Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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: 2,212
Avg: 3.67
pDev: 24.25%
Wants: 51
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
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: 2,212
Photo of Act25
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Alstrom's, I always read them, but every now and then, they need to re-review a beer to do it justice. Back in Black is such a case, it's a delightful 4.0 beer.

A: Can poured into a .5l cylinder named Spaten. Results in dark walnut clear brew with large tan head, and tons of retention and lacing. A sticky cola like pour. A beauty.

S: aroma is nicely balanced between citrus, hoppy, leafy, and floral set against a malty base malt of dark caramel, chocolate and black bread.

T: Like it smells but better. Well balanced, slightly sweet, plenty hoppy, never over done. Definitely want another, definitely want to find a case.

Paired with garden tomatoes, cukes, peppers, mozz, with truffle oil and balsamic, multi grain toast points. - Perfect August dinner!

M: medium bodied, creamy with a zesty finale of carbonation and bitter on the tongue.

Overall: accessible. If you love porter and you enjoy hops, try this. Love the depth, sweetness, and originality. I don't feel this beer has lost it's way, it's just a "good herb" like its namesake home.

I 100% agree with the reviewer NeroFiddled (PA) who wrote:
"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."

When in SF, try visiting 21st Amendment!

 1,381 characters

Photo of richj1970
3.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12 oz can into snifter.

A: Very dark brown almost lack with very nice 3-4 finger head. Nice retention and fairly consistent lacing.

S: Resin, pines, dark malts.

T: Nice roasty flavors from the malts with a bit of fruity undertones. Hops come through in the back with some nice bitterness.

M: A fair amount of carbonation, and comes off a bit dry. Perhaps a bit thin.

O: Enjoyable Black IPA. Still trying to get my mind around a dark beer that isn't a stout... I can see myself picking up some more of these soon.

 529 characters

Photo of gcamparone
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz can into a snifter. Acquired in a trade with gwdavis.

A- Pours a deep brown body with cherry highlights. The head is 2 fingers and off white, leaving some uniform lacing.

S- Not very potent.. the hops are resinous and piney, some dark malt in there. Very subtle. Had to strain.

T- Upfront I get some sweet dark malt, particularly toffee and caramel. This develops into subtle piney, resinous hops. The finish is slightly roasty with some vanilla.

M- Easy drinker, slightly watery though. Medium-low carbonation.

A fairly executed black IPA. Not awesome but not bad. I could throw a few of these back.

 628 characters

Photo of ksimons
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-pours chestnut brown with three fingers worth of light tan head

S-citrus and piney hops with a bit of caramel malt

T-taste is somewhat sweeter than I expected from the smell with a heavy backbone of caramel malt and a mild amount of citrus hops

M-medium body, very smooth, mild carbonation

Overall not the most exciting beer, but still good tasting and easy to drink

 372 characters

Photo of Libationguy
4.31/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown with an off-white head. Carbonation is fine and there is a moderate head retention.

Citrus, resin, pine, white flowers, roasted malt, pumpernickel bread and a light coffee note. The aromatics hold a medium intensity and while the hop notes are fresh, they are not overly aggressive.

Really picks up on the palate. Resin, hop bitterness, espresso. Rich, roasted malt flavors.

Nice full mouthfeel, with the hops well balanced but notable.

Bold in style and really well made.

 487 characters

Photo of SerialHiker
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown, not porter dark brown, but close…head is minimal, just off white and thins rather quickly…I could use a touch more that’s for sure…easily the least satisfactory part of this brew…(3/5)

Smell: Roasted malts up front, but they are light and fresh smelling…an airy, citrus hops quality is also readily apparent…I’m catching whiffs of oatmeal, dark fruit sweetness, very light milkiness and a subtle hint of coffee bitterness…a nice smelling brew that’s watering my mouth…(3.75/5)

Taste: Yum! Roasted malts and piney hops collide creating a fantastic flavor in my mouth…very fresh and vibrant…malts are strong but not over powering, balancing the strong IPA flavor that exists within…subtle flavors of oatmeal, citrus hops, coffee bitterness and touch of toastiness also picked up…a very balanced brew, that’s for sure…roasted malts and piney hops are a hell of a combo! (4.25/5)

Mouthfeel: A light medium body…the carbonation is medium to lots, bringing a nice tasting cloud of roasted malts to the palate…everything is balanced well, after malts fade, I get a hoppy/coffee bitterness lingering well after I swallow…slightly robust, mildly chewing and easy drinking, this is a strong point for this brew…(4/5)

Overall: Fantastic! I’ve been digging the black ales lately and this is one of the better ones I’ve tried…while the malts are strong in flavor, they don’t overpower the hops and work well in complimenting one another…it’s maltiness doesn’t stop its drinkability as I surely could have a few of these while hanging out and be very happy…I’ve heard of 21st Amendment before, but this is my first sampling of what they produce and I have to say I’m impressed…it’s no wonder they are distributed widely…easy to recommend, this brew would do well on the disc golf course, at the poker table, around a camp fire or while watching your favorite local sports franchise…scoop up a sixer of this and you won’t be disappointed…be warned, others will like this as well, so sharing is done at your own risk! (4/5)


 2,151 characters

Photo of MistahBeah
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Black or a very dark brown. Khaki head with good lacing. Lots of carbonation

Aroma: Roasty chocolate and toffee notes. Earthy hops. Caramel

Taste: Chewy roasted chocolate and some bitter coffee flavor. Resiny earthen hop bitterness. A little citrus. Bitter but not overly so. Ironically this was more bitter than their IPA. A tad salty in the finish as well

Mouthfeel: Creamy and chewy. Lingering bitter finish

Overall: Not bad by any stretch but nothing I would strongly recommend. Decent

 505 characters

Photo of MacQ32
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours damn near black with about a half finger of light chocolate/dark tan colored head. Retention is so-so the lacing is strong.

S - Slightly roasty malts and a very earthy hop presence. Roasty chocolates/toasted caramel malts , minimally grassy and resinous hop qualities.

T - Roasty malts and citrusy/earthy hops are definitely at the forefront initially. Roastyness really lingers and along with the hoppy astringency (quite astringent) blocks out any sweetness from malts. Astringent hoppy flavors definitely linger and there's a hint of malty and citrusy sweetness for a split second at the finish. 3

With time and warmth the astrigency is much less devastating and much better balanced - although roasty and earthy hops w/ mildly sweet finish is really all im getting out of this. Simple but much better than initially thought. Aftertaste doesnt linger too much bit is bitter earthy hops. 3.75

M - Medium bodied, very smooth, but somehow very carbonated (for the style). I kind of dig it but the overpowering astringency makes it difficult to gauge anything else. I don't think it's the fault of the mouthfeel, and I rather like it - although it does seem a little confused as do the flavors. 3.5

Over time, like taste, the mouthfeel becomes a bit less confused and better gauged as the astrigency has died down. Still pretty well carbonated, although not as much so as initially thought, still very smooth, medium bodied. 3.75

O - Not awful, but as others have said, and i believe it described it perfectly - This seems to be a very confused beer (especially in regards to taste and mouthfeel). A lot going on at once, seemingly blocking everything else. 3.25

Over time my opinion of this brew has definitely improved, im about half way through as I re-review parts of this and the beer is probably around 55 degrees 3.75

 1,840 characters

Photo of alaimoa
3.18/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours a nice black with lots if brown head that lingers with nice lacing. Smells a bit of burnt chocolate, burnt caramel and hop resin. Taste isn't bad but thin and not too compkex, slightly too malty with a bitterness that hangs around for too long.

 250 characters

Photo of angrybabboon
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Consumed 6/15/13

Cheers to magictacosinus for sending this as an extra. I've been sitting on this can for about two months, not out of disinterest, but because I've had so many other beers to drink! Plus, I've already had this in the past, and I know I like it, so...

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black - holding it up to direct light reveals that this beer is actually really clear, and has some serious garnet tones - pours with a big, creamy, beige head, retains a nice cap, leaves above-average lacing

Smell: Roasty chocolate malts and some hops - nicely roasty, without being particularly aggressive - some nice coffee-like notes - lightly burnt chocolate malts - lightly hoppy, with some citrus and some grassy tones - some pale and caramel grainy sweetness in the background

Taste: Subdued chocolate malts and some hops - a uniquely mellow take on the style - roasty coffee notes - lightly burnt, dry chocolate malts, and some dark chocolate flavors - a nice level of hoppiness with some fleshy grapefruit, and some vague citrus peel - some nice sweetness, from caramel malts - somewhat bready

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth, nice carbonation, clean finish

Overall: Won't rock you all night long, but will make other AC/DC references

This is a uniquely mellow, unexpectedly drinkable black IPA. Balancing the bitter, burnt flavors with bitter, fruity hop flavors is always a challenge. This beer isn't aggressive in either regard, which is not particularly exciting, but it is nicely charming.

 1,509 characters

Photo of ChuckHackett
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smooth,Malt, earthy. Slightly hopped. Very Easy Beer to drink. Even though the IBU's were at 65, it didn't taste that hoppy. I think it's a unique beer. I didn't feel like it was 6.8%ABV. It was very smooth and would think it was more in the 6.2%. It was like having a Nitro Milk Stout and a Alaskan IPA having a child.
I think there is room for the creation of the Dark IPA market. It's nice to have those earthy, full-mouthed IPA with some stout notes.
I would think that this would be at least scored in the 80's. I think there are better IPA's, but then again. Is this just an IPA?

 585 characters

Photo of ckollias
4.25/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this 12oz can out of a Belgian Tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark brown- black with a mild amber highlights with a thick light brown 2-finger head that slowly dissipates and leaves a solid lace.

S: Great tart hoppy aroma.

T: Smooth tart and bitter hoppy IPA flavor. Slight citrus background and finishes tart and dry.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: This was a really good black ipa. Nice and hoppy but balanced nicely by the malt.

 449 characters

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

ST: 12oz can poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark black with a half-a-finger nail off-white head.

S: Grapefruit, burnt malt, smoke, coffee, pine, oil.

T: Smoke, grapefruit, gum, coffee beans, dark fruit cake.

M: Medium and dry

O: A pleasant beer, nothing wrong or great. It has a nice aroma and the flavor is a good combination of some grapefruit hops quickly overshadowed by malt. The finish is bitter and dry like espresso beans. It works well with a beef stock based soup.

 478 characters

Photo of kevanb
3.72/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz can poured into a snifter.

Pours a cola brown color, noticeable amount of bubbles rising to the top of the glass. A nice off white head, about a finger high rises to the top of the glass, moderate retention with a fair amount of lacing left behind. Aroma is of roasted coffee and piney hops, a bit of citrus is detectable but sweet, rich dark grain is the big finisher here, very simple aroma and not that hop forward. The flavors are of toasted grain, burnt coffee, resinous bitter hop, pine, dirty grass with some sweet alcohol in the finish. The body is a bit thin, and heavily carbonated for the style, could be a bit richer and smoother, nice dry crisp finish.

Verdict: Decent at best. It has all the hallmarks of a good Black IPA, but the balance of flavors really poor and the malt and roast really dominate what could be a nice earthy hop forward beer.

 867 characters

Photo of magictacosinus
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a glass from a 12oz can.

The color isn't necessarily what I'd dub as "black," but rather a relatively darkened reddish-brown color overall. Decent amount of carbonation, and a half finger of foam that holds on pretty well throughout its sitting. Good lacing on the glass, and faint streaks of bubbles glide up the glass. Decent alcohol leggings, and despite its murky, off presentation, not a bad looking beer by any means.

Still not sure how close to style this is in terms of being a black IPA on the aroma... There's faint, yet refreshing, floral hops that come in, combined with a light toasted character and a little bit of grains. Somehow the roasted grains aren't playing so much of a part here, but definitely honeysuckle and warm citrus zest permeates, if only so lightly. If I was blindfolded I'd never be able to tell that this used darkened malts. The hops are definitely making themselves noticeable, which is good. It smells pleasing overall, but definitely isn't too complex.

The flavor fortunately reveals a bit more of the beer's intended roasted character, complete with a bready rye darkened nature, and a combination of grassy and floral bitterness at the finish. The hops and dark caramel characteristics of the malts are well balanced here. They're not explosive by any means (although the hops provide pleasant astringency in the aftertaste), but definitely well put together. There's a bit of lingering graininess, but nothing too distracting from the beer's intended flavors. No alcohol can be found here, which makes this easy to drink overall.

Definitely not the best example when rated to style, but this is still a good beer with a decent hop profile, despite muted roasted flavors. I do think it's the most balanced and drinkable offering by 21st Amendment that I've had so far, and would definitely have another if offered one. I'm still on the road to finding the ultimate black IPAs, however, so it may be later than sooner.

 1,973 characters

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce can. The “CANNED ON” date printed on the bottom is “08/13/12.” It seems this can is a little ripe.

Appearance: Poured a luscious dark, ruby/caramel brown. There is a ton of sedimentation (perhaps chunks of congealed protein since the beer is so old). Two fingers of medium tan head settled slowly to leave a spotted, buttery lacing and trails of foam along the glass.

Smell: Very sweet and candy-like, much like licorice, though it definitely is beer. Sweet caramel, red and black licorice (the black, I think, is most prominent), molasses, toasted malts, dark and exotic fruits, citrus, and a little pine or spruce.

Taste: The hops have mostly fallen out due to the age of the can, and overall it is a sweet mess. But it is still drinkable. Much like the aroma, it is very sweet and candy-like. Sweet caramel, red and black licorice, molasses, toasted malts, and the remnants of grapefruit citrus and pine. It does have an adequate and bitter aftertaste — where the citrus and pine are most notable — but I am sure it is nothing like it was when the beer was fresh.

Drinkability: It is still a decent brew even after six months. However, I will need to revisit this one.

 1,210 characters

Photo of NilocRellim
3.33/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer was poured from the can and into a pint glass. Very dark, almost black, in colour. Beer had a roasted, sweet malt nose which carried through into the flavour of the beer; tasting of dark roasted malts. No distinctive aftertastes or flavours.

Would I buy this beer again? Maybe.

 283 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz can

Pours black, brownish tinge around the edges, with some observable particulate matter. Pillowy light tan head dissipates slowly.

Smalls of molasses, roasted nuts and piney hops.

Mild caramel malt sweetness and piney hop bitterness. Pretty hoppy.

Medium body with a light carbonation on the tongue.

Pretty decent dark ale with a heavy hop punch. Interesting flavor balance. Different but not bad. Not always a big fan of 21st A, but this one is worth trying.

 474 characters

Photo of TaylorK
3.33/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a can of this from Kroger while I was over in Columbus for a beer festival. Picked up another from the same brewery and a mixed set. I've been enjoying craft brews for some time, but the canned craft isn't something I've encountered much. Still getting used to seeing that.

A: Poured this into a pint glass and it made a decent head. The beer itself is dark, but not quite as much as the marketing and packaging made me think it might be.

S: The piney hop smell is definitely dominant on the front.

T: I think one of the biggest elements here is first a very refreshing pine, but then it moves quickly into resin-y flavor that comes out ever stronger as the beer warms. This is isn't horrible, but I wasn't a big fan of the taste. To me, this is the core component, and I was disappointed with the Back in Black.

It's not a strong hop flavor, but I don't think there's much else there either. Maybe a little bit of sweet.

M: Nothing to complain about here. The feel is smooth and easy to drink.

O: This is a decent beer, but I doubt I will be picking up anymore. If it was available, I'd drink it. I'd even recommend it to a friend. This one just isn't for me.

 1,180 characters

Photo of caseyscarb
2.87/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Back in Black - 21st Amendment Brewery

I grabbed a growlette of this tonight- being an IPA lover this beer sounded pretty intriguing, it is however my 1st "Black IPA".

In to a pint glass it goes.

It is a dark hazel brown color, though fairly clarified, and a decent amount of carbonation producing slightly more head then I was expecting.

On the nose I initially get a piney hop and semi sweetness followed by a light roasted malt and coffee. As I continue to smell I even get some cocoa nibs.

While I'm pleased with the smell, it does not carry through very well to the taste-
It's a bit watery, and an initial sweetness is then bombarded by carbonation in the mid and finishes very bitter.

There are some really nice nuances in the flavors, but it doesn't tie together well as a whole.

When I envisioned a Black IPA, this is nowhere near what came to mind.

But to be fair, it has a tasty quality to it, but it's definitely nothing too special.

 953 characters

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

Reviewed from notes. Picked up a can from the Root Cellar in Cincinnati. Poured from can into a Russian River pint glass.

A: Very dark brown to black, and nearly opaque unless held to the light. Minimal visible carbonation, and a half-finger's worth of off-white head.

S: Dark cacao, pine hops, a bit of coffee. Overall impression is of sweetness.

T: Follows, but more coffee malt than the nose, and only a moderate amount of hops - pine and a bit of citrus rind in profile.

M: Medium body, low carbonation sensation, and a mild alcohol presence.

O: Not great...I'm a little disappointed. It was canned five months ago, so not at the peak of freshness. Still though - not particularly old, and not particularly good.

 721 characters

Photo of patpbr
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

21st Amendment Black Ale is black in color like the name states. The smell is malt and some citrus. A roast malt character smokey and coffee. Then it finishes like an an IPA with a bitter and lingering feel. This is an interesting brew. Its well worth a try.

 258 characters

Photo of fauxpunker
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Can. Pours near black with off-white head. Clean and bright. First experience with a black IPA. Not sure what to think. It’s not bad, but not what I was expecting either. Hops and malt both strong in the aroma, but the malt wins (a bit roasty) out in the flavor. Easy to drink, slightly bitter finish. Glad for the experience and likely to give 21st Amendment another look.

Review posted at Ratebeer originally.

 414 characters

Photo of One_Man_Gang
4.03/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

had this on tap at 2 Stones Pub in Newark, DE. this is a great brew.

the color is black, with a good solid 2 inch head that laces nicely

the smell is somewhat smokey, with chocolate and/or coffee hints, and a nice hop aroma

taste is everything i would want in this style, it starts like a stout and finishes like an IPA. has a chocolate, smokey taste to start as well as a piney, bitter finish.

overall i really enjoy this one. i have since found it in cans, and when poured into a glass, it is very good that way as well.
another solid offering from 21st Amendment!

 571 characters

Photo of beerdrifter
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, nearly black pour with a two finger beige head with good retention and great lacing. The nose was a bit subdued for the style. Roasty up front with hints of black licorice, mocha, and soy sauce with a touch of citrus and pine emerging as well as a touch of smoke. The taste is a bit more bold with roasty coffee and chocolate complemented nicely with citrusy, piney hop notes with some cola on the finish. The mouthfeel is a tad bit fizzy and a little thin, but has a nice finish. Overall a solid Black IPA, but not quite up there with Sublimely. Very sessionable though...

 585 characters

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