Thursday, September 6, 2012

Battle for Cold Springs, MN Best Black IPA

It is finally time to settle the question, what is the best Black IPA brewed in the small town of Cold Springs, Minnesota?  Cold Springs is a small rural town with a population less than 5,000 people.  Despite being such a small town, Cold Springs calls itself home to two large breweries, Cold Springs Brewing Company and 3rd Street Brewhouse.

In 2008, Cold Springs Brewing Company was approached by 21st Amendment Brewpub in California to contract brew and can their production beer.  21st Amendment's supplies all the ingredients and brews their own beer, they just use the facilities and equipment at Cold Springs Brewing Co.  It is similar to bringing over fresh groceries to a friends house and using their kitchen for you to cook a meal but with commercial breweries.  Despite not having their own facilities, 21st Amendment still produces a great lineup of beers.  Their Back in Black Black IPA is considered to be one of the best Black IPAs available. It is rich and smooth, with the strength and bitterness of an IPA. There is quite a bit of hop flavor and aroma into this really nicely balanced, chocolatey/roasty ale.
The Contestants
In 2012, Cold Springs Brewing Company spent $12 million dollars to expand and build 3rd Street Brewhouse.  The new Brewhouse was build to address problems faced in the old brewery-consistency and quality.  The new state of the art brewhouse utilizes the newest technology in brewing systems and packaging equipment.  3rd Street also recruited a list of talented brewers from places such as Rock Bottom, Town Hall, and Summit.

3rd Street Brewhouse
Color: Black
Alcohol Content: 6.5% abv
Bitterness (IBUs): ???
Malts: Pale, Caramel, Munich, Roasted, Black
Hops: German and US (Magnum, Hersbrucker, Amarillo, Cascade)
Yeast: Not listed but I'm going to guess Wyest 1056 American Ale

3rd Street Brewhouse Bitter Neighbor

Appearance: Pours a dark black color with almost two fingers of  ivory head that had very good retention before settling to a thick cap. There was a moderate amount of lacing is left down the side of the glass.

Smell:  I initially get chocolate, burnt caramel, toffee, a little bit of molasses with a subtle hints of citrus orange and grapefruit from the hops.

Taste:  Just like it smells.  There is a good balance of dark malts and spicy hops. The dark roasted malts add a big taste of chocolate, burnt caramel, toffee, and a bit of molasses. There is a good mix of spicy and mildly bitter hops that give it the earthy, pine resin, and some light citrus notes.

Mouthfeel:   Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Starts out sweet and finishes pretty dry.

Overall:   A pretty good dark ale. Veers more towards a hopped up porter or stout than a black IPA.  It is full of flavor and is easy to drink.

21st Amendment Brewing Company

Color: Midnight Black
Alcohol Content: 6.8% abv
Bitterness (IBUs): 65
Malts: Rahr Pale, Caramel 45L, Munich, De-bittered Black
Bittering Hops: Columbus
Flavor Hops:  Columbus, Centennial
Dry Hops: Centennial, Simcoe
Yeast: Canned product uses Safale US-05 and the brewpub uses US-05 or White Labs WLP001

Appearance:  The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a cream-colored head.

Smell:  It smelled of citrus, pine and roasted malts.

Taste: Starts out with a strong but not over-powering burst of hops bitterness that is quickly followed by flavors of black coffee and a little bit of citrus fruit. The roasted malt character is hearty but not too heavy and brings a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

Mouthfeel:  Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

Overall:  Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very nice beer worth drinking for a long time.  No wonder it is considered on of the best in the style.

...21st Amendment Back In Black!!! (just barely)