I’d be lying if I told you that I’m not terrified of the images on the label of Dark Penance Imperial Black IPA. The creepy granny portrait definitely gives off some eerie Hansel and Gretel style witch vibes. Aside from the fact that this beer may be haunted, I have acquired a general fear of black IPAs due to being disappointed by the style in the past. However, I do have faith that if any brewery can exorcise the evil spirits that haunt my previous black IPA experiences, it’s Founders.
Dark Penance pours a deep, dark brown with a thick, beige head that almost spills out of the glass. The aroma is the typical black IPA blend of malt and hops . Caramel and roasty malt notes collide with lemony citrus and floral hop characteristics. Instead of acting as competing elements, the bright hops actually do a nice job of highlighting the depth of the malt.
The flavor is a labyrinth of complex malt tones riddled with explosions of traditional hop elements. Dark chocolate and toffee open up the profile with a burst of piney lemon. This leads into a roasted coffee sensation. Hop spice and sweet malt close out the flavor with a bittersweet finish. The body is relatively light considering the ABV with a nice smooth texture.
The evil grandma that posses Founders’ Dark Penance may be changing my mind about the black IPA style. Unlike the usual disharmony I associate with the style, which I liken to the experience provided by a dueling piano bar, this black IPA commits to the malt and uses hop flavors to bring out the best in it. I might even commit one of the ultimate IPA faux pas and cellar one of these. Cheers to hoping that one of the few delicious Black IPAs doesn’t steal my soul.
- Appearance: Dark Brown / Thick, Beige Head
- Aroma: Caramel, Lemon, Roasty Malt, Floral Hops
- Flavor: Dark Chocolate, Toffee, Roasted Coffee, Lemon, Hop Spice, Bittersweet Finish
- Mouthfeel: Medium, Smooth
- ABV: 8.9%