Black Top | New Glarus Brewing Company

201 Reviews
Black TopBlack Top

Brewed by:
New Glarus Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by cdkrenz on 08-27-2011

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Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 1,053
Photo of Reinbeck11
1.26/5  rDev -69%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

App: Normal dark beer appearence with a decent head.

Smell: Bitter to the nose, thought it a recycle plastic smell.

Taste: Name of the Beer says it all, tar and asphalt.

Mouth: Just not my cup of tea.

Do not like this beer. I would drink it over most IPA's but I really disliked this one.

My brother would tell you otherwise, but lets just say he got to finish the six pack.

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Photo of jmarsh123
2.54/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark chocolate almost black color with a solid 3 finger tan head. Excellent sticky lacing down the glass.

Smells of roasted chocolate malts with just a little earthy hop presence.

Not as much hop presence as I'd expect. Just a slight citrus flavor on the front end. Some dark roasted malts are present, but really the flavor on this one is lacking.

A bit thin and carbonation on the lower side.

Very disappointed by this one as I've loved almost everything I've had from NG before. It just kind of tastes liked a watered down porter.

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Photo of znichols
2.87/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Not black, but closed to it. Dark ruby body when held up to the light. The head is off-white and settles pretty quickly. Would have wished for this sucker to be a little more opaque.

S - Great aroma of pine needles, lime, and roast. Very enticing. A good aromatic balance of American hops and dark malt.

T - This is where this beer lacks for me, unfortunately. I was hoping for a greater malt and/or hop presence. It starts with a pretty subdued citrus hop flavor and quickly moves to light roastyness then fades altogether. Could have used a little more lingering flavor from either the hops or malt. Perhaps some more flavoring hops and a little crystal malt?? Also not a whole lot of bitterness for any style of an IPA...

M - Somewhat sticky but a little watery. Moderate carbonation and a strange grittiness to it.

O- I tend to look at Cascadian Dark Ales as a full-flavored beer that blows your palate but you can only have one or two a night. I could probably drink 10 of these if i had to, but thats not really a good thing. Its pretty watery and lacking the robust flavor promised by the roasty, hoppy aroma. NG tends to make more approachable beers, which this is, but maybe not every style needs to be made approachable. I would say this is the first New Glarus beer i've had where they really dropped the ball. Its a Black IPA, but not a very good one.

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Photo of Florida9
3.1/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown in color with moderate translucency. Forms about half an inch or so of creamy light tan that reduces to a patchy surface coating. Lots of lacing.

S: First thing I get is a load of roasted malts and some coffee. Then the hops arrive, mostly in the form of citrus, grapefruit, and pine to a lesser extent.

T: A potent blend of roasted malts, cocoa powder, coffee, and even a slight note of char with some powerful citrus hops and a bit of pine. But there is a fight for dominance between the malts and the hops and it is not overly pleasant. Finishes with a dry, citrus astringency.

M: On the lighter side of medium with appropriate carbonation. Mild bitterness, but exceedingly dry on the finish - beyond chalky to the point of being powdery in the mouth.

O: The bottle lists this as a Black IPA, so that is what I'll rate it as. Sure this one is packed full of charred malts and citrus hops, but there is no balance between the two. Actually there is disharmony and, while this beer isn't a bad beer, I'm just not feeling the love from it either.

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Photo of brock146
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A - Pours a dark chocolate color with a thin white/tan head

S - Citrus and piney hope smell.

T - Tropical hops and roasted malt. A slight carmel flavor with some pine and citrus to back it up.

M - Much thinner than I was hoping for. Thin and bubbly.

O - Decent black IPA. It is much like the rest of the New Glarus offerings in that I was expecting much more out of the beer than it actually provided. Another beer from NG that I feel doesn't live up to all the hype. I just wish that the minds at work in New Glarus Wisconsin would be a little bit more bold when it comes to their brews. However, I may be tainted by trying to compare it to Stone's Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

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Photo of Treebs
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle served in a FFF pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown with some dark ruby/blood orange hues around the edges where the light hits. A one finger light khaki head forms on the pour and stick around for a while and leaves some splotchy, sticky lace down the glass.

S: I definitely get some citrus hops in the nose balanced out with a caramel malt backbone and some light chocolate as well. It's a nice smell, but definitely different.

T: Definitely a different taste. Quite the maze of flavors. Biscuit malts with some light toffee and cocoa. The citrus hops come through in the very end with a finish of slight bitterness. Tastes more like a blend of beer.

M: Between medium and light bodied with great carbonation. Very drinkable with a bitter finish.

O: Not too bad. I felt the flavor profiles were sort of fighting for dominance with the hops just squeaking out a victory. I still don't know what to think of this "Black IPA" style.

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Photo of exx
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is nice and dark, with good red tints (that turn to beautiful wood-browns as you go through it), nice dark IPA. Head is decent, doesn't stay around long but leaves a very nice lacing.

Smells of citrus, on the grapefruit side of things, but most interestingly is a slight floral smell alongside the pine hints. Really interesting, I like it a lot, goes well with the charred malts--did I mention those?

The taste is piney, but the citrusy smells give way here to the strong malt flavors. This is where the IPA stops and the dark comes in. Not much bitterness, almost seems sweet at the pull. There's a lot of blank taste coming through this--watery.

The beer feels odd in the mouth. Not crisp, not creamy, not slick. Lots of carbonation that leads to more of a stomach-feel than mouth-feel. Doesn't work for me.

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Photo of crossovert
3.37/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Black IPAs, I usually hate them because they are really lame and un-thought-out recipes. Maybe NG can change my mind. 12 oz bottle.

It pours a dark brown with a foamy tan head. Definitely looks nicer than most of these types of brews.

The smell is really nice. It emanates from the glass even when you don't have your nose up to it. It smells like a big time dipa or something but with a hint of cocoa. It is nice and fresh which helps it. Very resiny.

The flavor isn't as great, but it is better than most black ipas. It has a bitterness that lingers on the back of the tounge. The flavor is very citrusy with some sugary malt and a hint of roastiness on the back end.

It is still kind of jumbled but at least black ipas are evolving into something a bit more drinkable.

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Photo of bashiba
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark cola brown color with a thin coating of white head. More light a brown IPA.

The smell is very faint chocolate malt with a light bit of pine.

The flavors are very mild with a nice light roasted black malt backbone with just a hint of light piney and earthy hops.

The mouthfeel is very dry and light a bit thin.

This beer drinks more like a nicely hopped English Porter, or maybe its time for Black English IPA.

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Photo of beagle75
3.39/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, dark brown color with over one finger of persistent mocha-tinted foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass.

S: Carbon dioxide is noted immediately, acting as a barrier that seems to hold back other aromas. Weak piney hops are detectable, though little else stands out.

T: Begins off-dry, with mild piney hop aromatics from the nose alongside versatile and appealing stone fruit that stays away from becoming too dark. Acidity is overly carbonic for a beer whose other qualities are quite understated. Fruit carries through to the middle where dark roast emerges, becoming influential. A subtle minty quality heralds the arrival of the very mild finish, which shows only a slight trace of bitterness.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, wet and acidic on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This beer's strength lies in its balance, which isn't necessarily the most likely feature to be expressed in a black IPA. Unfortunately it is also boring, unable to deliver that one-two punch of unlikely flavor combination that has made the roasty and hoppy style so suddenly popular. Perhaps when the dust settles and the style moves beyond the tumultuous throes of speciation, it will be the New Glarus Black Tops and Drakes Batch 3000s of the black IPA world that ultimately endure.

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Photo of tewaris
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown with a medium head, good lacing. Somewhat piney, somewhat roasty aroma. Drinks like a hoppier brown ale and that's what this pretty much is as far as I am concerned. Low on sweetness, with a lingering bitter breadiness. Medium finish, medium to high carbonation. It's not a bad beer but in my opinion the hop flavor needs to go beyond the medium spiciness.

3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 3.5

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.54/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Deep ruby with black hues and a light tan head.

S - Wow! Awesome aroma. Pine and citrus, candied orange, grapefruit, resiny, fresh hops. Smells like some nice Simcoe hops to me.

T - This is where it all falls apart. For such a great aroma the taste is very dull. Fair hop presence of citrus and grapefruit with a touch of pine. Some malt balance but no complexity at all.

M - Light body, almost watery.

D - Very strange combination. The aroma seems like a completely different beer than the taste/mouthfeel. Everything great about the aroma just disappears.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour at the Protest Bottle Share For LA Beer Week held at Red Carpet Wine in Glendale, CA.

Pours a hazy copper with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus fruit and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is more like a regular IPA than the style they were going for in my opinion.

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Photo of johnkale
3.57/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - cola colored, slightly translucent, with tight beige cap of foam

S - not nearly as roasty as I would expect, tons of citrus, grapefruit and orange zest, moderately piney, with a bit of toasted bread, a touch of molasses

T - follows nose, though pine comes through a bit more. there's a nice molasses sweetness that comes through under the hops but it displays some burnt edges. aftertaste is a little too charcoal for my liking, but i find that to be the case with a lot of beers of this style, ends decidedly hot, which came as a big surprise to me

M - too thin, carbonation is good, but considering the alcohol heat and the hoppiness I desired something a little bit chewy

O - very solid, very drinkable, while the hops melded fairly nicely with the roasted malt components there were a few flaws that kinda stuck out a bit too much for me to be completely sold on this one

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Photo of mrand01
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Weyerbacher tulip. Received this from richkrull in one of the n00b BIFs. Thanks man!

A: A very dark, opaque, brown. About 1/4" of off-white head on the pour that dissipates fairly quickly. Little amount of lacing.

S: Citrus hops with some dark roasted malt.

T: Definitely a malt forward example of this style. That or my bottle is a bit old. That said, it's still relatively hoppy with nice dark malt character (coffee, chocolate, you know the drill).

M: Medium bodied, sticky, with nice carbonation.

O: A pretty good black IPA. I feel like Stone's 15th anniversary brew is the mark to hit for this style right now...that beer is just too good. That said, this may be more available than that is...

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Photo of Jonada
3.59/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with no freshness date served in a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with 2 fingers of a light tan head that settles into a thin coating. Nice patchy lacing as well. Body is dark but translucent when held up to light.

Smell: Mango, grapefruit, lightly roasted malt, hint of chocolate.

Taste: Citrus, floral hops, iced tea, hint of bready malt with some light residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and crisp with medium strength carbonation. Light lingering bitter finish.

Overall: Nice, easy drinking black IPA. Nothing special, but still enjoyable.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. I cannot find a freshness date, which is sad since it is from epic New Glarus.

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color looks black but it is not opaque; shades of brown are visible around the edge. Two fingers of dense, off-white head, with a little tint of tan, dissipated slowly.

Smell: I could smell the delicious citrus and pine when I popped the cap. Grapefruit citrus mixed with pine spice. Buried beneath the (overwhelming) citrus and spice are scents of dark chocolate, caramel, and molasses. There could also be a little coffee in there as well.

Taste: The mouthfeel is a little thin and the favor is a tad weaker than the aroma. However, it does offer nice, hoppy characteristics. The citrus takes a backseat to the pine spice. The maltier elements are not as noticeable until the beer warms. Flavors of chocolate and caramel help balance the citrus and spice nicely.

Drinkability: Another excellent creation from New Glarus. However — and I hate to say this — I think I prefer Summit’s Black Ale.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From: Woodman's, Kenosha, WI
Date: No date on bottle
Glass: Tulip

While definitely drinkable, Black Top does not live up to expectations: not dark enough, not hoppy enough, a definitely pleasant, but not showstopping Black IPA that feels a bit watered down at times. Of course, as I have no idea how old this bottle is, it's hard to say whether this is an accurate representation or not. Since New Glarus does not find it worth their time to put dates on bottles, though, I'll consider this as good as any bottle I'll find at a store and worthy of reviewing.

Pours a 1.5cm tall head of slightly off-white foam, made up of small-sized bubbles, with average retention of about one minute. The foam fades to a thin cap atop the body of the beer, leaving modest lacing of some dots and lines affixed to the insides of the glass. Beer is a transparent dark brown color, with light bringing out amber brown to dark orange hues. Carbonation is visible, somewhat sluggish, rising from the center of the glass.

Aroma is of moderate pine resin, lightly roasted malts with some sweetness, and mild dark caramelized malt. Somewhat muted, raising concerns about age of bottle or just relatively unexciting aromatic expression of the beer.

Overall flavor impression is of mild pine-like hops with moderate bitterness, mild roasted malt, cocoa, and dark caramel malt sweetness. The general idea is: mild. Front of palate features dark caramel malt sweetness with a touch of roasted malt and slight piney hops. Mid-palate of light pine resin, mild roasted malts (think very faint cocoa), and equally modest hop bitterness. Back of palate finds mild roasted malt with hints of char, cocoa, dark caramel sweetness, and a tingling of pine-like hops. Aftertaste of mild hop bitterness with light roasted malt, chocolate, and dark caramelized sugar sweetness.

Beer is medium-bodied with carbonation of fairly low intensity, resulting in a smooth, though somewhat overly placid mouthfeel. Closes semi-dry, with significant stickiness lingering on the palate.

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Photo of weatherdog
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter

Pours a pretty deep black with a nice tight dense cream colored head. A medium amount of lacing coats the sides.

Aroma of mild chocolate and dank grassy hops, a little bit of orange citrus on the backend.

Flavor is a bit of roasted barley flavor, assertive bitterness with some grassy hop flavors at the end.

The mouthfeel is the best thing about this beer. Its pretty creamy which balances out the bitterness and doesn't keep the roasted grain flavors from sticking around too long in the aftertaste.

Overall its a just a good black IPA, nothing to special but not bad either.

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Photo of KajII
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Best served in a Tulip glass]

The pour was a thick murky dark brown with an average sized (1-2 finger) light beige creamy head that had decent retention and some good spotty lacing.

The aroma was of a pine hop, a roasted grain malt and a mild moldy yeast with notes of caramel, coffee, a bit of chocolate and licorice.

The taste was mildly sweet and acidic with notes of caramel and licorice at first and then became lightly bitter with a note of coffee and a piney hop finish. The flavor only stuck around for a short while with the taste fading rather quickly, leaving behind a mild piney bitterness.

Mouthfeel was just a bit under medium in body with a dry texture and a medium carbonation.

Overall a mildly hoppy Black IPA that was very easy going down, and had an enjoyable aftertaste...

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Dark Crimson Red with a slightly hazy look. Head is nice and foamy around 3 fingers width with a tan color. Sparse lacing along the sides of the glass

Smell - Piney Hops, Chocolate, Coffee and Caramel. Very malty smelling as well. This certainly has an interesting scent!

Taste - Strong Piney hops, licorice, chocolate, burnt malts and coffee. Despite the fact it calls itself an IPA on the side, I was surprised the hops are as strong as they are in here. The combination of piney hops mixed with the other flavors is unique and comes together very well, much better than what i was expecting. It does however leave a strange "Piney Hops and Licorice" aftertaste though.

Mouthfeel - A bit of the heavier side. Carbonation is moderate here but not quite intense, so this one is more of a sipper than anything else. It's not a beer you can just chug down in a few seconds.

Overall - It's a flavorful yet unique style of IPA that deserves to be tried out at the very least. It's not perfect but it's worth checking out.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Bell's pilsner glass in me sister's gaff in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Reviewed live. Bottle courtesy of crewfan16 in our last trade. Thanks again, buddy! Expectations are high.

Served straight from the refrigerator. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a very dark ruby-black; nontransparent and opaque. Head is two fingers of khaki cream featuring good thickness and retention. The label's description of the body colour as "jet black" is downright wrong. Lacing is decent. Retains for a good four minutes; I won't be waiting because I can't wait to taste it. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Caramel malt, pleasant floral hops, hints of well executed hoppy pine notes, some orange citrus, and chocolate when I really really look for it. Can't say I detect molasses. A very fresh and pleasant moderate strength aroma.

T: A pleasant balance of citrus, pine, and dominant floral hops. Hints of chocolate and brief emergences of dark malts. No molasses. Marvelously balanced. Hints of yeasty spice and the illusion of fruit from the hop esters. Quite tasty and subtle. Brewed with the understanding that IPA brewing is not a game of dicksizing IBUs and hop content. I'm impressed. Still, it does come off a bit simple, if only from its seemingly effortless construction. I quite like it.

Mf: Smooth, slightly creamy, silky, and wet. Good thickness and carbonation. Suits the flavours nicely. Some delicacy is involved.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, especially for the style. Another solid brew from New Glarus, a brewery that is really meeting my high expectations so far. I remain impressed. I've had few better beers in the style. The marriage of mouthfeel to flavour is particularly impressive here. Every IPA fan should try this. The silky texture was a highlight. That said, its simplicity does hold it back.


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Photo of rudzud
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in a trade. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Poured a nice deep, dark brown almost black hue with a good one finger light khaki head that faded to leave a nice quarter inch blanket with minimal side lacing.

S - Lots of chocolate malts here with light roast and even lighter pine. There was ALOT of hop in the bottle, but it seems to have vanished upon pouring.

T - More of those roasted (light) malts and slight chocolate. There is almost a spruce quality (like someone else mentioned). I dont get much in the way of bitter hops. Then again, I dont get much in the way of hops period.

M - Mouthfeel is quite nice, good carbonation.

O - Overall this was an interesting black IPA. I would like abit more IPA aspects though in this beer. The notes that are there though are quite tasty.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

A- Near black with 2 finger creamy tan head and some blotches of lacing.

S- Roasted malts, pine and some citrus hops.

T- Chocolate and roasted malts. Pine and citrus hop bitterness comes in in the middle and finish.

M- Light body but not too thin. Medium carbonation with a slightly dry finish.

O- Good black ipa. Have had better bigger black ipa's, but this beer is easy to drink and has nice roasted malt and hop bitterness.

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Photo of WJVII
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BA bud CDKrenz. Been too long since my last review.

Poured into a pint glass this brew was a nice oil black color with a decent finger milk chocolate head. The aroma is bold and full of hops. Spice, pine, and strong citrus are all present in the nose. The taste is very crisp with a decent malt up front with hints of caramel and burnt grains. The finish is all hop. Most notably citrus almost to the point of over powering all the other flavors. Despite this the medium to light body and good carbonation round out this beer. A newer style with lose parameters this brew fits the bill and is a good example.

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Black Top from New Glarus Brewing Company
4.06 out of 5 based on 1,053 ratings.
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