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 russwaddell
3.24/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I am not a big American IPA fan, and I'm also not a fan of 21st Amendment's IPA. I wanted to give this a shot though, as I'm just starting to find a lot of dark IPAs and I dig the style.

a - this beer looks incredible. enormous head. creamy. really, incredibly dark. tons of lacing.
s - i'd like it stronger. hoppy, but i want more. roasty malt is there, but again i want more.
t - gets better the more i have, but i'm struggling to get any particular character from either the IPA side or the dark side. one major plus is a fantastic finish, maybe partly thanks to the decent abv. taste lingers a long time and gets more complex as it fades.
m - metallic, too thin for me. alcohol seems well hidden. maybe would do better with more bubbles.
d - i don't generally consider IPAs drinkable at all, but this one is not bad. i drank it fast, but can't say i was thinking "can't wait to get another mouthful"

In conclusion, a really well crafted beer that is maybe a work in progress. Looks awesome, I just don't think the taste backs it up. Maybe subtlety is lost on me.

addendum: awesome can and carry case.

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

For a black hops, this is my fav so far. They call this a hybrid of beers (subtle chocolate, coffee and hops). It's hoppy but a little thicker, deeper, darker and richer than the usual hop beers. Reminds me of a Guinness but you'll be surprised after the hops hit you. 6.8 etoh and 65 IBU's. Good job on diversifying the hop beers, 21st Amend!

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Photo of PayDay
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

An unusually nice day for November in Oregon yesterday, so I picked up a bargain growlette at Plew's to give this a try with some grilled burgers. It was very pleasant, with a nice bitter back to complement the roasted malt, and it went really well with the mushroom and onion burgers.
I'd definitely buy this again sometime.

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Photo of vdoz3
4.57/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

+1 for being named after a great song. A 32 oz growler in one night, all drank from a DFH pint glass (

A - Solid black body showing hints of reddish/brown borders at the edges. Head grows beautifully, before settling down and become sticky lacing trailing behind the level.

S - Hops. Tart, citrusy hops. There was also a slight metallic smell earlier on, but I've never noticed that before when I've had this beer before, willing to bet that was because I left it in the growler too long.

T - Citrus hops dominate, leaving a rich aftertaste, competing with the roasted malt aftertaste that creeps in.

M - Thick coating (willing to bet the roasted malt has something to do with this), and you can feel where the beer is hitting your tongue because the hops work at it instantly.

D - Amazing. I could drink this all night.

Up there with Stone's Sublimely Self Righteous (/11th Anniversary Ale), imho.

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Photo of Kyrgyzbrewer
2.31/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

C- Dark Brown almost black

A- Very hop forward

Taste – Surprising malt start to the taste that ends with a strong hop finish. There are some strong roasted notes.

Overall – My first sip made me think cough medicine. The more I drank, the better it gets. The odd thing is that it seems like I get different flavors with each sip. One sip will be overwhelming, and then the next will be relatively soft. Black IPAs are the new vogue beer style, and that is certainly a good thing. The problem for this beer is that there are so many brewers doing it well it is overshadowed by better competitors despite throwing a ton of flavor.

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Photo of scinerd3000
3.51/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pourd into a traditional pint glass. Review is from notes.

A: Poured too hard and raided a 5 finger head. Oops. Nice andtam thopugh with the best retention i have ever seen. Came back to this 20 minutes later and it still held a head. Lacing was also top notch. Ruby highlights when held up to the light.

S: Lots of fruit from the yeast, esters- pineapple, figs, English esters....not much malt at all.

T: wow- complex. Chocolate, coffee, American citrus right up at the front. Floral and piney. Some biscuit quality and slightly spicy from the alcohol.

M: Hops help to thin this out on the pallet. Very pleasing lingering of pine and malt. Very well carbonated with a low-medium body. Leaves pallet fairly clean with lingering acidity.

O: Rockin- another fine brew from 21st...


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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.

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Photo of Brideshead
3.61/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark, as the name would suggest...but some brown tinge. Quite a nice head, with moderate retention and nice lace.

Smell: The Sweetish/Bitter combination of toasted malt and bitter cocoa/burnt coffee is quite memorable.

Taste: This is an IPA worth trying, mostly due to the heavy and sweet presence of toasted malts. The bitterer hop presence follows up, along with a bitter cocoa taste. The feel in the mouth is thickish and full. Overall, immensely drinkable, but perhaps not quite as nicely complex as some other Dogfish Head's 190minute IPA.

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Photo of Eddxii
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Back in Black does not pour a full black color. It has more of a dark root-beer hue, though in the low lighting of a bar it might as well be absent of color. A medium two-finger head of light tan bubbles appears initially, slowly dissipating to a thin but consistent layer atop the beer that nicely laces the sides of the glass.

S: I’m really struggling to get much of an aroma at all from this beer. There’s a very subtle smell of the roasted malts, but not much else. If you really concentrate, you might observe a light pine scent from the hops.

T: The initial taste smoothly brings the darker malts of this medium-bodied ale to the front, leaving the bitterness for later. Said bitterness strongly makes its appearance upon the finish. There the hops emerge with high potency, mixing with the roasted malts for a sharp but delicious relish.

M: The roastiness of the malt and the light flower of the hops linger on the palate well after the sip as the mouthfeel becomes a tad sticky, but in a good way that brings to mind sweet pine resin.

O: For people who tend not to go for full IPAs, Back in Black offers a good sharp drinking experience with a bit more depth to balance out the bitterness. The roasted malts still make this a powerful beer in terms of flavor, and the extra richness they provide will satisfy those who don’t like drinking a glass of hops. Overall, Back in Black is nothing to write home about, but if you’re new to this hybrid style, this is a very good representative.

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Photo of xcrunner78
4.08/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: Smell of sweet roasted caramels, a coffee bitter from the malts, and a face full of hops. I also smell a dark bitter, sort of like a porter, but with a lot more hops.

Appearance: The pour is black as midnight with a creamy head that dies down to a creamy layer that sits on top of the beer. It almost looks like a nitro-pour off of tap and the head stays in-tack to the glass with each sip.

Flavor: On the tip of the tongue, have this roasted malts, that washes back across the palate. The bitter from the malts becomes a little sour on the back of the palate. Very complex malts characteristics, rich and bready. With each sip, the hops comes out. I can taste a little grapefruit from the Columbus, but very earthy and piney and not floral at all with a dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Very full and creamy. The sour taste sits in the mouth for a while, sort of like a porter, but even better because of all of the hops.

Overall Impression: The taste that washes back of the palate lingers and lingers. Very intense hops characteristics and the complex malts will lead me to be intrigued of what else that they have brewed. I can't wait to try what other treats that they have!

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Photo of Pentastar
4.35/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark caramel color with flashes of garnet red, with half inch creamy tan head.

Aroma: Sweet, with a little coffee and some floral notes as well.

Taste: Some hop bitterness comes through, along with roasted barley malt, coffee, cacao and some residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation and full bodied.

Drinkability: A well balanced dark IPA.

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Photo of charmcityboh
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a can into Sam Adams Perfect Sensory glass.
Pours a dark reddish brown, black in the center, red showing at the edges of the glass. Good thick head with peaks and valleys, forming little tan mountain ranges popping out of the glass. Sinks down leaving nice lacing before I even sip.
Smell of pure hops. Think intense piney smell. Not getting any malts in the nose, all hops.
Chocolate, toasted malt flavors. Hops pop in very nicely on the back end of the flavor. From beginning of sip to end, this beer really runs the gauntlet! I can't think of another beer off the top of my head that changes so much within each the sip. Little to none on the alcohol.
Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, more like a stout than a black IPA. Maybe a bit too thick for the style.
A bit heavy, but plenty tasty.
A very complex beer in my opinion. Again, more stout than other BIPA's I've had, but very much an IPA at the same time as well. Very nice can as well. As far as I'm concerned, another solid showing from 21st Amendment (on a tangent, what a great name for a brewery!).

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Photo of dchester
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coffee-colored translucent dk. brown. Finger sized beige head thins out pretty quickly. Smell is of caramel maltiness and piney hops. Taste is much the same with the piney hops lingering after the initial malt taste. Overall this is a nice beer, very refreshing, but a bit too thin for what I was expecting. It lacked the umph I was looking for.

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Photo of Gregorious
2.86/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Dark as dark can be. But not thick at all, which is kind of weird since dark/opaque tend to follow with a thick mouthfeel. Had some nice lacing around the sides of the glass.

S - Deep dry roasting aromas, hops weren't in my business.

T - This is disappointing. Not only am I not getting the hoppiness I was looking for, but this beer has a very nasty sharp metallic aftertaste. I've heard that the flavor is actually not from the cans that they are stored in, but that the cans are brewed in a different brewery and it's there that that aftertaste is created.

M - Light, watery. Dry at the end.

D - Meh, this beer didn't go over so well.

UPDATE: I had this on tap and is MUCH better. Just stay clear of the cans.

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Photo of biggerboat88
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a glass, this is a very dark IPA with a thick topping of light brown head. You get mostly sweet malts with some slight roasted aromas on the nose. The sweet malts come through first, I noticed some earthy undertones before the hops come through. There is a lingering bitterness that interplays with the malts as you continue to drink this one. The head faded rather quickly but left some considerable lacing on the glass. Another decent addition to the "Black IPA" family that seems to be quite popular right now. Very smooth and drinkable with an enjoyable little hop-bite.

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Photo of cynicgiraffe
4.07/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is my first black IPA for what it's worth. Pours opaque black. Overwhelming grapefruit in the aroma. So much so that I can't get anything else. Thin creamy head, disappears quickly but leaves lots of lacing. Taste: lots of grapefruit but some pine. Thick mouthfeel, almost like a Russian imperial. Bizarre (and has some palette dissonance) to have this palette with the hop profile. Back end has a peculiar combo of hop bitterness and stout bitterness. I love this beer. Well balanced. I would drink this any time. Awesome.

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Photo of HopHeadMerlin
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured into standard pint glass from can, Pours a dark brown with reddish tints. Tan color head with good retention & decent lacing.

S- Fresh smell of earthy hops & Roasted malts.

T- Piney hops & chocolate malty flavor.Bitter Finish. Honestly tastes a bit better as it warms a bit & both profiles come through a bit more..

M- Upfront and smooth.

D-Goes down good. Good Beer and could totally see myself drinking several during a session.

Serving type: can

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Photo of GalenAnderson
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on draft at the Armsby Abbey in Worcester MA. It was poured into a standard tumbler pint glass with a one finger head.

The appearance was a deep brown, not quite black and not fully opaque. The hoppy and malty aroma is nice but not as strong as the taste of the beer itself.

The taste of the beer is thankfully its best attribute. It was really wonderful and full of complexity. It is neither particularly hoppy nor bitter, but these flavors are present and balanced. The roasted malt flavors that held hints of chocolate and currents provide most of the taste. The beer is just a little sweet which balances with the bitterness perfectly.

Mouthfeel was nice, lightly carbonated, maybe a little bit lighter than expected.

Very drinkable and also very easy to enjoy with food.

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Photo of ardeano
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
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!

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Photo of Matthewislee
2.08/5  rDev -43.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I'm amazed by the positive reviews of this beer. Was my first Black IPA and probably my last.

A few other beer friends and I poured it into a pint glass and watched the head dwindle quickly into a somewhat thin bodied beer with lots of little carb.

On the nose it was sweet and somewhat hoppy.

The flavor killed it for me. I've never tasted such an improperly balanced beer in my life and those with me agreed, that while the flavor itself may have been good there was no balance. It was metallic and brittle in mouthfeel.

This was a drainpour after it got passed around 4 people.

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Photo of BostonTriggs
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from, awesome, 12oz can to pint glass.

Dark brown in color, around 25 or 26 SRM. Has nice amber hues in the light. Head is a light tan color. It appears to be clear, but hard to tell because of color.

The smell of this has a lot of dark malt. I also pick up orange, biscuit (a little yeasty) and some chocolate. The nicest part is the floral hops I pick up every couple of smells. It's well hidden behind the malt, but somehow balances things out nicely. There's a little bit of a smoked quality to this one.

I'm not sure why I like this beer. There's no particular flavor that wow's me with each sip, but I immediately want another one. The floral hops are hard to find in the taste, but there is a nice little bitter pop to counteract the malty sweetness and acidity. The acidity is kind of milky (not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me) and clings to the palate after each sip. It's very malty, sweet, and buttery. Oddly, it's very IPA-like at the same time. It goes from very sweet, to a big burst of acidity, and then a slightly sharp bitterness blends in with this.

The texture is rough and chalky. However, it's not viscous like I expected it to be. It's thin, just a bit thicker than an IPA. The carbonation is at about a medium level; I only really noticed it at the beginning of a sip.

I found this very drinkable for a beer with such assertive malt flavor. I found it refreshing, and I don't understand how that works. I could probably have 2 or 3 before I wanted to move on.

Overall, not too shabby. I enjoyed it both cold and warm. My big complaint is the lingering flavors it leaves on your palate. It tastes like the bitterness and acidity have mixed together and glued themselves to my palate.

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

Poured can into red hook pint glass. Pours what else but black. Nice little head that sticks around with some lacing.

Smells of pine citrus and dark malts in the back ground.

Taste is hops right up front with roasted malts balancing the taste out. The bitterness does stick around longer but not bad at all.

Mouth feel is nice. Actually smother than expected from the color and initial smell. Expected a little more hop hit from this but over all a good beer.

Over all a good beer to try. Right in the middle of hoppiness. It's there but your not chewing your beer, not that it's a bad thing.

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Photo of garrettparkal
4.39/5  rDev +19.6%
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.

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Photo of cruzncomet
4.33/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was my beer to kick off that night at Anchor and Hope...

A = Every one at the table was suprised I started the night with this...But I knew it was not going to be heavy...Dark..dark...dark, but nice head

S = Hops a plenty

M = not as bitter on the finish as I would have thought but had a nice choclate finish

D= Excuse me sir...but can I have another....Loved it and could drking all night

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Photo of Cellach
4.27/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a stemless red wine glass. It is actually very nearly black, and completely opaque. The head is just off-white and not particularly emphatic. The nose is fascinating, with dark chocolate and roasted coffee working around bright citrus, pine resin, pleasant grassiness, and some tropical fruit. The palate shows more of the same, with the malts becoming more assertive. The layers of hop aromatics play a supporting role to the malty coffee, tobacco, and bitter dark chocolate, which is... interesting.

If a weird, though well-done, love child between an American IPA and an Imperial Stout sounds interesting to you, give this one a try. Prepare for some stylistic confusion. Overall, though, from what I understand the producer was going for, this is a well-balanced and compelling black IPA.

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