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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 1,053
Photo of Benish
4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Beer was black (not jet black); seemed a bit more transparent than a traditional stout or porter. A short head appeared while pouring which dissipated quickly.

Aroma: faint smell of citrus and very subtle notes of pine. It's the smell of a traditional IPA just seemed little more murky than a solid IPA. Also picked up some woodsy scent in a way.

Taste: At the start of a sip, it tasted like an IPA, primarily notes of citrus. But the flavors gradually to transformed to what resembled a brown ale - resulting in roasted malts and a woodsy flavor. The beer was dominantly bitter, with very minimal sweetness.

Mouthfeel: silky and smooth

Overall: It's a perfect blend of a dark ale and an IPA. I have to say this beer pulled it off combining two opposing flavors - the roasted malts from dark ale and bitter hops from the IPA. I do not recall last time I had a black IPA so this will be my baseline comparison. Its one of those beers where I could have 2 or 3 in a single day - pretty sessionable.

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Photo of phishsihq
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black Top Black IPA from New Glarus pours a deep, dark brown that boarders on being black. A thin, light tan head settles atop the brew while providing a solid amount of lacing. A rich bouquet of hop aromas entice the drinker to get a deeper whiff. Aromas include tropical fruits, pine resin, grapefruit, and orange zest play out over subtle hints of roasted malt and a touch of chocolate. On the palate the brew melds together a perfect balance of floral, citrus, and hop flavors over a wonderful caramel and chocolatey dark malt base. Superbly balanced, Black Top is well carbonated and features a silky medium body. Please ship to Colorado!

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Photo of Greggy
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark ruby brown with a light beige head. The head is semi-soapy and recedes into a thin head after a minute. Some sparse lacing is present.

S- Molasses, cocoa, pine resin, good dose of hops. Nice

T- Starts out with a toasty molasses but quickly transitions into citrus fest. Big lemon is present with some pine and grapefruit. The finish is very citrus forward, almost acidic on the palette, but not too cloying.

M- Medium carbonation here with a light bodied feel which is surprising given the 6.9% ABV. I wouldn't have guessed.

O- Definitely an interesting beer. It seems to bridge the gap between IPA and Black Ale quite well.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large tan soapy head. Brew is very black with nice head retention.

Pine, apricot, red apple, sweet, but not over the top.

Thin, leathery, chewy, watery, wet, piney, nice sweetbitterness, easy drinker, heavy carbonation that works, yum!

Goes down very easy and won't knock you down. A very solid Black IPA. Recommended, thanks Jparker37

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.14/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to my buddy, lukaski for picking this brew up for me on his last trip North.

Super dark brown and black mix. Reminds me of coffee thats been sitting on the hot plate for hours. Theres is a glint of garnet highlight though, so not too dark. Great two+ finger head that maintains for almost the whole bottle. Great khaki lacing. Nice and sticky.

Smells of clean, earthy hops mixed with roasted malts. Smells cleansing. Just a note of grapefruit.

Roasted grapefruits and orange peels. Earthy, citric, bitter, and cleansing hops mix well with an oven roasted malt flavor of almost burnt bread crust and a little bright coffee. Bitter and easy to drink overall. Clean yet slightly oily palate.

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Photo of SkeeterBoganski
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - nice deep brown in color with a full half-inch off-brown foamy head; lacing is decent but the carbonation looks like zilcho

S - it has that very traditional black IPA malt/hop aroma...the hops may even be a bit more announced; some hints of orange peel meets coffee bean; maybe a touch of lemon zest

T - Black Top tastes like a black IPA should, although I'm not overwhelmed with anything amazing flavor-wise; the flavors are pretty much the same as the nose, with the coffee/maltiness thing going in a harmonious song-and-dance with the orange peel hops; there are some earthy tones going on as well

M - the carbonation comes back! This beer is, again, well-balanced and pleasant on the tongue...the merging of styles is done well and this is a medium-drinking brew

O - this beer is quality and I can't say I've really not had anything quality from NG; that said, this is the first non-fruit-driven NG beer I've had. It's traditional for the style, hides the 6.9 well, and provides a solid amount of balance and flavor.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle no date, review from notes. Another user criticized the label design... really? To me, it's a 70's throwback and a great, simple, hand-drawn design. Not every beer label has to look like a hipster's sleeve tattoo.

Dark pour, medium khaki head that fades quickly. Smell is barley, wheat, dark roasted malts, skunky hops. Taste is much of the same, a little light on the hops maybe, lots of malt. Medium-light feel with low carbonation.

Tasty black ale, decently hopped, and with the typically superb NG malts.

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Photo of tut2528
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to sleuthdog for this one!

A: pours a deep dark brown and when held directly up to the light some ruby hints are noticed. it creates about 1 fingers worth of gray/tan head formation and the lacing is very solid

S: pine and earthy hops, some cream/vanilla sweetness present as well. it has a nice roasty backbone, with subtle hints of chocolate i also pick up on a slight citrus.

T: more roasty malt here with piney hops. fair amount of citrus comes forward, and the hops create a touch of bitterness in the finish. there still is an ever so slight hint of vanilla in the back as well.

M: on the lighter side of medium bodied, nice carbonation, nice piney hop bitterness lingers on the palate.

O: nice solid, highly drinkable Black IPA. I'm not the biggest fan of this style, but this one is rather nice.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle to a pint glass, sent by new trading partner in Madison (WI), BarrytheBear... hmmm, a 'black IPA' (something I'm typically NOT a fan of); I'll do my best to be objective...

Label: probably among the ugliest and most rudimentary designs I've seen. Clunky lettering and a mis-proportioned S-curving 'road' slashing through. Seriously, was this drawn by a fifth-grader? But that's part of the charm, right? :)

A: Deep chocolate/cola brown with ruby glints and amber undertones; hold to a strong light and fairly vigorous carbonation shows. Topped with a healthy finger+ of foamy/creamy tan head - look at the color of the label paper and it's almost spot-on. Head retains its form well, winnowing to a sheen pockmarked by varying-sized bubbles. Lace seems endless, top to bottom in broadly coating bands. Very attractive pour.

S: Burly aroma of citrus fruit and wet (sappy) pine, a candied nose. The deeper the sniffer the (surprisingly) sweeter this seems... cupcakes and confectioner's sugar??? Mango, tangerine...heck even a tropical coconut??? Not the deep 'burnt' roast I've inhaled from some others of the style, but good strength.

T: A tangy herb/grass bitterness upfront, singed fresh-cut wood and a little metallic (brass/copper). Not as 'burnt' tasting as many Black IPAs I've tried (some taste like the charred remains at the bottom of a popcorn bucket) - this has a modest earthy/sooty roast, a little dry apple in the finish and - overall - a pleasant balance .

M: Bright, well- carbonated feel. Medium body, not too astringent. Mild roast bitterness last a long time and coats gently, loiters on my tongue.

O: A much better-than-average example of a style that I keep trying (and thinking one day I *might* like). Balance, aroma and flavor all generally worked for me and the look is superb. Glad for the bottle ~ thanks, Barry!

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Photo of barczar
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky dark brown with amber highlights and a frothy half inch khaki head that dissipates slowly, leaving sheets of thick lacing.

Huge pine and citrus aromas erupt from the glass. Grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, mango, resin, and a hint of caramel malt become more distinct subsequently.

Pine and tart citrus begin the flavor profile, with deeply toasted malt peeking through mid palate, and lingering into the resiny, slightly bitter finish. Sour lemon is almost puckering, and lime becomes evident later. Reminds me of lemonhead candy. The resiny hops complement the lightly roasted malt very well. Floral hops emerge.

Body is on the light side, which is exacerbated by the fairly high, sparkling carbonation. Flavor lifts off the palate, practically.

Huge hop flavor. Tons of citrus and resin. Carbonation could be dialed down a notch. Malt presence is fairly subtle. Yeah, if that carbonation was right, this would be stellar.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tall New Glarus Signature Pilsner Glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark blackish brown with some hints of amber. Moderate amount of bubbles and a solid three finger light tan head with decent carbonation. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A nicely hoppy aroma with a good balance of roast and malts. Big hop scent upfront with hints of citrus grapefruit, pineapple, and orange peel along with lots of earthy pine resin. Solid balancing presence of dark roasty malts. Good hints of burnt toast, biscuit, chocolate, nuts, and a little smoke. Also some burnt molasses sugar and a little hint of anise spice. Aroma leans a little more to the hoppy side but the dark malt presence is good.

Taste: Like the nose hints, a strong mix of hops with a solid dark malt backing. Big taste of hops upfront with notes of citrus orange peel, grapefruit, and pineapple. Some earthy grass and a big taste of spicy pine resin. Midway comes the malts which add a nice dark bready balance. Taste of chocolate, burnt toast, biscuit, smoke, and nuts. A slight sweet kick of molasses. Subtle anise spicing. Slightly more hoppy than malty and fairly drying. Pretty good.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Juicy, spicy, and somewhat creamy. Finishes pretty dry.

Overall: A very solid black ale. Hops stand out at first but the dark roasted malts are very solid.

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Photo of emyers
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a New Glarus pint glass.

Appearance: Cloudy dark brown with a thick off-white head.

Smell: Citrus and pine up front, and it's balanced out very quickly by caramel. There's a little bit of cocoa and roast, but not much. In a way it almost comes off more like a hoppy amber than a black IPA.

Taste: This for me is the toughest area for a black IPA to get right. They tend to either come off like hoppy stouts or standard IPA's with not enough contribution from the roasted malts. This one strikes the balance very well - grapefruit, lemon zest, and pine from the hops, and caramel, toasted biscuits, and cocoa from the malt. Nicely done.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation. Pretty smooth with some prickly carbonation as it goes down. Drinks very well.

Overall: The black IPA is a difficult beast to master, but this beer is very well done. Nails the balance between hops and malt, and while I'm not sure I'll ever have a black IPA that really wows me, this is one of the better ones out there in my opinion.

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Photo of herman77
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a fluffy khaki head. Good retention. Very nice lacing.

S: Some pine hops with coco powder, some carmel malt, a bit of citrus. Very enjoyable smell.

T: Not as good as the nose. Mild to lighter pine hops with a bit of citrus mixed with toasted malt. Some chocolate and a bit of bready carmel malts.

M: Medium body. Average carbonation. A bit creamy.

O: Pretty drinkable. Probably on the less hoppy side compared to most other black IPAs. Fairly solid, just like everything else New Glarus puts out.

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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 BasterdInABasket
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle DOB: 321/12 (exactly one month old), poured into ST Imperial glass
A- Body is murky dark brown, has a nice thick cream colored head, excellent lacing, some retention
S- Crisp smell of piney hops, roasted malts, chocolate, small citrus burst as well in background, overall not overpowering but very good aroma
T- Similar to smell- Dominated by piney hops and roasted malts. Grapefruit, orange, with chocolate. Hoppy bitterness is balanced by roasted malts and taste lingers on long after finish
M- Medium mouthfeel, creamy, oily and well-balanced. Extremely drinkable.
O- I love a beer like this that finds that perfect malty/bitter and citrus/pine balance. On paper flavors would seem to clash but this one is extremely drinkable and delicious. Year-round fresh Black Top makes me happy.

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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 mdfb79
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 11/03/12 notes. Picked up a bottle of this at the brewery and opened the next day in my hotel room. 12 oz. bottle.

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of pine hops, roasted malts, light citrus hops, toasted malts, and light chocolate. Very nice roasty/pine mix, I like the nose a lot.

t - Tastes of pine hops, roasted malts, light coffee, light citrus. Again, the pine hops and roasted malts dominate and are great.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. No bitterness, and quite easy to drink.

o - Overall a really nice Black IPA; loads of pine and roasted malts which work really well together. If you're a fan of this style, I'd definitely recommend checking it out. Would like to have it again.

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Photo of dfillius
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.
A: Aggressive pour yields 1 finger of tight mocha head with fair retention. Head recedes to a fizzy ring. Better retention please. Dark brown liquid, holding to light reveals deep crimson beauty.
S: Head carries lots of citrus, tropical fruit and pine hop aromatics. After head recedes, some chocolate becomes more pronounced, but others remain.
T: Sweet up front with modest American citrus hopping. This balances nicely with chocolate and what seems to be some lactose. Some warmth and alcohol in the finish detract.
M: Bright at first, smooth and creamy middle, dry finish. Nice diversity!
O: Quite nice. Not as hoppy as I like my CDAs, but thankfully the roast has not subbed in for the hops. Like a Bitter is to an IPA. Just a nice hoppy, easy drinking beer. I'd love another and would buy again.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out as a very deep brown color, a decent looking tan colored head on top. The retention settles leaving a thin film over top of the beer and a scattered lacing. The smell of the beer is aromatic, it's got a nice piney hop aroma blended with the roasted earthy malts and chocolate in there too. The taste is really balanced, it's got a hoppy flavor upfront with a chocolatey roasted aftertaste. It's not nearly as hoppy as some of the Black IPA's out there. The mouthfeel is smooth, it's rich and slightly creamy. The carbonation is really nice also. Overall this is a very good beer, high drinkability with a lot of flavor. Enjoyable for sure!

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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 BeardedBoffin
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark black color with a few centimeters of tan foam that quickly receded. The aroma is pure hops with pine and citrus pummeling the senses. This continues on the palate. The dark malt does try to break through with some smooth dark burnt flavors but it never quite makes it to the stage. The piny hop resin and citrus and floral hops plow through front to back. A nice tasting brew with a heavy hops presence.

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Photo of ferrari29
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer poured from bottle into a Nonic shaped pint glass

A - Beer pours with a rocky dark creme colored head; foam is about one and a half fingers in size; good amount of lacing formed and the head held pretty well; body is dark dark brown, almost black; no visible carbonation

S - Licorice; dark roasted malt nose; some graham cracker; cinnamon; dark fruit; some pine; chocolate

T - Beer has a pretty good dark roasted, slightly burnt, malt taste; dark fruit taste, like fig, very light though; sightly hoppy; very light lingering bitter aftertaste; cocoa and chocolate

M - Light effervescent feel on the tongue; body is pretty thin for a stout; leaves behind some nice licorice flavor; some leftover bitterness

D - Very good stout (says on the label), even though it is considered to be an American Black Ale; dark roasted flavors come on strong at the beginning and disappear pretty quickly, leaving behind a pleasant reminder of the good beer you just had

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Photo of RedBaron
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh, boy. A winner.

Appearance: Very dark, but a bloody red if held up to the light. Good carbonation.
Smell: roasty, piney, sooty. All good. It's as though the Palos Forest Preserve was on fire.
Taste: Hints of citrus, licorice, chocolate...gosh, what have they done?! So good.
Mouthfeel: Defies solid description. Just a wonderful beer with super complexiities. I will say that enjoy the roasted bitterness in the middle with a dry, but NOT bitter, finish.
Overall: Wish I had some more of this stuff!

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Photo of Ri0
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

poured 12oz bottle into Duvel tulip

A - Dark brown, couple shades darker than the brown bottle with a massive 3 finger khaki head. Retention is magnificent, with thin cap that remains. Leaves behind large swaths of lacing. Perfect looking Black IPA.

S - Roasty malts, some grain, earthy and floral hops. Mild scents of light roasted coffee and citrus.

T - Earthy and floral hops up front that blend into the light roasted malts. I get some mild coffee and citrus notes. It goes together nicely like breakfast coffee blends that have citrus notes. and a nice light bitter hop finish.

M - Carbonation is ideal, medium bodied, with a richer quality and a slight astringency.

O - One of the best Black IPAs I have had. All the flavors blend well and it is quite a treat. If you have never had a Black IPA it is hard to find one better than New Glarus.

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Photo of tigg924
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark brown in color, 1 inch head, clear, high carbonation

Smell: piney hops and roasted malt

Taste: expresso, roasted malt, and piney hops

Mouthfeel: light bodied, medium-high carbonation, slightly bitter

Overall: A good not great black IPA. I do like the piney hops. I would not turn this one down, but there are others in the style I would go to first.

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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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