Wachusett Imperial Black IPA
Wachusett Brewing Company

Wachusett Imperial Black IPAWachusett Imperial Black IPA
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American Black Ale
Ranked #499
Ranked #36,910
3.62 | pDev: 16.57%
Wachusett Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States
Wachusett Imperial Black IPAWachusett Imperial Black IPA
Reviews: 18 | Ratings: 33
Photo of DrJay
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured very dark with a faint brown hue around the edges. The 1" tan/brown cap was composed of both large and small bubbles, showed great head retention, and produced lots of sticky lacing. The aroma had a citrus bite, lots of grapefruit flesh and pith, with chocolate, cocoa, and caramel in the background. Moderate bitterness with malts (mostly chocolate and cocoa) more dominant over the citrusy grapefruit character. A bit of alcohol was present too. Medium bodied, but it felt a bit light or thin for the malt character, some warmth, moderate carbonation, a bit dry. Decent overall, but less hoppy than I would have liked.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours hazy and nearly black in color from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. An inch of creamy mocha foam sits atop the pour, showing average retention and nice sticky lace.

Piney hop aroma dominates initially with some malt notes playing a secondary role. Warming enhances the resinous pine and adds a bit of garlic/shallot to the mix.

The darkness reveals its roots more so in the taste department than the aroma. Spritzy chocolate malt on the initial sip, and cocoa and some hop spice soon to follow. Shows increasing depth and coarseness with warming.

Finish is creamy with a bit of dark cherry and chocolate notes. Rather light and subtle in that regard however, making for an easy drinking beer of this style. Finish is a bit lacking in bitterness and bite however and the alcohol is well masked. But then, at 7.3% this is likely the smallest 'Imperial' anything that I've stumbled upon and was unaware of the ABV at tasting time.

Overall I like the idea of not going too large on the bittering end of things while offering up a good hop aroma as it works fairly well for this style.

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Photo of chefhatt
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured thsi one into a perfect pint glass. It has a dark as night body with a nice 1"tan head that is holding its own for a while now. The smell is very mellow of piney hops with just a hint of roasted malt. The taste is a very nice but not strong, up front assult of pine flavor, then towards the end i get some nice roasted characters going on.. The mouth feel is very nice, leaves a nice pine aftertate on the back of the tonuge. Overall i think this is a above average black ipa.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared by cmrillo during BRoss242’s send-off party before he moves! Will miss you man! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured black with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark fruit, fruit hop, and floral. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark fruit, bread, dark chocolate, and fruit hop. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. The Black IPA is starting to become a more and more common thing among brewers out there. There have been a few good ones, but this one fell a little short of some of those. The fruit aspect going on here were quite nice, but I was wondering where some of the roastiness that one would expect from the style was. If it was there the fruitiness would definitely need to be upped as well. Worth trying at least once if you get the opportunity, but that is about it.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours black with 2 fingers of rich light mocha head. This retains with a thick near finger of foam which slathers the sides of the glass with sticky swathes of lacing. The aroma smells leafy and green with a touch of herbal spiciness. This gives way to a push of coco and coffee underneath but overall I’d say that the hops still sit at the forefront of this.

The taste is roasted coffee and green bitter citrus up front, with some thick notes of chocolate and tangier toffee coming in behind that. The finish is dry and bitter on the tongue, with hops, roast and alcohol lingering behind with some bite. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied; with a nice oily creaminess to the carbonation upon first sip that then blows up and becomes crisper as it bounces off the roof of the mouth. This has a little alcohol going on with it but it overall adds to the experience here.

This was a good stab at a Black IPA from Wachusett that nicely showcased some more aggressive flavors while still staying pretty approachable as well. I would have liked to have gotten to this one a little fresher but this was still a pretty solid take on the style.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in my Wachusett nonic. Best by 08.12.12 indicated on the bottle. Pours slightly darker than cola with a fizzy, khaki-colored head that sizzles and pops as it gradually recedes into a soapy slick. Only a few stray strands of lacing present during the tasting. Nose reveals chocolate and earthy hops. Taste consistent with nose; however, earthy/herbal hops characters is a bit more dominant and there is also slight acidic tang, co-mingled with a medicinal bitterness at the finish. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with a coarse, prickly carbonation and some acidity that excites the salivary glands. There is also a slight, residual burn at the back of the throat between quaffs. Overall, this isn't really a go to style for me. However, I've had some very good ones and think this is a fairly solid offering.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
3.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip- pours a charcoal black color with three fingers of tan/cola head, decent retention and nice lacing.

Smells like resiny pine hops, though not really in your face, and roasted malts. Standard fare.

The way it tastes is much the same malt sweetness up front, followed by the roasted malt notes (bitter-sweet chocolate), then the piney hops (maybe galaxy), with mild to moderate bitterness. Finishes slightly dry.

Mouthfeel is pretty good- medium body, light soft carbonation. Just fine- nothing mind blowing but for 3 bucks it's a pretty good deal.

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Photo of Brad007
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Imperial Black India Pale Ale. A bit too much to say at once. Still, this slight variation on the IPA is here, like it or not.

Pours a pitch black with a thick brown head into my glass. It's certainly not a stout because it's not as thick.

Grassy/piney hops greet the nose with a touch of mint. Perhaps a bit of chocolate malt somewhere?

Ditto on the taste except that there's some grapefruit too from the hops. This is definitely hops-ville and not much else.

Lingering hops and malt at the back of the throat. Not much else to note.

Solid example of the style. Not quite an imperial but that's the least of its' problems.

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Photo of Durge
3.92/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one at the Grill Next Door in Haverhill, MA, and this stuff is mud brown-black with a decent light tan head that breaks up a bit and leaves a similarly decent lace behind. I can smell perfumey pine hops and deep earthy mulch-like peat. Very nice. The flavor includes grassy pine hops with a brown bread malt that is not too sweet so as to go down smoothly with a medium plus body but fairly crisp feel. Not a home run but a good black IPA.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 4/14/2012 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub, in Pawtucket, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a large dense beige head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, some chocolate and some floral hops.

T: The taste starts out with a good burst of floral hops. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in along with background flavors of chocolate and citrus. The balance is decent for the style. The after-taste is slightly hoppy.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a very solid “Black IPA” to drink for a long time.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased as a single from WineNation, Millbury, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint, formed a 1/2" tan head over the barely translucent dark brown brew. Head lasts well, with sticky lace. Aroma is lightly of pine.

Taste starts with a peek of sweet dark malt, quickly giving way to citrus in the middle, and coasts into ample pine hoppiness. Mouthfeel is quite smooth, and drinkability is very nice. Another good offering from their 22oz line.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap and served in a tumbler pint, the beer is jet black with ruby highlights and a low profile, foamy, dense, chunky, light tan head. Aromas are subtle, with a roasty, woody, and dry hopped blend on the nose. Very inviting smells. Flavors are rich and resiny, with a blast of wet hops all over the mouth. Hop forward is followed up by dark, bitter chocolate malt and an overall roasted feel. The aftertaste is blended very well, with a hoppy kick at the end of a rich, roasted, and darkly sweet flavor that lingers slightly. Great cling on the glass, and the beer is rich and smooth. Fairly clean, slightly bitter finish. Good brew.

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Photo of jlindros
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

huge fluffy slightly darker colored 3 finger head, fades... wait it doesn't even fades just sits there, although leaves a nice lacing when it eventually does, super dark molasses brown color with a light ruby light sneaking through.

Nose brings plenty of spicy hops, earthy and a light citrus kick, some pine and a nice earthy almost grassy spicy hop brings what seems like would be a decent hop kick, then a hint of a dark malt base with touch of caramel.

Taste starts with more bittering spicy hops, earthy and plenty of pine, a bit almost resinous hop kick brings a strong bitterness, herbal and earthy, its quite bitter and almost briny. the malts bring a slight dark malt but barely, hint of caramel and brown toasty malts, but way overpowered by the spicy earthy hops. A bit fluffy as well. Finish is still fairly bitter, spicy and earthy piney hops linger for quite a while, almost astringent but not quite, a slight orange peel citrus as well but not much of the orange flavor.

Mouth is med bodied, fluffy, good carb, hint of booze.

Overall meh, hops come on way too strong, too bitter, almost astringent, piney, etc, and barely any malt. This is like a big DIPA without the malt base to back it up, and supposedly a black IPA version is should have some nice malt profile that doesn't seem to exist in this one.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.09/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a giant 20 Duvel tulip. Pours very dark, not completely black, with a huge 4 inch tan head, that leaves plenty off lace, and takes its time settling. Smell is chocolate, coffee, pine, and some breadyness. Taste is different chocolate and coffee and bitter grapefruit in the finish. Body is on the thin side, plenty of life, on the dry side, and fairly drinkable. This isn't my favorite and as someone else mentioned Imperial is a stretch. If someone wants a bitter black IPA this is it.

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Photo of tigg924
4.3/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at New World Tavern, Plymouth

Appearance: dark reddish-brown in color with 1/2 inch head, clear, moderate carbonation

Smell: cdark chocolate and piney hops

Taste: creamy deep roasted malt at the start, huge piney hops in the middle and end mixed with a good dose of caramel. The end has some lighter chocolate tones and some I just can't pick up on.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, moderate carbonation, sweet with a bitterness mixing in nicely

Overall: The end is mysterious and the body is complex. This is my new favorite Black IPA from New England. I could have several pints. Wachusett knows how to do bigger beers and this is no exception. May be the best from the brewery yet.

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Photo of ricchezza
2.78/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brown shade similar to that of the bottle with a thick tan/chocolate head.

I thought I was going to get an Imperial Wachusett Green Monsta with a dash of roasted malts. Had I not known what was poured I would have thought this to be more of a robust porter, or something similar, and not an IPA. As an IPA I expect a major hop presence, but alcohol comes to the front in both aroma and taste. Big roast flavors. I can actually taste a resemblance of tobacco and possible wood aging. I suspect this would pair excellently with a fine cigar.

I didn’t read the label prior to my first tasting for an uninfluenced review and was very surprised to read that there are 6 hop varieties used in this brew. While there is certainly a bitterness, and a dry finish, attributed to either the roasted malts or the bittering hops I still didn’t get quite the flavor and aroma hoppiness that I expected from an IPA. The hops make themselves better known (more IPA-like) as the brew warms in the glass producing a piney/earthiness, but still perhaps the 6 varieties are too much and fighting each other for dominance. Wachusett nailed the IPA with only 3 hops in the Green Monsta IPA.

Overall it was not what I expected, but in the end it stands on its own as a very good beer.

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

22 fl oz brown bottle served in a tumbler.

Near opaque maple in color beneath a foamy, inch high, coffee colored head that is very slow to budge. Condensed lacing with good strength.

The aroma is filled with a spicy, spruce hop resin. The rye provides a balance to the competing hop profile. Faint hints of peat along with coffee, hazelnut, and bitter chocolate. A lingering musty quality encompasses the nose.

Floral and pine hops up front that are somewhat tempered by the spicy rye character. A touch of bland chocolate gives the spicy hops a bit of a break; however, the flavor itself isn't quite flattering. The middle is a pretty aggressive bitterness with a full earthen flavor. The finish is dry with burnt hops and rye filling the aftertaste.

Medium bodied. The texture of this ale is really all over the place and is unable to provide a backbone for the various flavor components.

For whatever reason, this style is just really tough to get right: flavor, balance, drinkability, etc. Unfortunately, this offering fell short as well.

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Photo of silentjay
3.78/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At 7.3% ABV, I don't think they should use "Imperial" in the name, but as far as marketing goes, I know why they did. It makes it sound stronger and more expensive. The side of the bottle says they used rye, as well as Zythos and Calypso hops which are kind of odd for the style, so I'm hoping for a unique take on the style.

an opaque midnight black with a large mocha head that slowly recedes to 2 fingers in height and leaves tons of lacing.

pretty dank hoppy aroma with tons of dark roasted malts and some citrus and tropical fruitiness.

starts off pretty hoppy, again with some tropical fruits, pine and citrus, goes a bit leafy in the middle before the roasted malts take over providing a bit of cigar tobacco and a little cocoa.

lighter side of medium with prickly carbonation and a slightly acrid aftertaste.

Well, it hits all the marks for an American Black Ale, Black IPA, or whatever you want to call it. Not complex or tasty enough to match up to numerous others, though.

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Wachusett Imperial Black IPA from Wachusett Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 33 ratings