Dark Element | Element Brewing Company

83 Reviews
Dark ElementDark Element

Brewed by:
Element Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Previously named "Dark Matter."

This New American Black Ale, our strongest signature beer, has the malt profile of an Imperial Schwartz Beer and the floral characteristics of an American IPA. Saturated in hops, this intrepid style offers smooth dark toffee and chocolate flavors without the roasted bitterness found in many "dark" beers.

65.5 IBU

Added by cbutova on 06-04-2010

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Reviews: 83 | Ratings: 209
Photo of connecticutpoet
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Tried alongside their 6:56, which is "Dark Element Squared". Growler fresh from the brewery.

On the pour, this one produced two fingers of head floating on a hazy brown body. Some lacing was evident.

Aroma was raisins, brown bread, darker malts, and caramel sweetness much like the bottled version. However, floral notes and hop resins were much more evident.

Taste was different as well. This one was strongly bitter, with light sweetness and fruitiness. Dark malt character came through, along with a bit of roasted flavor.

Mouthfeel was full and creamy. Good body.

High drinkability marks. It took me a few hours to finish the growler, and I had no problem, no flavor fatigue. Good to the last drop.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.62/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed: 11/23/2010 Bottle in paper bag w/info and no lable on bottle.

Darkest brown shade, rootbeer look, thick and tan colored head, healthy and dense. slow dissipate with plenty of foam left over.

A strong and sweet scented, chunky chocolate, very roastie, vanilla extract, sweet blueberry pie, and a very complex hop aroma too..pine and fruity. Smells very much like some of the best Double stouts or RIS!

A thick, heady malty complexty, long and dense feel with chocolate brownies with a jazzy and very complex, earthy hop flavor that adds perfect balace. the hos add a pleasant bitter, earthy flavor that melds togather just perfect. The feel is full and hefty, thick with a dry, earthy kick that gives any huge stout a run for it's money!

Groovy brew right here folks!

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to FluffyMcTingle for busting this out at a recent tasting. Never had an element brew, but now I see what I've been missing.

A- Borderline brown/black with a pretty good head that kicks up.

S- Nose is coffee and molasses. Bit fruity, some caramel with the molassess too.

T- While there is a big roast here, as expected, the earthy, bitter hops that come in are very nice. Lingering bitterness compliments the roasty malt. Quite a tasty flavor profile. Malts are coffee and bitter baking chocolate, a bit ashy and bitter. Not astringent, though.

M- Good balance of flavors, nothing sticking out, ample carbonation and body. No qualms here.

D- Moderately high. What is up with the MA breweries banging out the great Am. Black Ales? Not complaining... different but just as good as hoppy feet, this one's a winner. Element is now officially on my radar.

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Photo of jlindros
4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tap at horseshoe pub.

Dark brown molasses colored light creamy head with lacing.

Nose of dark roasty malts, crystal malts, light creamy porter, some earthy hops, bit spicy hops, touch of coffee and toffee.

Taste brings more roasty malts, bit of coffee and toffee, touch of dark fruits, plenty of earthy hops, light herbal and grassy, bit of minerality and salty taste especially late, finish with more bitterness and ready hops pellets, bit more briny taste, bit dry.

Mouth is med to a bit heavier bodied slight creamy and decent carb.

Drink its good, bit of salty minerality, slight astringent, dry finish, not much of a boozy hit.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A heady start, with a shade of ruby clinging to the brown darkness. Spicy with candied fruit, minty hops and cake-like maltiness, as a powdery yeast awakens the nostrils. Smoothness burrows in for the duration. Malt jumps from bitter dark chocolate to brown sugar to biscuity to dried grass, with a yeast flavor that does not let go. Hints of exotic fruit, papaya, star fruit and unripe mangos come to mind. A bit of broth and yeast in the roasty semidry finish. Yeah, complex no doubt. A slow sipper ... a sleeper brew.

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Photo of akorsak
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A paper-wrapped bottle from November 2010; purchased at Julio's.

A: The Black ale is a dark chocolate brown, murky and opaque on account of the blackness. The first pour generated a three-plus finger head that left plenty of tan lace behind.

S: Well-roasted, the malts are chocolatey with a distinct burnt aroma. Matching them step-for-step are big hops with a little citrus and a little pine (okay, a lot of both). A nice smeller that almost gets caught up on the dark malts.

T: The hoppiness is a treat, bold and bright with plenty of citrus. Piney resins linger beneath the citrus, adding more bite. The chocolate malts, burnt and heavy, are a stark contrast to the hops. That back-and-forth is a see-saw of flavor. Dark coffee flavors linger, driving home the full array of flavors. The resounding strength of the malts forces me to view this as a hoppy stout. Whatever you call it, it's good. As the ale warms, the schwarzbier and hops merge into one big sweet, burnt liquid. A real show-stopper of an ale.

M: The mouthfeel is at once resiny sweet and burnt with chocolate and coffee. The starker black beer flavors work surprisingly well in this environment.

D: At 8%, caution is the better part of valor. Slowing sipping through the bottle allows it to warm up and release the full sweet bitterness.

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Photo of rdpoint
3.76/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark brown in color, not much aroma and very little head. Originaly tried this beer at a local beer fest, which peaked the intrest in it. Nice taste, maybe a little toffee like, and very smooth. Mild after taste, with hints of almost a burnt taste and not hoppy at all. Surprisingly light for the look and taste.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/02/11 notes. Brought to a local tasting by jslot38; thanks Justin.

a - Pours a mahogany brown color with one inch of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of dark fruit, citrus hops, and fruity malts.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, citrus hops, and light pine.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A nice black IPA with some nice citrus in the taste and nose. Would have again.

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Photo of DrJay
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Corked and caged 750. Nice bottle presentation with the paper wrapper. Very dark brown with a faint chestnut hue and a short tan cap of fine bubbles. Good head retention, some lacing. Nice aroma, lots of toffee, bread, and citrus. Earthy and mildly fruity, toasted and slightly roasted malts, marshmallow sweetness, faint alcohol. Prominent malt sweetness up front faded away leaving sturdy bitterness in charge towards the end. Hop flavour was citrusy, but with a resinous edge, nearly minty in the finish. More caramel and toffee, a bit simpler in malt character than the aroma. Lingering alcohol warmth and bitterness with caramel sweetness. Full bodied with lowish, smooth carbonation. Mild astringent dryness. Quite good overall. More malt-forward than I expected, but it worked well in this beer. I would definitely pick this up again.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears black with a light tan head. Frothy and just sticky enough.

Aroma is layered yet simple as everything was subdued a bit. But I did smell roasted malts and faint dark fruits similar to what you'd smell in a belgian quad/trappist.

Taste is a great balance of roasted malts and soft fruit with notes of apple, cherry, dates, grapes... Hops are noticeable,providing complexity. There's something in the flavor profile for everyone!

Mouthfeel feels nicely carbonated and slightly crisp at first, but quickly changes to a creamy smoothness on the finish.

I couldn't put this one down...making great drinkability.
This really is a nice cross between a black ipa (or hoppy schwarzbier), and a chimay. There are layers of flavor that don't at all compete with one another.

I look forward ot buying this again!

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Photo of AgentZero
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Broken out by MasterSki at his place.

A - Black head with some khaki head that left some chunks on the sides. This is a pretty dark beer, basically black.

S - Sweet roasted malts with a nice sugar back that gave way to some pine and floral hops, with a little bit of grass. I am generally not a fan of black IPAs, but this smells pretty nice.

T - I am shocked by how much I like the taste of this beer. Nice roast and a little bit of chocolate malt that gives a sugar taste without being overly sweet.. Hops are more floral and citrus than pine, and bitters a little bit at the end for a ncie finish.

M - Smooth, medium bodied, coats the tongue just a little bit.

D - This was a very enjoyable beer that I got down quite easily. One of the better examples of the style I can remember having.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in the White Whale IV BIF - thanks mikeyv35! Served in my Kuhnhenn tulip.

A - Pours with a finger-plus of tan foam that settles to a thin cap, leaving behind a few spots of lace. Transparent dark color that is mostly black, but reveals some ruby highlights when held to the light.

S - Nice light roast character that mingles with floral and piney hops and a touch of citrus rind. There's some more chocolate cake and caramel that emerges as this warms up. Thankfully this isn't heavy-handed with Black Patent malt like some other Black IPAs.

T - The taste definitely feels more like a hoppy, low-ABV stout, but that's a good thing as it means the alcohol is very well-hidden. Nice notes of baker's chocolate, sugar cookie, and toffee support floral hops and light citrus.

M - Medium body, quite smooth, with medium-low carbonation. Slightly sticky in the finish, with no obvious booze, and some enamel-coating hop resins.

D - This was very easy to drink - I was surprised to find out that it was 8.0%. I'd like to try the "squared" version to see if it is exponentially better. This was quite nice though, and among the better Black IPAs/CDAs I've had.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked and caged (and paper wrapped) 750ml bottle into two imperial pints. Thanks to HollyAnn for the assist! Extra special thanks to Jayli for this from our recent trade!

A: Pours a dark, carmelized brown sugar-brown color with a thick and extremely creamy light khaki head on top that reaches about three fingers thick. Retention was fantastic yet not much lace was left behind. Carbonation was active and some suspended sediment was visible.

S: Dark, roasty malt along with aromas of molassas, pine, dark chocolate, citrus, and nostril-tickling solvent alcohol.

T: Just like above with more of an emphasis on the roasty malt. Also, as it comes up to temp, a definite campfire smokiness began to creep onto my tongue.

M: Dry roasted malt that plays nicely with the oily hop bitterness. Hints of brown sugar and dark fruit sweetness.

D: Excellent drinker. The alcohol doesn't become nearly as jerky as I expected judging by how it lit up my nose in the beginning. Very nice!

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.46/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Black until held up to the light. A touch of brown around the edges. A little bit of bone colored head with some lacing.

S: The nose is oak and hops up front. Chocolate. My guess is this is either the most simple grain bill ever or the most complicated it is that good. The nose is a little on the tight side and the weak point of this beer for me.

T: The hops and chocolate and malt and maybe oak work so well together. I remember talking to them at ACBF and they said they could not tell me anything about their process but oak cubes seemed in order. This is a super complex beer that remains easy for people to process.

M: Medium body. Carbonation is perfect. No complaints.

D: I really liked this beer and Red Giant I have had from them. It is some of the best homebrew out there and I mean that as a compliment as a brewer myself. One of the better examples of this young style that I have had.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
3.3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with a dark tan head. Foams up at first, then slowly recedes to a spotty lace.

I could tell from the aroma that this beer isn't an IPA dyed black. There is a high level of dark malt in the nose, spiced up by a decent amount of citrus and herbal hops. I'm not sure of the freshness on this beer, but it seems like there should be just a touch more hops in the nose. The dark malts add small amount of chocolate, and a large amount of charred, roasted malt. It reminds me a lot of burnt wood.

The flavor is heavily malted as well, with a good amount of burnt, roasted malts. The hops brighten it up a little bit, but in the end they don't feel totally integrated. The bitter finish has a clash of hops and coffee bitterness. It's interesting, but it feels like a bunch of flavors thrown together without any cohesiveness.

Mouthfeel is big and bold, with a lingering, sticky feeling on the palate. Carbonation is maybe a touch too high, but a lot of the carbonation was lost over the course of the bottle. Taking down this bottle was a bit of a task for me. If I were to have it again, I would make sure it was split with at least one more person.

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Photo of mavbrew
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark brown, almost black in color with a finger thick, foamy, tan head that leaves some nice lacing down the side of the mug. Looks very appetizing.

S: Hops are apparent up front with some chocolate and roasted malt scent, very stout like.

T: The up front taste has a very sweet taste like a chocolate or caramel would generate. Also, there are some hints of a dark fruit. The finish is where the hops come in with the bitterness, not much but a good amount.

M: Medium bodied with what I'd say is above average carbonation.

D: Even though the cork frustrated the crap out of me, taking 5 minutes and breaking off in the bottle, I really enjoyed this beer. It was my first black IPA but I will be trying more after this one. A very solid beer.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.57/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - It pours a deep and oily brown-black hue with a healthy cap of mocha head. The head retention is moderate, but the lacing is substantial.

S - The aroma is absolutely fantastic. There is an assertive citric-herbal hoppiness that springs forth from the glass which is tempered by an underpinning of robust and slightly smoky black malt; the nose is exceptionally integrated and complementary.

T - Wow. I'd say this is the nicest CDA I've had; admittedly, it is somewhat of a fledgling style. The label references a stylistic intent encompassing a fusion of IPA and Schwarzbier, and it seems to be precisely what we have here. The hop contribution is fairly rangy and dynamic, suggesting white grapefruit, overripe citrus, herbal leafiness, grassiness and tea-like bitterness. The malt is very interesting; it is fairly light in body - say, lighter than an average IPA but bigger than a Pilsener - and it has a subtle smoky character that is complemented by a refreshing mineral-water note. It is not a rich malt, despite its depth of hue. There is a bit of booziness here that seemingly fuses malt and hop, it works as a flavor enhancer in this instance.

M - CDA. Great. Seriously. A bit of tooth, but not too much. A hint of creaminess. A smooth, velvety nature.

D - As mentioned above, I think this is the best example of this fledgling style I've yet encountered.

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Photo of Jayli
4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired this from speakorspasm so a BIG ol' THANK YOU goes out to him!
750 mL bottle, corked and caged.
Poured in to my Portsmouth tulip

A: This beer pours an deep, chocolate brown with ruby/garnet tints to it. A 3 finger of light brown, foamy head sits on top and recedes at a moderate pace. Chunks of sticky lacing sit on the glass.

S: Nose is slight smoke, caramel malt, toffee, dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol.

T: Taste starts with a bit of oaked woodiness. Caramel, toffee and raisins fill out the middle. Roasted caramel malts with a minor light hint of charred notes. Somewhat alcohol warming comes through with a nice citrus and floral hop that comes in and hang on the tongue in the finish.

M: Medium body, somewhat higher carbonation, crisp clean body slightly prickly finish on the back of the tongue.

D: Goes down easily, nice kick, nice representation of style, this is a beer I would easily drink again.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This was one heck of a beer. I have to admit I had not looked it up since receiving it and it had been sitting in my fridge for the better part of a month or more. So I decided when I got home last night since I could not make it up to Charlotte for the stone takeover to finally open this behemoth from the fridge and I really did not see this one coming. Served cold, but allowed to warm to room temp during the session and served in my White Birch go to glass, this one was consumed on 10/06/2010.

One of the best pours I have ever seen, No question in my mind. A deep, dark color, black as night with a head four fingers high of chocolate colored foam. Immense looking and left so much lacing down the sides of the glass. I really was not expecting it to be as big as it looked and then once I really starting getting involved in the glass, all heck broke loose.

So I lean in to take a sip and I find a dense, and totally unexpected hoppiness that seams to come out of nowhere. Citrus hops is a darker then abyss glass, I was falling over at this point. Warming complicates it even further as dense roasted campfire like notes start to blend into the equation and really make this one worth its weight very, very quickly. Taking the first sips only served to confirm my initial impressions, this was unlike anything I have had in the past. Deep and resonant roasted malts provide a huge stepping stone to a crisp floral hop bouquet. Getting the two together in such a seamlessly smooth and clean flavor is remarkable. Rich and sweet and at times lightly bitter, this is a remarkable undertaking. Warming really let the malts shine with light chocolate notes and roasted flavors coming really to the forefront while reserving the light twang of fresh hops for a slightly dry, yet smooth finish.

Overall I have no clue as to what the ABV was on this but I could have drank it all night long. One of the most interesting, and completely complex things I have ever had. Truly remarkable and very well done indeed.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged bottle purchased at the brewery on 10/01/2010. Served in my Old Stock snifter. Pours a deep brown with red highlights around the base when backlit. Head is latte-colored, half an inch in thickness and composed of tiny, compressed bubbles that sizzled and popped as it slowly reduced its volume. Head eventually settles into a fairly consistent skim with swaths of lacing revealed during the tasting. Nose suggests piny hops, dark malt and a hint of something sweet; perhaps toffee. Taste follows nose; however, there is an earthy char that cuts across the flavor profile. Some mild sweetness piques towards the middle before finishing with some residual hops bitterness. Mouthfeel is light-medium with an assertive carbonation and perhaps a little acidity. An interesting brew with the characteristics of many styles - consistent with what I think the brewer was trying to achieve. Alcohol is well-hidden and there is a lot going on here in the flavor department - not at all jagged, the flavors do come together nicely, but it wasn't totally my thing.

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Photo of tempest
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Speakorspasm sending this bottle my way. It poured like a baltic porter with a reddish brown body and a fluffy white tan head. This beer is sort of like an imperial brown or brown porter. There are big juicy citrus hops like a good DIPA, but then there's also mellow coffee, dry cocoa, and sweet maple syrup. At the same time, the body isn't too thick and is actually quite drinkable. The hops start with a candied grapefruit and roll into more traditional sharp citrus rind and floral spice while staying fruity all the way. Find this beer, there are few others like it.

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Photo of LtCracker20
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Portsmouth tulip.

A- Pours a very dark brown with a slight red hue along the edges. 2-fingers worth of soft Khaki colored head that looks like it's sticking around for a while.

S- Dark fruits, bready, and a slight hint of the alchohol. Slight whiff of caramel as well.

T- Spicy hops flavors come out with the carbonation right up front with some caramel-like sweetness following. None of the raisen or fig flavors that I would've guessed from the smell.

MF/D- Would've liked a little bit more body on this one, but the carbonation levels are perfect for what's here. The bottle won't be a problem to sip on, but the assault of flavors really kills the palate and couldn't see having more than that. Great one to sip on.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.77/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - nearly stout dark, but not transparent, crimson highlight around the edges where light penetrates, creates a finger of caramel head with decent retention, plenty of visible carbonation

S - sweet bourbonesque aromas accented nicely with some darker fruits, raisins, currants and plums

T - light vanilla flavors at first accented with the same dark fruits as the aroma, light cocoa and topped off with some anise/licorice notes

M&D - lighter bodied than I expected, and more active than I wouldve expected, easy to drink and some nice flavors, not overly complex without being simplistic, a nice beer, had to make sure to get a bottle of this before they had to change the label

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Photo of hudsonvalleyslim
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this at Redbones in Somerville, cask-conditioned. They catagorized it as a schwarzbier ale. I believe traditional schwarzbier is lagered, but what the hey. These Element folks seem to be mad scientists. Who brew fine beer. The cask has got to be a different animal from the bottled brew reviewed. Not sure but I think much lighter alcohol.

Twas excellent, a malty brew with more hop presence than schwarzbiers I've had. I met a German brewer last month who said, "Americans are crazy with the hops." And we are.

Appearance was a dark brown, lacing beautifully as it slowly disappeared. Malty fer sure, maybe a tad roasty, and full-bodied. I DO like my schwarzbiers! (And cask ales as well.) Though, as I said, not really a trad schwarzbier. Mighty fine ale - get to Redbones before it kicks.

PS - Just found this on their webpage:

This New American Black Ale, our strongest signature beer, has the malt profile of a Schwartz Beer (German Black Lager) and the floral characteristics of an IPA. Saturated in hops, this intrepid style offers smooth dark toffee flavor without the roasted bitterness.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle purchased at Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA. Cool informative paper wrap, corked and caged.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/2" tan head over the clear deep red brew. Head lasts well, with slow-falling lace. Aroma is fruity and sweet. Taste begins moderately sweet, with the building fruitiness hitting a crescendo in the middle, and giving way to the hops as you near the swallow. Dry bitterness clings to the tongue. Mouthfeel is wow smooth, and drinkability is also quite amazing. Interesting and exciting brew.

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Dark Element from Element Brewing Company
4.05 out of 5 based on 209 ratings.
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