Skunk Black IPA | Three Heads Brewing

65 Reviews
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Skunk Black IPASkunk Black IPA

Brewed by:
Three Heads Brewing
New York, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Yes, Skunk Black IPA. Big hop aromas hover over this perfectly balanced, dark beauty. Who knew a skunk could smell so good? Discover why a hint of roasted malt is the perfect complement to big hop flavor. Get Skunked!
6.5% Alc/vol. 75 IBUs

Added by John on 12-05-2010

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Reviews: 65 | Ratings: 148
Photo of biegaman
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Skunk Black IPA might at first blush appear black but a closer inspection to the light reveals a spotlessly clear beer that is more pecan-colored than anything. Its head has a sparkly sheen, like the unpolished side of a marble block, and crisscrosses the surface in an apple pie-like order. Its lacing looks like neatly folded blankets.

The bouquet is a bit soft but is successfully checkered with roasty malt and piny hops. There's equal notes of nutty milk chocolate and tree bark. It's a really unique combination and is truly 'Cascadian' in character (despite that this was brewed in upstate New York). The hoppiness is adequate enough even to emulate cedar and spruce too.

The leafy, vine-y, herbal flavour continues onto the palate. Despite all the hydroponics, however, toasty crystal malts do succeed in making a clean break and actually dominate the finish, leaving a pleasantly sweet and nutty aftertaste. It tastes something like creme brulee (done with a little Grand Marnier, or perhaps even green tea).

In a totally zoomed out view you can find tiny shreds of citrus zest as well as coffee-and-cream flavor. That's what you want: a solid dichotomy of hop and malt. Just when you start to notice one feature, the other shoe drops. This delivers on both fronts and, at a moderate 6 and a half percent, it won't leave you 'drunk as a skunk'!

I'm not only on the Three Heads Brewing bandwagon, I want to drive it. All the beers they've released since coming on the scene have been solid, perhaps simple, but satisfying offerings that commandeer their respective styles and represent great value for the buck. Let's hope they continue to do exactly what they've been doing.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby-tinged black with Irish stout-style clingy off-white head that leaves great lace. Bit of roast chocolate and herbal hops on the nose.
Chocolate and soil but malts are pretty quiet; herbal, leafy hops and roasty acidity to follow.
Oily espresso finish and big tongue-scrapping bitter linger. Medium, dry, crisp.

Where’s the malt? A bit too lean, but roast and hops combine for a nice punch. On the hoppy porter end of the style.

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Photo of Ratman197
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured a clear reddisah brown with a lasting tan head. Aromas of roastiness, earthiness, skunk buyd, grapefruit and pine. Palate was medium bodied and smooth. Flavors of roastiness, earthiness, light grapefruit asnd a hint of pine with a smooth moderatly bitter roasty finish.

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Photo of generallee
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 1pt. 6oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: It builds a two and a half inch medium tan head over a very dark reddish brown body. Inside the body there is some carbonation streaming up to the head which has nice retention and makes for some nice lace patterns on the glass.

Smell: Right away I am greeted with firm herbal and leafy hop notes. Behind the hops are notes of caramel and fresh bready malts that also offer a light toasted nuance as well.

Taste/Palate: The flavor is full of herbal, piney and resin like hop bitterness up front alone with toasted/roasted malty notes. There is a slight fruity note in the background like unripe mango. It finishes with lots of hop bitterness and heavily toasted almost burnt malt notes slowly fading off the tongue.

Notes: Overall it is an average Black IPA. It brings lots of bitterness and some complexity to the table but not full harmony of its flavors.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into Portsmouth snifter. Thanks for this one, Shawn.

A: Pours black with a thin dark tan head that faded into a bubbly color that left a sheet of tight lace down the glass.
S: Hoppy notes of pine dominant over sweeter notes of roasted malt. I do get a touch of something medicinal as well.
T: Hoppy flavors of pine and grass with a touch of sweet citrus. The hops fade into flavors of sweet malt and a bit of roasted grains. The aftertaste is lightly bitter and a bit minty.
M: Medium body, slick mouthfeel that is a tad oily and volatile. Carbonation is soft but ample.
O: A solid black ipa but nothing I would really want to drink that often. Worth a shot if you’re a fan of the style though. Thanks again, Shawn.

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Photo of KELPAK
3.07/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

smelt of hops and grapefruit when i originaly opened the bottle but quickly faded away.

pours a dark brown with just a filmy head, very little corbonation.

The taste is surprising in the sense that it lacks flavor. I was expecting a heartier beer but it is somewhat light and there is just a hint of bitterness. It's very drinkable but i don't believe i'll be going out of my way for more in the future.

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Photo of Gavage
3.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a dark brown almost black color with a fluffy 3" head that lasts. Nice lacing sticks to the glass.

Smell: light pine and grapefruit is all you can pull from the glass.

Taste: mild roasted malt flavors with some pine, grapefruit, prune sweetness, pears, and a decent but not overpowering bitterness. There is a bit spiciness that arrives late.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Crisp from start to finish with a bit of dryness late.

Overall: a very quaffable black IPA. This one is not over the top, so it can be consumed a bit quicker than some others in the style.

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Photo of projectflam86
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle.

A- Pours a deep dark brown color with a thin head that leaves some lacing.

S- Some light citrus hops and charred malt aroma seem easiest to pick out.

T- Quite bitter initially with pine and citrus hops dominating. A prominent roasted malt backbone becomes my apparent as it warms. The alcohol is more noticeable than I would have thought weighing in at only 6.5%.

M- Medium bodied with decent carbonation. The hop bitterness roasty finish both linger for a while.

O- A very solid beer that I'm glad I got the chance to try.

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Photo of Kendo
3.87/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bomber into a pint glass. Body looks brown on the pour, but in the glass appears black. Nice 1+ finger foamy light brown head settles on top, leaves behind nice rings of lace.

S: The kind of nose I like in an American Black Ale - chocolatey malt, roasty malt and citrusy hops. Leans more towards the chocolatey malt.

T: Roasted barley, charred grains, charcoal and a slight touch of cocoa powder make up the malt profile. Disappointed that it's not as chocolatey as the nose hinted at. Finishes with a bitterness that comes across more as metallic than citrusy or juicy. As it warms up a little bit, however, the hops touch on lemony. Going back and forth b/w a 3.5 and 4 for the score. . . .

M: Thinner than expected - a bit more heft and chocolatey malt flavors would have made this beer better all around, IMHO. Carbonation is fairly active but not aggressive.

O: Solid. Not great, but solid all-around.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

An extra received in an in-person trade with starrdogg. Thanks, Matt! As a ticker in denial, I appreciate the opportunity to try a beer from a brewery that's new to me.

Pouring a very dark brown with reddish brown highlights, this beer has a dense, brown head that's creamy and long lasting, leaving nice lacing. The nose is nice as well. With a blend of pine resin, dark crystal malt and moderate roasted malt character, this smells good. The hops smell fresh and moderately herbal as well, with a mildly minty note. Some cocoa does appear as it warms up.

The palate, OTOH, is a bit of a disappointment. Astringent hops, moderately skunky (ha!) in that is tastes overly dank, this is pretty bitter up front with a blend of hop bitterness, grainy (a la black patent) bitterness and herbal astringency. Hop flavor is on the lower end of the spectrum here, with a mild pine and some mint character. The mid-palate is rather disappointingly thin, further hampered by the excessive carbonation that adds a seltzer-like feel and the scrubbing taste of carbonic acid. Drying and bitter on the finish with some grain and hops, and just a touch of chocolate, this beer is decent. It seems a little haphazard, but that's par for the course with a "new" style, I guess.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Ale House in Vestal NY
Pours a surprisingly clear dark brown with ruby highlights when held to light. Creamy off white head shows moderate retention. Smells of pine and cirtus with hints of chocolate and coffee. Not quite porter like in the nose but the roast is definitely there. Pine and resinous taste mixed with a hint of chocolate and roasted grains. Medium body and carbonation level with a resiuos creamy mouthfeel. I really liked this one. Great Black IPA that almost ordered another one to my table.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Black pour with a nicely sized light brown head. Full of big bubbles, the head has a nice retention and laces very nicely down the side of the glass.

S: Piney hops, a lot like an IPA. But the roastiness of a light stout/porter are certainly present. The smell finds a way to strike a nice balance.

T: The taste on this is so strange! It really starts off like a nice IPA. Hops fading into a slight malty backbone, but then BAM! Roasted malts and an extremely dry finish almost like coffee. Really taking my mind a while to decompress what exactly this is. I can't say it's terribly good, but it sure is interesting.

MF: Medium bodied with an ok amount of carbonation. No notice of the alcohol in any way. Sort of wanted it to be a bit fuller though.

O: You know what? This wasn't bad. One of my first leaps into this style so I'll hold my judgement until I'm a bit more seasoned. I didn't hate this.

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Photo of oberon
3.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial nonic a deep dark cola color with a thinner but well retained beige head,aromas are full of piney hops and roasy/earthy tones,easily the best attribute of this beer in my opinion.Dry and heavily roasted on the palate,just alot of earth and roast,the hops come thu in a piney way in the finish but the beer is almost bitter in its dryness.I like dryer more bitter beers but this was just a bit to intense in its earthiness for me,for those who like the intense in you face kinda "rawness," this is for them.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this several times before. Deep brown, almost black with a nicely formed off-white head that keeps a good cap on the beer. Pretty spots of lacing. I've never understood Black IPA's much. Most of them smell and taste like an IPA that has a bit of stout/porter mixed in it, or they taste like an overhopped stout/porter. This one in particular tasted like a roasty IPA. Lots of dankness and skunk here for sure but there is a smooth and non-overbearing roastiness and toastiness that adds a twist to it. Medium bodied with smooth carbonation. A nicely drinkable beer.

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Photo of Kegatron
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into an IPA flute.

Pours black, maybe a darker brown, topped with a couple fingers of foamy mocha colored head. This retains with a rich ¾ finger cap, which drenches the sides of the glass with a good bit of creamy sticky lacing. The aroma is a combo of floral and herbal tones, which sits on top of a layer of fresh citric grapefruit flavor. This is softened in the nose some by the presence of chocolate malts, while notes of smoky roast sit underneath and slowly rise up to encapsulate the other flavors.

The taste has some green citric hop flavor to it, which is well balanced by the chocolate and caramel sweetness of the malts. I think that the roast mostly takes the lead here though; adhering to those hops to help give this a fresh burnt bitter flavor that mostly trails a strong dry pithiness into the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a mostly softer silky creaminess to the carbonation that sees a good bit of oiliness to it on the edges. This does however leave just enough of a prickle on the tongue though to call this crisp. The alcohol is well hid here, with just a smidge of warmth on the tail end of the swallow.

This was another well done hoppy offering from Three Heads that seemed to find just the right mix of roast, sweetness, and hops to it, while a super easy feeling body kept this drinking very nicely for the size. The CBC seems to be doing right by these guys and the beers that they are putting out there. I’ve been impressed by these offerings from them so far.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We pour a brew the color of watered-out cola, with light peeking through the bottom half of the glass. It holds a two finger head of chunky tan bubbles that retain well, leaving thick lacing as they depart. No sediment is noted and carbonation appears active. The aroma pops with bright hops, of pine and grapefruit varieties. As the beer warms, a deeper, bready roast begins to seep out, but it mixes subtly along with the base grain. There is also a slight sweetness, with licks of buttery molasses. Again, these all hide in the hop forest that makes up the bulk of the nose. As we sip, the first thing noticed is bitter, dark grain. There is a dry roast to the flavoring, which mixes quickly with bittering hops, as they catch up to speed. They impart a transient sweetness, only to become earthy, mixing inseparably with the malts, in a nicely balanced blend. As the sip peaks through the middle, all of the flavors seem to peter out almost entirely, leaving mildly bitter grain pressed against the back of the palate. The finish sees the triumphant return of the flavoring from the beginning, with earthen hops and a hearty malt darkness. The aftertaste breathes relatively cleanly, with bitter hops complemented by that same dark grain. The alcohol is also present, but only briefly at the onset of the exhale. The body is medium and the carbonation is medium. The mouth is wonderfully smooth, slurpable, sippable, and frothy, leaving us coated and satiated. The abv falls within range, and the beer disappears quickly.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the huge hop aroma and the earthen tones they delivered in the taste. From the nose we were expecting the hops to knock our socks off, but were slightly let down by how much of a backseat they took. Of course, this is a black IPA, so it could have gone either way, but if judging by the nose, which we were, we would have expected a more explosive hop character. This is not to say that we did not enjoy this one, because the aroma, mixed with the balance, mixed with the sipping mouthfeel, makes me wish we had another one of these on hand.

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Photo of gaugebozo
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice lacing, black like a stout. Not the amount of head listed below, but some residual suds.

S - hops, maybe a little chocolate

T - American Hops! Some mint, some citrus. Also light roastiness, and some crystal malt.

M - a little lite for an IPA, but still substantial

O - My first black IPA. At first you might say, "Oh you mean an Imperial stout?" but truly it's own style. The roasted malts are enough to give it more character, but not enough to turn it into a stout. Good american hop character. Higher in alcohol, but not it's only note.Would be decent without the roastiness.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #50 (March 2011):

Bring on the darkness ... and hops! Have not seen such great head retention for a good while ... we were tempted to float stuff on it, but we’d hate to taint this brew. Yup, it is black. Sweet oily hoppiness has mild hints of tangerine juice and fresh mint, with a faint edge of char in the nose and palate. Brown malt, faint dryness of charred malt, some chocolate graham cracker and a raisin component deep within. Hoppiness leads on far into the aftertaste. Mild burnt raisin and delicate alcohol warmth meet in the semi-roasted bitter finish. A pleasure to come by, an easy drink.

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Photo of aerozeppl
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Super dark cola colored with some impressive off white brownish head. Some of the best lacing I have seen for this style.

S: More a malt forward example as far as the nose goes. Some roast and chocolate nicely balanced. The hops are there with some citrus making its way through but not really a hop bomb by any strech.

T: The citrus comes across more clearly in the taste. Nice hints of orange. I think that combination with the chocolate works best for the style overall. Just a hint of bitterness in the finish. Reminds me of espresso beans. Nice.

M: Medium body. A touch thin if anything. Carbonation is quite nice and to style.

D: A good example of the style. I have enjoyed the beers that I have had from them thus far. If anything I might dry hop this or dry hop it more to really get the nose to stand out more.

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle split with a friend. around fridge temp poured into a pint glass. no freshness info.

looks very nice. pours out a dark brown with some rubiness in the light. great retention and wonderful sticky lace with a light tan colored head.

smells almost entirely of hops. hardly any malt detectable. mostly pine.

the taste is similar. resinous pine, earthiness, grassy, with some citrus which is more of an afterthought. some malt is there, but nothing really roasty. lots of sharp bitterness. something not quite right with the mouthfeel, really attacks all of your mouth.

kind of a decieving brew. tasty, but tasted more of a really sharp piney ipa, rather than a black ipa. i didnt get much of the dark malts.

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Photo of BobCS
2.35/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

A - dark brown and clear (the liquid portion is very much like coca-cola in appearance), with a fine beige head

S - some citrus hops peak out in the aroma, but not as strongly as I was expecting given some reports

T - clean and aggressive hop character is there but completely overwhelmed by oxidation in the sample I am tasting. There is no freshness date on the 22 oz brown bottle, this was a relatively new addition to package store I bought it from, and I know this store typically handles it's stock with reasonable care. This sample is not light struck, but I believe it is heavily oxidized resulting in a tongue-coating wet cardboard that overwhelms the flavor and dominates the aftertaste before becoming filmy and soapy. The brewery hasn't been open long (just a few months) so it can't be too old, which suggests to me they have a packaging problem to work out.

D - This is definitely a drain pour I am afraid. I was looking forward to trying some Three Heads beers, since they are relatively local to me and relatively new. I will try again and re-review!

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Skunk Black IPA has a dark brown to black body with a tan head that has good retention and lacing.

The aroma is packed with pine and citrus, with the roasted malt coming through as a complement.

The flavor begins the same way as the aroma, big notes of resinous pine and a piquant citrus flavor. The bitterness is palpable until the malt comes in, but quite honestly this is a pretty bitter beer throughout. The malt is roasted and only marginally sweet. The two join together to form and interesting flavor profile, with a hint of something that is almost minty in the middle.

Light, bitter, dry, pretty good. The bitterness makes a noticeable impression upon the feel of this one.

Three Heads brewing isn't messing around, this is their second hoppy beer I have tried that is good. I prefer The Kind IPA, but I prefer IPAs to hoppy black ales, so try both.

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Photo of yesyouam
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Three Heads Skunk Black IPA is a very dim brown-- almost black. It's topped with a big, frothy cappuccino head that has supreme retention and lacing. It has a loud pine and grapefruit aroma, perhaps a touch of roast or ash. It's medium-full bodied, soft and slick. The dry finish leaves me a little thirsty. It has a very cascadian flavor: pine and grapefruit peel. There's a touch of roast at the finish. It's on the bitter side, but I like that. Coffee is in the aftertaste. This is really good representation of the style. It's fun to drink.

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Photo of BeerPhan86
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I went to RIT and this brewery was never around when I was in school (they just began in 2010), but their beers seem very hoppy and right up my alley so I was excited to find this at a local store. Black IPAs are popping up all over and while I have only had a few (Southern Tier and Otter Creek) it is a style I definitely enjoy quite a bit and I hope it keeps getting more popular.

A - Pours an opaque blackish-brown with a one finger light brown head. Good retention on the head and sticky lacing.

S - Piney and floral for the most part with slight hints of chocolate and roasted malt.

T - Somewhat sweet and dark up front followed by a blast of piney hops and a bitter, dry finish. Hints of chocolate and coffee in the finish. It's like someone mixed a porter with an American style IPA, and the result is quite delicious. Lingering taste is bitter and earthy and slightly metallic. I will admit it tastes less hoppy than the nose led on, but I enjoy what's going on here.

M - Very wet and smooth, not slick or oily like IPAs can tend to be. Slightly sticky on the lips. Carbonation level seems just right to me. Seems a bit too thin and watery though.

D - Probably too bitter for me to session but that seems to be par for the course for this emerging style.

Overall I was a little let down and expected a bit more bang from this. I'd have to say of the few black IPAs I have tried so far the Otter Creek Alpine has been my favorite. The Southern Tier Iniquity was incredible but more of an imperial of this style. Still worth a try and I can't wait to find their Kind IPA! If I was still in Rochester I'd definitely be hitting this place up with my growler.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle. a deep dark brown, almost black, with red highlights. with an off-white head. decent lacing.

aroma is a rich pungent hop aroma. mostly piney.

as advertised, porter-like dark malt flavor with very strong hop finish, almost oily. mouthfeel is typical of an IPA, thinner than a porter or stout. but smooth, drinks nice.

a bit too unbalanced for me to consider it super drinkable.

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Skunk Black IPA from Three Heads Brewing
3.64 out of 5 based on 148 ratings.
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