Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPASpecialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA
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Style:
American Black Ale
ABV:
8.5%
Score:
89
Avg:
3.99 | pDev: 8.52%
Reviews:
81
Ratings:
178
From:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
 
Alaska, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  31
Gots
  8
SCORE
89
Very Good
Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPASpecialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA
Notes: To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Specialty Imports' specialty wine and beer import business, Midnight Sun Brewing Company brewed a very special beer--a black double IPA--to honor this Alaska company's long-term success.

This Specialty Beer Black Double IPA celebrates Specialty Imports' success in importing and distributing the world's best wines and beers to the appreciative folks in Alaska. This "Specialty Beer" brings together smooth, dark malts with intense aromatic hops to create a wonderfully balanced yet committed-to-flavor ale.

87 IBU
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Reviews: 81 | Ratings: 178
Reviews by MDDMD:
Photo of MDDMD
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark brown black color with a nice light tan head and good lacing

S-dark malt, coffee, pine, citrus, chocolate

T-dark roasted malt, citrus, chocolate, coffee, pine, moderate bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth but with a bite

O-one of the better black IPAs (in this case DIPA), harmonious blend of flavors

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More User Reviews:
Photo of brewandbbq
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle right out of the box.

Pours dark mahogany with a blackish pitch and a ruby hue. A two inch head of whipped tan foam stood steady before crawling back down the glass, and settling into a solid skim coat on the surface of the brew. Vertical ripped sheets of lacing throughout the glass.

Aromatics lead off with a blend of espresso grounds, grapefruit, bitter chocolate, and skunky weed. Hints of char, garlic, cut grass, and pine pitch follow through.

On the full side of medium bodied with a slightly chewy mouthfeel. Creamy and velvety.

Ripe grapefruit, dark roasted malts, crushed garlic, and oily herbage start the palate. Green and resinous beneath charred overtones.

Finishes with a drying, firm bitterness and garlic studded grapefruit. Lightly acrid char lingers almost indefinately.

A big, charred hop cocktail. A definate skunky, fresh "wet-hop" quality is apparent as well as plenty of grapefruit. The bitter, roasted, and almost smokey character may be in the lead at this point though.

More mad props out to Tim for another killer Ak. brew!

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Photo of woemad
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased at Enoteca in Post Falls, Idaho, for $9.99. No freshness date. Different label than the one picture above, and it appears Specialty Beer is no longer a part of this beer's name.

Poured a nearly black-looking dark brown that took on rubyish highlights on it’s edges when held up to direct light. Big, sudsy-looking tan head that left lots of lace on the sides of my glass.

Citrusy hops stand out the most in the scent department, with some slightly bitter coffee notes in the background. Definitely a hop forward beer, which is just fine for anything labeled an IPA, Black or otherwise.

Much more malty than the nose led on, with citrusy and piney hops wrapped in a cloak of milk chocolate and coffee. It’s almost like a stout, except that the hops are a little more sharp than is generally the case.

Resiny and coating mouthfeel. Don’t pare this up with any food that can be described as delicate tasting!

A very tasty beer. This beer goes down remarkably easy considering it's abv percentage. Once again Midnight Sun has not let me down. I’d definitely drink this again.

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Photo of arizcards
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a bomber from the Holiday Wine Cellar in early September for $11.99. Bottled on
12/17/13.

Beer poured black with an OK tan head that his dissipated quickly.

Nose is roasty with citrus hops.

Taste is to the style, starts off roasty and concludes with a major citrusy pine finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly smooth.

Overall this is a pretty good brew but not worth it at the price point.

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Photo of uturn
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of John_M
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to Adam (CCRIDA) for this fine beer.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with excellent head retention and lots of sticky lacing all around. Oddly, the appearance of this beer just got better and better with prolonged air contact. On the nose, this is quite the interesting beer. Initially I got some coffee and chocolate, with the beer smelling more like a dry stout then anything else. However, underneath the coffee, vanilla and chocolate, there is some serious hoppy citrus going on as well. Flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, except there is a licorise component to this beer as well. The coffee, chocolate, licorise, coupled with the hoppy bitterness, is an odd combination, but much to my surprise, it worked quite well. The beer starts off with some modest sweetnesss initially, but the finish is all dry, hoppy citrus and licorise. Mouthfeel is pretty full, and the finish is long and smooth, with a nice hoppy bitter bite at the very end. Drinkability is good, with the alcohol for the most part pretty well disguised.

An interesting beer and quite delicious. I confess I was skeptical at first, but this is clearly another winner from Midnight Sun. Thanks again Adam!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Sometimes XXX just means 30."

--label

Pumpernickel brown with slim cherry and orange accents along the edges. It isn't a black hole, nor should it be, but the beer is definitely opaque. The cappuccino colored whipped creamy crown looks great, lasts, and lays down lovely looking lace. We have ourselves a looker.

This is exactly how a black DIPA should smell. The bottom end is anchored by roasted-chocolate malt and the top end features the fantastic citrus fruitiness of Amarillo and Columbus hops. Excellent choices all around.

XXX Black Double IPA is very well-crafted ale that is a perfect combination of two of my favorite styles, DIPA and American double stout. Kudos to Midnight Sun for getting the proportions of malt and hops just right. Seven months in the bottle have undoubtedly tamed the lupulins to some extent, but this is still impressively hop-soaked beer.

Specifics include bittersweet chocolate, a small splash of cold coffee, black tea leaves, loads of orange and grapefruit zest, and a handful of spruce tips. Any more or less of <anything> and XXX wouldn't be as good. If big hops scare you (hey, that's crazy talk!) then wait until the winter snows fly before cracking the crown.

Body/mouthfeel is the only place where there's even a slight chink in the armor. Even then, warming firms things up and smooths them out in wonderful fashion. In the end, this score just does manage to keep pace with all the others.

Midnight Sun delivers the big beer goods much, much more often than not. If there are any American craft brewers looking to venture into Black DIPA territory, they need look no further than XXX Black Double IPA for the blueprint. Thanks to sprucetip for yet another fantastic beer from one of this country's finest breweries.

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Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big beer, very tasty and well integrated roast and citrus hops.Sweet pine,spruce. The hops rule, the roast, the chocolate, is substantive and yet not obtrusive.Though some charring, clean, not astringent. Warming alcohol. Long finish.Trade with Andrew.

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Photo of Billolick
4.02/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle, w/o any freshness/brewing date info that I can find

Pours near black, under a looser dark tan head that quickly fades, but leaves nice high sheeting and more then ample fields and strands of lacing.

Milk chocolate on the nose.

More chocolate on the palate, with some cafe au lait and mellow hops in the finish.
Quite smooth and well rounded on the tongue. Pleasing and enjoyable take on the style.

Tasty and moderatly hoppy black ale.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I think this was mdfb79's bottle, maybe. Thanks Dan! Consumed out of a snifter. At the time of this review this beer is #28 on the best of American Black Ale list.

Beer is black with a thin brown head that leaves a little lacing behind.

Beer has a piny aroma to it, mild citrus. There is perhaps a little bit of roast.

Beer is medium in body and mildly sweet on the front end. Overall the beer is fine but not as hoppy or as bitter as I assumed it would be. There is more roast at the back end but there are some nice pine notes in the midpalate. Overall this comes off as a hoppy porter more than a IPA that has some roasted barley in it. I think I'd skip it the next time around.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA and carted back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable, at his request.

Pours a deep balck-brown colour, but lightened at the edges, with a fine and frothy head of mocha-coffee beige. Lacing is excellent, and sticks like sediment to the sides of the glass. Body is a bit lighter that I expected, but otherwise, it's a good looking black ale.

Nose is roasty and dark, but the hops (or at least what hops are present) just lighten it enough to make it seem like a weak dark ale, without adding any true hoppy fragrance or citric acidity. It ends up a pleasantly sweet, slightly coffee charactered dark ale, but missing some of the best elements of the genre. Honestly, if you overhop an ABA anywhere, it's on the nose—and this doesn't do it.

Taste is pleasntly roasty, with a slight citric overtone, and a hint of greenness that reins it in from being overly dark. Here the hops just balance the palate nicely. I'd actually be quite a fan if there was some true hop fragrance on the nose. The palae is good, however, giving a subtle twinge of freshness above the roasted black notes. It leavens the palate very nicely.

Feel is light, but appropriate.

It's a decent brew, but one that doesn't ever step up for its genre. There are much better examples, and beers I'd much rather drink on a regular basis. Something that I'm glad I've tried, but not something I'd be excited about drinking again.

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +0.3%

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

Appearance: Pours out a befitting black body with a small, sudsy, light beige head.

Smell: Dark chocolate paired with toast and robust roast, though what I'll call a laid back roast character. Hop accents of citrus peel and temperate wood resins.

Taste: A bite of chocolate of bitter variety followed by a sip of espresso delivering a full roastiness without breeding any astringency. Soothed by some sweet, helpful caramel. Hoppiness bringing about some florals, citrus, and light resins. Medium-light bitterness. Just the right amount of alcohol warmth. Fairly dry finish with a lingering bitterness, still quite light.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall: An agreeable black ale.

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Photo of Ego
3.89/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

a beer inspired by current events

eyes...
talking head... sizzling really, nice deep cocoa tone running about one finger thick, nearly jet black presentation, the head sticks and rolls around well, good uniform bubble construction, a formidable looking beer

nose...
pretty hoppy.. but smoky-ish, really bright stinging hops with almost a porter blanket underneath, definite molasses, not sure I love it but it is damn interesting

taste etc...
ummm, velvety... like a really malty DIPA with a roasty kick, some bitterness that blends more into the euro chocolate zone, nice roasty undertones that meld into hops coated in molasses then meld into bitterness that almost spikes medicinal (almost), the abv also seems to hit harder than what is listed on the bottle

verdict?
tasty, I can't say I love the hybrid but this is an interesting and well made brew. worth a try

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Photo of Kirk
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of banger7
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of msubulldog25
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A rare sixth-barrel showed up rather unexpectedly in mid-March; I was fortunate to get a 10 oz. pour before that keg (quickly) ran dry. Review is from notes I just unearthed...

A: Almost black, held to light shows its 'charcoal' nature, with glowing amber tinting. The backlight shows many fine streams of tiny carbonation, rising to a dense 1-finger of khaki cream. As the suds fall, beautiful sheeting lace in cobwebbing patterns cling top to bottom.

S: Huge aroma, juicy citrus (grapefruit) and pine, wafting from the glass. At one point, someone ordered one and carried it away and I caught the trailing scent as it went past. Besides the hops, a musty huskiness and an earthy, a toasted bread crust, a caramel sweetness. Hints of smoke, charcoal.

T: Unexpected flavor. Earthy, smoky, burnt nuts (maybe popcorn?), ash, woody. Has a definite 'mineral' bite and a harsh twang of citrus pith (again, grapefruit). Finishes bitter, a sort of chalky dryness. And I swear at some point I tasted fish. Quite complex, but not really to my liking, truth be told.

M: Velvet smoothness is welcome, body is medium. Zero alcohol burn.

D: A very interesting beer, but not quite my thing. I was glad I only got 10 oz. as it wasn't the easiest beer to finish. Had to try this rarity, so I'm glad to have had the chance. Worth a try (you may LOVE it), but, again, not really my thing...

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 received in trade from AkBelgianBeast.. Frank hooked me up big time.. I had never heard of this brew before... and was super stoked to find it in a great box of exclusive MS bottles.

I shared this with Buckeyeboy and SAS... My portion went into my chimay goblet.

nice 1" head... descent lace atop a very dark brown... yet somehow clear brew...

The nose is not as hoppy as expected.. PNW hops are very present.. pine and some minor grapefuit.. but the dark malt come out in full force.. coffee and some dark fruitiness..

Flavor is a little light for an expected PNW DIPA .. with very light espresso.. and minor chocolate.. not as bitter (from malts) as I was envisioning.. the hop bitterness has a resinous quality.. the dark malts lend more to a lite coffee .. some caramel sweetness helps tie everything together.. but it is a little bit of a cluster.. great flavors... but they all are just a big derby of qualities.. Great body and carbonation.. more oily dark malts as it warms.. nice overall package.

Pretty substantial brew.. Glad I enjoyed it with other BA's.. Huge thanks to Frank .. It is gonna take me a while to work through the plethora of brews.. but I am gonna try.

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Photo of sholland119
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Brouwers' Hopfest, 9/10/10.

A-Pours black as night, deeply opaque with a frothy mocha head and some good lacing.

S-Caramel malt, good roast and a hint of sweetness.

T-Mild roastiness in the front with sweet caramel and chocolate malts. Also a bit metallic in the finish with some earthy hop bite.

M-Medium bodied, a nit slick.

D-Nice at first but the metallic flavors become more prominent as the beer warms.

HV

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Photo of ReverendJon
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of Kendo
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is black with a 1-finger, tight-bubbled light-brown head. Leaves behind good lacing.

S: Some roasty notes, a touch of hops - but not terribly strong in the nose all around.

T: Roasted barley malt, some charcoal or char and a lingering touch of chocolate malt at the finish. Hops are piney, and first impression is that they're not as strong or as juicy (citrusy) as I'd like. However, as it warms up a bit (or as my palate adjusts to the roasty flavors), I get more grapefuit and juicy hops. Alcohol is noted at the finish, both in heat and as a drying element. Heat felt in belly. Finishes with lingering roastiness that borders on burnt at times.

M: Good feel to this beer - quite smooth, with modest carbonation. Medium-to-full in heft, but drinks lighter.

O: Good. I was hoping for better, but this is solid.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown, but with murky red tinge up to the light. Head is beige, dense, pretty good retention and lace that is thin but clingy. Yeah, nice look.

Smells very coffee-esque. Lots of roasted malt with rich cocoa chocolate blending with bitter espresso. Touch of mint, licorice adding a sweet spice note to it, but it's ultimately more like a big bitter stout hit than an IBA.

Taste is dryer than anticipated. Starts rich and malty, lots of dark roastiness on the front, develops into a mid-palate which is spicy and roasty with espresso notes. Finish is mostly spicy with black pepper, fennel and even turmeric on there. It's spice without a lot of the flavour, because the roast doesn't quite last until the end except in bitterness. Good palate, nice overall, a bit heavy on the spice and could use more floral hoppy notes to carry it through.

Seems thin on the front but there's definitely plenty of body. More spunk on the back, almost too much with a fair boozey heat.

Yeah, good beer and interesting take on the IBA style. Rough at times and also a bit too much towards stouty blackness at times, but the rewards are ultimately there.

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Photo of zeff80
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a dark, dark brown color. Opaque with a small, off-white head of bubbly foam. It left some sticky patches of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus fruits with a good roasted malt nose. It was a really great blend of strong aromas.

T - It taste of bitter piney hops with a citrus-like tartness. Good roasted maltiness is reminiscent of a big porter.

M - It was crisp, sharp and very smooth. A medium bodied ale with snappy, dry finish.

O - This is a really tasty black ale. I would love to find more of this.

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Photo of jgrgas
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to get an imperial pint at Bailey's Taproom via a special delivery from Alaska (kudos to Saraveza for recommending Bailey's for the second 1/6th barrel). I believe this occasion marks the only time Midnight Sun has been on draught in Portland, as well as my first review on BA.

Pours a dark brown, almost black, tan head, minimal lacing.

Like others have stated, the aroma is dominated by hops, though I picked up a noticable spicy hop note woven between the citrus hop aromas.

The aroma moves into the flavor nicely, as citrus and spicy hop flavor dominates the intial reception, though without any acerbic back of the tongue bitterness. The hop flavor quickly moves into a dry roast, pleasantly acidic from the dark malts, balancing out the flash of west coast IPA notes. The malts and hops work together exceptionally well. Both characteristics have their place in this beer without butting into one another. It was an extremely gratifying experience to have both the hops and dark malts distinctive and smooth.

I've had issues with Black IPAs before, mainly finding them to be unbalanced (I'm reminded of a few where the roast/coffee notes completely destroyed any chance at labeling it an IPA). Each time I try the style I am nervous that I will either find something unfocused or a beer that would be more appropriately termed a hoppy porter/stout. This beer is an example of what I would truly call a Black/Dark IPA and I would drink it often if it was available.

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Specialty Beer XXX Black Double IPA from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 178 ratings