Black Hops Beer | Blue Hills Brewery

52 Reviews
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Black Hops BeerBlack Hops Beer

Brewed by:
Blue Hills Brewery
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.75%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by david18 on 07-05-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 52 | Ratings: 140
Photo of brentk56
3.73/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a coffee brown color capped by a mammoth beige head; plenty of lacing squiggles around the side of the pint glass

Smell: Smells rather Germanic, with a grassy hop, biscuity malt character but there is a fruity element from the ale yeast

Taste: Just a trace of the biscuity malt in the foreground and then the hops take over, with a lemony/grassy/piney bitterness that grows astringent by mid-palate; underneath, there is a hint of coffee and fruit; after the swallow, the astringent hops overwhelm and linger into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: An interesting melange but ultimately I don't really care for the astringency in the hop profile

Thanks, shaggy9356, for the opportunity

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.02/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with a tan big bubble head that dissipates pretty fast but leaves a fat ring around the glass. A lot of toasted grains in the nose with a faint zesty/earthy hop background.

Bitter toasted grains upfront with a faint fruity hop character. Some bready chocolate body with a dark fruity hop bitterness with a creamy finish. A dry creamy finish if that is possible. For the deep toasted/hoppy character of this beer it has a high drinkability.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #46 (Nov 2010):

A lagered ale with a German malt bill, and more than the usual amount of hops. Dark brown with amber edges; creamy, dense head. Yeasty, fruity, hoppy, roasty nose, though the yeast seems to come through the most. Super smooth with a hefty body, the clean maltiness ranges from toasted bread to chicory to cocoa powder. Mildly fruity with a yeast tone that stays. Twang of hops drops more flavor than bitterness. Expect more of a hop pres- ence (it's the name's fault). Still, the balance works here to produce a solid ale.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Would not call this beer quite black. More of a darkish, yet semi-transparent brown. If you're gonna call the beer "Black Hops" it should at least be a bit blacker than this. The beer sports a foamy head that recedes to almost nothing. A bit of lacing.

S-I get the fruity/citrusy hops at first. I am not getting much of the aromas that come with most Black Ales I have tried. Smells to me more like a normal IPA. Not much dark coffee and chocolate here.

T-The roasted notes are more present here than in the nose. Surprisingly, the hops are a bit more muted than expected. The taste is more akin to the style than the nose. Still getting some bitterness along with hoppy flavors. Just fails to wow my taste buds. Not bad, but I have had a few Black IPAs that beat this one tastewise.

M-Somewhat similar to a light porter. Mildly watery. Good amount of bubbly carbonation.

D-One bomber will be good enough for me. Booze masked decently.

I like the idea of buying local but this beer simply isn't gonna compete with others of the same style. It is not bad, but it does not make me want to grab another one at the store.

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Photo of CooperEllis
2.55/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle from my brother into a .3l tulip.

Well, it's certainly not black. Brown Hops? Perhaps more accurate. An odd head on this one, it's thin bubbles but doesn't look very dense. It is gone slowly and leaves moderate lacing on the sides of the glass and some on the top.

This is going to be a short review because I have very little positive to say about this. It taste's like watery strawberry quik. I'm not even sure how this happened? It has a very big bite at the back that sits on the tounge and just curls in my mouth. the aftertaste is harsh and fills the mouth much more than the brew itself.

the thing is, this didn't froth when I poured it, it doesn't have any funky notes in the aroma, it doesn't give any impression of being bad/past it's prime/infected or anything else. It simply isn't very good - or at least isn't what I was expecting and I don't think it's any good. It is sour enough to make one of my eyes flip shut. I don't have anything positive or constructive to say about this because clearly other folks have had it and enjoyed it, but I wouldn't classify this as a Black Ale, and I certainly wouldn't purchase it again.

drainpour the last 12oz.

EDIT: Just went and looked at other reviews of this...I just don't get how what I had is at all what these folks had. Maybe a bad bottle, if I have another I'll update my review.


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Photo of silentjay
3.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep mahogany (not black) with a thinnish tan head that stays at a cm and clings a bit to the glass.

a touch metallic and buttery and roasty with just a bit of piney hops. not as hoppy as I would expect for the style, nor the name.

tastes like a bit thicker shwarzbier, or a thin porter. not nearly as hoppy as many of the style. coffee is there, dark malts, some milk chocolate, toffee. hops remain piney and in the background.

kinda medium thickness with just enough carbonation and a bittersweet finish.

drinks ok. would be better if I wasnt led to expect significant hoppiness. as it is, its tasty but nothing I'd go for again.

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Photo of cuttsjp
4.27/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: very dark brown, almost black but with some pretty reddish hues, head is cream colored and disappears very quickly

Aroma: toffee, coffee, a little roastiness and a hint of citrusy American hops

Flavor: lots of flavor, toffee and roasty espresso combine really interestingly with a decidedly citrusy hop flavor...great how this style of beer combines the dark toffee and coffee flavors with the very bright American hop flavor...very nice and balanced, quite enjoyable

Mouthfeel: medium body, relatively high carbonation (clearly IPA carbonation rather than porter carbonation...interesting choice for sure)

Drinkability: This beer is balanced and flavorful, but it doesn't overwhelm the palate too much. It is definitely an interesting style that I would be interested in brewing this year (especially since all the cool kids are doing it)

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Photo of EtOHMD
4.05/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Have been trying a few of Blue Hills beers since they are local and this is by far my favorite. Poured from a 22oz brown bomber a chestnut brown with one inch off white head. Smells sweet, nutty, and I keep thinking somewhat fruity (strawberry keeps popping into my mind). Nice malty taste, caramel with mild roasted and smoked flavors on the back end. Fairly thin feel. Was a nice contrast to a spicy meal that I had and good definitely drink another. For $4.20 for 22oz a definite steal.

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Photo of beerdude63
4.08/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this beer at Beer Summit and was really surprised. Usually I find IDAs over intense but this was really good.
A In a sample glass, dark and ruby in color, with a nice little head

S Sweet, nutty, some roasted malt, a little bit yeasty, with some nice floral hops

T The taste was great, very appropriate, a little yeasty on the nose but its not present in the taste. Smooth with a nice hop and sweet caramel and roasted malts.

M Lighter than some but, still a nice medium body with a nice carbonation.

D Great beer over all, I have had some other commercially produced IDAs and this one is in my top favorites. Most of the IDAs I have over do it on the roasted malts and are extremely bitter. However this one was balanced and bright.

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Photo of nanertak
3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Apperaance - pours copper/reddish, 2 finger head.

Smell - lot of malt backbone, some pleasant floral hops. More nutty smelling than I was expecting. Smells mildly boozy.

Taste - Malts mostly, was expecting more bitterness. Fades into a dry mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel - on the thinner side. Carbonation's nice, but could use a little more bulk to it.

Drinkability - for the price it's good. On the other hand, not the finest of it's class. Still, something other than brutal hops can be a pleasant change.

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Photo of Genuine
3.88/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bomber into my Sam's Perfect Pint Glass.

Poured a very dark, almost non translucent, but it is a very dark amber when backlit.

Smell - Grassy, malty, a hint of molasses, not much hops in the nose.

Taste - Pretty much follows the nose. Carbonation hits first, then I get a good roasted maltyness/slight coffee/toffee flavors come right though. There is no hops to be detected here. Mostly some nice roasted malts.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body. I'd be disappointed if it was any lighter.

Drinkability - I could have more than a few of these very easily. Very easy to drink beer, hardly any bitterness from the hops. My first of the style and it's not bad. Just wish it was a bit hoppier.

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Photo of Daktyls
4.01/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark brown, almost a hazelnut color with a two finger tan head that hangs around for a few minutes before steadily diminishing to a fine lacing around the edge of the glass and a little patch in the middle.

S: Nose is mostly roasted malts with some yeast and a little bit of alcohol scent. There are also a few aromas of floral and herbal hops. Most of the aromas are somewhat masked, so you have to really try to detect them.

T: I believe this is the first of this style that I've had and it's pretty good. Tastes of roasted maltiness with a bit of baker's chocolate and a bit of dark sweetness. Definitely not as hoppy as a typical IPA as most of the hop flavors are masked.

M: Sits nicely on the tongue with a slight tingle on the finish. A medium to light bodied beer with a little bit of carbonation.

D: I personally think this is quite drinkable and fortunately since I'm close to the brewery, I might head up for a growler of the stuff. Admittedly people have different tastes so while I think it's great stuff, you can see that other people on BA have not as high opinions, to which they are rightly entitled.

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Photo of soze47
2.9/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought I may have had a bad bottle, but what I tried is similar to recent reviews. The promises of "Black Hops assassins attacking your palette," or something like that written on the label of this 22 oz. bomber was misleading.

Appearance: Almost black, slightly deep dark brown. Khaki head develops. No lacing on this one.

Aroma: Roasted malt is there for sure, as well as a very subtle herbal and floral hop presence.

Taste: Sweet, roasty malt hits first. The medium body lets it stick in your mouth for a bit until an almost anise or spicy hop presence builds. Root beer?

Mouthfeel: Thick for the style. Almost seems chewy or nutty in the mouth.

Drinkability: Drinking a bomber of this wouldn't be too hard. It has an almost drinkable porter quality.

33 Beers Flavor Chart (5 high to 1 low):
Alcohol/Solvent: 2.5
Dark Fruit: 3
Citrus Fruit: 2
Hoppy (pine): 2
Floral: 3
Spicy: 3
Herbal: 4
Malty: 4
Toffee: 2.5
Burnt: 2.5
Sweet: 3
Sour: 1
Bitter: 1.5
Astringent: 1
Body: 4
Linger: 3.5

Overall: Not a bad or simple beer here. The malt and hop bill create some very unique, not unpleasant tastes when put together. This one is getting judged by what I was expecting, though. I wanted a hoppy, bitter ale tonight, not a chewy, roasted, spicy brew.

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Photo of mlazzaro
3.08/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

a- dark colored, almost reddish. Surprisingly clear for a darker beer. large bubbles, like when pouring of soda. And I had a pretty hard time keeping a head going.

s- nose of alcohol and yeast. smells very similar to what I would expect in a barley wine. kind of an odd smell for the style.

t- slight coffee or black patent malt flavor. also some chocolate malt perhaps, and a bitter yeasty finish to the sip. Dark malts go pretty well with the hops surprisingly.

m+d- acidic and a bit bitter. I assumed an ABV of 7-8%. At this stage, this is a very bitter porter. It might be an older bottle, because the dry/ finishing hops just aren't very present.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle served a standard pint glass. Pours a dark, translucent, reddish-brown with a half inch, loose, cream-colored head. Head quickly disperses into a skim with a band around the edges; some lacing but no legs. Nose is fairly muted and difficult to describe - citrus, malt and a feint coffee/cocoa character. Taste consistent with nose - hops character is difficult to define. Definitely some citrus acidity in the mix; however, a dominant hops characteristic is hard to pin down as a result of the dark malt presence. There also seems to be a lactose sweetness in the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is light-medium with an assertive carbonation and an acidity the lightly stimulates the salivary glands. Interesting and fairly complex - I'm not really sure how I feel about the style; however, well worth a try.

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Photo of tigg924
3.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, dark brown in color, hazy

Smell: burnt malt and sugar

Taste: burnt malt, sugar, chocolate, nut, and hints of charred pine

Mouthfeel: medium/low carbonation, light body--borderline watery, sweet with a small bitter backbone.

Drinkability: I like this one and could have several. This is one of the better beers from Blue Hills that I have had so far. I love the depth of flavor here. The pine/nut combo is really good. I wish this had a bit more body, but is still a quality offering.

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Photo of JAXSON
3.75/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle, thanks Cody for the cool extra. Pour is blackish which is revealed to be a deep cherry red when held to the light. Fresh, juicy hops and some toasted malt in the nose. Graham cracker. Flavor is kind of a singular but pleasant fresh hop bitterness, without much malt complexity. Of course a bit of toasted malt unlike your standard IPA, and some nice graham cracker again. Good.

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Photo of DrJay
3/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very dark, but not quite black, with clear reddish highlights. Not much of a cap developed during the pour, but a thin collar of tan bubbles did stick around for a while. Malty aroma, lots of caramel and dark malts. The hop aroma was prominent, but not dominating, mostly pine with a little citrus. There was some dried fruit and alcohol present as well. Heavy malt in the flavour, caramel and toffee sweetness, nutty, chocolate, a bit of burnt character in the finish. More of the dried fruit and alcohol. Hop bitterness was stronger in the finish, as was the piney hop flavour. Medium to full bodied with low carbonation that made it feel a little dead, but also a bit creamy. Not at all dry, but there was still some astringency from the dark malts. Overall, this just didn't come completely together for me. I would have liked the hop flavour to have been more pronounced to balance some of the sweet malts.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.79/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as black. Head looks good at first but fades quick. Very little lacing.

Aroma surprised me with a sweet baileys/coffee/choc/ medly. Hops are only on the background. Doesn't smell like an ipa to me - more like a sweet stout/porter.

Taste is sweet with baileys type flavors up front. Finishes long with a solid note of bakers chocolate. Hops are not a big factor in the taste either. They're there, but are a little overpowerered by the extra malts added.

Slightly above medium body. Smooth. Nitro-like. Fair carbonation.

In terms of drinability - the ABU is easy at 6.75, but the sweetness may bother some. It didn't bother me, it was just unexpected. Now that I know what to expect, I will still buy this again as it as enjoyable. Plus, a bomber at $3.49 is a nice value!

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Photo of morebeergood
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler fill picked up at the brewery on Monday. Sat in the fridge at home for one night. Split Tuesday night with my wife, and poured into stemmed beer glasses. Dark brown color, with rust colored highlights at the edges. Thin white head formed but then faded fast. Slight coffee grounds smell. Taste was very different for an IPA. There was a bit of hops, but the flavor of roasted chocolate malt really dominates. Mouthfeel was smooth, and no really hop profile noticed on the palate. Easy beer to drink, even though the abv is at 6.7%. I would consider this beer a cross between an IPA and a schwarzbier. Very interesting and tasty. One of the better beers I have tried so far from BHB.

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Photo of brianjay
3.56/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a root beer brown but darkens as it settles. The head is thick, sticky and full of air bubbles.

Flavor has a strong malt back, similar to roasted peanuts. The hops blend in an interesting way: their essence adds a spiciness (pepper is the easiest way to describe it) which kicks up the malt inspired flavors, but they are not as assertive as one would expect from an IPA.

Dry on the finish, but overall the body is smooth. This beer goes down easy, a nice, well-blended and quiet IPA.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased at Ryan & Casey Liquors, Greenfield, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" tan head over the clear burgundy brew. Head dwindles promptly down to a skim of small bubbles, with prevalent lasting lace. Aroma is roasty dark malts, stanky piney hops, with a peek of fruitiness.

Taste follows along, dark sweetness to start, fruitiness for a moment, followed by ample pine bitterness to the close. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth, and drinkability is good. Could do with a little more depth of grain for balancing, but a beer with hops in its name is probably going to edge that direction.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.32/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pinto glass.

The color is dark black with maroon highlights and a thin wisp of brownish head with no lacing.

The smell is a bit malty with a nice coffee flavor in the nose. The dark malts give off most of the flavor where the "Hops" have not shown up yet.

The taste is malt all the way. A nice roasty black malt flavor is the first thing to hit the senses. Coffee flavor through out the early going with some bitterness somewhere in the middle. There is some caramel and a touch of toffee that hits late is it goes down.

This beer has a medium bodied feel to it and is really easy drinking. It has a great balance to it and it one of the better, more well constructed beers to come out of the Blue Hills Brewery workshop.

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Photo of belgiumbud
4.33/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer out of a 22 oz. bottle and was immediately surprised as to how dark it was...Excellent head retention that was amber cream color...decent hop fragrance...extremely smooth flavor as the sticky hop flavor and the black malt roasty flavors intermingle...I like how Blue Hills decided to take a American IPA and do something a little different with it by using more darker malts to brew this fine beer...Really impressed...The cheesy label design allowed me to not expect much from this beer but, as always, do not judge a book by its cover

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Photo of jlindros
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: A nice thick frothy head rises up about 2 fingers before the large bubbles pop it back down to earth somewhat slowly, as it leaves a slightly messy lacing too. THe beer is a very dark molasses brown with some haze.

N: Semi weird... I initially get fresh roasted coffee beans, like the pure coffee bean smell right after you roast it and grind it. An earthy roasty aroma goes right with that. Then some earthy hops behind that, with a slight bitter aroma, and light grassy hop pellets. I also get a little chocolate. There's also a strange dark fruit aroma, like a fig or date.

T: Starts with lots of malts, mostly roast, with some black patent malt. Again lots of fresh roasted and ground coffee beans. Some earthy bitterness, some from the roasty coffee beans, and some from an earthy and semi grassy hop pellet taste. A spicy bitterness also starts to rise up. A slight creamy flavor, almost oatmeal. There is a slight caramel and sweetness flavor, with touch of molasses. Despite those dark malt flavors and coffee, it has a lighter ale feel to it overall, with some earthy, chewy, spicy hops.

M: Medium body with lower but tolerable carbonation.

F: Some lingering dark malt flavors, more roast and black patent, and lots of coffee. Mostly dry, but some light caramel and molasses flavors lingering. The bitterness comes on stronger on the finish, with roasty dark malt bitterness, and more hops. The hops bring more of the earthy and spicy qualities on the finish, with a slight herbal smashed hop flavor.

A strange beer, very unusual. It has those black IPA qualities that others have, with lots of dark malts, but not quite the stout thickness and richness, but more of a dark ale or almost porter. Then the nice earthy spicy and herbal hops that a black IPA would have. A nice blend of various flavors. It could have used a little more carbonation.

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Black Hops Beer from Blue Hills Brewery
3.52 out of 5 based on 140 ratings.
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