Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,526 |  Reviews: 616
Photo of Reaper16
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

served on-tap @ Flying Saucer, Kansas City, into a snifter

I knew that this was coming, but it was intriguing and perplexing just the same... pours a deep, dark brown (might as well call it black). The head was insignificant and unimpressive; trace lines of off-white lace formed, but that is it. All in all, this beer looks just like a porter. Were this a porter, I'd rate it average, but seeing as I appreciate the sense of play here, I'm scoring it significantly higher.

Citrus and pine abound in the nose of this one. If you didn't know that this very dark beer was an Imperial India Pale Ale in onyx disguise, then one deep sniff will set you straight. Not much complexity or anything, just a nice IIPA aroma.

This beer hits you upfront and strong with the citrus hop flavors. Its kind of orange-dominant at first, but gives way more-and-more to grapefruit as the beer warms. I didn't detect much of a malt presence trying to assert itself, but there was an underlying, sugary sweetness that has to be accounted for. That sweet element plays well with the pine finish. It is important to note that this is not a bitter beer by typical double-IPA standards. Sure, there is the alpha acid/hop resin aftertaste that one would expect. But nearly ever other IIPA worth its salt is going to be more bitter. Take that as a positive or negative depending on your own palate.

Okay mouthfeel. More than okay, I suppose. It didn't serve to highlight any of the flavors but it did not work to diminish anything either. Overall, it is definitely flavorful; the drinkability score might be raised some by its fun-factor alone.

If this were a normal-colored Imperial India Pale Ale, I might not score it as highly as I am. The fact is though that this beer tastes like a double IPA and looks like a porter. The sensory head-trip is really fun and makes this a great beer to spring on a party. The sense of play that the brewmasters at Southern Tier imbued this beer needs to be acknowledged and taken into account. Fun, tasty, hoppy... this is a recommended beer.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Iniquity? There's certainly nothing evil or unjust about this beer. I was quite surprised and charmed by it. It's very dark, almost black, but there are brown highlights to it. But it's not roasty or chocolatey. There are notes of dark caramel, and soft notes of mocha, but it's nothing like a porter or stout. I thought it was more like a schwarzbier or dunkle. Very nicely rounded maltiness to it!

On top of that, it's pretty damned hoppy! But I look at the label and it reads "...this is an ale as black as night. It is the antithesis of Unearthly" (their hoppy IPA). Well, the color might be different, but with juicy-citrusy and softly piney hops this is far from the opposite of "Unearthly"! It is much less bitter though, and remarkably smooth. The alcohol (9%) never shows, even in the finish.

Oh, another thing about the label, they call it an Imperial IBA. Firstly, I thought the TTB did away with any abbreviations on labels, but regardless, I'm guessing they're calling it an Imperial Brown Ale, or is that Imperial Black Ale? Imperial Blacl Ale fits better. But whatever you call it, I'm drinking it! The darkened malt and citrus-pine hops just go together so well, and despite its strength it's oh so drinkable! Additionally, althought it's not really complex (...a couple of malt notes here, some yeasty fruit there, a few shining hop flavors, and some bitterness...), it's actually very unique. I've never had a beer like it before, and that makes it interesting enough for me. Well done, and given that uniqueness, well worth trying. Kudos once again to Southern Tier!

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Photo of mltobin
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served on-tap at the Ginger Man in Norwalk
The appearance is a very dark brown with a two finger white head.
Iniquity smells like roasted malt, dark chocolate, a dose of hops in there as well. Sipping this offering from Southern Tier, it tastes rich, sweet, some of that strong alcohol comes through in the taste as well. Mouthfeel is thick and strong, but interesting in this imperial black ale, good idea to have some water after this beer. Drinkability is average on this heavy beer. It makes for a great beer to pair with a dessert such as a brownie sundae.

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Photo of tpd975
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice deep dark black hue, this one is stout black. nice creamy two finger head with good retention. Nice sheet lace as well.

S: Nice bold citrus with notes of dark roasted malt, caramel, and chocolate.

T: Wonderful blend of malt and hops. Tons of grapefruit and orange up front. The malt hits in the finish. Nice dark roast with hints of chocolate and a touch of dark fruit. The finish is and grassy.

M: Medium in body, smooth, with wonderful carbonation.

D: Tasty and drinkable

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Photo of SpecialK088
3.56/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass

Pours like a cola near the same color and carbonation leaves the same ring around the edge of the glass

Very sweet malt and grassy hope notes in the nose also has a distinct sugary sweetness almost like candy.

Flavors of rich roasted malt and some grassy/floral hops overall the booze kinda outweights all the other flavors which are very good

Medium to light body carbonation level seemed to be a little low

Not a bad beer to drink and I would like to see if some time on it would mellow the alcohol, would also like to try it alongside some other foods, like something spicy.

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Photo of atsprings
3.87/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into two DFH Signature glasses shared with rtratzlaff. The beer pours a nearly opaque black with a thin diminishing head. Aroma is a nice blend of brown malts and citrus hops. The taste is a nice balance of brown malts, cocoa, citrus hops and traces of pine and caramel. The beer is medium bodied with slight alcohol presence. I'm always eager to try hoppy dark beers, but this one was a bit of a let down.

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Photo of grayburn
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark reddish brown with a huge head that stays and laces very well.

The smell and taste both start with a caramelized brown sugar sweetness that is quickly and seamlessly transitioned into a pine and citrus bitterness. Very nice, the flow between elements is quite impressive in this brew.

The mouthfeel is thick, moderately carbonated, works damn well here, hides the alcohol well...these guys are freaking magicians.

I could drink this all night...well...ummmm...I could drink this for a couple of hours only to wake up the next day in a puddle of chocolate colored drool, my thumb in a glass of lukewarm water, and my jeans soaked to a deep navy; With a headache and a smile.

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Photo of cokes
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shadowy dark burnt maroon (or just black when viewed from any distance) with a modest beige foam of limited retention and somewhat better lacing.
It noses of blackberries, java, XO dark rum, chocolate, ferns, seaweed, pepper, and grilled pineapple.
Intially sweet upon hitting the tongue. Caramelized apples, concord grapes, various barries, and smoked papayas. Java and char lap against the fruitiness. Some lingering sweet grape notes are soon covered in chocolate. This could easily turn into "Rasinette" given Southern Tier's propensity towards candy-flavored psuedobeers. Gratefully, it doesn't. Mostly because the hops say "fuck that". Brittle, dried herbs, dried pine needles, and dried citric peels add flavor and assertive bitterness that's harmonic with the general mien of the beer. It lingers forever with that grape/berry/fudge/smoke/roast/pine/citric melody.
Everything that arrives never seems to go away.
It's a deft medium body, toting a bit of alcoholic weight. Though, as usual, ST has done a alchemist's job in hiding the booze quotient. It's bracing intensity limits drinkability far more than it's 9% ABV does.
Fun and brutal. I couldn't see drinking a lot of this, or even very often. But this has a great deal of deviant charm.

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

They're not kidding when they call this a black ale,it's very dark,no light will shine thru. This has a giant tan foamy head that lasts forever and leaves great lacing. The smell is pungent with dark fruit,hops,and roasted malt. The taste is nice with a buttery roasted malt,dark fruit,chocolate,and alcohol. This is a very unique brew. The m/f is light for a high octane beer and all the flavors mix well. A very memorable beer that you really must try.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. no date. tasted in late april/early may 2009.

dark brown with amber tint, gem clear dark ruby under the light. large, light tan head, gradually fades to constant thin layer. great lacing.

aroma: dark caramel, brown sugar and coffee note meets classic cascade and chinook citrus/pine combo, with fresh grapefruit zest and pine needles. touch of dried black cherry fruitiness. more coffee into the backend.

taste: sweetness of the *hops* comes out upfront, melding with sweet dark caramel, hint of molasses, and fruit esters, but then back to citrusy/piney hops, with bold, resinous bitterness. touch of roast and a faint coffee hint again into the finish.

medium to almost lightly syrupy body, with touch of resins towards the end. mild to moderate carbonation for some additional body and flavor lift.

interesting take on the new "black IPA" style, with slightly more roast and coffee character than you would expect from a regular IPA. perhaps tough to drink more than a pint or two though.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours darker than any IIPA I've seen. A pretty syrupy pour as well. Mahogany and cherry hues can be seen if you hold the beer in front of a strong light. A light mocha head of a finger in thickness has great cling to the glass as it recedes.

Aroma - lots of pine and grapefruit. A touch of base malts but only occasionally.

Taste - a sweet caramel grain starts out, but has no where to go. Juicy orangey hops are on it immediately, turning more bitter like grapefruit on the swallow. Breathy alcohol on the exhale, ushering in a final, drying hit of bitterness on the finish. Very flavorful, but doesn't come across as huge for the style. With warming, some malt roastiness begins to show through. Very good beer, the flavors grow more intense as the bottle progresses.

Mouthfeel - nice and full, but doesn't possess the big body I have become accustomed to for the style. Carbonation is on the zippy side, giving it both a smooth and fluffy character.

Drinkability - pretty tasty for a 9%er. The closest thing I've had to the local Double Dark IPA by Barrelhouse. Rock on, ST.

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Photo of bort11
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Tall khaki head with sticky rings of lace. Color is a shocking purple/black. I honestly thought it was hyperbole that it was a black IPA. No, ST is not kidding here.

Smell is a lot maltier than a standard IPA, dark roasted malt very much like a porter. However there is still very much the citrus character of an IPA. Taste is sweet like a ruby red grapefruit with a little licorice. That doesn't sound like it would work, but it does.

Mouthfeel has a silky smooth feel with a mild carbonation. ABV is masked well. Crazy interpretation of the style.

Blipped a crazy cover of "Black Hole Sun" by Handsome Hank

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Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz. Fairly translucent black pour, with a whitish head. Roast malt aromas on top of some earthy pine. Taste-Roasted malt and nut like characteristics combined with some sweet malt, light pine, red fruit and citrus. Not a real heavy brew, with nice carbonation. Very drinkable, alcohol is non-existant.
Very interesting blend of IPA characteristics and porter/schwarz. One of the more unique brews out there and a good one on top of that. Just don't come in with any expectations.

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black with dull ruby highlights when held up to light. Creamy, espresso like head that is light brown in color. Decent retention and leaves rings of lace.

S - Citrusy hops dominate the smell. Hints of some roasted malt mixed in as well. The aroma is defintiely dominated by the juicy citrusy smells though.

T - Initially a touch sweet with some roasty bitterness. Citrusy hoppiness quickly comes in and takes over the entire taste. The juicy bitterness carries through to the very end of the drink before the sweetness sneaks back in providing just enough balance. A very well crafted beer with the roastiness I have come to expect from India Black Ales and a big hop punch to match.

M/D - Medium to full bodied with very active carbonation. The bitterness coats the mouth and lingers. Definitely one I could sit down with for a long time.

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Photo of u2carew
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A) Dark brown with reddish hues. Pours with a frothy head then settles to a creamy, running lacing.
S) Hoppy - robust! Caramel notes try to push through. Guessing Cascade hops... yep, just checked the bottle.
T) Hoppy, floral smokiness. Earthy.
M) Just a bit of a syrupy feel, but still creamy and smooth. Slight tannin feel in the end, and just a bit of grittiness.
D) Delicious. Another great beer from Southern Tier. Great mix of dark and hoppy.

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Photo of Ek0nomik
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured In: Tulip Glass
Purchased From: Steve's Liquor (Madison, WI)

Appearance: I'm always torn to give a beer a bad rating in appearance. The qualities I usually look for are a nice color (which I suppose is pretty damn hard to screw up), head, and lacing. This beer doesn't fit in with the color of a usual IPA/IIPA, but I don't think that's a reason to mark it down points. They are going for a specific blend of malts and hops here, and I think the experimentation (I do recognize they aren't the first to do a BIPA) should be encouraged.

This beer is black. No doubt about it. A very dark color, with no light making its way through the glass. A nice finger of creamy and bubbly head at the top, with some lacing going from head to toe.

Smell: Once I poured this, you could easily notice the hop presence. A big wave of hops from the bubbling head of this beer. As the head dies down, the dark malts make their appearance in the aroma. The initial hop aroma was citrusy. A blend of grapefruit and mango. The malt aroma was milk chocolate, with a little dash of the espresso I have in the morning.

Taste: As the Iniquity hits the tongue it's a fight between roasted malts and hops. The creaminess of this beer is a lot of fun, and something that you don't find in your regular IPA or IPPA. The first bold flavor is the dark roasted malts. The chocolaty and espresso flavor makes me think that it's almost 8 in the morning and I need to get to work. There's an inbetween stage with this beer. The stage between the initial roasted malt and the hop aftertaste. It's a bit odd. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the flavor is just somewhat off. As the beer goes down the throat and I await the beloved hop oils covering my teeth and the citrusy aftertaste, it hits. I'm not disappointed. The hops give this beer a great aftertaste. A nice blend of citrus hops, including some grapefruit, orange peel, and mango. Perhaps attributed to those lovely hops that start with the letter C.

Mouthfeel: A medium to full body beer. A bit heavier than most, but to be expected given the style.

Drinkability: I don't think my palate would want more than one of these in an evening. This is a really fun beer to drink though, and I'm glad I picked it up. Another buy from Southern Tier that will end up in my crate in the future.

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Photo of david18
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

You would never know from looking at the bottle that this was a double IPA. Once you pour it, it's completely black, but not so thick. More like a black beer than a stout or a porter. The taste, smell, flavor, mouthfeel are all imperial IPA. If I had my eyes closed I'm not even sure I'd know it was black. Maybe the slightest hint of roasted barley. Another big score for Southern Tier.

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Photo of nrbw23
3.52/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a cloudy dark brown with a nice off white colored head. Head leaves patchy lacing.

S- Smells of piney hops with a touch of citrus in there as well. Hops are balanced out by some caramel malts and chocolate.

T- Taste is not at all what I expected or wanted. ,maybe I was hoping for hop bomb or something and I didn't get it all. What I got was a lot of burnt sugar and semisweet chocolate, mixed with some hoppy pine and citrus notes.

M- Medium in body and carbonation.

D- I don't think I'll go back to this one. Pretty much disappointed here.

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Photo of BgThang
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Visiting the taphouse bar and grill in norfolk. Sister to the one in hampton. Met the bartender who was kewl and found out he just was in austin a couple of week before hand. Tried this on tap, do not remember seeing it in ST's lineup.

The appearance is blackish with a nich fine creamy head.

The nose. Dang this is straight up bad ass. Hops, hops, and some maltyiness comes through.

The miuthfeel is creamy, nice hop presence that is not to overbearing and finishes with that nice hoppy/malty balance.

If its as good as this in the bottle then I want some.
I feel it could benefit from some cellaring. This is due to some boozyness in the mouthfeel

Overall a very fine beer that will sneak up on ya

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

No surprise, this black ale is black. Not the impenetrable abyss of a Russian Imperial Stout, but certainly black enough to earn the title. The head is very creamy and built of insanely small bubbles, giving it a very desserty look, like mocha frosting or something.

Clean breezy hops dominate the nose, which seems in conflict with the color, but that's the beauty of a black IPA. Some fruit comes in too, like overripe plum, but slight, and also a slight bit of chocolate too, like milk chocolate or cake-topping chocolate shavings.

Where most other black IPAs focus on the roast/burnt aspect, with hops only adding to the intensity, this particular version is richer, creamier, sweeter, rounder, more succulent than any other I've had in this category. Or at least on par with Stone's similar Sublimely Self-Righteous. Roast is here, but it's just dressing around the edges to the dark chocolate cake, chocolate milk, gobs of marshmallow and ultra-juicy dark fruit sweetness of the center. Hops play a supporting role, just one of the parts of this beer and not something spiking out and going for the kill. It's about superb balance and plenty of depth.

What makes this beer even better is the mouthfeel. It's transcendental -- if you like your dark ales and double IPAs on the super-creamy side. This is liquid velvet in the mouth, on the tongue and down the throat. Soft and smooth but with loads of presence; so utterly round and creamy yet not overly thick or gooey. Perfection.

Southern Tier are fast becoming one of the greatest U.S. brewers of all time, and I'm not surprised they've come up with another utterly fantastic beer with Iniquity. This is a winner, and one I would love to have on hand regularly.

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Photo of strengthdoc
3.23/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours very dark brown almost black in color with not much of a head. The aroma is slight with a little bit of chocolate and caramel. The taste is mildly sweet with a medium mouthfeel. There is a buttery feel of alcohol on the lips and the taste is pretty balanced. There is a mild bitterness in the finish the turns to an alcohol warmth and taste.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown to black with a thin tan head packed with dense carbonation bubbles, patiently subsiding to leave almost no lacing behind.

Immediate pine hop aroma dances from the glass, dark coffee malt is faint, and a sweetness resembling brown sugar.

This is quite a complex brew with pine hops, dark malts, toffee, a slightly woody aspect likely an extension of the pine hops, fresh sap, all around delicious and unlike anything I have had before.

Medium to full body, light carbonation, very smooth, and an excellent palate that buries the abv.

This is just a great beer, unlike anything I have had recently. Certainly something I will visit again. A must try. Way too easy to drink, I am putting this thing down quick. This does not resemble many guidelines within its style, but its absolutely delicious!

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Photo of skrib09
4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a deep ruby red/brown, bordering on black. tan colored head, fluffy looking.

smells hoppy. more pine than citrus. there's also a distinct sweetness on the nose.

taste is pine up front. a little citrus tangled in there. the end notes are sweet and syrupy. a slight hint of something roasty or chocolate maybe.

mouthfeel is full-bodied. a little bit of a grain feel too.

not a session beer.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Pours a dark brown with a small white head. Aroma of sweet citrus, cappucino coffee, and light roasted malt. Flavor is sweet initially with a roasted malt/coffee finish. More on the brown ale side than the IPA side I think, but an interesting blend. A little sweet too. But I liked it overall.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yep, it's black, all right, thoroughly opaque, nothing but nothing but darkness, and a cream-toned, tanned head atop. Looking good.

Aroma is fresh and lively, pine and citrus at play, but matched with dark malt, a bit of chocolate and caramel. Odd, but true.

In the taste, it's utterly indescribably delicious. Tasty dark malt, chocolate and toffee, met with a blast of hops. What is this? India black ale. Damn, but it's good, though.

With each sip and gulp, I wonder if I'm downing a porter or stout, but the brash hoppy twist takes it to another level, and we have to reckon with that. Still, despite the confusion, it's nothing besides delicious. Really.

So unique, so unusual, so really delicious. The best of malt, the best of hops. Damn, what is up with these guys...? Just keep making the great beer, Southern Tier!

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Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 1,526 ratings