Black IPA. A good burger with lots of fresh toppings will compensate for the oddness.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.11/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This is my second foray into the world of 21st Ammendment beers. I was excited to try this one in addition to the regular IPA these guys offer.

Looks great. Large, stark white head with plenty of lacing. Opaque, purplr chocolate in color with some dark chocolate highlights.

Aroma was okay. I definitely got some citrus type hops with a little bit of pine too. I didnt, however, get much of the roastiness that should be there, seeing as this is a black IPA.

Flavor was a bit off. A bit of sourness with a large metallic presence. The hop bitterness shines through but doesnt do much in the way of adding value to the beer.

The beer, although topped with a large head, was flat and dry and watery and very unremarkable on the tongue. The mouthfeel was the worst thing about the beer and was the final turn-off for me.

Wasnt please with this one. It looked great in the glass but fell apart upon tasting. Both of the 21st Ammendment beers were big misses for me.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #43 (Aug 2010):

You know a beer style has made it when it has been canned. This beer has excellent lacing but is not as black as expected. It has a sweet, hoppy resin and malt sweetness in the nose. It's very smooth, with a faint roasted maltiness and some char when the beer lingers on the palate. The hops are doing their job, but the malt just lets go. This brew has a semidry finish with some faint roast and hop bitterness flavors to deal with. It seems a bit confused. Perhaps the contract brewer lost touch with the end goal here? It's decent at best, though a good pick if cans are your only option.

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Photo of jmarklan
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a can into a pint glass.

A: Pours a thin black that shines red when held up to the light. Very dense head, excellent retention and lacing.

S: Grapefruit and slight pineapple from the hops are well balanced by cocoa malts.

T: Very slight citric hoppiness up front leads into roasty but mellow dark malts, chocolate and grain. Slight hop bitterness in the finish. Neither the hops or the malts assert themselves very much at all.

M: Very smooth, not very much carbonation. Light/ medium body, slightly watery.

Overall: Not nearly as hop-forward as a black ale should be. It seems more like a watered down version of a russian imperial stout. Not a bad brew but not one i would try again.

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Photo of beermanbrian
3.09/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice black color with some faint brown hues around the edge. Big frothy root beer float looking head that leaves sticky lace. Smell of toasty black malt. Taste is sweet up front with a font smoothness to the finish. Sweetness is somewhat unbalanced and overpowering. Overall an ok brew and the cans are convienent but lacks much of a punch. Somewhat dissapointing.

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Photo of doughanson78
3.08/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz can poured into a pint glass.

A: Super dark black. A tad bit of light getting through at the edges. One finger light tan head with decent retention and good lacing.

S: Very floral hop aroma. Almost like incense. Not much else.

T: Very flowery. Again like an incense. Not digging it at all.

M: Light bodied. Slightly dry. Light crispness.

O: Have had this a few times now. Haven't cared for it any of the times.

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Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Jet black pour into a Brooklyn Pils glass with a slight fizzy cap that quickly deteriorates. Sweet malt aroma, a surprise after having read the label "Black IPA". Bitter first sip. Not citrusy, not piney, more astringent than anything else. I cannot get a bead on any hop character, just a bitter flavor. The bitterness dissipates and gets overwhelmed by candy sweetness, which is just inconsistent with the style attempt. The fizzy thin mouth feel finishes a pretty unpleasant drinking experience. Good thing that I bought the can as a single. Don't think I'll be going back for this one. I have not had great experience with 21st Amend. but I really enjoyed their Fire Side Chat and Monks Blood. Those two successes will keep me trying their new projects in the future; this effort was simply not their finest effort.

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Photo of tbraun1
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz can served in pint glass

A - Deep brown color with some ruby hints when brought up to the light. Tan, two fingered head with nice lacing retention.

S - Roasted/smoky malts; Chocolate essence with some hop spice

T - The hops are there but the malts confuse the flavor. I think this one has an identity crisis in terms of the dominant style/flavor. Somewhat bitter.

M - Somewhat watery body with a bitter/dry finish.

D - I went out on a limb when I got this one, and I think one was enough.

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Photo of JerseyKirk
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours pitch black with a 2 finger slightly darker white head. Looks like a stout. Surprising and interesting. Lacing is excellent.

S: Pine, cat pee with a little bit of citrus, coffee and chocolate.

T: Super piney hop flavor. Odd after taste that I can't place a flavor on.

M: Nicely carbonated and full bodied.

O: It's not a good ipa. I don't know if black ipa's are supposed to have a slight roastiness or not but I so get a little bit of a coffeeish vibe. IDK it's something different just not all that great. Everything seems forced and unbalanced.

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Photo of jmich24
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first "Black IPA" Poured into a Duvel Tulip.

A: Big two finger light tan head. Very dark brown color, almost Black. Nice sticky lacing.
S: Big roasted malt up front. Touch of sweetness, not much hop at the nose.
T: Big roasted malt again. This might be an old can because I am still not getting a whole lot of hops. Earthy bitterness to finish. If I didnt know any better I would assume this is a Stout.
M: Mouthfeel does not resemble a stout... Thin and watery.
D: This is just okay. I will finish the 12 oz can but do not want another.

Would like to re-review fresh on tap... Until then this was pretty bad.

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Photo of SnacksMcBillings
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz can into snifter glass.

Aroma: Strong alcoholic smell. Mostly piney and spicy hop aroma. Hint of light caramel malts. Hop volatiles fade quicky as it warms. No esters.

Appearance: Light tan head, fades quickly. Deep brown color, almost black. Looks like a CDA.

Flavor: Initial caramel like sweetness, that faded as it warmed. Hints of roast malt appear as it warms. Alcoholic taste. Strong hop bitterness and spicy hop flavor.

Body: Light IPA like body. Medium-high carbonation. Prickly mouthfeel. Dry finish.

Overall: A hoppy drinkable beer. Mouthfeel and appearance is right on but flavor and aroma are lacking. Malt profile is one-dimensional. Higher dry-hopping levels could help aroma. Pitching more yeast and/or reducing fermentation temps could help with the alcohol thing.

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Photo of SuperSpy
3.05/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very dark brown with a very clingy, off-white head. It looks promising, but not as dark as I was expecting for a "black" ale.

There is some sweet malt and floral hops in the nose but it is very, faint.

Very smooth and medium bodied, but a touch lighter than I expected from the looks of the beer. The flavor has a faint roasted character but it quickly gives way to the earthy, bitter hops that carry the flavor into a semi-dry finish. A decent beer, but not a medal winner.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.03/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Enjoyed on tap at Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington, DE. Poured into a simple pint glass. Interesting side note: heard the server actually say, "Good. Someone ordered that, we need to get rid of that keg." Not a good start.

A: Pours a deep, rich deep brown color. Not completely black, but more of a cola color. Minimal head that faded quickly. Off white head. Good lacing.

S: Mild hop aroma, but not much. More malty. Stout-ish smells....a bad stout that is.

T: I got mostly malts. Not the hops that I was expecting from an IPA. Not crazy hoppy at all. Unimpressed.

M: Not mouth coating. Surprisingly watery?

D: Easy drinking but would I want another....that would be a no.

Overall, disappointing brew. All around. Sorry 21st Amendment, probably won't try others from you line.

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Photo of Bfarr
3.02/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Black with little hints of red with big foamy brown head with good though very uneven retention and lacing. Aroma is lightly hoppy with some roasted malts and something a little sour. Interesting blended taste at first matching the aroma. However, ths sour is light at first but eventually takes over. Mouthfeel is thin and a little tacky with moderate to low carbonation.

An intriguing take on a black IPA but the hops were not as present as Is usual and the sour taste dominated the palate to produce a balanced yet offstyle beer. Worth giving a try if you like sour beer but not to my liking for a black IPA.

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Photo of samie85
3.01/5  rDev -18%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A-Pours a pitch black color two and a half fingers of thick, stout-like head that leaves thick, sticky lacing behind.

S-The nose is very fragrant and floral with some tropical pineapple with some pine and grapefruit.

T-Slightly bitter pineapple and pine with a little orange, some chocolate and a tiny bit of roast.

M-The body is pretty light with low amounts of carbonation and a slightly sticky feel.

D-Drinkabiity is high but the mouth is a little watery and the falvor profile is a little underwhelming.

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Photo of gkunkle
3.01/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep brown to black color with a one finger tan head that is very dense and had good retention. Smell is of grassy hops ad a touch of chocolate malt. Taste is disappointing, I get a bit of raisin or something in the beginning, and a touch of chocolate malt, but no hop presence. Overall, pretty watery taste. The mouthfeel is medium, but the carbonation is lacking. Overall, I've had much better CDAs and I expected a better showing from 21A.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a sampler glass at a beer festival. From notes: Aroma: Very interesting--roasted chocolate and caramel malts, but with floral hops underneath. Lots of things happening in the nose of this one. Appearance: Clear black with a thick tan head that dissipated too quickly. Taste: Medium-heavy sweetness with a light bitterness in the finish. Palate: Medium body, slick texture, average carbonation, with a decent finish. Overall: It's drinkable, and it's not something I'd snub my noise at were it served to me at a party, but I'm not overly blown away by this beer.

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Photo of coachdonovan
2.99/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hmmm, is this really black? No, not quite. When I hold it up to the sunlight (yes, I'm drinking this afternoon) it looks more like a reddish brown, but still very dark. Khaki head carries enough weight that this beer actually overflowed my shaker glass. Damn, and I'm usually such a good pourer. The foam is nice and fluffy as pockets settle over the course of a few minutes.

Aroma is cleaner than I'd like. The citrusy and piney hops are there, but they don't exactly punch me in the nose. Taste is dominated by this fruity, soapy flavor that I can't quite nail down. Actually, it is less fruity and more leafy, green, astringent, almost metallic. I don't know that I've tasted it before, and I'm not entirely sure it's supposed to be there. Finish is fairly dry as the roasted dark malts come to the forefront.

I would really like to dry this from the tap in SF to see if those odd flavors are always present. Something tells me this one got a little lost in translation on its way to the contract brewer's cannery.

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Photo of birderbeerer
2.99/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours dark black with a four finger coffee head.

Aroma is some piney hops with a big cloyingly sweet malt jolt. Interesting.

Multiple tastes come through in phases. The malts overcome the hops with only a slight bitter sharp edge. Flavors resemble stout, brown ale, a low hop ipa, and even lager. Strange. The waves of flavor pass too quickly to hang on or enjoy them. Seems like it was brewed as a crap shoot beer. Throw a bunch of ingredients in and see how they interact.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
2.99/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: deep, deep copper color, clear with nice ruby tan head
S: full nose, good roasted malt with perfumy hops
T: Back in Black has a good roasted malt character but the hops are too medicinal
M: nice roasted up front but too unbalanced with medicinal hops

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Photo of MbpBugeye
2.99/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Can into a Perfect Pint.

I didn't think I poured too hard, but I guess I was wrong. Most of this beer flashed into a very fine froth as soon as it rolled into the glass. It doesn't strike me as infected or anything, just over carbonated. The beer is a dark root beer color on the pour, collecting near black.

For being a 21st Amendment beer there is a surprising lack of aluminum and a hopeful level of hops. Spicy pine and citrus hops. There's not a whole lot of roasted stuff, but there is a lot of black pepper.

The flavor is actually pretty nice, it just falls very flat, very quickly. Things start with sweet citrus and some spiciness, but suddenly all flavors are gone. Its weird. The finish is sweet and almost grape-like.

Carbonation isn't as scary as it was on the pour, which is a relief. Its still prickly, however. The body is about medium.

I'd say this isn't too bad, especially as compared to the other 12A beers I've had. I'd drink this again in a pinch, I suppose.

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Back In Black from 21st Amendment Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 677 ratings.