But can a pale ale be black?
The Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse started out, in beerspeak, as a brew-on-premise, or BOP. The Strongsville Ohio joint allows you and your betrothed to ‘brew’ up a barrel of Wedding Witt for your guests. Punny labels extra. They still offer brewing on site today, as well as wine making. In addition to this very popular service, TBK also has a solid gastropub, focusing on barbecue, and brew their own in house beers for the restaurant. The beers, including 2014 Imperial IPA champion El Lupulo Libre. It’s amazing American IPA White Rajah has been in limited bottle distribution for the past few years in Ohio. Most of their well regarded brews have yet to make it outside of kegs, sadly. One beer that just did get packaged is White Rajah”s cousin, Black Rajah.
True to its name on the execrable logo, The Brew Kettle Balck Rajah pours dark and opaque with a khaki head that shrinks soon after. The nose is the first hint of the deception. Dank vestigial hops and a pine forest fill the nose of that looks like a thin German dunkel or perhaps schwarzbier. Taste follows the nose at first, with major west coast hop flavors. then, a hint of sweetness plus some chocolate malt come in to play, but the finish is again all hops, big time IPA style bitterness blasts the palette. Thinner in body and lacking the patent malt flavors of a hoppy stout, this beer has overwhelming hop and grain notes, lacking nothing, save subtlety. Malty and bitter, hoppy and sweet, this beer as reviewed fresh. Aging it will rob the beer of bright hop notes. Bottling many of their hop forward beers, hopefully The Brew Kettle will soon implement a bottle dating system son to ensure beer lovers are enjoying fresh product.
The joy I take in Brew Kettle Black Rajah reminds me how good dark hoppy beers can be. Call them Cascadian Dark Ale, Black IPA, or India Black Ale, the best of these beers, when tasted fresh, are a worthy new style that gives craft beer lovers something new to seek out and enjoy.