Cabin Fever Imperial Black Ale | Phillips Brewing Company

very good
20 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Cabin Fever Imperial Black AleCabin Fever Imperial Black Ale

Brewed by:
Phillips Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ericj551 on 03-08-2013

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 57
Photo of Omnium
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber > SA Sensory Pint
A - Blackish brown with a big two finger rich dense tan head with a thick lattice of lacing.
S - Really neat, lots of earthy and herbal hop tones, toasted caramel and big roasted malt, some dark chocolate, a little coffee.
T - Great balance for a good Imperial Black Ale. Smooth hop flavors up front, pine, a little mint, grass, light floral notes, then you get a rich maltiness that is roasty and very lightly sweet with some toasted caramel, bitterness hits you more at the back end.
M - This doesnt feel or taste like 8.5 at all, its rich and slightly more viscous than your average ale, but its creamy, has a light chew to it, and some mild lingering bitterness.
O - First time I had this I wasnt impressed. I'm glad I got to try it again, this is a really solid IBA.

 796 characters

Photo of peensteen
3.62/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Jet black with 2.5 fingers of tan head with some lace. Smell is hoppy with roast and chocolate, black liquorice, mostly piney in terms of hop profile with just a bit of fruity-citrusy hops. Taste is roasty with cocoa powder, dry lingering bitterness, piney hops with a chocolate and anise finish. Light-medium carbonation, light body. Just OK, admittedly this is a style I don't love in general and this was not one of the few examples that I have really enjoyed.

 463 characters

Photo of thehyperduck
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber picked up at the LCBO; best before July 22 2015 and served slightly chilled.

This one pours a dark blackish-brown colour; impenetrable to light, and capped off by two fingers of highly resilient, frothy light beige-coloured head. It requires the better part of ten minutes to fully seep away, eventually leaving behind a lumpy, foamy cap and a generous collar, in addition to multiple rings of sticky lace. This beer is gorgeous, but the aroma is somewhat less, well, attention-grabbing - I am getting a lot of citrusy orange, candied grapefruit, pine resin and some tropical fruitiness. This is alongside molasses and caramelized sugar sweetness, overlying a muted roasted malt backbone - hints of chocolate and coffee come through, but in a very subdued manner.

Things get kicked up a notch once this stuff hits my tongue - the tastebuds are immediately bombarded with big blasts of roasted malt and molasses sweetness. Cocoa powder, dark-roasted coffee and rich dark chocolate are quite dominant, with the (somewhat less-robust, but no less appealing) hop flavours featured next. Pineapple, pithy grapefruit citrus and pine resin provide a last-minute surge, with the profile finishing upon a lingering, earthy hop astringency that really clings to the palate. Medium-full in body, with light carbonation levels and a seriously smooth, creamy feel that makes for a fulfilling, hearty presence on the palate. This is the sort of beer that would clearly excel during the winter months, but there's certainly no reason I can't enjoy it in May, either - it's holding up very nicely, and this batch should remain yummy well into the summer.

Final Grade: 4.24, a high A-. Phillips' Cabin Fever is a very well-made black ale that I am really digging right now. In a bit of a twist for this style - the malt bill really takes command here, but that's not to say that the hops don't provide a sizeable punch on the back end. There's plenty of citrusy, resiny bitterness to satisfy the hop fanatics. Quality black IPAs are not particularly commonplace at the LCBO, so this is a highly-welcome addition that I hope to see back next year. Definitely worth a pick-up if you spot it locally, and I will likely be purchasing another bottle, as the price point is pretty good too.

 2,277 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
2.7/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Bottle: Poured a clear black color ale with a large dark brown foamy head with OK retention and some lacing. Aroma of dry roasted malt with some light astringent notes. Taste is dominated by dry roasted malt notes with some astringent notes and some citrus hoppy notes with subtle tart notes in the aftertaste. Body is slightly below average with good carbonation. I thought this one balance and was too astringent for my own taste.

 432 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

650 ml bottle served cold into a pint glass. Purchased from LCBO for $6.30 CDN. Excited to try yet another black ale, this seems to be a style I just can't get enough of.

Appearance - virtually the darkest shade of brown I've ever seen, as close to black as you can be without being black. Opaque with an ominous three finger tan head and an incredible amount of frothy lacing left behind. Great retention that lasts a while and leaves behind a thin layerof foam on top.

Smell - big nose that starts with a juicy fruit aroma of pineapple and orange then a wallop of roasted malt with a slight burnt edge comes into play. A touch of coffee an chocolate for good measure. Great nosethwt transitions back to fruit before the end and a bit of a burnt sugar aroma.

Taste - like the nose this starts juicy with pineapple and other citrus blends then goes roasty with some coffee and leather. Mixture, before fading to a slightly sweeter burnt brown sugar, and molasses finish. Very tasty and well rounded. Finishes bitter.

Mouthfeel - smooth with good carbonation, fairly creamy but not syrupy and a hefty body that retains refreshment. Good feel for the style.

Overall - awesome beer, with lots of flavours, juicy fruit flavours and dry roasty grain and malts mixed into with an aroma that backs it up. The 8.5% ABV is undetectable at least until you realize you've finished the bottle and then it hits you. Very well rounded and certainly a beer I'd love. To see more of here in Ontario.

 1,489 characters

Photo of Cramshawbar
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

While not a big fan of stouts, I have to declare this one to be one of my favourites. A lovely balance of smoky malt, hops and coffee - the latter of which usually ruins it for me. Not this one. Highly recommended!

 214 characters

Photo of mick303
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From bottle into glass, nice and dark with a good lace and film retention. Nice roasty and hoppy aroma. Taste has a great character, smooth mouthfeel with a really roasty malty character and a full citrus and piney hop character. Crisp and long finish. The coffee malt notes and robust hopiness really worked well off of each other, well recommended.

 350 characters

Photo of DaveBar
4.44/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the LCBO for around $6.00 for a 650ml bottle. Served at 4deg C in a tulip

A- Opens well and pours a 2" high beautiful head that lasts forever. Films out and has a nice dark nearly black color. WOW this head looks creamy

S- Lots of hops and malt here. Has a stout like chocolate scent to it. So impressive for a black IPA

T- This one has body and zap. I like it a lot. Chocolate overtones.

M- Dry and airy. Carbonated well.

O- Very good beer. This one is in my top list for a black IPA. The bitterness lever is just right.

Food Pairing

This wonderful beer went well with..... Roasted chicken


 619 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.91/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Cabin Fever hasn't plunged entirely into darkness; chestnut highlights survive along the base and, at the right angle, even provide by a menial amount of transparency. Enough foam formed from the pour I'm tempted scoop it out and make a milkshake out of it - heck, it already looks like one!

The nose isn't very expressive, especially for a style that on the whole tends to really be. Gooey, roasted malts or piny, citrusy hops - either is acceptable and yet neither seems to want the spotlight (usually they fight tooth and nail for that ever important first impression). This bouquet is blank.

The taste, on the other hand, is far from it. Whatever absence of flavour on the nose it's doubly made up for on the palate. A serious question for Phillips: do you add a shot of espresso to each bottle? What about dark caramel fudge? This has a most chocolaty, dessert worthy taste full of coffee- and caramel-accented roasted maltiness.

Hops factor more in the mouthfeel. The finish is dry and has leafy, woody, and resinous notes that stick to it like burrs. A little splash of lemony acidity also cleanses any borderline-burnt flavours that might otherwise linger and leaves the palate refreshed and ready for another sip.

I wouldn't rank Cabin Fever as a first tier Black IPA except insofar as its drinkability - it is a wonderfully agreeable example of the style, especially when you consider its strength (8.5%, something I didn't mention until now because, frankly, I never noticed). More enjoyable than impressive, I think Phillips is capable of more but I'm nonetheless a happy camper with the few bottles I bought.

 1,631 characters

Photo of Bunman3
4.16/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another win for Phillips! This beer has everything I love about the style. Beautiful, root beer-like appearance, grapefruit and cocoa nose, roasted malts and a robust hop finish. The kicker is the delightful, boozy afterburn at the end. There are multiple levels of taste in Cabin Fever, each of them popping out at you like a voice in your head.

 346 characters

Photo of Svingjo
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Snowcase Advent Calendar 2013 - This again poured a nice dark colour with a long retaining tan head. The nose shows a nice leafy citrus hops that is balanced with a sweet malt. You get a mocha coffee taste up front that finishes with a citrus hoppiness that offers up a lingering bitterness. I've really enjoyed both of Phillips' Cascadian offerings in this calendar. The best of both worlds with a sweet maltiness and strong hop.

 430 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bomber poured into a tulip glass. For some reason I am particularly appreciating the basically pitch brownish-black appearance, with a nice root beer float-like head. Lots of grapefruit and tangerine hops on the nose, almost perfectly balanced by some wood char, cacao, and coffee notes. Quite floral as well. Splendid aroma and this is one to keep sniffing as you drink. Palate is nearly as good, with a sweet beginning that immediately goes charred and then back to sweet again. Burnt concord grape and citrus lead the way, followed by rather dry char and coffee that holds my attention for a while, although a rock candy like sweetness eventually sets in and persists for the rest of the journey. Some black and green peppercorn spice notes also put in an appearance and the floral hops from the nose also hang tight for the duration. Not super thick of body despite the "imperial" designation and moderately carbonated. Finish is dry and roasted but with an unusually prominent watermelon Jolly Rancher flavor that I could still detect an hour post-consumption. This could be a top "American Black Ale" for me, an excellent balance of dark burnt malts and citrus/floral hops that Phillips might do well to elevate to regular status.

 1,236 characters

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - coal black with just a little light getting through the bottom, tower of creamy tan head, held its own with plenty of consistent lacing
S - leafy and piney hops hit you, quickly followed by some nutty malt
T - more of a earthy hop dominance up front with accents of leafy greens, solid compliment of nutty malt with a touch of licorice, very nicely balanced
M - medium body with a creamy start, fairly full with a medium bitterness through the finish
O - its a big beer with a balance that makes it drink like a small beer, full of hop and malt flavours from start to finish, outstanding example of the style

 612 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
4.19/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a 650 ml brown bottle. Pours out an intense dark brown hue, mahogany highlights when held to direct light, with a creamy light beige head that retains to a middish cap.

Sweet dark malt on the nose, some dry roast with a solid spike of grapefruit and some leafy hops.

Roasty malt, some cocoa and coffee up front in the flavour, turning to leafy herbal hops in the middle, and a bigger grapefruit citrus kick on the finish. Mocha notes blend with the grapefruit on the finish, while a dry roastiness and grapefruit pith character linger on in the aftertaste.

Medium-bodied on the fuller side of things, creamy smooth texture, with a medium amount of carbonation.

Phillips does it up right with this Cascadian, with a good balance between the malt and hops and enough character for them both to stand out in their own respect. I'll be picking up more of this while it is still available. This is one for Phillips to consider for a second brewing, for sure.

 962 characters

Photo of leaddog
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a dark nut brown with two fingers of frothy beige head. Nice lacing.

Smell - Leafy/piney hops, malts, tropical fruits.

Taste - Leafy, piney hops along with roasted malts. A little bit of citrus/tropical fruit peel flavour. Nice bitterness at the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with light/moderate carbonation.

Overall - A good representation of a black ale by Phillips. If you are a fan of the style, it is a nice choice.

 448 characters

Photo of wordemupg
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650ml bomber poured into tulip 30-3-13

A near black with a deep cola edge, large loose mocha foam has great retention and leaves a partial ring of lace

S some tropical citrus shining through the dark malt, char, coco powder, and faint coffee but the hops are in charge with the tangerine, grapefruit, taking center stage, impressive really how the hops shine in a beer this dark, some Phillips house notes as it warms

T the dark aspects much stronger in the mouth and pine I didn`t smell is quite strong, a little rind opposed to the fresh flesh I was smelling, pretty solid but the nose was great

M stops short of being foamy and not as thick as I`d guess from the color, nice bitter bite and a lingering citrus and coco finish

O pretty solid example of the style, nose is rocking and no problems elsewhere, well concealed booze helps its cause

I`ll be picking up another for sure, the price point on some of Phillips bigger brews is great and I hope they keep it up

 976 characters

Photo of EspressoGuy
3.37/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: opaque black with hints of amber; nice "rootbeer" head
S: deep rich, toasted oats, some citrus (grapefruit rind)
T: a mish-mash of tastes: cola, dark licorice ... Noticeable bitterness in the taste and a bitter, dry finish. A big, brooding beer but I'm not sure that I like it all that much.
M: medium-fullbodied but with a line of bitterness that cuts through.
O: declaration-- American/Cascadian Black Ale is a beer style that I really don't care for (this bottle was a gift). It seems like brewers are just throwing styles together to see what sticks .. and for me, this style is much less than the sum of its parts. It's not a bad beer just not one that's very appealing.

 679 characters

Photo of biboergosum
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

650ml bottle. My wife is near full-term, so the label imagery resonates rather clearly with me right now. Bedlam in the brain stem, eh, Phillips?

This beer pours a very dark, polished mahogany brown hue, with basal cola highlights, and three fingers of puffy, shiny, and rocky beige head, which leaves some broad, fuzzy swaths of patchy lace around the glass as it lazily sinks away.

It smells of sweet citrus, pine and perfumed floral hop esters right off the bat, followed up by oily bar nuts, biscuity chocolate malt, a slight yeastiness, dry bready caramel, and a further pithy and musty vegetal character. The taste is gritty, toasted dark bready malt, singed cocoa powder, bitter citrus cream and spruce tips, and some further floral, earthy hops. Simple, but really quite effective, and no sign of the elevated ABV.

The carbonation is present, a tad frothy, and generally agreeable, the body a solid medium weight, a wee bit airy, and mostly smooth. It finishes off-dry, the roasted chocolate malt and prickly citrus/pine hops still running the table.

I'm usually nonplussed by most ABAs, mostly on account of their lack of long-haul drinkability, for whatever reason. Not so here - Phillips has rendered a smooth, blackened and semi-sweet, but still hoppy ale, all deftly balanced for our drinking pleasure, and with an extra boost of booze that you don't even see coming. Hah - c'mon kid, Imma ready for ya!

 1,420 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ Garrick's Head in Victoria.

A - Deep black; completely opaque with a thin layer of light brown head.

S - Citrus, roast and pine.

T - Bitter up front with a big sweet roast profile providing balance. Chocolate and pine are the predominant flavours with some citrus present as well.

M - Medium body. Creamy. Moderate carbonation.

 343 characters

Photo of ericj551
4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I grabbed a bottle at the tasting tonight and had to crack it open. Cabin Fever pours an inky black that shows just a bit of brown light shining though when held up to the light. The aroma is citrusy and piney hops with dry chocolate and maybe a hint of caramel. The flavor is resinous and bitter with a big one two punch of slightly astringent dark malt and piney, earthy hops. The bitterness is intensified by the slight astringency and a distinct chocolate malt flavor lingers along with the tongue coating bitterness. The beer manages to maintain a pretty decent body despite the dryness. I think I might be turning the corner on the black IPA style, between this beer and the Puzzler.

 689 characters

Cabin Fever Imperial Black Ale from Phillips Brewing Company
4.03 out of 5 based on 57 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.