Diablo Imperial Black IPA
Big Hole Brewing Company

Diablo Imperial Black IPADiablo Imperial Black IPA
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
American Black Ale
Ranked #521
Ranked #39,876
3.58 | pDev: 13.41%
Big Hole Brewing Company
Montana, United States
Diablo Imperial Black IPADiablo Imperial Black IPA
Notes: Formerly Diablo Dark Ale

Diablo Black IPA is a deep, dark hop bomb, juiced up with the awesomeness of Centennial hops and triggered by the indulgent and decadent roasted malt flavors of a stout.

View: Beers | Events
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 53
Photo of archyquaffer
4.25/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a longneck into a sampler. It takes an aggressive pour to produce about 1/4 inch of a creamy, off-white head. This gradually reduces to a ring around the edge and a little wisp or two in the center. This beer is very dark and will scarcely admit light from a common compact fluorescent bulb. The edges show a little bit of ruddy dark brown with a bit of yellow.

I don't get a lot in the nose except a generic rich, molasses-like malt aroma (but I confess my nose is not that sensitive). The flavor is very malty, with lots of dry but tangy molasses and touches of coffee, dark fruit (prunes, cherrries), and dark bread. A fruity, dank flavor lingers on the palate, which makes it seem maybe a little sweeter than it is, but some earthy bitterness is detectable on the back of the tongue. Alcohol flavors are well-masked but certainly accentuate the fruity flavor-aromas. I don't detect a ton of funkiness or other yeasty characteristics except for maybe a tad of nutty bitterness.

I think I only paid only about 8 bucks for a sixer of this stuff, which is a pretty good deal. Plenty of complex esters suggestive of a good home brew. I don't have much in my tasting experience to compare to this style, other than Chimay, which I have not sampled in awhile, and have not reviewed here. My palate says the beer could use a maybe use a tad more bitterness and maybe even some funkiness to balance the malt.

Updated June 2014- I've bought a six pack or two of this since it was on sale at a bargain price. I've come to appreciate the malt characteristics more and have upgraded the overall marks without substantially altering the narrative. A little more funk would be welcome, but please don't turn this into a hop bomb! Definitely a good deal in my town. Excellent plus!

 1,784 characters

Photo of Murrhey
2.94/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a standard-pressure 12oz bottle into a tulip glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. No best-by date. Reviewed live.

A- Very thin white head. No retention. Dark ruby-red color with moderately high clarity. Disappointing looking beer.

S- Some dark fruits and chocolate malts as well. Rich, but surprisingly simple.

T- Dark malts, some earthy hops. Quite watery actually.

M- Light bodied and wet.

O- This is not a great beer. Nor is is a good one.

 463 characters

Photo of exonthebottle
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this interesting beer not sure it this rating fairly portrays this beer's uniqueness
starts off very carbonated I had to be care not to spill it as i open the bottle since some the head rushed out right away. Looks cool in the light purple almost an odd brown coke ish purple
The beer quickly loses the head in the glass and smells hop -herbal tea like Floral nice bitter malts and sweet malts and nice to smell
the taste is sour almost wild beer like at first then it becomes more malty a juicy beer chocolaty and a bit of smoke there too
I this is not bad though it sort of surprising
feel I think this is rather weak too soft of feel
I say this beer is drinkable and interesting beer to have once I am not sure I would get this beer again but it good and drinkable for a 7.5 % beer

 789 characters

Photo of JackieTH
3.16/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark mahogany with a half-inch of off-white head.

Smell: Subtle nuttiness and bread.

Taste: I got the immediate impression of a double-strength Lipton's iced tea. Slight acidity, nuttiness, bready malt.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat flat and thin.

Drinkability: You'd not know it was 7.5% ABV.

 300 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.37/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this extra in a great trade with a77cj7.. Thanks a ton Chris... I've spent many moons in Montana, yet never taken the time to review this one.

Poured into my Old Guardian goblet... thin sorta yellowish head.... little retention or lacing... the brew is polished deep walnut.

After some airing out, the nose is pretty nutty.. but the overall malts never seem to come around... hints of dusty cocoa.

Flavor has a good toasty malt presence up front yet moves into an odd sour note toward the finish.. I don't think it is the dreaded "infected", but there aren't enough dark malts there to bring in the dark acidic twang... really.... no big deal... The dark malts are dry.. there is a bit of yeasty fruitiness.. ehhhh.... okay.. body and carbonation show no problems.


 786 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 7.5% ABV, no date.

A - Dark amber brown with a massive carbonation level feeding a humongous deep bone colored head of four fingers. Good retention. Tiny, dense bubbles on top with loose ones in the bottom. No lace left over though.

S - Interesting nose. Dark candi sugar, light coffee hints, a dry roasted nose that's almost like overly toasted bread. I can't put my finger on what the spice I smell is though.

T - Very unique. Toasted malts and bread up front have a quickly changing profile. Lots of nuances here; toffee, caramel, chocolate, coffee, some sort of spice, and an acidic, almost sour finish. Interesting and pretty good.

M - This medium-bodied ale is smooth with a carbonation crispness to the finish and an interesting lactic/sour/acidic thing going on.

D - Hmmm. Not something I'd like to have often but it's an interesting beer to try. Sweet label design as well!

 943 characters

Photo of WJVII
3.35/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass, thanks to jdostal, with a dark amber color and a 1 finger off white head that settled into a thin cap. The aroma is of bread, some slight roasted malt, a little nuttiness as well. The taste was slightly burnt caramel, nuts, and some dull malts. The taste was a little flat and I now notice quite a bit of sediment floating in the brew. This is just an OK beer. Not too much to write home about, but I do appreciate a shared sample.

 457 characters

Photo of drizzam
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my buddy Jdostal for hooking me up with yet another beer...Beer Advocacy at it's best!

A - Poured from the brown bottle into a clear pint glass. The body of this brew looks brown in color but is actually a nice ruby red when held up to the light. The head is ridiculous on this beer...I know I'm moreorless an aggressive pourer, but this head is a foamy off white and 3 fingers tall. Retention is excellent for the first few minutes as it fades to a one finger finale. For as much head as this had, it left no lacing down the inside of my glass.

S - Sweet malts abound n the nose. Also dark black strap molasses and a hint of dark fruit.

T & M - I'm tasting the dark fruit a lot more than I smelled it in the nose, along with a hint of bitter chocolate. There is a slight bitterness in the finish. All of this rides on a malty backbone. Somewhat thinnish mouthfeel with a slight bite on the tongue from the moderate carbonation.

D - This brew pushes the ABV limit for this brew style, but the alcohol is really well masked. I would have never guessed this was 7.5%. A tasty beer, and one I think I could drink several of in a sitting. I would recommend it to my friends.

 1,185 characters

Photo of cdkrenz
3.4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to JDostal for his NYE gift I am able to sample this Big Hole.

A - Dark brown body with two plus inches of light brown head. Held to light the body displays a thin amber hue. This head has some decent retention consisting of varying sizes of bursting air pockets.

S - Whiskey, anise, peanuts, alcohol, and cherry cough syrup.

T - It has long roast grain base. There's a black licorice flavor accompanied by a hint of chocolate. There's a bitterness to it reminding me of and English Ale.

M - it has a watery texture that goes down relatively smooth. The finish is slightly coarse but overall its a round texture.

~ Not bad. It has a unique robustness about it. It has the flavors of a winter warmer with the fell of a spring bock.

 744 characters

Photo of Ragingbull
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown color but when you hold it up to direct light you can see through it. Light lacing on the surface. Strong malt nose with some sweet elements. It reminds me of a deep purple colored malt I have smelled in homebrewing but can't recall the type, it also conjures images of mulberry or some other deep purple not sweet type of fruit. Malty attack starts off initially sweet but is touched by a little bit of smoke. There are some chocolate and caramel tones that come out after the beer has been "breathing" a while and perhaps because the temperature has risen. The sweet malt sensation is almost fruity. A little touch of fruit-like sweetness at the finish. A malty ale, but pretty good all said.

 705 characters

Photo of Mistofminn
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up the sixer from Surdyk's, it was on special for $5.88 (I wonder how old it is) and for 7.5%, I figured that was a good deal and worth a try. I've heard of Big Hole before but never tried any of their offerings.

Pretty generic 12 oz bottle, with a cattle skull and "Big Hole Diablo Dark Ale" printed on the label. Poured into my pint glass as usual. Pours a dark brown, almost cola like color. When held into the light it gives off a purple color...odd. An aggressive pour produces an average tan head, due in part to the high carbonation. The head dissipates quickly, but a quick swirl will force it to return. Minimal lacing is present.

The aroma is very sweet. I get brown sugar and maybe some molasses. There is also a fruity sweet, and I feel this may be the infamous "dark fruit" that I believe this is the first time I can say I actually smelled it. There is also a roasted malt character here.

Not bad, not bad at all. There is the sweetness you get from the smell, but there is also a bitterness here, possibly bakers chocolate. Also, a there is a slight ground coffee aftertaste. The 7.5% is hidden extremely well, and virtually unnoticeable. The brew is surprisingly light, considering it's 7.5% content, but it's also very smooth.

Not to bad in the drinkablility department. Overall I was pleasantly surprised. It was thinner than I would have hoped, but thats ok, it made up for it in other area's. I don't think a lot of people will like this mainly for that reason, but I didn't find that it phased me too much. I enjoyed this. I don't know if I'll get this again any time soon, but it was a nice treat.

 1,630 characters

Photo of drpimento
3.28/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Interesting. Poured with a big, fluffy, frothy, foamy tan head. Some lace. Clear, dark, reddish brown color. Malty nose. Very soft mouth. On the sweet side with some chocolate, and yes, cola. Not bad. Tad too sweet. but, not bad. Pick up a hint of booze on the finish.

 268 characters

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

This beer pours a dark mahogany color. The head is half an inch in height, and recedes slowly into a thin cap of lacing. The aroma is caramel, nuts, hints of dark chocolate, and burnt malt. The taste is full of caramel and burnt malt, with a lingering moderate bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with lively carbonation. Overall, this is a fine beer. It drinks like a big brown ale, and I'm all for that.

 431 characters

Photo of KeefD
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass a hazy dark brown color with hints of orange on the sides. Smell is roasted nuttiness, a bit of chocolate, ans some spiciness. Taste is of burnt caramel, some coffee flavors, hints of chocolate, and some hazelnut toffee flavors. Not a bad flavor profile, but nothing overly complex. Hints of fruit pop in the finish but then becomes rather dry. It feels full-bodied but tastes a little watered-down, which is odd. Overall, I liked this beer, but nothing I would probably seek out again.

 511 characters

Photo of GClarkage
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

6/20/08- Had during my two week Montana vacation.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info found. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Cola like brown colored pour with a 1/2 inch head and very slight lace trails.

Smell- Mild nose of dark fruits, chocolate and leafy tobbaco.

Taste- Some raisins and dates make there way into the brew with a fairly heavy, but not super sweet caramel malt base. Hops are pretty much non-existant. Flavors meld well together though.

Mouthfeel- Light and slightly watery with a mid-range carbonation level.

Drinkability- Decent brew and about the texture and flavors I would expect from a less than 8 abv beer of this style.

 672 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.42/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Burnt umber that looks more like black cherry when backlit with an overcast sky. Generous slices of orange can seen along the sides and bottom of the glass. Atop the beer sits a sandalwood colored cap that is unremarkable. Unfortunately, no lace manages to stick.

There seems to be some style confusion going on. I've seen the style listed as Belgian strong dark ale and as English strong ale (above). Diablo actually smells like an English porter. It's somewhat roasty and is cocoa-like, dark fruity and earthy. There's nothing Belgian about the aroma.

Diablo Dark Ale has the basic flavor of a Belgian dark ale, but without the spicy yeastiness. In the end, this is decent beer, possibly even slightly above average beer, but it's nothing to get excited about.

Flavors include dark fruit (raisins, dried figs), dark caramel, uncarbonated cola, bittersweet chocolate, unsweet molasses and earthy tobacco. Sweet and bitter fight to a draw (which is a good thing), while sourness is barely noted (also a good thing). No alcohol is noted at all.

The mouthfeel is a fence-sitter. No matter what style one settles on, it's too light. Having said that, it matches up with the flavor fairly well. Looks like an average score it is.

Diablo Dark Ale is far from devilishly good, but it's a helluva lot better than Mythical White, the only other Big Hole beer that I've reviewed. Apparently this brewery has gone out of business (or possibly changed their name), but I haven't been able to confirm anything. Given Mythical and Diablo, they won't be missed.

 1,552 characters

Photo of icemonkey908
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out of the bottle a very dark, deep brown with barely any head and no lacing. The little bit of head that was originally present quickly dissipated within a minute or so. The smell is sweet and malty with some dried fruit undertones. A pleasant aroma, although not very strong or persistent. The taste starts out following the smell quite closely with a strong malty presentation, but after a few seconds a roasted burnt flavor sets in. The impact of the flavor is neither very intense nor does it linger which can lead to the mouthfeel appearing a bit thin.

 564 characters

Photo of franksnbeans
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep brown with pretty much no head or lacing.. Barely a head forms. Smells a little of roasted malt and a hint of chocolate. Taste is the same as the smell, if the flavors werent so faint it would be much better. Light in the mouth with minor carbonation, a little watery. The fact that this is 7.5 ABV blows my mind, very light drinking.

 353 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
2.91/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a mahagony, deep orange pekoe tea hue. Some sprinkled sediment at the bottom. Good head at the pour into my pint glass. Nice little clinging ring that sort of rides up the side of the glass. Aroma is a little like fake chocolate powder with a few muted, roasty malts. Something seems off though. Can't define really. The taste has some more chocolate powder flavors with some chalky maybe even solcvent like qualities. The malts come out a bit in a dark sweet, toasty form. The palate is a bit flat but palpable.

 518 characters

Photo of TinusTime
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark tea- cola colour with a off white head. Head didnt last long or lace too much . Smell is mainly of toffee and chocolate almost turtle candy like. Taste is mainly the same with a bit of tartness in the finish. This was good to start, but the coffee and caramel thing got old after a bit. Mouthfeel was full but not too heavy. Drinkability was OK but i wont go chasing after this. A good dessert beer.

 412 characters

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

The bottle I had was HIGHLY Carbonated; foam filled 80 percent
of the glass when poured down the side; but it produced a Thick
rich light tan colored head that shrunk to half after about 3 minutes;
First taste is sweet ! But the alcohol is there in the background.
I was suprised at the sweetness with this beer at this alcohol level;
would have expected it to have been fermented out.

Color is deep amber and clear.

The sweetness of this seems to overpower any hop flavor or bitterness.
I could drink a few, but would rather have Imperial Stout.

 559 characters

Photo of alexgash
2.8/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark cola brown, with a small, off-white head. Smells of tootsie rolls, cocoa, a little alcohol, and some fruity overtones. Taste starts off with sweet tootsie roll malt. Quite chocolatey and perhaps a bit too sweet. Some bitter roastiness comes in, but the sweetness wins out. Finish is a little astringent (seemed abnormally so). Lighter mouthfeel than you'd think, and a little cloying to drink a lot of.

 415 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
2.48/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer poured deep amber brown, almost black. The head was hardly there at all, even when forced out by pouring from an extreme height the head fell like a rock to flatness.

The aroma was chocolate, but not like milk chocolate, more like chocolate pudding or cocoa powder with a very slight fruitiness.

The flavor was not well done with cocoa powder and slight coffee with some astringency. Also a winey character was present.

The finish was dry with coffee and cocoa powder aftertaste which became less pleasant the more time passed after the swallow. The body was medium light and watery.

12 ounce bottle. A few of Big Hole's beers have some astringency issues.

 677 characters

Photo of JISurfer
3.15/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not a bad brew, but nothing to get excited about either. It was a dark amber color with an ok off white head that lasted a short while. The smell was malty mostly, but also had smells of fruits, dark and light, and a trace of hops. The taste was similar, but more resembled an amber than anything else. There was also the presence of alcohol in the taste. Overall it was ok, but I don't think I'll buy it again. Cool bottle design too.

 435 characters

Photo of merlin48
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an almost opaque, cherry mahogany body, with a sparse head that leaves considerable, patch lace down the glass.

Aroma is subdued. Floral hops and several malty aromas are in the background.

Mouthfeel is coating, almost like a fine stout. There is an assertion of hops on the tongue. Things are looking better.

Taste is complex and interesting. Caramel, and other malts, try hard to beat back the floral hop onslaught. Mcintosh apples appear midway through, complimented by Bartlett pears. Some nice flavors going on here. The finish is clean, with a pear aftertaste.

Yummy dark ale, much better than expected. Clean, smooth, and very drinkable, with some pleasant flavors.

 690 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Diablo Imperial Black IPA from Big Hole Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 53 ratings