Phillips / GLB Puzzler Belgian Black IPA
Phillips Brewing Company

Phillips / GLB Puzzler Belgian Black IPAPhillips / GLB Puzzler Belgian Black IPA
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American Black Ale
4.06 | pDev: 11.82%
Phillips Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Phillips / GLB Puzzler Belgian Black IPAPhillips / GLB Puzzler Belgian Black IPA
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Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 51 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed a bomber obtained from Co-op liquor store in Calgary, poured into a Belgian-style goblet. I probably should have used an IPA glass. A nearly pitch black brew with ample brown head and a rather unique aroma/taste profile. There's some Belgian influence in the form of yeast-derived (presumably) spice notes and a burlap sack-like dryness but this is not what grips the taste buds. Smells and tastes like pot resin, brown rye bread with caraway seed, pipe tobacco, burnt banana, weak clove oil, a hint of orchard fruit. Others taste citrus in this and I suppose I do as well, a generic citric rind somewhere in the mix, but truth be told I get more marijuana dankness and pine. These differences in palate add to the fun of beer tasting I suppose. Dry, woody, resinous, and spicy, with some ash helping to dry out the earthy bitter finish. A big ol' resin bomb with some dark malt character that is hard to locate amidst the hop assault. Middle of the road carbonation. This one will likely stand out in my memory for quite some time. Captures the aggressive resinous hopping that Phillips does so well, with some added spicy special effects. Did I mention its hoppy?

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Alibi Room, Vancouver.

Pours like an Irish Stout: ruby black with a tan collar than rings.
Roast and smoke on the nose.
Black rye bread, a whack of phenols, then orange oil hops.
Red berry finish and clovey linger.
Medium, chewy, smooth.

More stout than anything else. Way too phenolic. But it does hit all 3 notes named on the label.

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Photo of leaddog
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. I missed out on last years batch but Phillips has brought it back. The ABV is 7.3% as opposed to the 9.1% of last year's collaboration batch.

Appearance- Pours a dark brown with two fingers of foamy mocha head.

Smell - Belgian yeast, roasted malts, piney hops, citrus.

Taste - A nice mix of the roasted malts, Belgian yeast, hops and citrus flavours. Good roasted flavours and bitter hop finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall - For my first go at a Belgian Black IPA, Phillips delivers a flavourful brew that has a nice mix of Belgian and North American ingredients. Perfect for the time of year in Calgary when the weather is changing.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Another treat courtesy of joemcgrath27, looking forward trying this mystery style out.

A - Pours a dark ruby red, thumb of off-white head, solid retention and some nice sporadic lacing.

S - Loads of citrus and earthy pine hops, hints of cedar, grapefruit and subtle burnt malts.

T - Again, the citrus and pine notes dominate with a bitter citrus rind lingering, toasted grains, burnt cocoa and chocolate notes linger. The higher ABV is insanely well hidden, and goes completely undetected and the Belgian yeast notes seem to be almost as hidden.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and a touch of dryness.

O - A tasty brew indeed, the Belgian aspect is overpowered by the hops, so it reveals little in terms of traditional fruity yeast esthers. That being said, as a black IPA, it is absolutely delicious. Loads of flavour and an ABV that will certainy sneak up on you if you're not careful.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep black color ale with a rather large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of dry roasted malt with huge resin and green citrus hoppy notes. Taste is also a good mix between some dry and bitter roasted malt with a side of black chocolate and some aggressive green citrus hops notes with some resinous notes at the end. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed for the style and something I could see myself having again in the future.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - very dark cherry cola look, tall mocha head retained very well, plenty of random sticky lacing
S - nutty and earthy, mild fruity belgian funk, certainly a head scratcher at this point
T - roasty, earhty, leafy, nutty, not much Belgianishness other than a bit of funky strangeness, I must admit I am puzzled
M - full malty feel, touch of hop dryness and alcohol heat thin it slightly
O - don't know what to say other than I am puzzled, which I guess is a good thing ...?

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Photo of Converge
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a tulip.

A - Pours nearly black, with only subtle hints of ruby highlight. Big, thick, and dense head of light tan foam. Awesome looking brew with a good head and thorough, sticky lacing, as with all Phillips brews. Cool label as well.

S - Certainly more hop forward than malt. Big West Coast character, with citric rind, grapefruit, pine, and all that jazz coming through. A subtle hint of roast, and a distinct spiciness, with a peppery feel. Some big earthy hops in there too, behind the citrus and pine. There's certainly a big malt backbone as well however. Doesn't strike me as the aroma of a 9.00% ABV+ beer, however.

T - Big assertive hop character throughout, with citric rind, grapefruit and pine upfront, and a solid earthy feel as well. Big malt as well though, with dark crystal malt and a touch of chocolate. A lot of the reviews on this one state a Belgian yeast character as well, but I don't really get it. In fact, I don't get any real Belgian influence on this brew. Still, this ale packs a full bodied profile with a solid hop bite; good stuff.

M - Quite thick, with a pretty hefty body. Carbonation is on the lower side for such a hoppy offering, with lots of fine bubbles permeating the body. Overall smooth, with a slightly dry finish.

D - Really strikes me as a jacked up Cascadian Dark Ale of some sort, like a Skookum Cascadian Brown on steroids. A little disappointed at the lack of Belgian character in this one, but this is still a formidable brew with a full bodied feel and assertive profile. Good stuff from Phillips, as usual.

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Photo of jrenihan
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber purchased from GLB. No date but probably 2-3 weeks old.

Beer is black. Almost no head results from the pour, just a thin tan fizz that dissipates quickly.

Smell is good. Citrus fruit (orange sticks out), chocolate, a bit of anise. Nothing very Belgian sticks out for me. I can perhaps get a bit of Belgian yeast but that may be the power of suggestion.

Given how prominent citrus was in the nose, the taste is initially a surprise as roast malt and dark chocolate are the immediate flavours. The citrus is there but is not as strong as in the nose. Taste reminds me of blood orange. The Belgian element is more noticeable, with a yeasty flavour, but still pretty minimal for a Belgian IPA.

Pretty heavy for an IPA (of any stripe), but it is a strong beer. Moderate to low carbonation. Pretty smooth, somewhat oily.

Overall, quite good. I tried a small glass of this on tap at a GLB event recently and was not impressed by it at that time. Not sure if that was a function of it mixing poorly with other beers, but I am liking it now.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fresh bottle from the brewery poured in to tulip glass. Stated IBU of 100.

A - Black with half a finger of light brown head

S - Bitter hop aroma up front with grapefruit, peach and pine notes. The malt bill adds roast, chocolate and some sweet molasses aromas.

T - A big bitterness up front with pine, grapefruit, orange peel and peach flavours. A fairly prominent malt backbone adds roast, chocolate, and sweet molasses flavours. There is a good bitterness but it doesn't appear to be anywhere near the stated IBU of 100. Good overall balance. Not getting much of a "Belgian" profile here at all.

M -Medium body; creamy. Light carbonation.

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Photo of peensteen
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brownish-black colour, whisp of tan head, light lace. Smell is lots of citrus, tangerine, orange, lots of citrusy hops, cocoa, roast malt along with some belgian yeast and its all very well intergrated and comes together quite nicely. Taste is chocolatey and yeast with tons of dry fruity hops, more tangerine/clementine/orange flavours, citrusy with quite a good deal of roast as well, a bit spicy and belgian in the finish. Light-medium carbonation, pretty full mouthfeel, oily and slick, creamy feeling points. This was a delicious beer, certainly something I would love to see all year long, I hope this gets made again.

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Photo of liamt07
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at WVRST, Great Lakes Project X Movember. Into a sampler glass several times over.

Dark brown with burgundy hues, light retention and a good bit of lace. Nose has big citrus notes, grapefruit, clementine, tangerine and pine. Light roast and chocolate in the back. Taste has bitter citrus rind up front, bitter chocolate and a big chunk of roasty flavours tailing right behind. Long bitter, mildly herbal hoops in the finshs. Medium full feel, medium carbonation. An excellent black IPA with a brilliant nose, great stuff. Glad to have some extra bottles of this.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

650ml bomber poured into tulip 10/11/12

A nearly black with a deep cola edge, a large well retained mocha head stick around to the bottom of the glass leaving several rings of lace deep down the glass, were off to a great start

S Big nose on this one with lots of tropical notes, tangerine, pineapple, and grapefruit, hard to believe the hops shine through a beer this dark. Loads of pine, some coco powder and more hops, the Belgian influence is minor but adds a nice touch, the booze is nowhere to be found and just a little licorice as it warms, smells perfect

T more yeast then the smell with a earthy, woody aspect I didn’t find on the nose, just a little nutty flavor with some smoke and char, the hops are still there but the dark malts take over in the mouth. Taste is good but the nose was wonderful

M medium bodied, almost foamy but not quite, a nice bitter bite and no heat at all, long rind and char finish

O such a sexy beer from start to finish, smells divine and zero booze at any point, great hop kick and a solid dark malty backbone, I’m loving this one

I’ll have another please, and for 7$ I’ll be enjoying a few of these before their gone from the shelves

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Photo of DoktorZee
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a three-quarter size pint glass. No obvious best before date on the bottle.

A - this beer is nearly black with just the smallest ruby hints at the edges in full light. The head is fluffy, tan, and leaves horizontally streaked lacing on the glass.

S - the nose is all juniper and pine resin with just a hint of nuttiness in the background (almost like a bit of peanut butter).

T - intertwined with the resin and bitterness is almost a chocolate/peanut butter thread that weaves through the beer. In addition to the resinous bitterness there's a very slight hint of dates, plumbs and other dark fruit (rather than smoke or roastiness) in the finish that are overwhelmed by the hops. It maintains an excellent balance throughout.

M - slightly heavier on the tongue with a medium heavy to heavy body. Carbonation is low-medium and doesn't fully cut through the body of the beer. There's certainly some alcohol warming, but nowhere near booziness.

Overall I really, really like this beer. It's powerful and muscular, but remains balanced. The only qualm I would have is either slightly lighter body or more carbonation to cut through it more aggressively. Regardless, this is a great, great beer.

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Photo of CookstLiquor
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 650ml bottle. This beer pours a thick black with slight tannish-brown head. Though this is a "Belgian" IPA, any subtle flavours or aromas from the Belgian yeast are obliterated by the dark malts and massive aromatic hops. That said, this is a really tasty brew that hides its high alcohol well. There's mint and black chocolate on the nose, while flavours of meat, iodine, molasses and grapefruit show up on the palate. Very unique, very drinkable.

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Photo of Sammy
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

multi servings at GL WVRST takeover. Black with virtually no head. Wonderful aroams, the cascade and the roast in perfect harmony. Fuller mouthfeel, smooth. Hops, roast, in a great ale. Very good drinkability. The roast is perfect. Great collaboration.

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Photo of BashOnABike
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 650 mL bottle into 16 oz pint glass, served ~5º C.

(A.) - A nearly opaque, dark chestnutty root beer-esq shade; light tan, super frothy head, formed almost "lumps" w/ 1.5" and some very messy lacing with long retention. Cool stuff!

(S.) - Mostly IPA, with generic citrus & hop much like Phillips' other "Belgian IPA" offering, 3x Cross; hints of almost pineapple, lime, and just a tad of malt.

(T.) - Holy flavour-mashup batman! This thing's simultaneously hoppy (IPA), malty (belgian), smoky (brown/amber) AND burnt-coffee-ish (stout). When I 1st read about Cascadians coming to Vic, this was sorta what I hoped for...and 1y later, here we are! Additionally, it's got some toffee, chocolate, citrus, and nutmeg. Given a little less hop, this could be perfectly balanced IMO.

(M.) - Decently smooth, with that IPA astringency lingering. Medium body on the tongue, but not too heavy.

(O.) - Certainly the strongest Cascadian I've had, I'll give it props just for being unique. They certainly didn't chintz on the flavour profile, so it's definitely full-featured. I'm getting a little sick of the brewery's hopsession (punny, I know!), but we are in the Pacific NW, so no real surprise I guess..

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Photo of biboergosum
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

650ml bottle. Another nice cross-Canada collaboration from Phillips, released concurrently with a fresh hop offering - nice!

This beer pours a clear, I think, very dark chestnut brown, with mahagony highlights, and two fingers of tightly foamy mocha head, which leaves a low rocky shoreline of lace around the glass as it genially ebbs away.

It smells of bitter grapefruit rind, roasted, somewhat meaty caramel malt, a bit of fleshy stone pit fruitiness, some earthy Belgian yeast, and floral, leafy hops. The taste is big bitter citrus and pine needles, toasted bread and caramel malt, a waning Belgo-yeast character, muted fallen orchard fruit, and a trailing leafy hoppiness. Little, if any warming from the hefty ABV.

The carbonation is on the reserved side, though hardly inert, the body a tremulous medium weight, and really quite smooth, none of the heavy hitters messing with this metric, which is rather nice to see. It finishes pretty dry, the roasted notes from the malt kind of dominating a depleted field of competition.

A tasty Cascadian Black Ale, with a subtle Belgian twist, which fades soon enough, leaving us with the hoppy, toasted goodness of the style, unencumbered, (or enhanced, depending on your outlook) by the still AWOL, and very well integrated, elevated booze.

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Photo of Cookeeman
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This may be the most appropriately named beer Phillips has ever produced. I was Puzzled by this beer. Why? Because a Black IPA, made with Belgian yeast, brewed in-part by a supposedly hop-crazy brewery (Phillips), should be extremely flavor-packed! Surprisingly though, I found this to be a very mildly flavoured beer. The Belgian yeast barely even shows up in the taste, mostly just in the aroma, along with some roasted malt. The body also has a hint of roasted malt, and a little cocoa/chocolate... but not much else. The biggest flavor is the hop finish, but even that isn't overpowering like Phillips tends to like to brew. The hops finish dry and slightly piney, but again, not in any appreciable amount. At 9.1% I definitely would have expected a boozy finish, but it is mysteriously missing as well. I hesitate to put this next statement on record given that this is a collab with Great Lakes, but my overall impression while drinking this beer was that it was... eerie. This is actually what I thought when I finished this beer, pun not intended. I went into this with expectations that were, perhaps, too lofty, but I have to say this beer let me down.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Following the collab between Garrison and Phillips in the Spring this is a new Black Belgian IPA from Great Lakes Brewery out of Ontario and of course the great beer mind of Matt Philips. Considering this beer came out at the same time as the great fresh hop IPA Green Reaper makes Phillips a continued challenger for best BC brewery.

This is indeed a puzzle as the name of the beer suggests. Black as ink with a very interesting nose ( hops mixed with a strong black malt smell underlined with Belgian yeast). Given that this beer is over 9% ABV you find yourself almost stopped in your tasting tracks by the bigness of flavours and the complexity that opens up as the beer warms. There are lots of hops but what really catches the attention is the dryness and bitterness that come out in the midbody and continue through the finish. This is not a criticism as this works for the beer but it takes awhile to reconcile the Belgian notes with this huge dark roasted flavours while at the same time realizing the hops are also out in force. Not since Belgian Black from Lighthouse last year have I had such a interesting take on the Cascadian style. While Lighthouse went for a more luscious Dubbel take on the DIBPA , Phillips and GLB use dryness and the bitterness of the hops to grab the drinkers attention. All in all a unique beer that shows the unrestrained creativity in Canadian craft brewing.

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Phillips / GLB Puzzler Belgian Black IPA from Phillips Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 51 ratings