Dark Magic

Ale is the new black

Color us confused.

We thought we were well acquainted with classic India pale ales: hues of reddish amber or sunset-gold, with bracingly bitter flavor profiles. But lately, a less familiar strain of IPA has cropped up, bearing a most curious and unrecognizable tint: black.

Before now, black beer meant chocolaty, coffee-tinged stout or porter. However, Oregon's Deschutes Brewing is blurring borders with its Hop in the Dark, a midnight-colored IPA.

To create this "Cascadian Dark Ale," the brewers crafted 22 experimental batches before they got it right. They came to rely on the same techniques used to create schwarzbiers (a type of easy-drinking, black-toned German lager) to subdue the rough edges often found in dark-roasted malts, yet still retain their color.

The resulting dark malt is then added to the malt base of a traditional IPA to impart the darker hue.

Open Hop in the Dark and you'll release an intoxicating, citrusy perfume. It drinks contrarily to its color: mellow and complex with just a bit of roasted coffee.

Let the reign of darkness begin.