Diablo Imperial Black IPA | Big Hole Brewing Company

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Diablo Imperial Black IPADiablo Imperial Black IPA
53 Ratings
Diablo Imperial Black IPADiablo Imperial Black IPA

Brewed by:
Big Hole Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.


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Ratings: 53 |  Reviews: 45
Reviews by ShwarzAl3r:
Photo of ShwarzAl3r
5/5  rDev +39.7%

More User Reviews:
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.

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Photo of hotstuff
4.38/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

One of my favorite beer styles!When poured into my glass, this beer poured a medium sized tan creamy head with fine-medium sized bubbles.The head fully diminished.The body had some carbonation and the hue was dark brown.The nose of this beer was that of spices, cloves, malt and caramel.The flavor was malty and I could taste the alcohol in this beer.The mouthfeel was tingly, smooth and light-medium bodies.The lacing was fair.This beer did not have an overpowering alcohol taste to it and this is definitely a beer that I could drink a couple of during the course of an evening.A great tasting beer!

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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!

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had a deep dark ruby color with a compact off-white head that quickly petered out, leaving a microscopic ring and no lace. Some particulate matter noted in bottom of the glass.
The smell was a rather underwhemling blend of roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee and alcohol. The alcohol aroma was quite medicinal. The taste was sweet initially, with hints of dark fruit and some chocolate. A rough chocolate malt flavor with coffee undertones hit the palate before exiting stage left, leaving the stage open for a finish push of alcohol and mild hops bitterness. The feel was medium-bodied (heading toward light), dry, and lacking much carbonation.
Overall, this was another unremarkable brew from Big Hole Brewing. The aroma and taste just didin't mesh very well and the alcohol was too overbearing to make this beer very enjoyable.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a nice dark ale. It poured a nice dark brown color with a medium sized head and medium bubbles. The head leaves rather abruptly and the enjoyment begins. At first taste I get a thick mouthfeel and strong chocolate/coffee notes. More sweetness ensues. The taste is hard to pin down but it did remind me of a dark macadamia nut cookie in it's characteristics. A spicy twang hits the tongue in the aftertaste and actually is quite nice. The 7.5% abv seems to be missing making this a good one to drink quite a few to.

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Photo of Mustard
3.74/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle; no "best by" or "bottled on" warning; purchased as a "busted" single from Trader Joe's for $1.00.

Appearance: Pours a dark, ruby hue with almost no head; not much in the way of lacing.

Aroma: Nicely of brown sugar and molasses.

Taste: Lightly sweet upfront with a firm backbone of dark, bready malt; discernible notes of bittersweet chocolate and black liquorice; mild espresso bitterness in the finish; hints of grain, smoke and dark fruit; light to medium bodied with something of a smooth, yet prickly, mouthfeel.

Notes: Not bad; will have to buy the whole six pack next time.

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

Very dark brown, yet still slightly translucent. Head dissipates very quickls, and leaves only a ring around the outside of the glass. Smells sweetly of raisins and alcohol. Taste is hinted with tart chocolate flavor with raisins and an alcohol aftertaste. Mouthfeel is slick with just the right amount of carbonation. Not bad. One of the better Big Hole brews I have tried.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.54/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours very dark brown with tints of ruby redness. No light gets through my pint glass. A beige spongey head foams up easily and very slowly dissipates, in fact there is still a very thin layer at the completion of the sampling. I do get a little sediment in the bottle.

The aroma is all around mild with some faint malt scents, no hops to smell here.

The first sip is similar to the aroma, rich malty flavor present but not overwhelming or long lasting in my mouth. I also detect faint coffee flavors and maybe chocolate but I could be reaching. There is very mild carbonation and the brew is moderately thick. Sure dont taste the 7.5% abv listed on the bottle. No hops in the flavor either.
Overall this is a very smooth drinkable brew.

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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.

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

Pours a very dark amber, with a bit of brown, and almost no head.
The nose is of syrup, sugary malt and molasses with a bit of caramel. The taste does not live up; it is a bit censored. I would love them to take this roasted, malty flavor, and beef if up, make it a bit more bold. The hops are fun, and are ironically a redeeming quality considering the style. Stout-like mouthfeel, which does not really fit its character. I would like it to be a bit more carbonated.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

Presentation: The second of four different Big Hole beers that I recently picked up from Trader Joe’s. A tall thin neck 12 fluid ounce brown glass bottle. The label on the Big Hole beers appears to be generic, they all have a horned Cattle skull on, the Diablo has a silver gray background with the words ‘Diablo’ in red, underwritten with ‘dark ale’. Listed as 7.5%, with no freshness date.

Appearance: A dark chestnut lucid brown body. The tan colored head forms as soon as the pour finishes. The head appears out the top of the beer with a very audible fizz, very reminiscent of the actions of a dissolving Alka-Seltzer in a glass of water. Similarly, the massive head soon disappears leaving a very light mottled lace on the walls of the glass and a brown ring halo head. Thanks to the high carbonation levels, a quick swirl repairs the damaged head.

Nose: Lots of brown sugar, burnt caramel and bonfire toffee. Molasses, wholemeal bread and toasted (but not roasted) Malts in the finish.

Taste: Sweet beginnings, malts and a hint of dark fruits, but only a hint. Some dark bitter tasting cooking chocolate & burnt sugar in the middle coats the tongue. Some coffee in the finish. Where the hell did the 7.5% alcohol go?? I found this really rather difficult, it is one of those beers that is harder to rate, the more closely you examine it. This is very weird. At times it seems thin and one-dimensional, almost like Coca-Cola, yet oddly enough, the occasional mouthful surprises you – really quite a strange beer.

Mouthfeel: Rather thin for a 7.5% ABV beer, felt like I was drinking a malt flavored Soda water at times – quite strange.

Drinkability: Like Diet Pepsi, this is rather easy drinking, but not something I would wish to have too much of.

Overall: Somehow it was both a disappointment and a pleasant surprise. A very “lightweight” 7.5% ABV Dark Ale. Not my Cup of Tea really, not bad, but I shall not be replenishing the couple of bottles that I picked up.

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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.

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Photo of Huffaroma
4.5/5  rDev +25.7%

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.

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Photo of putnam
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Is this like some kind of Belgian Strong Dark Ale? The taxonomy issue is rumpling my ability to enjoy this beer.

Deep dark brown with aromas of molasses, brown sugar, macadamia and brazil nuts. Burnt coffee, licorice and ashtray chime in on the palate with a watery, iced coffee finish. This is rustic Amcraft Dark (there! I figured it out)...suitable for camping or dwelling in a cramped, broken-down college apartment. Dingy, full of despair, but a morbidly chic buzz in certain situations I'm sure.

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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.

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Diablo Imperial Black IPA from Big Hole Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.58 out of 5 with 53 ratings