Beer colours are simple really aren't they? IPAs are pale (the clue is in the name), stouts and porters are black and the rest are somewhere in between. Now of course life ain't so simple. IPAs are becoming black and I've now tried my first pale stout. Time to give these confused beers a bit of a review I think.
Kernel - Black IPA (6.5% ABV)
It was only last year that I tried by first black IPA. We all know what the 'P' stands for in IPA so it does of course make the term something of a misnomer so perhaps they should be renamed IBAs. That begs the question as to whether the beers exported to India were ever black so why use the term at all? HBBs may be better. Hoppy Black Beers. Whatever you call them, black IPAs are becoming quite popular as many of the new micros can't brew anything without chucking in tons of hops (hallelujah to that).
I seem to love everything from the Kernel Brewery. I love the simplicity of the brown wrapping paper labels and I particularly love their hoppy IPAs and the fact that they are continually experimenting with different hop combinations. This black IPA comes with Simcoe, Centennial, Chinook and Zeus hop varieties so very much an American Pale Ale and you can certainly smell the sweetness of these hops. However, the taste is much more complex and there are stout-like notes in there initially such as liquorice and caramel. The whole thing is very rich and full-bodied and very smooth. The fruity hops kick in later to give a somewhat bittersweet finish. These fruit flavours increase to such an extent you could think you are drinking a fruit juice in the last gulp as the bitterness has all but disappeared. All in all I would describe it as a confused and complex APA. My wife liked it which is unusual as she normally wouldn't enjoy a hoppy American Pale Ale but she does enjoy the darker beers. Once my brain had adjusted to the confusion between what it was seeing and what is was tasting I enjoyed it and I give it a score of 8/10.
Durham Brewery - White Stout (7.2% ABV)
This bottle informs me that two hundred years ago a stout beer was a strong beer and not necessarily black. The name was then hijacked by the porter brewers to mean strong porter. This beer is certainly strong and it has a nice pale golden colour with a 'stout' head. Oops there's that word again. This beer is simply sensational. It is very rich and full-bodied and I think it actually tastes stronger than it is with some of the qualities of a Belgian beer. There are sweet notes of mandarin and mango along with plenty of floral aromatic flavours and I also detected some banana in there too floating around. The finish is more bitter with a little spiciness that is simply stunning. I find it hard to say this is my favourite beer from the Durham Brewery because I've awarded so many of their beers 10/10 but it is another beer that gets top marks from me. Buy it! Try it! Love it!
Both of these beers are well worth seeking out. They are both complex and both should be slowly savoured rather than gulped down. There are certain breweries that never disappoint me and these two fall into that category. As for the names, I am not a fan of the term black IPA although it does give you some idea of what you are drinking. White stout on the other hand is taking a historical use of the word and is probably more misleading due to the way the word is now used today. Whatever you call them though these beers are delicious.