Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

1,526 Ratings
Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ClockworkOrange on 01-12-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,526 |  Reviews: 616
Photo of levifunk
3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bomber poured into a pint glass

a - very dark, low carbonation. I had to agitate the pour to get a decent head.

s - caramel, malts, some roasted cocoa.

t - same as nose, but not as sweet as the nose lets on. more of the smoked malt flavor. tobacco. does a good job hiding the 9%.

m - medium body. lower side of carbonation.

o - pretty decent. flavor is fairly mellow, but makes it very drinkable.

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Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a nice fluffy light tan heat.

Smells like straight up hops with a little dangling sweetness.

Big citrusy blast in the front with a light pine and coffee finish. Interesting stuff going on here.

Creamy and well-carbonated. Good feel.

Drinkability is high. Lots of stuff going on that is reminiscent of an American Barleywine Lite. Nice.

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Photo of FickleBeast
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at rfd in washington, dc. Reviewed on my droid.

Arrives in a goblet with one finger of foam that takes a few minutes to settle. Color is near black, and the aroma is a wonderful floral hoppiness. Very unusual to get a hoppy aroma from a dark beer.

Wow. This is a very nice, hoppy beer. Lace coats the goblet as I drink. The flavor is good, but I detect a strange maltiness that sticks out a bit, perhaps from the daRker roast malts? Nevertheless this is a very tasty beer with just a minor twinge of a sweet flavor that I don't care for. The hops do shine through to make this beer well balanced, and the alcohol is nicely masked.

I'd buy a bomber of this for sure and would get it again on tap.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Iniquity isn't quite black in colour, being more of a brown so dark it appears black in the center. The thick & creamy latte hued foam that tops it takes its time thinning out and clings tenaciously to the glass. The aroma smells plummy, raisiny, and caramelized with citric, tropical hops. Rich caramel malt flavour with some molasses. Fruity and estery, in the dark and dried kind of way. Raisins, dried cherrys, the sort of fruit you would find in a fruit & nut chocolate bar, without the chocolate. The debittered black malt doesn't seem to contribute much to the beer outside of its appearance. Juicy tropical and grapefruit hop flavour. Firm, not extreme, bitterness. It's maltier than it is hoppy, but tastes good to me. I'll give it strong marks for the flavour with the caveat that this is really like a hoppy barleywine.

Thick bodied, sticky, sweet but not cloying with low carbonation. Smooth and syrupy. Southern Tier seem to brew their big beers for those with a sweet tooth, and I have one*. If you're looking for a real hop bomb of a DIPA this probably wont work for you. This certainly wasn't what I thought it would be when I bought it. I still enjoyed it for what it is though. It seems like they've brewed a delicious barleywine by accident, and a happy accident it is.

* Creme Brulee was still way too much of a good thing.

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Photo of pootz
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber: My 3rd big ST from trade.

This one looks like a double porter with some bite. Black-brown, tan cap that stays. Cocoa-floral-pine aroma. Flavour is caramel, toasty, nutty, cocoa, earthy underneath floral, pine resin and botanicals. Long finish with a toasty bitter tang.

Big friggin' dark ale... I like it!

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Photo of Kaiser81
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to BlueMoonCanyon for sending this to me

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my snifter glass

A - Pours a super dark mahogany, if that's possible, with slightly less than a finger width of head thae settles quickly, leaving spotty lacing on my glass.

S - Smells of some light hops, maybe some citrus, mixed with roast, coffeeish, and other dark fruit smells. I'm getting some plums, figs, and raisins in there. Maybe a touch of cocoa too.

T - Slight bit of hops up front with that dark fruit taste on the back end. Definitely a bit boozy on the aftertaste.

M - Creamy heavy body with low carbonation. Not sure how a dark IPA supposed to be, but a tad bit more bubbly would be nice.

D - I'm drinking this easy, and I could have some more.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just a nice pretty chestnut brown colored ale, with a not-too-thick tan head floating sheepishly on top. The deep colored beer is very clear when held to some light. I can read the logo on my pint glass from the other side.

Crazy piney hop aroma. Some Dark caramel malt notes back this up, but it's all about the hops. Taste is also all about the hops, piney and earthy, even spicy. Alcohol warmth twisted around some dark fruity notes round it out. It does not finish too far on the bitter side, but there is a lingering bitter bite that lasts a bit on a tongue dried out by alcohol.

Big bodied, with a nice smooth feel. A good sipper even on a hot spring day.

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Photo of ugaterrapin
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: It pours a black color that when held up to the light reveals a deep amber hue. A finger and half of head resides on top for a prolonged time. A little bit of lacing remains on the edge of the glass with much more remaining on the surface of the beer.

S: As I poured the beer I thought I detected a bourbon smell, but I can't pick it up anymore. A roasted coffee character is the main thing detected in the aroma. There are some hints of hops with a faint alcohol presence as well.

T: The malt character is a subdued. There is a little bit of coffee, but less than expected. An earthy component lends itself to the beer. There are some bitter hops in the finish with a almond like flavor. The body is a little thinner than was expected.

Overall an okay beer. After having the Unearthly IPA, I had high expectations which were let down. It is still a good beer, but after having Sublimely Self-Righteous a couple of weeks ago, it is apparent this one is in a different league.

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4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

"Allow the darkness to consume you"

Deep blackened and opaque. Deep amber highlights. small tan head that recedes into a pool of oils surrounded by a collar. Sticky patches of tiny bubbles of lace.

Roasty Smokey coffee/choc. Vanilla/oak/booze. Pine, herbal, resins, small citrus.

Robust roasty dark malts. bittersweet malty goodness. vanilla/booze/oak. Some spicy pine and bitter citrus. Great biting bitterness coupled with alcohol bite. Leaves a roasty bittersweet herbal resin aftertaste.

Sweet sticky black syrup. full bodied, smooth and silky, moderately low carbonation.

Delish black IPA, complex and tasty. This one had about 6 months of age on it. great roasty flavor and hoppy bitterness.

consumed jan 2010.

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Photo of ccrida
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into my Duvel tulip, Iniquity is a dark, blackish brown with a light tan head leaving chunks of foamy lace.

Smell is pretty hoppy, pine, some stemmy woodiness that comes off like peanut butter due to the dark, sweeter malt. Not overly strong, but fairly pleasant.

Taste is fairly hoppy, a really nice balance between hops and malt, basically an exaggerated porter, it's very smooth and well integrated. Some chocolate notes, the hops have a hint of sour citrus but are mostly a woodsy vibe, maybe some smores? When I lived back east, these guys where one of the top up and comers, after which they seemed to have lost something...this one is a good reclamation of their ability to not only brew big beers, but big beers will. Bold is only good if you pull it off, which they did. There's a big push locally for all hoppy dark ales to be called Cascadian Dark Ales (CDAs), of which this one pretty much fits the bill, although perhaps a bit more hoppy porter then black IPA. Regardless of style though, there is an inherent tastiness to this that I really enjoy.

Mouthfeel is good, smoot, not too heavy.

Drinkability is pretty good, a tasty dark IPA, totally different then the local CDAs, but very good. Granted my bias towards them, it's still very good.

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Photo of Docer
3.76/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- Pours a murky rootbeer brown... cola colored... thin off-white head.. bit of a ring... and lacing.

- There's that unmistakable Southern Tier sweet caramel malt.. oats, grain... bread... brown sugar... bitter pine a fruity hop. Candy...

- Caramel, chocolate... bitter pine, grain, oats... and a fruity hop finish... this isn't bad. Good dose of hops and candy-like chocolate malt.

- Actually medium bodied without being too sticky and sweet like most of their beers. Little chewy...

- Overall this is one of the better offerings from Southern Tier. I would take this brew over any of their Imperial IPA's... Unearthly, Oaked Unearthly, Hoppe, and Gemeni. It's just better. Still on the sweet side... but at least it seems most of the sweetness is from the grain.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle for 9 bucks which is pretty good for ST around here (most are between 10-13 dollars)

A - Dark but not pitch black as seen through the liquid as pouring but settled in the glass with decent head.
S - Mostly floral hops with whiffs of caramel and molasses
T - mmm definitely not as hoppy as others described but the molasses is an interesting flavor to have mixed with an IPA.
M - Heavy with every sip having a mild Alcohol sting
D - As for most high ABV southern Tier beers I could enjoy in succession this one was kind of one and done due to the alcohol being very noticeable. I would much rather pick up another unearthy or Jav-ha than drop another 9 on a bomber. One and done.

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Photo of Casey10
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is not your typical IPA. In fact this is so different for me this is not a IPA. Of course this is always a revewier's decision so that is oaky.

My ratings are based on this beer is is worth trying and is very different based on described style and taste as well.

This is a beer that should be tried though at least once.

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Photo of Gyle41386
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

Black pour. Not really a shocker. Some red when held up to light. A finger or so of mocha colored foam retains pretty well. Nice stickage.

I was expecting a huge blast of bitterness in the nose...didn't get it, so I re-read the label. De-bittered black malt. Oh. Lots of citrus hops (I generally enjoy the hop profile in ST's big beers) and sweet malt. Some pine, too. If you smelled this beer without looking at it, you'd think it was an IPA.

Flavor follows. The de-bittered black malt doesn't really do much in the nose, but it provides a great balance to the hop flavor. Orange, grapefruit, and maybe even lemon, along with chocolate and caramel.

Really like the texture. Big body. Plush feel. No real noticeable alcohol. Easy drinker, for a style I don't consider to be terribly drinkable. It's no Sublimely Self-Righteous, but it's still a delicious beer. Another Southern Tier "big" beer is a winner.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.35/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In a tulip glass this beer was black with a miniscule tan head and no lacing. Sweet, fruity aroma, some floral notes. Muted taste of dark fruit and pine. Oily in the mouth.
Southern Tier is newly arrived in Maine. Thus far, not impressed. I imagine I'll try some of their other beers.

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Photo of Pahn
3.19/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Couldn't find a bottled on date, but bought it recently from a trustworthy store.

Appearance: Free pour down the middle of the glass manages a 1/3 inch white head that disappears immediately leaving a foamy ring around the surface of the glass and no lacing. Pours a very, very dark red, translucent at the edges when held up to light. Decent legs, almost no lacing.

Smell: From the bottle: interesting... equal parts plum and citrus hops. In the glass: whoa, what's all this? Big hits of grape jelly, plum, raisin, black cherry, black raspberry. There's a sweetness to the aroma that makes all the fruit notes smell like ___-jelly instead of ___-fruit. Some cola and spices. Boozy. Hops? I'm not getting any of that...

Taste: First sip: distracted for most of it by the rather oily mouthfeel, but detected caramel and similar dark fruits as the smell only less sweet. Second sip: again, a less sweet version of the nose; lots of grape, plum, fig, and a rather strong maltiness. The malt is barleywine caliber actually, deep and overwhelming. There's a faint note of grapefruit hops. It's fighting a battle to stand among the huge malt, caramel, and dark fruit flavors... and it's getting murdered. The beer has the bitterness of a (D)IPA, but the hop flavor isn't in any balance at all. This isn't a "black IPA", it's just a darker American barleywine.

The flavors are bold, but not well-balanced, and the mouthfeel isn't helping matters. Less sugar, a modicum of subtlety, and way more hop flavor would do wonders for this beer...

Mouthfeel: On the heavier side of medium bodied. Sticky and chewy. Unpleasant.

Drinkability: The alcohol is just as bold as the malt and dark fruit flavors, which combined with the mouthfeel isn't making drinking this beer any easier. If I weren't drinking alone at the moment, I would offer the rest of this bottle to someone else and open something good.

I had two major problems with this beer. The first is the whole "Black IPA" thing... that concept sounds fine to me. Make a beer with all the hop forward characteristics of an IPA, make it darker, and maybe give it a stronger malt character than you'd even expect from "east coast (D)IPAs". Sounds good. But this beer is not that. This beer is plainly a run of the mill American barleywine, but lacking any semblance of balance or restraint. A big sugary mess + hop bitterness doesn't make something a DIPA, and turning it black doesn't make it a "black IPA".

The second problem is that it's just not a very well-made beer, even if you throw style out the window. It's sticky, boozy, and has huge, overpowering dark fruit flavors that neither mesh well with everything else nor are particularly interesting on their own. If the brewers had called this beer what it is (a barleywine), I would still give it a low score.

This beer is a failed experiment.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.37/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber courtesy of Cuzco in a recent BIF, thanks Nate! Pours a dark brown color with some crimson highlights. Foam is light tan, fairly large-bubbled and not very retentive. Lacing is poor and the beer is left with only a covering sheen.

Nose has a lot of dark fruits; figgy with a fair amount of floral and herbal hops (Cascade and Centennial). Some yeasty aromas are there as well as some oxidized malt, caramel and a touch of roast. Not a very clean smelling black IPA.

Tastes like biscuits slathered in blackberry and currant jam. Quite fruity and yeasty. There is a decent amount of hop flavor, but not really a whole bunch of bitterness. Malts are pretty sweet with some semi-sweet chocolate and caramel toffee coming through. Too much alcohol is piled on top to make for a pretty messy offering. It's ok, but after having Stone's SSRA, this one is a bit of a letdown as a black IPA.

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Photo of Phade42
3.84/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a standard pint glass even though the bottleshows some kind of cocktail glass which I assume is the ideal serving platform.

On initial pour I smelled a waft of whisky in the air (It IS 9% ABV after all) , but more on aroma when I get there.

Appearance: Poured almost jet black (hence the name) with a light foamy white head that dissipates quickly. Looks almost exactly like a glass of Pepsi.

Aroma: After the glass was fully poured, the whisky smell I noted above was gone. Replaced by a sweet, toasty and rich caramel. Not floral in the least, as I'm used to with Ales. Faint fruit and chocolate. You ever have one of those Cadbury Fruit & Nut chocolate bars? Smells kinda like that tastes.

Taste: Sweet, but not offensively so. Slightly smoky. Pleasantly bitter upon swallowing. Roasted malts. Nice, I like it. If the bottle didn't say 9% alcohol I wouldnt believe it, no alcohol taste at all.

Mouthfeel: Pleasant. Much like the appearance, feels like Pepsi on the tounge, with less carbonation and less sugary-syrup feeling. Like I said before it smells sweet, but it doesn't... FEEL sweet (you know that sickly sweet feeling on your tongue when you drink a soda or an Alco-Pop, right?).

Drinkability: Like I said, doesn't taste or feel like 9% alcohol, so I gave it high marks for drinkability, but I'd hesitate on going back for another bottle.

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Photo of Durge
4.37/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Auspices of the reliably good taste of one Gambrinus, this black beauty shows a dark black brown color with a fair light tan colored head and solid lacing. The aroma is heavy imperial malt! Also some tasty roasted ham and red wine. Awesome. The flavor brings peaty herbal malt and deep caramel. It's a little bit smokey with a hint of ham and a maple sweetness. Full bodied and reasonably carbonated but fairly drinkable for the style, which is quite unique. Luscious feel and delicious. A hit for any lover of heavy malt with a hop touch.

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Photo of aubuc1
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured in to a goblet.

Pours black with a slowly shrinking tan bubbly head. Looks good.

Big piney, citrusy, sweet smell bursting out with an undertone of roasty malt.

Taste is mainly roasty with a slightly dry bitter finish. Good.

Pretty creamy mouthfeel and drinkable beer.

A very good blend of styles.

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Photo of scottyshades
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep, rich garnet color with a huge eggshell colored head. Fluffy, billowy, rocky, or whatever you want to call it, retention is excellent, leaving thick sheets of foam along the glass.

S: Smells more like a mild porter or a brown ale than a DIPA, or even an IPA. Roasted notes greet the nose at first, slight coffee, toffee and thick molasses. Caramel and some light butter aromas. Malts definitely dominate the nose. Hops give a floral and slight resinous aspect, but don't really play the role that I expected, especially for the style.

T: The flavor is definitely NOT typical of a DIPA, or even an IPA...Huge malts flavors; roasted malts, dark malts, coffee, lactose, molasses, caramel, slight dark fruit flavors (unripe currant and figs), and an underlying charred note. The malts are dominant, hops play second fiddle. Hops give a lingering bitterness (not very bitter though), slight floral flavors and even a touch of citrus (orange) peel. Per bottle: "It is the antithesis of Unearthly" is exactly how I feel...completely opposite of unearthly. I can't really condone Southern Tier labeling this a IPA (DIPA on BA), seems more like a well hopped porter or brown ale.

MF/D: Medium/Heavy for the style, lingering toasted/roasted malt finish. I can't tell if this is really dry or not at all...interesting beer to say the least.

Notes: This would be my first "black IPA", so I'm not sure if this is typical of that style, but if so, I would challenge that this should either be in a new "black IPA" style, or classified as something other than an IPA/DIPA. Very delicious though...

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into a Victory pint glass at Durge's.

A: Poured a near-black amber color with ruby highlights and a thick cap of white, creamy foam. Clarity in sunlight is very good for such a dark brew, and the lacing is phenomenal.

S: Smells of deep, sweet roasted malts, dark red fruits which lend plum and raisin aromas to the big, sweet, candied and slightly smoky aroma.

T: Flavor is slickly sweet up front, with huge doses of deep roasted, sweet caramel malt. These give off a buttery toffee vibe which give in to a bit of bittersweet cocoa and roasted coffee malts. Light, spicy hop bitterness creeps in towards the finish which is sticky sweet, with lingering smoky flavors of roast pork in a caramelized glaze.

M: Full bodied and sticky sweet, but so drinkably smooth and satisfying in terms of malty mouthfeel and low ABV sting.

D: The 9% ABV isn't tasted in the flavor so much as its felt in the big, sweet malty doses in the mouthfeel. You can tell a lot of residual wort sugars achieve the well-blended, hoppy enough malt character of this black ale. A very nice split bomber to have after dinner or in the early evening. Antithesis to the Unearthly? Whatever, I call it delicious.

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Photo of TK5150
3.82/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours dark brown with ruby highlights and a beige head.

S- Dusty (cellar like smell), with raisins, plums, and other dark fruits, some breadiness, and caramel malt.

T- Raisins, plums, and other dark fruits mix with the maltiness, smokey. Lingering burnt caramel finish.

M- Full medium bodied. Fairly smooth, nicely carbonated.

D- Quite drinkable. No hint of the 9% abv.

There is no way this is a black IPA, this is definitely a Baltic Porter at heart (if I had this during a blind tasting, I would be totally convinced this was a Baltic Porter). There was basically no hop presence to this at all. Overall though, a pretty good beer. Better than their Unearthly IPA (only other beer I've had from these guys since they started distributing here.)

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Photo of drizzam
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of a generous offering from a tasting with my good friend cdkrenz. Thanks CK!

A - Pours a clear brown in color topped by a fluffy khaki head. Head retention is decent and it left a nice spotty lacing down the inside of the glass.

S - Big hoppy aroma...citrus hops dominate the aroma. Really not much in the way of malt in the nose. This certainly caught me off guard, I did not expect it to smell so hoppy.

T & M - The hops in the aroma are definitely present, but they are balanced nicely by a dark malt character. If I had judged just from the aroma, I would have thought this would be a hop bomb, but that's not the case. There is also a sweetness to this brew that I can't quite put a finger on. Some complexity here. Medium bodied, finishes fairly clean with a touch of hoppy bitterness that lingers after the swallow.

D - Booyah - this is one helluva good brew. Southern Tier has done it again with this brew. Thanks CK for introducing me to this beer!

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Photo of sk8man121
4.68/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into goblet. Southern Tier is brand new to Maine and this is my first offering from them.

A: Pours a silky black/dark-brown with soft ruby highlights. Head is 2 fingers, sandy-brown, complex and full; dissipates to a light film and leaves some beautiful lacing on the glass.

S: Hops are upfront (chinook, cascade, willamette, centenial) and definitely form the backbone of the smell. Malts (2-row pale, debittered black malt) are nicely subdued. I also get hints of fresh cream at the back of the nose. Smells clean and delicious.

T: Caramel, refreshing hops and alcohol dominate the flavor. Aftertaste is quite piney from the hops, but in a really functional and cleansing way, as it removes the whiskey notes from your palate. Each sip tastes better than the last. Does this beer have MSG in it?

M: Mouthfeel is thinner than you'd think by looking at this brew, but remember that the black malts are more for color than anything. This is a DIPA all the way, and it drinks like one. Thin, but resiny. Creamy yet dry. Perfectly embodies the style.

D: While Iniquity does a nice job of hiding her alcohol content (9%), it's tough to deny that you feel every glass that you knock back. That said, the drinkability of this beer is exceptional. So many beers just get "old" to me after a couple of glasses; not this.

One of my highest recommendations, and I can't wait to taste the other ST labels. I'm very impressed, to say the least.

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Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4.09 out of 5 based on 1,526 ratings.
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