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Back In Black - 21st Amendment Brewery

Not Rated.
Back In BlackBack In Black

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,076 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,076
Reviews: 670
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 49
Gots: 222 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,076 | Reviews: 670
Photo of cichief
4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poure from a 12 ounce can into a fluted pint glass.

A- Pours a very dark,nearly opaque, brown-black, with an ample brown head.

S- Some hoppy freshness, pine-like.

T- Hoppy, but not floral, a bit of coffee with a little sweetness.

M- Very bubbly, a bit of CO2 burn, medium body.

D- Very drinkable, not heavy, refreshing for a dark beer.

Photo of inlimbo77
3.03/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Photo of feylure
2.06/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Oh wow. This one didn't hit me quite so well.

Appearance is great. It pours such a dark brown that it becomes almost pitch black in the glass, and it has a nice amount of carbonation.

Smell is odd. I can sense a light bit of hops, but for the most part it's over-taken by a puckering-bitter smell.

At first taste, it's pretty good with dark notes and malts, then something happens that I don't enjoy. Like the smell, a wave of sweet-bitterness that makes me pucker hits. The tail is very dry and leaves that bitter taste lingering.

Personally I don't find the puckering taste that enjoyable, so I can't say I find this beer all that drinkable. All said and done, I have to give it a try!


Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 09/06/2010:

12 oz. can at 42 degrees into a pint glass.

A: It pours a nearly opaque and almost completely black color with a gorgeous two-finger off-white head that leaves some small clouds of fluff on the glass.

S: Some floral hoppiness, cocoa, and roastiness.

T: A lovely intermingling of medium-roast coffee, chocolate, tangy citrus, and pine. The aftertaste leans more to the IPA side as it is hoppy and dry.

M: It has a relatively light body and the flavors do not stick around.

D: This is solid but not great.

Photo of jbertsch
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Not as black as I'd expected. Off-white head reduces to a film but laces well.

I smelled amped-up roasted malts, and non-citrusy hops. Notes of caramel and chocolate. Taste followed suit with nutty malts that taste significant up front but are very short and faintly bitter. Thin mouthfeel.

Given the subdued hops for the style, and the thin-ish mouthfeel, drinkability is high.

This doesn't measure up to others in the style, however, it is a pleasantly sessionable take on the style so it has that going for itself.

Photo of Zraly
3.11/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

Photo of burnheartsMKE
3.19/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I know this "Black IPA" has made some best of lists over the last year so I was quite excited to give this can a whirl. I cracked it open and dumped it into my favorite The Bruery tulip glass. Wow! This is a beautiful beer; khaki mousse-head topping a 12oz pitch-black ocean. I love how this looks!

Weak nose gives a trace of a peach cobbler; fruity. Pretty flat for a hopped black ale.

Great mouth-feel gives me hints of the dark malts but only teases. Sharp hop bitterness is the prominent attribute. As it warms I get a touch of dustiness that works well at hiding the bitterness at the finish, but it's the beers strongest (and only) flavor prominence.

For a beer I was so excited to try (and such a beauty to look at!) this beer is pretty disappointing. In comparison to other IBAs I've had I have to rate this at the mid-bottom.

Photo of ChristianBlack
3.52/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Also received from a friend. Dark but not as dark as I would have imagined. See through when held up to the light. A thin tan head not much lacing.

Pretty citrusy and a little nuttiness in there somewhere.

Has the citrus notes up front and that nuttiness on the finish.

Medium bodied with good carbonation.

Overall, it was an OK "black" ipa. A better mouthfeel and working on that nuttiness with some more chocolate would have helped out a lot.

Photo of mdcrouser
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown with a muted whitish head. Layers of lace. Looks pretty compelling, and a good way to begin the evening.

Piney/greenery hops on the nose - but with a knowing undercurrent of malts.

Subtly hoppy - can't decide if that's balance or watery. It's refreshing though that the hops aren't overwhelming - they're composed. The malts are even less so, with a bit of burnt toast on the tongue.

Highly drinkable - I enjoyed this beer more than I thought I would.

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.59/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip pint: Three fingers of khaki head, nice & sparkly, over a body that I'd call black, save for the dark brown edges & deep, dim crimson highlights.

Smell is hops - straight, beautiful hop smell. Can't really liken it to any other foodstuffs, because it is just clear, fresh, unmistakable hops. I can suss out a little caramel & cola in the background, but the hops define it. Okay: grapefruity, a little woody. Seriously, smells awesome.

Okay, taste is lagging behind a ways. Plenty of black patent roast, tastes a little charred, with that kind of vaguely fruity, vaguely flinty tasty I get from canned extract a lot of the time. Still some pine & grapefruit bitterness, but I almost have to contort my mouth to taste it. Plenty of bitterness, but equally good & bad. Burnt aftertaste, too. Not bad, but a little messy.

Full-bodied, but the roast quality spills over into burnt & astringent territory. Nice lively acid character.

Again, not bad overall, but there are definitely bad *parts* in there. The smell was so great, I thought I'd be in for something exceptional, but that harsh roast just took hold & would not let go. I have to say, I might try this again just to get that smell, but I might be well-advised to split it with someone.

Photo of corby112
3.21/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with slight mahogany edges when held to a light source and a two finger frothy, light beige head. Excellent retention, only slowly fading into a thick lasting cap that coats the glass with rings and splotches of soapy mocha lacing.

Earthy hop aroma with hints of pine needle as well as some citrus fruit notes. This is balanced by a slightly smokey, roasted malt presence. Hints of pine, grapefruit and lemon peel countered by chocolate and caramel malt, smoke, burnt toast and roasted coffee bean.

Medium bodied with a bitter, earthy hop blast up front that is contered by a roasted, smokey malt flavor mid-palate and a bitter dry finish. The hop presence is prominent with a lot of earthy pine flavor that lingers throughout. The citrus notes from the aroma are faint if there at all resulting in a mostly bitter beer that has a nice malt backbone. The malt presence is more prominent than expected for the style with an acrid, roasted/burnt presence. Hints of roasted coffee bean, burnt toast and oatmeal with hints of sweet chocolate, nut and toffee.

This beer is an interesting experiment, but for me, there's too much of a malt presence for it to be a good hop based beer(IPA, Cascade Dark Ale, Black IPA, American Dark Ale, whatever you want to call it) and too hoppy to be a malt based beer. It's not bad really just kind of all over the place with it's flavor profile.

Photo of garrettparkal
4.39/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big fan of the Back in Black... this is the beer that got me into 21st Amendment. I prefer this Black IPA to both the Sublimely Self-Righteous from Stone and the Imperial Iniquity from Southern Tier. The nose on the Back in Black is superb , hops hit you quick , and the tast and mouthfeel are malty and full of smoke. Great can as well.

Photo of jmich24
3.06/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

Photo of mavbrew
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a can (weird) into DFH signature glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost jet black color with a nice frothy, two finger thick, khaki colored head that leaves nice lacing down the side of the glass.

S: The nose has hops presence with slight citrus and roasted hints as well.

T: The taste is a little disappointing, the hops are faint and there is a lot of sweet malt flavor, almost too much. There is a bit of a "sour" flavor/feel to it that lingers and the finish is uneventful.

M: Medium bodied, carbonation leaves a tingling sensation and there is a slight sour feel to it.

D: I wish I really liked this beer since I am being a big fan of the Black IPA style, but this just didn't live up to my standards or any of the other BIPA's that I had. It's a pretty decent beer but not something I would go out of my way for.

Photo of beagle75
3.18/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. can into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, dark brown color with two fingers of diminishing parchment-colored foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Roasted malt, moderately intense with weak chocolatey and smoky qualities, in balance with pine, earth, and juicy green stems. A certain savory mineral quality is occasionally detected as well. As this beer warms the malt qualities associated with the smell become more intense, even turning artificial and meaty at times.

T: Begins off-dry, with dark citrus and umami followed by smoky dark rye bread and the start of some astringent bitterness. The middle features strikingly sharp mineral flavors that add to the bracingly bitter and astringent cacaphony of flavors. Whiffs of charcoal and lemon meringue pie are added to the discordant layers in the finish.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, a little insubstantial on the palate at times, with moderate carbonation.

D: This beer presents an array of flavors for the drinker to sort through, with the hope that they will find one that they like. The end result is not necessarily an extreme version of the style, but just one that struggles to be successful. Malt and yeast qualities seem the most off-center, being a bit too smoky but also bordering on being indicative of autolysis. Flavors are best early, when citrusy aromatics fill the senses aside the smoky malt. Reminiscent of Pizza Port's Warrior black IPA, although not as smoothly malt-forward as that other beer.

Photo of ardeano
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz can.

A: Didn't have a glass :(

S: Hard to smell it through the wide-mouth!

T: Roasty with a great 'hint' of the hops. I was expecting more hops but the malt breaks through more - I like darks so I was good.

M: Smooth and a bit creamy (it is straight from the can).

D: If you prefer darks but are a closet hophead you'll dig this. I love the style (best of both worlds for me) and found this to be a tad bit more on the malty side with a great hop finish...

I really like the can too - pretty cool!

Photo of MsScotch
3.22/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz can poured in to a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with an off white head that leaves good substantial lacing.

Smells malty with a very slight hop tinge. There is an almost molasses like sweetness as well.

The sweetness comes through more in the taste backing up the strong malt backbone. The hops are present and cut through the maltiness some, but seem to get a little lost in the beginning. However, they definitely linger longer than the rest of the flavours, giving a nicely bitter aftertaste. The beer has a rather thick mouthfeel- not quite a porter but close.

Easy drinking beer, not too far to one extreme or the other.

Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

Photo of CHADMC3
2.93/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very dark brown to black, remaining transparent at only the bottom of the glass. The head is fluffy and light tan head leaving a very sticky lacing clinging to the glass and just a thin, creamy layer atop the beer after a few minutes.

There appears to be a very nice hop/malt balance upon first inspection with prevailing hop bitterness, but tough to tell exactly type.

The flavor certainly has a fair amount of roasted malt, bordering on burnt, with some earthy hops and grassy notes. As the beer warms, there even appears to be a touch of sourness.

A bit overly carbonated with a medium body and dry or pungent finish.

This is a newer style, but based on what I have sampled this seems to miss the mark for the style with more roasted malt than I care for, and less of the earthy or floral hops I am accustomed to. Certainly not a bad beer, but there are better examples.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.1/5  rDev -16%
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.

Photo of mcgwire756
4.07/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the can into a pint glass

A friend got this from his local place in Boonton and recommended it so I tried one of his. Like it says it is a Black IPA that pours like a normal IPA. Nice lacing on the glass. It has the hoppy notes in the nose and in the taste which was a nice surprise considering the appearance. This beer is extremely drinkable and a highly recommended IPA if you are in the mood for something slightly different and a little harder to find.

Photo of morenone
4.38/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's one of only a few Black IPAs I've had, but I would definitely get it again! I got a single at Beer Run in Charlottesville VA, but wish I had got a six pack. I haven't seen too many black IPAs around, but try to get one whenever I see it. Go get some!

Photo of cdbooth219
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can poured into pint glass

A: Pours a reddish-black with ruby red highlights and 2 and a half fingers of tan head that dissipates slowly leaving some nice lacing

S: Pine and grapefruit hops, with roasted malt background and a bit of a mineral smell as well.

T: Starts off with pine and grapefruit, followed by molasses, toffee and a bit of burnt chocolate. Somewhere in there a creaminess sneaks in as well. A bit of metallic aftertaste, with a lingering bitterness. Its very tasty except for that metallic mineral aftertaste.

M: Medium-bodied with a good bit of carbonation. Goes down very smooth

D: I could definitely drink these all night, after a few sips that aftertaste starts to fade and it becomes very enjoyable

Overall, this is not exactly an amazing black ipa, but definitely a drinkable brew.

Photo of BarrelO
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz can poured into a pint glass.

A: Quite black. Nice head with a lot of lacing.

S: Citrus and roastiness.

T: Intense citrus flavor. Like biting into a grapefruit. Medium bitterness. Just the slightest hint of roastiness.

M: Juicy, not sticky.

D: A very nice IPA that's incredibly easy to put down. Thumbs up.

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Back In Black from 21st Amendment Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 2,076 ratings.