North Carolina beer is quickly becoming a bit of an obsession for folks around the state. We have just over 60 operating breweries with more on the way. We’ve even got a couple of beer lovers traversing the hop highway as “NC Beer Guys.”
So when there’s a new local beer, it’s going to get some fanfare. Duck-Rabbit, the state’s self-proclaimed “dark beer specialist” finally got into the IPA mix with Hoppy Bunny, a 7.3 percent ABV American black ale. It’s got an 89 on Beer Advocate.
If you’re not familiar, the easy (very basic) way to describe an American black ale is mixing something similar to the hop profile of an IPA and the dark grain you’d use for something like a porter or stout. So, you’ve got a dark beer with flavor you’d find from a light (in color) crisp IPA. It’s a blend that works surprisingly well. The first one I ever had was a few years ago from Sam Adams Longshot series, “Blackened Hops.”
I’m remiss if I don’t mention up front how much I loved Hoppy Bunny. It’s a great beer – probably neck-and-neck with Duck-Rabbit’s milk stout as my favorite batch by the brewery. As time will tell, it may end up being my favorite black IPA.
I swear the first thing I thought of when I took a whiff of this jet-black liquid was marshmallows. Don’t ask me how or why, but this beer just screamed to be had by a campfire. From there, it was a bit easier to pick out the hop resin smell. I loved the fact that it was heavily floral, citrus might seem odd for this beer. I say “resin” because the beer just smelled of fresh hop straight from the bag. But then it mixes with the grain bill and everything gets so much better. There’s chocolate and coffee (is it roasted?) and then … hot chocolate? That’s where the marshmallows must be hiding.
Yikes, then I get to taste this? The beer is so silky smooth going down. Not like a Guinness, but damn close – very much like an Irish stout. The “black” aspect of this beer offers great coffee flavors that mess with your senses. You smell the hops and taste the roasted grain and everything is alright with the world. The hops are hidden in the taste somewhere, but I didn’t really care. It’s. So. Good.
After about 30 minutes with the beer slightly warmed, the hops came through in the taste just a bit more and had a distinct bitterness. It was dry, too, leaving my tongue wanting some more.
Do yourself a favor and celebrate NC beer by cracking open one of these. Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet.