With rye malt, even… so a black rye IPA when all is said and done. Some midnight wheat as well, which gives great color. Interesting grain bill actually. Also had to throw in a little Carafa Spezial III for good measure. “Wookey Jack” we’re calling it, and it was unchained on tap at the brewery last thursday for the first time to see what people think of it. We just did a single 50 barrel batch as a test but I think it came out very nice and will probably be minimally tweaked when it goes into full production next month in bombers and on draught.
We used Citra and Amarillo hops in the kettle and in two separate rounds of dry hops, so it’s oozing bright tangerine and apricot aromas. The combo of all that juicy fruit with just a light dusting of cocoa (roast aroma and flavor are about as light at you can get in a beer this dark) is very nice. Close your eyes, and this is an IPA all the way, which is how I think the style should be. We even had some Sinamar from Weyermann on hand, which is essentially flavorless black food coloring made from roasted malt, but didn’t have to use it because the Midnight Wheat and Carafa gave us so much color in even modest amounts. This is no porter with some dry hops added. Wookey Jack is a big IPA at 8.3% ABV, but the bitterness is tame enough that it doesn’t ruin your palate like some double IPAs.
Still not sure how I feel about the style and its future but Wookey Jack is a banging beer that I am proud to have worked on. As another nail in the coffin of American Style Black Ale, Wookey Jack proudly proclaims itself as a Black Rye IPA right on the label. I still think if you put the “official” style name on a label, very few people would have any idea what kind of beer they were getting. I know I’ve written a couple opinion pieces on this topic in the past, but at this point I’m happy to take a step back and just see how things evolve as time goes on. I’m happy with the beer we made (I was a little skeptical when Matt first brought the idea up to do a black IPA), and think that we cast our lot on the right side of things.
Why “Wookey” you ask? Well, Matt wanted something that evoked the wooly and wild nature of the black IPA, and David Walker liked that it’s a town (Wookey Hole, actually) in England with famous caves and its own witch. Plus we all love Chewbacca. The “Jack” part should be obvious by now. “Black Jack” was actually my initial thought for a name when the black IPA idea was brought up, but Matt already had Wookey Jack in mind and I have to say that it has really grown on me.
Two blog posts in two days? What’s gotten into me?