Ever since I had two different Black IPAs that described themselves as Black & Tans, basically a blend of IPA and Stout, I got obsessed with the idea of blending my own Black IPAs. See, I love Black IPAs, but can only get them very rarely, unfortunately, so why not simply make my own? Actually it's not even that simple, because you kinda need a West Coast IPA for this to work and these aren't exactly plentiful around here either, although they have been on the rise a little in recent months, which is a very welcome developement. So I went with with Old School, a West Coast IPA by a local German brewery which I really loved when it was fresh and Narwhal, which is a favorite of mine and pretty much the only non-pastry Imperial Stout that I could get my hands on. Unfortunately the Old School is already 4 months old now and has already lost a lot of its bite, while the Narwhal is not an ideal choice here either, especially at 12+ months old, but overall I still consider this experiment a smashing success and thoroughly enjoyed drinking this blend. I started out with a 2 parts IPA and 1 part Stout blend and after some experimentation that's what I went back to as well, but adding just a splash of IPA on top. This really gave me that characteristic mix of roasted malt, bitter hops and notes of chocolate, coffee, licorice, citrus and pine. While I did enjoy drinking this blend, I think there is a lot of room for improvement as well, especially when it comes to beer choices, which is where things really start to get interesting. This has a lot to do with personal taste, obviously, but I would have loved a much fresher WCIPA with more distinct hop bitterness and pine and also a Stout that is a bit more bitter, dry and roasted than Narwhal is, perhaps even a bit hoppier. I love Narwhal, but it's a bit too sweet and chocolatey here, athough those licorice notes certainly work very well. Still, I think something like Old Rasputin, which is a lot more bitter and coffee-forward or Ten Fidy could work much better here. So while it may not be perfect, it certainly was a very interesting experiment that I hope to be able to revisit soon with different beers. Will you join me? How about blending YOUR own Black IPA? It will be fun, I promise! So if this is something that you have done before, or if I perhaps aroused your curiosity, please feel free to post your own blend in here. Pours a deep mahogany coloration with a large, foamy head. Smells of roasted, caramel malt, chocolate, citrus hops and hints of licorice and pine. Taste is a great balance of roasted, caramel malt and bitter, resinous hops, with notes of grapefruit and pine, as well as distinct milk chocolate and hints of coffee and licorice. Finishes bittersweet, with a light/medium bitterness and some chocolate, grapefruit and pine lingering in the aftertaste. Full mouthfeel with a medium body and carbonation. I really enjoyed the balance of roasted, caramel malt and bitter, resinous hops here, although it could have still been a bit more roasted, bitter and less sweet for my personal taste, with a bit more coffee and less chocolate, although the licorice and pine are certainly coming through very nicely here and are really adding to the character of the blend. Overall, this made for a very interesting drinking experience that I would be happy to repeat and try to improve on, although the resulting beer was already perfectly serviceable, with a good balance, full mouthfeel and rich flavor profile.