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Back In Black - 21st Amendment Brewery

Not Rated.
Back In BlackBack In Black

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,991 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,991
Reviews: 658
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.59%
Wants: 45
Gots: 160 | 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:
ABV varies around 7%.
65 IBU

(Beer added by: tpd975 on 11-23-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,991 | Reviews: 658 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of canucklehead
3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not the most hoppy of the CDAs but rather a beer that tastes a little like the Session Dark Lager but with an ale base rather than a lager. The finish is not harsh but rather nicely melds the hops with the dark malts. Very drinkable though I have had better more complex examples of the style

Photo of DovaliHops
3.48/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark black that has a medium off-white/tan head that diminishes quickly. Scent is slightly hoppy with a lot of roasted aromas. Hints of chocolate and vanilla, as well. Taste is initially roasted chocolate, immediately followed by some hoppiness. Taste is somewhat watered down. Burnt toast flavors finish with bitter dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is a bit on the light side. Drinkability is fairly high. Overall, this is not the best example of a Black IPA, but it is still pretty tasty. Could use some more body.

Photo of gkunkle
3/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

- from my notes
Can poured into a 20 ounce glass
A - not quite black and lacking the oily look of some of the darker beers.
S - malts and hops with no distinguishing character.
T - fairly malty with some hops to back it up. Better than I expected.
M - a light stout feel that is just a bit undercarbonated.
D - fairly good for a canned /portable beer and that is pretty much the point of the thing.

Photo of doucmehu
3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from can to smallish snifter. I also drank 3 of these from the can at the beach two days ago :)

A: Nearly black mahogany, but not as rich and deep as an imperial stout. Rich moderate head dies down quickly but leaves a thin layer throughout. Looks like a highly carbonated porter in the glass. Leaves average lacing.

S: A nice mix of fruity, juicy hops and sweet malts. I get a hint of yeast as well, something akin to toasted raisin bread with marmalade, definitely on the sweeter side.

T: Bitter cocoa surprises up front, along with more aromatic, piney hops. Kind of a surprise on the hop profile as well, definitely more resiny than the nose. The malts become more pronounced as it warms.

M: Has a bit of the creamy-followed-by-bitter of a good porter, but also that dry bittering hops of an english IPA. Solid carbonation, definitely a solid bitterness at the end.

O: Think of this as a royal wedding, despite its American roots. You have a tall dark and handsome Baltic Porter, meeting a fresh, albeit bitter young English IPA. They really work well together for me, and I enjoy this brew (in the can and in a glass).

Photo of ReelBigwigFish
3.55/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured can into pint glass

A: Opaque dark brown-black in color with tan creamy foam head. Looking a bit like Guinness at the moment, not a bad thing.

S: Strong dark malt and hops. There are earthy aromas I can't quite put my finger on, like dirty dark malty chocolate burnt espresso.

T: All of the smell on the palette, plus lots of bitter hop flavors. Finishes a bit dry with lingering dark chocolate flavor.

M: Somewhat of a light body for such a dark roasty beer, and it goes down pretty easy. Yes, it finishes a little dry and there are a bit of stout-esque qualities, but it really is an easy to drink beer. Almost disappointingly so.

O: This was the first of this style that I've reviewed, and the other two of this style that I've ever had, were both over a year ago, so I don't have much to judge it against in that regard. Although I do remember really liking Stone's SSRA. ANYWAY, I liked this beer, but I don't think I'd buy it, it's almost too much of a hybrid for me.

Photo of threeviews
4.35/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a snifter glass

A- Pours near-black...if it was not knowing what black bfluid was (thank you Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti RIS) then I would comment it as black, but it is certainly 7.6-8.0 on the Bortle Dark-Sky scale.

S- The olfactory hues are of citrus hops followed by licorice, wood and dare I say coffee(?)...quite complex and hard to classify...

T- Bold flavor with a nice balance of hop and malt with strong toffee notes...none of the malt is present in the nose, but balances nicely with the hops in the taste. Something in-between a West Coast IPA, Stout, Porter...it makes a Gemini such as myself giddy with the complexity that covers all the bases

M- Smooth and rich...nice carbonation a la their 'Brew Free Or Die IPA' and robust akin to a porter.

O- I really like this brew...but there is nothing I haven't liked from 21st Amendment....Brew Free Or Die IPA, Hell Or High Watermelon, Hop Crisis (and now) Back In Black are all that I admire (and rank high on my lists of IPA/DIPAs). This is another great brew and as far as I'm concerned, they cannot do wrong! Next up: Monk's Blood


Photo of ski271
4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark chestnut brown, almost black, with a medium-sized, thick, foamy head that slowly diminishes to a lasting film. Nice lacing.
S: Floral and lightly resinous hop tones that are nicely balanced out sweet malty aromas. Dark crusty bread, coffee, light molasses and a hint of charcoal.
T: Initial zip of bitterness when it hits the tongue, then a huge amount of sweetness takes over. Cherry, molasses and dark fruit are notable. The bitterness works its way back into the mix toward the finish.
M: Med-full body, dry texture and moderate-low carbonation
D: Perplexing at first and pleasantly different. The dark sweetness of a porter in the hoppy ale. Worth a try for sure. Only complaint is that I wish there were more hops in the nose.

Photo of spitInTheOcean
4.45/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

black. opaque and black. dark tan head.

smell is overwhelmingly hops. if im not mistaken there is a slight aroma of roasted barley. but lots of hops, mostly floral aromas. i would guess cascade and centennial.

slightly sweet taste, then huge hop flavor, and aggressive hop bitterness. sort of a piney hoppiness. the hop bitterness lingers, and as it does the roasted malts seem to become apparent slightly.

big mouthfeel, and the carbonation is pretty soft.

its a pretty hoppy beer. guessing blind it seems like about 80 IBUs, the the alcohol is not really apparent at all, you just kind of know that a beer the big has to have a high ABV.

Photo of bpw28
3.95/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Two finger off white shaving cream thick head, Deep Mahogany (about a 35 SRM), Very Nice Lacing

Nose: Heavy Roast, Big Citrus, Floral, Yeasty, A little funkyness (A very good thing, reminds me of belgian funk), Big Coffee, Fig, Bittersweet Chocolate

Taste: Hm. Well, it seems to hit in this order- Citrus-Floral-Pine ipa, Roasty-Coffee-Caramel-Bready dark malt, Spicy-Floral strong hop bite end. This one comes in layers, which of course is nice. A little light on the mouth fullness though.

Final Thoughts: I really like this one. I don't know if the lack of body is so it's more of a "session" if you so choose to have it that way. There's mouthfeel, but it isn't to what I would expect. It's my only qurk, and its pretty small really. Great beer (had the monk's blood from 21st, amazing.) certainly worth the buy and I'm glad that 21st has been kicking the can phobia alot of people have into to the gutter.

Food Pairing: Meat, Sausage, Grilled Items, Smoked Items, Medium Cheeses, Ham, Lamb.

Photo of beerman207
3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently discovered black IPA_s. Exited to try this one. AC/DC. kicks ass!

A: Dark. Nile the head and good Lacing left behind

S: strong malt, hops

T: flavor is burnt sugar, malt, hops.

M: medium. strong carbonation

O: No problem here. This is a great beer!

Photo of JRed
3.95/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown with frothy off white head that lasts. Roasted malts, earth, hop spice in the nose. Tastes of cocoa, earth, hop spice, roast, slight medicinal, hop bitterness and a echo of citrus. Medium body with medium carbonation. Roast and hop bitterness lasts in the palate. Well balanced between hops and roast.  

Photo of ABeezy
4.43/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this once before at the bar. Saw the can and had to have it but drank straight from the can so I have been itching to pour into a glass and see what this is all about. Bought a six at Giant Eagle.

Poured into a vintage thick glass Michelob goblet that I just rescued from the thrift store. All my pint glasses are dirty but this works.

Appearance - I love it, it looks like a stout, my favorite style. Creamy light tan head. Reduces to a ring and a light film of bubbles on top. Pretty nice lacing, thick right towards the top of the glass. Looks pretty black but it's dark in the house. Held towards the lights you can see some brown highlights.

Smell - I have to be honest with you I have a bit of a head cold right now, maybe shoudn't be reviewing but oh well. Smell I get vanilla? Like a boozey vanilla, I didn't really expect that.

Taste - I get big vanilla, again I really didn't expect that. It's malty and sweet. This really doesn't taste that hoppy to me. I had a Java Head Stout last week and that was more hoppy than this imo. I really like this flavor though. I hope it doesn't change drastically when my cold goes away. I get the hops more when I am belching lol. It's there but it's more balanced than I was thinking it would be. Just a tiny bit of citrus there.

Moutfeel - it's pretty creamy it goes along with the look it's not just an IPA with food coloring this is a dark malty beer.

I would defo do this again. I know I have seen reviews of 21a go one way or the other but I am pretty impressed tbh.

Photo of stercomm
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz can

A- Coco Cola brown, slight tan head, medium lacing

S - Getting malts and citrusy hops on the nose.

T - Roasted malts with a slight coffee taste, nice citrusy hops on the backend, a well balanced taste.

M - Medium bodied good carbonation.

D - Good Black IPA, nicely balanced

Photo of Daniellobo
3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good dark serving with a fair hoppy side.

Presentation: 12 oz can. Design around an almost black illustration of Paul Revere swinging the candlelight from a motorbike. Has some batch numbers but lacks a clearly legible freshness or canning date, shows 65 IBUs and 6.8% Alc. by Vol. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Dark brown, almost black pour, with a rich off-white frothy head, good retention, fair surface memory with some lacing.

S - Soft nose with malty notes, caramel and a citrus hoppy touch.

T - A roasted touch takes front seat, not too assertive but predominant… with a sweet, caramel like touch and almost lactic for an instant opening the brew to the hop range, citrus, and a bit of resin with a return to the malt sense over a chocolate hint.

M - Medium-light body with medium carbonation and a gentle if unremarkable finish.

O - Pleasing choice, a bit short of the next level but worth the flow.

Notes: It has been a while since I had this one, and previously it was a fresh tap version where the IPA edge shined the most. Here sometimes roasted notes seem to take over the hop profile even with a passing memory of a dry stout. Still worth the try but not too memorable. While I would not put this one down, having the choice I might go after other more stimulating black IPAs.

Photo of Hojaminbag
2.98/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Back in Black has a dark black body, which is no surprise considering not only the style but the name of the beer itself. The thin brown head has ok retention and leaves a few scraps of lacing.

The aroma has a lot of roasted malt and a puff of smoke. Surprisingly fruity with just a hint of citrus from the hops.

This is a weird one. The fruit characteristics make it taste like beer mixing with some sort of fruit punch. The malt base is actually pretty good, with lots of roast and a little bit of a peat-like, smokey character. The hops are in the background, with bits of pine and citrus. They provide more bitterness than flavor. The fruit is the biggest flavor, and the more I drink of it the less I want.

Mouthfeel could use a bit more carbonation, but its pretty substantial at least.

I was not a fan of this one. The first sip I though it was weird, the second I thought it was OK because I liked the smokey character, but after a few more sips I was ready to be finished.

Photo of ChugginOil
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to armock for the extra!

First off, badass can. Back in Black pours nut brown and ends up a very deep brown with reddish hues. 2 fingers of light tan head sits for quite awhile before dissipating. Spotty lacing.

The nose is very clean smelling some crisp zesty hops are noticed along with some roasty malts. There is a sweet buttery scent that I havent yet smelled in a black ipa. Interesting. Pretty inviting.

The taste is very nice. The roasted malts are balanced nicely with some pine and citrus hop offering. The taste has a hazelnut undertone that is noticed after the hops have done their job.

The mouthfeel is crisp and smooth but a bit thin.

Overall, interesting brew. Im not sure how to classify it but it was quite a treat.

Photo of Rootdog316
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Back in Black poured a very dark brown color with the smallest of head. In terms of the smell, I think there are hints of caramel, some bits of citrus, and obviously some chocolate. Can easily taste the dark malts, and obviously there is some bitterness to it. Overall I think the flavor is pretty well balanced. Not the best, but certainly a decent American Black Ale.

Photo of JizackFH
2.83/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - This beer pours a very dark brown color, that glows ruby on the edges when held to the light. It has a big 4-finger light tan head on it. The head has great retention, and leaves a nice layer of lace on the glass.

S - It smells of sweet and roasted malts. There is a bit of piney hop character, but I definitely expected more. Also, I am getting some scents of chocolate and a touch of coffee.

T - The taste starts of with some sweet caramel and roasted malts. There is a piney hop presence throughout the drink, but it is quite subdued. I am also getting some notes of chocolate, coffee, and some citrus. The finish leaves some lingering roasted bitterness behind. I really wish there was more hop presence here.

M - It has a lighter body and decent carbonation. It goes down quite easily, but the flavor is sort of bland for an IPA variation. There is some lingering bitterness in the finish.

O - The drinkability was alright, seeing as how its goes down quite easily. Overall though, this beer just doesn't stand out amongst other beers of this style that I've had so far. I would drink it again, but I wouldn't pay for it.

Photo of 9InchNails
4.43/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tan head, crimson red on the edges and dark in the center. Nice looking beer.

Wow, what a interesting pleasant smell! Roasted and sweet malt mixing with some piney hops.

Dark fruits, sweet fruits, some citrus, caramel, pine, chocolate, sweet and bitter, toasted and roasted flavors. There is so much going in here that there is this taste I can't put my finger on but it's awesome.

Medium body, medium carbonation, incredibly smooth, feels really nice.

One of the tastiest brews I've had in a while. Smooth, tasty, unique, bitter, sweet. I think I might have found a staple in my beer rotation. Why just the B Rating? I don't know. Maybe I'm bias because I love dark beers and IPA's. Give it a shot despite the B rating, really worth it.

Photo of cooncat
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured at a cask temp of 50 deg. F. into my S.A. glass. This single was picked up at Vintage Estate in Boardman, OH. for $1.99 (12 oz. can).

Let me start by saying that I've not been a fan of canned beer since my college days. I know all the arguements about how great canning is supposed to be .. but I can always 'taste' can, even when decanted. This beer is no different. On to the review.

Back in Black??? The pour produces a beer of deep ruby garnet colour. There's nothing black about it. Is it darker than a normal IPA? Yes. Is it "Black" .. no. A nice sized head develops on the pour, but is is pretty 'fizzy' and not long lasting at all. Some nice lacing develops on the sides of the glass as it beer is quaffed, but there is no stickage.

The nose is pretty decent, and hits you as soon as you 'pop the top'. The hops come to the fore (as should be) and Columbus is what I pick up first. There are a few hints of dark caramel roast in the nose as well. Nothing overwhelming in the nose, but it may be the best part of the brew.

Taste has a mild (to me) bitterness from the hops, and a definite bit of roasty caramel malt following closely behind. Just a hint of chocolate in there as well. This isn't a BOLD IPA ... kind of middle of the road, though hops and malt are somewhat balanced (hops still lead the way). I think the roasty malt flavors hide the 'can' taste pretty well. I can usually taste a canned beer a mile away, but this one could fly under the radar on that score ... which is a plus for me.

The mouthfeel is medium light .. a bit understated imho. I wasn't expecting 'chewy', but a bit more body would definitely help. I would have thought that easy to obtain with the dark grains. Maybe they should mash a tad higher.

Overall, this is a pretty fair, nicely drinkable Am. Black IPA (or whatever they are calling this style now a days). I could see quaffing several of these in a session, even though its abv is a bit high for s session brew. Worth seeking out and picking up; at least a single, so you can decide for yourself.

Na Zdravje!

Photo of godlessape
4.45/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Looks like a stout until you hold it up to a bright light and then, if you squint hard enough, employ a little imagination, you'll see just a slight hint of ruby highlights. It also has a great creamy tan head to it that lasts throughout.

Smell: It has that sharp IPA grape-fruity nose that I expect from this style, and the earthy dark malt and coffee aroma doesn't even try to hide itself.

Taste: Tastes somewhere in between a stout and a Scotch Ale--and that's a great place to be. This has a perfect balance to it that can't be ignored.

Mouth feel: Perfect carbonation. A little thinner than I expected body wise, but still good.

Overall: This won't be my last one.

Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice creamy looking head that just fills up the glass perfectly, the head is about a finger and a half in width and it slightly off white. I can already tell it's leaving good lacing, and it seems to be hanging around for quite some time as well. The body is pitch black with hues of brown and perhaps some red, no visibility through this beer at all. Really I'm shocked at how amazing this beer looks, the head is really kicking ass and the body back it up nicely. On the nose this beer is really nice, dark malts and perhaps a coffee smell, then in there somewhere is a nice hop aroma. It's clearly well balanced and well crafted, and maybe even complex. Is it the best smelling black IPA I've ever smelled? No, but it's pretty damn close. Overall I'm really surprised at how good this smells and tastes, I wasn't expecting this at all, lets see how it tastes. For sure not the taste I was hoping for, it's a good beer, and it has nice levels of complexity to it, it's just kinda all over the place and gross in some areas. The one offensive flavor I get it sourness, not a hop sourness or anything, just sour, its weird, and not pleasant, especially in a smoother style like a black IPA. I would actually say that the sourness is the most dominant flavor, then comes a little dark malt, a little coffee, and way too little hops. Everything is there for this beer to be really good, it just doesn't all come together. Overall I would also say that this beer is too light, you really gotta make a hell of a beer to make a good black IPA, and they skimped out on flavor. I mean you can detect all the individual flavors easily, you know they are there, but it's all just a bit watered down. Overall the taste is good, just all over the place and not as big as it should be. As for mouthfeel, the mouthfeel is actually really nice, it's got a nice thick bready feel to it, it kind of just expands in your mouth when your drinking it, the carbonation is also very very good on this beer. As for drinkability, it's good, better than it should be for the style, because it's a little watered down. Overall a great beer in every category other than taste, in taste it's good, and very tasty really, just too chaotic and watery.

Photo of Kendo
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from the can into a Sam Smith's nonic. Body is black, though when backlit it's more like dark, dark brown with orangey hues on the edges. A half-finger light-tan head on top, settles to leave solid lacing.

S: First impression: there's something "off" about the nose. Can't quite put my finger on it though. Roasted grain husks and grapefruit.

T: Every time I try a new American Black Ale, I'm excited. I know what I want from beers of this style - a nice combination of chocolatey, caramelly malt and American hops. More often than not, I'm disappointed by the attempt. This one belongs firmly in that category. Grapefruit and even pineapple juice dominate the flavor perception. There's some malt underneath - a touch of weak coffee and roasted grains - but not nearly enough to stand up to that juicy hop bitterness. Besides pineapple juice, I get a hint of lemon and grapefruit, and some herbal or leafy hops as well.

M: Light-to-medium in heft, but comes across as a bit thin, mainly, I think, because the malt bill doesn't stand up well to the juicy hops.

O: This one's OK. Not worth the $12.99 I paid for the sixer, and not one I will get again. For another couple bucks, I could've had my favorite in the style: Victory Yakima Glory. That's a beer that gets the style right. . . .

Photo of mikechance
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark color with the right amount of foamy head. I could smell the delicious malts, but no citrus or hops (or any other IPA characteristics). It has a nice roasty, bitter taste --- heavy malts, chocolate, and caramel flavors, but I couldn't pick up much hops. It’s creamy and goes down nice and easy. This beer has plenty of body and depth and is closer to a porter than a schwarzbier to me.

I enjoyed the beer and will have it again (hopefully on tap). I just didn’t think it had enough characteristics to be called a Black IPA. It’s more of a creamy porter to me.

Back In Black from 21st Amendment Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 1,991 ratings.