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And the Valley Drinks: A Tale of Two (Pale) Ales

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Beer of the month let me down a little. Still, an adventure nonetheless.

Billy Gomila

So my birthday present this year was a membership in the Beer of the Month Club. Can't imagine why, right? To date, the results have been mixed a little in terms of flavors -- I mean it's not like you get to pick. But the point is that I get to try some brews that we can't really find in our neck of the woods.

Among last month's payload, was a pair of pale ales, courtesy of Shipyard Brewing Co., out of Portland, Main: their Chamberlain Pale Ale...

And Black IPA.

"Shipyard Black IPA is for the pirate in you."

This is a dark black beer that combines a rich malty character with the crisp flavor and aroma of American Northwest hops. It's a beer the legendary Blackbeard would have hoisted as he sailed the seven seas. It's worth walking the plank for!

There were some obvious similarities and differences, but I'm glad I had both for a bit of contrast. Chamberlain is 4.9 percent ABV, while the Black IPA jumps up to 6.2.

Reviews:

They're not kidding when they say this fits the profile of more of an English-style pale ale, somewhat similar to Bass. It has a golden amber color, and a very malty aroma with just a hint of some floral notes. The texture is smooth and the flavor is constant, the malts layered over hoppy crispness. It might have been a little much on the hoppy side for my tastes.

Overall, my experiences with black IPAs have not been positive, and that didn't really change here with Shipyard. The bouquet is interesting as hell, with that combo of dark, roasted malts and the piney hops of an IPA. The darkness of the beer almost seems to amplify the hoppy flavor, probably due to the natural coffee-esque bitterness. The advantage to it is that it kind of smooths it out, almost like butter on toast. So you're not getting a crashing title wave of bitterness, but bitter nonetheless, and throughout. It was too much for my taste, to be honest. Almost soapy. And it coats your tongue and leaves a very strong aftertaste. My biggest takeaway here is that black IPAs are probably just not for me.

Both these brews get a 2.5/5 star rating. Don't think I'll be seeking them out in the future, but if you're a fan of heavy hops, I say go for them.