El Jefe
The Alchemist Pub & Brewery

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The Alchemist Pub & Brewery
Vermont, United States
Black IPA
4.38 | pDev: 7.31%
Feb 01, 2012
Dec 23, 2003
Notes: Our annual holiday dark I.P.A. is packed to the gills with Simcoe hops. The aggressive hop character is enhanced by the crisp, dry finish. Black, bold and bitter as hell!

90 IBU
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Rated: 4.5 by phingdong from New Hampshire

Feb 01, 2012
Rated: 5 by tubbnik from Pennsylvania

Dec 08, 2011
Rated: 3.5 by ChrisPro from Illinois

Dec 02, 2011
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Reviewed by kingcrowing from Vermont

4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
On tap poured into a pint glass.

Pours a really dark brown, with a nice thick one finger head that's light brown with lots of craters. Nose is reall hoppy, earthy and piney.

Taste is super well balanced, the hops are there but they aren't killer, the dark malt is there but it's not overwhelming. Very earthy an tasty. Very solid.
Dec 28, 2010
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Reviewed by nkersten from Illinois

4.57/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5
Served on tap at the brewpub. I had a hard time choosing this over another Heady Topper but I am glad I did. Served in a tulip, dark brown body with red hues and a light tan/white head, very creamy, fades to a cap with huge amounts of lacing. Smell is fruity hops, lots of tropical fruits and pineapple. Taste is very similar to smell. Very hoppy, lots of tropical fruits, sweet pineapple, some malty sweetness as well. Very balanced, just enough roasted malt to show its presence but let the hops shine. Medium bodied with a medium carbonation and bitter finish. Drinkability is amazing, being such a flavorful and lower abv beer I could enjoy this every day. Alchemist knows what they are doing with the hops.
Dec 16, 2010
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Reviewed by DNICE555 from Connecticut

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
On tap at the alchemist on the night before the heady topper release.

Pours dark brown with a golden hue and a nice white head and lacing.

Smells of tasty hops, grapefruit, and dark malt.

Tastes hoppier than it smells. A nice citrus feel to it. Very tastes. My second beer after the Beelzebub. I am being blown away by this brewery.

Mouthfeel was near perfect. On the lower side for carbonation.

Drinkability was also near perfect. It was hard to only have one of each of these beers. What an amazing brewery.
Dec 07, 2010
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Reviewed by rowingbrewer from Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
I had this on tap at the brewpub 11/3/2010

The appearance is a dark dark brown with 1/2" of head. this beer has a nice earth hoppy scent, with a noticeable amount of malt to the nose. there is significantly more malt backbone to this cascadian dark than the other 5-10 I have tried, and this isnt a bad thing, since I felt the others I tried were really lacking what you would expect to get from the appearance. The hop and malt flavors complemented each other well. the beer had a good solid feel to it, not rediculously hoppy, and not overly malty, very well balanced mouthfeel. I could easilt down a sixpack of this beer, if it were ever available that way, but would honestly find it to hard to drink more than one of these with the other amazing beers to try at the alchemist.
Dec 06, 2010
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Reviewed by Kegatron from Pennsylvania

4.17/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
On tap @ the brewpub on 7/16/10.

Pours almost black or dark brown upon first look but holding this up to the light reveals a clear and very dark colored ruby hue to the body, which is topped with a ½ finger of off-white foamy head. The aroma is sharp and hoppy, prickling the nose with notes of spice bitter fruit and pine which is all wrapped up in a fresh floral bouquet. I'm definitely getting a thick sturdy layer of chocolate roast underneath but the hops are just so rich and bold here in the nose that the malts are almost an afterthought at times.

The taste pretty much mirrors my experience with the aroma, with an aggressive hoppy blast of resins, spice, bitter grapefruit, and citrus rind all pummeling the palate. An intense roasted feel drives the back portion of the profile, adding an extra layer of blackened toast to this, which spreads out into the mouth. Some chocolate and caramel sweetness hangs on the edges of this onslaught, helping cut things just a tad but it almost doesn't seem enough at times, as this is mostly straight up bitterness the whole way through. Especially in the finish, which sees a mix of hops and roast laying a smackdown of intense lingering dry bitterness that STICKS to the tongue and roof of the mouth. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a sharp crispness to it that really accentuates the bitterness. There is some underlying slickness as well here which helps keep things moving despite the assertive profile and I must say that the 6.5% ABV feels right in line with the overall presence that I am feeling.

Well you if like em' big and bitter, then your probably going to love this one. Tons of fresh and brash hop character here, backed by a burnt wall of deep roasted malts. I personally was looking for a little more sweetness out of this, as it all got to be a bit too much during the duration of the glass but otherwise, this was pretty darn good. Man, do they know how to go huge with hops here or what?
Jul 19, 2010
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Reviewed by cbutova from Massachusetts

4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Reviewed from notes on my birthday a few days ago, very awesome place to end up after a weekend of camping.

A- Very dark brown with a nice light tan cap that has good retention for a beer on-tap. A good fine cloud leaves an impressive coat of lace behind.

S- Very nice fresh Simcoe blasts the nostrils. Pine and light fruit are killer. The malt hints from the background just a bit. Peach notes and grass notes are taken into account and round out a nice aroma.

T- Massive hops. Great notes of peach, grass and eventually a ton of pine. It reminds me a lot of SN Celebration Ale. Bitterness level is high but kept in check. Some citrus and peel flavors come into play as well. The malt backbone is there but this one is definitely all about a great hop profile. Slight nutty notes and roasty malt flavors become more prominent later on in this one.

MF- A bit light but creamy. The carbonation is also low. The palate is coated with tons of hop flavors and bitterness.

DB- Love the prices of the beers at Alchemist, $4 for all pints! Flavor is a very good piney IPA with other great hop flavors. The "Dark" part of this beer could be a bit more prominent but I dont really care because the hops really satisfy me.
Jul 08, 2010
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Reviewed by koopa from New Jersey

4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Sampled on tap at the Alchemist on 7/3/10.

Appearance: Pours dark brown with faint honey folds. The crown is 1 finger, white, with moderate retention and lots of lace.

Smell: Loads of citrus hops (pineapple, graipefruit) over dark malt.

Taste: Same as the nose but less malt presences and more bitter hops.

Mouthfeel: A touch thin / under carbonated for my taste but I'm sure others will have no real complaint with the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Fairly sessionable although the hops have a touch of astringency.
Jul 07, 2010
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Reviewed by MasterSki from Canada (ON)

4.57/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
On-tap at the Alchemist. Served in a pint glass.

A - Poured with a finger of white foam that shows good retention and leaves sheets of lacing as it settles to a thin solid cap. The body is a dark brown color that reveals some transparency when it is held to the light.

S - If you made a black version of Sculpin, this is what it might smell like. Tons of Simcoe aromas - tropical fruits, citrus, a bit of dank, it's all there. Thankfully the darker malts don't weigh things down too much, but instead subtly contribute notes of light toasted grains, cocoa, and caramel.

T - Taste is up there of the best of the West Coast. Notes of citrus, pine, and dank that morph into a delightful mid-palate bitterness that lingers into the finish but stays well attenuated at the same time. The dark malt flavors again stay in the periphery, but bring balance to the equation. Not quite as complex as the nose, but still quite delicious.

M - Zesty soft carbonation, and maybe a bit more tingly than I like. Even though I didn't perceive alcohol, the medium body implied a bigger beer. Light sticky finish.

D - My pint went fast, and I would have ordered more if there hadn't been so many beers to try. This was definitely the highlight of the tap lineup that night at The Alchemist, and is easily the best black/dark IPA I've had. Incredible flavor for such a low ABV.
Jun 22, 2010
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Reviewed by youbrewidrink from Vermont

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
This was a nice suprise on cask as well the regular tap.

The deep brown color really messes with your mind when you are about to enjoy an American IPA.

The aroma was totally hops.

I really enjoyed the perfect balance of roasted grains and hops. This is truely a dark IPA in my book. The brewer like to refer to this beer as an IDA (India Dark Ale)

The mouth feel is what you would expect with a better IPA and I appreciated how the malt was present, but not a large part of the experience.

Very Drinkable!
Nov 30, 2009
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Reviewed by thekevlarkid from Maryland

3.96/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
Off the tap this IPA was a deep, wood-stain brown(!?) the likes of which I'd never before seen in the style. The head was two fingers of khaki foam that retained beautifully and left scattered lacing. The aroma was soft for an IPA, piney hops and 'green' hops with some malt behind that. The flavors however, were pronounced and pleasant. Again the piney hops and some citrus hops built upon a solid roasted malt backbone with a uniquely 'dark' effect on my palate. The flavors struck me as both taut and organized and it ended on a distinctly bitter, crisp finish. Nice acidity. The body was medium/full, the carbonation perfect for the style and the mouthfeel enjoyable. Impressive and unique.
Jan 09, 2009
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Reviewed by rhinos00 from Colorado

4.67/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Another quality brew poured into a pint glass at the Alchemist.

A- Dark, licorice. Tints of reddish brown hues appeared when held into light. Fingers worth of off-white head formed when poured.

S- Typical citrus, piney aromas that you would find in many quality IPAs. Very pleasant.

T- The taste on this one grew on me as I continued to drink it. Initially, I found the slight roasted malt flavor a little out of place. However, the roasted malt flavor taste developed over time into what I can only describe as a burned popcorn flavor mixed with popcorn jelly beans. This finish brought a unique quality to the piney, citrus taste that makes up the body of the beer.

M- Medium bodied with some carbonation.

D- Like the other brews at the Alchemist, highly recommended! Simple as that.

Overall, I thought the Beelzebub would be my favorite. However, as I consumed this beer, it really grew on me. I have never had a dark IPA before, and the unique taste threw me off at first. Once my assumptions and expectations were set aside, this beer truly began to shine.
Jan 01, 2009
Photo of Brad007
Reviewed by Brad007 from Vermont

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Pours a dark brown color with a one-finger brown head. Aroma is very hoppy with the Simcoe hops showing through well. Some maltiness is present as well. Taste is hoppy upfront and somewhat roasty as well. Aftertaste is floral, hoppy with a decent bitterness. Leaves a pleasant roasty/hoppy taste at the back of the throat.

I don't see dark IPAs that often (Blackwatch by Vermont Pub and Brewery is the only other example) but I appreciate the ones I do see!
Dec 16, 2007
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Reviewed by plaid75 from New York

4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Poured a dark copper hue with a two finger white pillowy head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a strong oily hop aroma with a hint of spruce which tickled the nose.

The taste was dominated by the grapefruity hop spiciness. A bit peppery as well. A solid biscuity grain body held the flavor together.

The mouthfeel was good, but suprisingly a bit thin. Good carbonation though.

Overall a superior IPA. The dynamic spiciness and dark body made this a memorable beer. Good ABV as well - 6.5%, yet drinkable.
Aug 14, 2006
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Reviewed by warriorsoul from Pennsylvania

4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Enjoyed a sample of this at the VT Brewer's Fest and as luck would have it, they decided to put it on tap at the Pub Saturday evening...would have never known it, but I decided to ask the bartender. It was not added to the printed list, but here it is...nice.
Arrived a cloudy rust color with a full finger of off-white head and even has a conical shape on top as if someone took a scoop of head and just topped of the pint...lacing is unmatched.
Served the perfect temperature, so the aroma was fantastic...slightly sweet but hoppy as hell...mainly fruity in the nose.
The taste is exceptional...severely bitter, but so magically balanced that you don't get a numbed tongue from it...100 IBU's and still staying closer to an IPA than a double in comparison to so many others. Less than 7% and the alcohol is nowhere to be found. Even a flavor of chocolate malt finds its way to my tastebuds in the finish...giving it a roasted taste that shines through.
Mouthfeel is slighty thicker than medium-bodied.
Finishes very clean and not overly dry so I could easily drink a few of these. One of my favorite brews to date.
Jul 24, 2006
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Reviewed by scottum from Vermont

4.68/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
The two pints I had off this cask was a beautiful thing. Hops vs Malts. Such wonderful balance and interplay. Mouthfeel. Smoooth. Looks real fine freshy from the hand pump too! One of the best beers I've ever had in our fair state of VT, or anywhere else for that matter. Keep up the good work John!
Jan 27, 2005
El Jefe from The Alchemist Pub & Brewery
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 18 ratings