Back In Black - 21st Amendment Brewery

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Back In BlackBack In Black

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677 Reviews

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Reviews: 677
Hads: 2,212
Avg: 3.67
pDev: 24.25%
Wants: 50
Gots: 307 | 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
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Reviews: 677 | Hads: 2,212
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I love the artwork on this can. A Paul Revere figure in period garb riding a motorcycle instead of a horse.

Pours a semi-opaque dark crimson brown with a 1 inch beige head that lasts. Good distinct rings of lace adorn the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark roasted malts and floral/citrus hops. There is also a very faint smell of watered down coffee. Taste follows the smell and is of roasted malts, slight coffee, and citrus zest hops. Mild hop bitterness on the palate after each sip. The beer is lightly carbonated and goes down smoothly. Overall, a good beer in the black IPA style but nothing mind blowing.

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Photo of metter98
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear very dark brownish amber in color. It poured with a thin beige head that quickly died down into persistent lacy patterns. There is a light amount of carbonation visible from the rising bubbles.
S: There are aromas of piney hops and roasted malts in the nose along with some hints of coffee.
T: The beer has a very good balance between the flavors of hops and malts and only has a mild amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a slight amount of dryness.
D: The beer is very easy to drink because the alcohol is well masked.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

i agree with the criticism of others here in that this might not be quite hoppy enough to fit the black ipa bill, but i dont think thats as big a negative here as it has been deemed to be by the masses. as a porter, even a hoppy one, i think it excels. nice dark look to it, not real thick, but quite impenetrable to light, and holding its head well. nose is a hint of pine hops, maybe cascade or centennial, something similar, there isnt any of that oily sweet hop resin that maybe people were looking for. in the taste, there is a really nice dryness, one rich with cocoa powder notes from the malt, and pleasant bitterness from the roasted barley and the hops in communion. the body is medium but not heavy, fluffy and well carbonated enough to drink quite a bit of it, but you have to drink it fast, it warms up not so well, with a tannic sharpness coming out of nowhere. well built beer, lighter on the hops than many, but is serves its purpose well in my book, i really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This poured out as a nice black looking brew, the head was tan in color and leaves a little bit of lacing behind. The smell of the beer was hoppy and had plenty of roasted malt aromas in there too. The taste of the beer kinda of fell off the radar for me... The hops that were used or the malts they used seems to be a little on the gross side in my opinion. Whatever it was, I felt like it just wasn't working for me. The mouthfeel of the beer was pretty good, but still nothing special really. Overall this brew had a good look, but flavor wise it just wasn't for me.

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Photo of brentk56
3.31/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a coffee color capped by a very impressive head that grows craggy but sticks a lot of lacing around

Smell: There is a piney, floral character but the malts dominate, bringing black bread and ash

Taste: Black bread, up front, bringing char and roast; by mid-palate, a bit of pine develops and, while it lingers into the finish, the malty muddle dominates

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Without a strong hop profile, this beer doesn't come near what I am looking for in an ABA, particularly since I didn't particularly like the indistinctly flavored malt bill, either

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sinister in its darkness, there's really no telling to its hoppy secrets within. Porterlike to the eye, its not until the nose gets close that the senses are taken back by the IPA that lurks beneath.

21st Amendment's "black" IPA engulfs the olfactory senses with resinous notes of spruce, torn pinecone, and sharply aromatic grasses. As the mocha malt flavors attempt to balance the beer, early taste of burnt citrus come to rescue the early palate.

As the tandem of piquant citrus and herbal, earthen bouquet remain front and center, the malt doesn't give up so easy. Those toasty, chocolaty, coffee flavors carry enough sweetness to suggest porter. And the body does similar with a velvety center that attempts to seduce the palate. Yet those dominant hops win out as the ale trends drier and drier heading into finish.

Its deeply resinous bittering closes out the session with a sticky dryness that only highly hopped ale can give. It easily out-duels the malt sweetness and relies on its persistent char to not only meet the intensity of bitterness but intensifies it with its own coffeelike bitterness and roast-derived astringency.

The fear for any brewer with this up-and-coming style to to make an IPA first and allow the dark grain to complement. But most attempts carelessly revert to simply a hoppy porter. Riding that line dangerously close, Back In Black edges out the porter and sides with IPA, but only slightly.

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Photo of emerge077
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$1.95 can from Big Sur Deli. Poured into a stemless wine glass on the front porch.

Khaki tan foam, sticky with larger bubbles that are slow to fade. Plenty of lace is left on the glass too. Retention is pretty good, an unbroken skim is still across the surface. Black with chestnut brown edges.

When the can was first cracked there was a whiff of fresh green hop pungency, but after sitting in the glass for five minutes, it seems to have faded, leaving a noseful of earthy roast.

More roasty porter notes in the flavor, a little bit of pine and citrus intertwined in there also. Dry with a moderately bitter finish. Light green hop aftertaste lingers. Pretty easy drinking, not bad.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Inspired by Paul Revere's midnight ride, we rebelled against the British style IPA, embraced the more aggressive American version and then recast it in bold, brave, defiant black."

--21st Amendment website

The hue is more dark walnut with burnt orange edges than bold, brave, defiant black. Almost half the glass is currently filled with a lovely looking crown of caramel nougat colored foam that has an impressively bubbly surface. Lace is both extensive and attractive.

Back In Black smells like a black IPA... or a Cascadian dark ale... or an American black ale... or whatever the hell we're calling them this week. There are equal contributions from medium-dark malts and citrusy American hops: Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe.

The flavor score, although identical to the two above it, is the weakest one yet. The first half of each mouthful is wonderful. It's in the second half that a somewhat puckery lemon juiciness comes out to play. There are enough other flavors to keep it in control, but still.

The malts are mostly dark caramel-like with a contribution from bittersweet chocolate. Top notes include lemon and pink grapefruit with a small splash of pineapple juice. Sorry, but the taste score isn't able to hang in there and the drinkability score follows it right down to 3.5. Time and warming did nothing to help the cause.

The mouthfeel is just big enough and gains an enjoyable smoothness by the middle of the can. The bubbles could be better integrated, but they aren't bad, all things considered.

21st Amendment's Back In Black is not a raucous, rowdy, rock-and-rollin' roof-raiser that would do the AC/DC song of the same name proud. It's a black IPA that is a little bit too fruit juicy to compete with the best versions of this style.

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a one finger, tan head of foam. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of citrus, pine and roasted malts.

T - It tasted of citrus, pine and strong roasted malt with some sweet toffee and chocolate.

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

O - This is a very good black ale. 21st Amendment continues to make great canned beer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

black as night opaque liquid. You could tell it was not that thick though as there was some light getting through on the sides and bottom. A nice off white head formed on the top, maybe about two inches in height. Sticky and foamy it gradually relented and rested back down to about a half inch layer across the top and this hung around for the rest of the session.

pine aromas, Almost ripping the nose apart, very good indeed. Now there was some underlying roasted malts in there as well. Now to be honest this was nothing extraordinary, nothing really new, and nothing really absurd Somewhat sweet in the finish at first, but that lasts for all of about two seconds before your lips stick to your teeth and the dry bitterness kicked in. mix of the hops was actually quite nice as it really wasn’t tearing up your mouth as much as one woudld think. There was definitely a touch of malt in there, especially after it warmed up a bit as a subtle sweetness, and earthy type of flavor started to work its way it.
Lots of carbonation which always helps in these situations, now the other side to this was that it was jet black.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at 21A

A: The pour is reminiscent of cola in terms of the color with a dense off-white head and some spots of lacing.

S: The nose is primarily of roasted malts and bitter-sweet chocolate. A moderate citrus hop aroma of grapefruit and orange peels. Not quite as hoppy as your usual black IPA.

T: The hop character is mild, especially in terms of the bitterness. Fairly sweet and chocolatey with a decent grapefruit flesh and peel flavor, though.

M: The body is medium with a moderate to high level of carbonation.

D: Not exactly what you think of in terms of the black IPA, but still a good beer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 ounce pint - $5.50 at Taco Mac in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Slowly served up on a busy Saturday night a clearish, very, very dark brown body with a slim, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma smelling of bitter cocoa bars, Maxwell House ground coffee, grapefruit, yellow pine, and light caramel wrapped up with an earthy character.

Taste: An initial rush of roastiness, followed by an expanse of pale malts, more than anticipated. Of the various malt tastes, bittersweet chocolate leads, with lesser tastes of simple coffee and caramel trailing behind. Blend of citrusy, piney hops deliver a moderate amount of bitterness. Maybe a small hint of herbs lurking in there as well. Then, the taste rolls back towards the dark malts, leaving you with a close tasting of chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's black, it's bitter, but the hop profile, while certainly present, wasn't (thankfully) abrasive and as such, it kind of reminded me of Avery's New World Porter.

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Photo of nickfl
3.79/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pours with a one finger head of light tan foam on top of a black body with a little but of amber light showing through at the bottom of the glass. The hwad settles slowly and leaves thick lace.

S - Rich caramel malt with a spicy, perfumw like note that reminds me of apples and cinnamon. Minor fruit and pine hops in the background.

T - Dark carmel and toffee malt at first with some light pine hops. Darker roast character comes in towards the middle and there is a bit more licorice here as well. The beer finishes with lots of red apple yeast and some pine and orange hops as well as moderate bitterness to balance all the sugary character.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - it is a pretty nice beer overall, right the aroma seems a but off. I get some strange fruit amf spice notes in the aroma that just seem out of place. This throws off the flavor at first as well, but it recovers in the middle and develops into a nice example of the style. Definitely a drinkable beer, this seems like one of the ones that is a but better when you don't think about it too much.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Another decision made for me by my boy Mike in IL, with Jethro Tull's "Windup" rockin' in the background. It pours a barely transulcent, very dark ruby brown topped by a steadfast finger of ecru foam. The nose is odd, kinda like a ruby red grapefruit drizzled with lemon juice. Some orange slices and pine sap find their way in there as well, and I assume that's some light caramel that's trying to evade me in the back. Honestly, this smells kinda weird. Hard to explain, just doesn't seem quite right. The taste is pretty hop-forward, with plenty o' citrus hops flying at me, grapefruit, orange, and lime flavors resulting. Instead of straight caramel, though, some light roasted malts make their way into town, blowin' in like the fools who always fuck with Clint Eastwood (much to their ultimate dismay). The two competing sides continue fighting throughout the tasting, making for quite a pleasant feel, all while Chubby Checker's "Limbo Rock" makes me wanna dance a little. Still, something's missing, leaving me ultimately unsatisfied as a whole. The body is a heavy light, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly creamy feel. Overall, a nice BIPA (or CDA, whichever you prefer), definitely worth a taste.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rich and smooth, 21st Amendment packs the strength of an IPA (6.8% alc./vol.), all of the bitterness (65 IBU's), and quite a bit of hop flavor and aroma (65 IBU's) into one really nicely balanced, chocolatey/roasty ale.

It displays a deep mahogany brown body that appears almost black in the glass beneath a creamy head of khaki. The head holds quite well, and it leaves sheets of spotted and craggy splashed walls of lace behind.

The aroma is leafy, citrusy, and floral over a base malt of dark caramel and chocolate.

In the mouth it's medium bodied and creamy with a zest of carbonation on the tongue.

The flavor delivers a combination of citrusy, floral, grassy, and leafy hops upfront atop a gently roasty and darkly caramelish malt that warms to become more chocolatey across the middle. The hops also become a bit more spicy. It finishes with a drop of dark milk chocolate rising, but that's then quickly dried as the hops become more spicy and piney.

As to drinkability, I think it's quite accessible. If you've enjoyed a strong porter and you enjoy hops, this has got you covered. It could probably be more focused, but it's still very nicely done.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz can into a tulip glass.

Pours black with 2 fingers of stiff lighter mocha colored head. Swirling gets this up to a rich frothy near finger that leaves a sticky latticework of lace back. Hops mostly control the aroma, being floral and a bit dank, with some peppery spice and green citrus coming out. There is an underlying layer of smokey roast present as well, which has a touch of an acrid tinge to it that is bordering on metallic smelling at times. Hmmm...

The taste is chocolate and some sweeter caramel up front, with bitter fruit and earth filling out the middle portion of the profile, while some deeply lingering roast pulls up the back. I'm once again picking up just the tiniest bit of a sour acrid bite in the finish that has some metallic tasting elements to it. Not necessarily horrible or anything but it is noticable. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with an overall creamy and bubbly feel to the carbonation. This is maybe a bit too creamy though, as it feels pretty light in the body in spots. I will say that the alcohol is deceptively hid though which helps out with the drinkable nature of this.

This was decent enough I guess but I've certainly had better Black IPAs recently. Probably the lack of body hurt this the most but a little more depth to the flavors would have been welcome as well. I think one can here was good enough for me.

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Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Because eveyone likes it in the can. Tasty cracked cans." as Niko likes to say. Another one from 21st A, which I've loved most of their beers so far. Here's another in the pipeline.

A: Wow, with a can I'm forced to pour somewhat aggressively and it comes out with a huge head that forces me to stop pouring, with a 50% head to beer ratio, which is fluffy and bubbly and fades semi slowly with a lot of lacing. The beer is a very dark brown, dark raisin brown with hints of light coming through around the edges showing that is it potentially clear.

N: An interesting blend of malts and hops. It has an earthy bitter hop aroma, more like an English bitter almost but adds the American spicy and piny hop aromas with that. There is also a darker malty aroma, with some crystal malts and slight chewy malt aspect.

T: Taste comes on just as strong, with lots of varying flavors. It actually starts with a slight citrus flavor, juicy hops and even juicy malts. Some darker malts and chewy malts line the backbone, with a slight sweetness and even a little sugary flavor. There is a nice bitterness that doesn't overpower, just adds the nice hit. Some spicy and earthy hops make their presence known, but not as much as the aroma. A slight caramel malt flavor starts to shine through later on the taste.

M: Medium body, slightly creamy too (creamy, really?), with tons of carbonation.

F: Still pretty bitter as it finishes. Some grassy hops come out at this point, and bring more slight citrus and pine but very light. A slight sticky syrupy finish but no real sweetness as it dries to a somewhat dry finish. Some lingering earthy and spicy hop pellet flavors, with late hop addition flavors. Not bad for a black IPA, doesn't go overboard in any category, and is pretty clean and tasty. Going on trips with this would be great, cause taking it in the can always works better.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.45/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color with a large off-white head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains floral hops, coffee, dark roasted malts and some citrus.

T: The taste starts with a strong but not over-powering burst of hops bitterness that is quickly followed by flavors of black coffee and a little bit of citrus fruit. The roasted malt character is hearty but not too heavy and brings a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very nice beer worth drinking for a long time.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this my last trip down to Maryland (haven't seen it around CT yet). Really liking this new hybrid style, the hoppiness of IPA's combined with tasty dark malts. Pours a deep mahogany color, nice cream colored fluffy head do it. Nice roasty aroma, taste is bitter and hoppy but nicely balanced by some caramel tasting malts. Great beer, would definitely purchase again and hope this style keeps growing and growing.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I appreciated tenderbranson69 sharing this can with me -poured chilled into a tulip.

A - A black as night opaque liquid w/ rocky light tan cap and frothy lace pattern that sticks well, the bead is tiny

S - The arom has a lot of pine from the hopping w/ a sweet malt accent and mild bit of roasted scnets to augment the fruit notes like prune. There is a gentle pepper elment for good measure

M - The feel is slightly bitter with light sweet tinged and hint of tart fruit w/ light pepper spiced and roast in the dry finish

T - The taste of bitter pine hops w/ mild toffee and sweetened coffee w/ light caramel tinge. The pine mixed with the roasted malt gives a light molasses flavor. the pine is augmented by a slight raisin and grassy tinge. The flavor is a good blend of both dark caramel malt and pine that lingers into the finish

D - A queer blend of flavors w/ black malt and bitter hops to me it is not the best of an emerging style, but I enjoyed for what it is

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Photo of Rifugium
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Pinocchio's, Media, PA

One of my first Cascadian dark ales aka American black ales. Great "new" style. All the hoppiness of an IPA, but in a beer that could--colorwise--pass off as a porter or schwarzbier. Aroma is full of resinous hops and dark roasty malts. The taste follows the aroma well, with a definite roasty malt base that is dominated by a storm of piney hops. Medium mouthfeel, resinous, strong in flavor, a good introduction to the style.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I think the thing that really strikes me on this beer is that there is so much caramel and maltyness to it. If this is a black ale, I would think there would be much more hop presence. There is a spice tone from hops, but I think the issue is that the caramel malt character is equal or greater to it, which doesn't work so well. And that sums it up for the beer: doesn't work so well.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.91/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pous like a stout , light cream head that decides to coat the sides of my pint glass with each sip. Aroma had dark roasted malts with herbal hops going on more like a hoppy porter or a stout than other black IPAs I've come across. This is the popular style of the moment everybody is making a dark hoppy beer nice to see some variation, not overly bitter in anyway. Flavor was creamy dark roasts a mix of dark chocolate and light coffee tones with blasts of herbal slightly citric hops, goes together ncely a good balanced blend. Mouthfeel is medium bodied carbonation is smooth and easy going I can't complain it's actally silky texture. Drinkability overall a nice blalanced hoppy dark beer I can't really call it a BIPA compared to other more aggressive versions but it was enjoyable.

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Photo of smcolw
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great rocky/dome-like head that leaves lots of chunky ring lace. Deep ruby color where muted light shines through.

Smell: More hoppy than dark malts. Pretty standard stuff for modified classic.

Tastes darker than the smell. The hop is milder than most IPA's, but the combination is appealing. The body is thinnish, the carbonation is good.

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Photo of superspak
3.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce can into tulip glass, canned on 8/15/2011(oh well, lets give it a shot). Pours a clear extremely dark brown color with a nice 2 finger dense khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Some good spotty lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of orange, grapefruit, caramel, roasted malt, toast, pine, herbal, floral, and light chocolate. Aromas are pretty malty sweet smelling, with moderate roast character. Taste of grapefruit, pine, roasted malt, caramel, toast, chocolate, floral, and herbal spiciness. Fair amount of bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus, roasted malt, toast, pine, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Pretty nice balance flavors; with a good hop/roasted character balance. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and sticky mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a good black IPA. Nice roasted character to hop balance, and very smooth to drink. No idea what to expect from a fresher can, perhaps better aromas.

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