Nick Carr on June 20, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Mother Road Brewing Company Location: Flagstaff, AZ Style: Black IPA ABV: 8.0% IBU: 100 Appearance: Slick & heavy black in color with frothy coffee-colored head; Excellent retention; Delicious liquid darkness. Aroma: Strong hoppiness with citrus, pine and resin leading the way; Notes of roasty toast balance in background. Flavor: Dank & piney with orange zest; Slight sweetness lingers behind hoppy bitterness; Notes of roasted malts in the form of chocolate and coffee; Hints of dark caramel; Dry piney astringency on swallow. Hops: ? Malts: ? Shelf Life: 6 to 9 months Suggested Glass: Nonic Pint or Snifter Serving Temp: 45°F Availability: Year Round Pairs With: Spicy Grilled Chicken Legs, Grilled Cheese Burgers, Blue Cheese, Chocolate Cheesecake For awhile, Black IPA was an ethereal style, something floating outside any definable style guideline. Different brewer’s had different ideas of what constituted this hop slapped schwarzbier. It wore a secret identity, taking on characteristics from other styles and going by names like Cascadian Dark Ale and India Black Ale. It was finally apprehended, fingerprinted under a specific set of characteristics in the BJCP 2015 guideline revisions, and released back out into the world with the identity of “Black IPA.” Though, I would make the argument here that using “Black” and “Pale” in the same name is an oxymoron that’s hard to miss. Would the original Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) be better? Maybe. And it’s still used by many brewers. The most basic guidelines for this style are simply: an American IPA, but dark in color with the added complexity of light roast, balancing and playing only a supporting role in the whole. It should still drink easy, being crisp and lighter than other dark styles. To accomplish this some brewers use debittered black malt, the same stuff used in the German Schwarzbier, others use both debittered and a small portion of darker specialty grains, making a beer that toes the line between an American IPA and an American Stout. Mother Road Brewing offered up their vision of a Black IPA long before the style was defined in any certain terms, which for me at least, seems only appropriate. Every time I hear or see the name Mother Road, I think of some lonely one building place out in the desert somewhere, a barren stretch of highway headed past, straight as an arrow, and out into the far distance where it swims and disappears in the wobbling heat waves. Twilight Zoney and odd, a place for ghosts, and strange strangers. Their Lost Highway was one of these strangers at the time… maybe not so strange anymore. Mother Road Brewing was founded by Michael and Alissa Marquess in 2011 and the name comes from John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath, a reference to Highway 66. The brewery is in an old Laundromat in Flagstaff along an old alignment of Highway 66. To make this beer they take a slightly different approach than the usual debittered dark malt and dark specialty malts. They use black patent malt, but add it right at the end of the mash in an attempt to uptake color, while keeping the roasty elements from running amuck. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Lost Highway. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours like liquid darkness. Sits in the glass a slick heavy black. It is opaque with just the barest hint of passing brown highlight to cut the edges in direct sunlight. A resilient frothy coffee head builds to about 1 1/2 fingers. Exudes hop in the aroma; citrus oils — leaning heavy on twangs of orange — along with big fistfuls of pine and resin. Some roast and toast elements play backup, only helping to intensify the impression of dank and damp. Mouthfeel and Taste: Mouthfeel is drying and sticky. Body is deep and lush, flirting with a shadowed weightiness, but staying firmly in the medium realm. Huge hits of that citrus oil again in the taste. Pine and dankness with some orange zest. Small sweetness’s flit about, but never fully come out from behind the hop presence. Roasted malt elements of chocolate and lighter coffee, along with whispers of dark caramel. Hop bitterness is a crashing reality in the back, sliding away to a dry piney astringency on the swallow, mellowing, but still pressing in the aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS Like shimmering blacktop, like a highway stretching far out in front, first a swimming insubstantial memory of reality, but slowly built into solidity mile upon driven mile, this beer presents the myth of a stout buried within the deep reality and substantial walls of a hop fortress. It is very drinkable, belying the 8% alcohol swimming below the surface. It stays crisp and interesting with the light notes of orange zest to balance and dance with its robustness… and the hops are impressive. This one is not for the light-hearted, or uninitiated, thinking they might have a little thing for hops. No. This is an all or nothing. Either you’ll get lost on the highway or, barely having put wheel to road, you’ll balk at the bitter resin-slick highway and turn back. Cheers!