An unexpected gift from a non-beery person on their travels is always in danger of yielding dodgy beer. Thankfully, this is not one of those times. Sure, it reaches me from Scotland via Puerto Rico, but it's a free beer. A Libertine. It wanted to see the world and find itself before it had its head removed and its insides drained into the gaping mouth of a tyrant.
Libertine is a black ale, and I really didn't know what Brewdog meant by that, until I got it in a glass. Gorgeous and bountiful leafy hoppy goodness. It's got grapefruit and citrus peel by the bucket load and after a few minutes wilfully reveals its coffee and chocolate underbelly. Burnt sugar and a touch of smoke complete an aroma profile that embodies everything I believe a Black IPA should be all about. The palate gets this treatment too; a wonderful bright, juicy citrus and tropical hoppiness playing off some sticky, coffee-tinted dark malts. An ABV of 7.2% helps it reach its full-bodied potential, resulting in a very satisfying drinking experience all-round.
While typing this I was trying to remember which beers I'd had that would be comparable in quality and style to this, and I realised I had some things to address.
First of all, Zeus Black IPA, from Eight Degrees' Back to Black series. On the first go I felt it was lacklustre. A couple of weeks later I tried it again and realised it was the bomb. Deliciously lime zest hops and dark chocolatey malts, for me this has the beating of the Brew Dog.
Also, Blacks of Kinsale have had a Black IPA around for a while now, and I have tasted it, contrary to the Drunken Destrier's beer menu. The aroma on this one opens with a coppery suggestion of bitterness with highlights of grapefruit juiciness. Where it really differs from both of the above is that it's not nearly as roasty in its malt profile. Just a touch of burnt caramel stuff remains to pin down the otherwise orangey, bubblegum sweet bones of this beer. Good stuff yet again from Kinsale.