Style Details

Spe­cial­ty IPA - Black IPA
BJCP Style Code
21 B2
Color ran­ges from dark brown to black. Should be clear, alt­hough unfil­te­red dry-hop­ped ver­si­ons may be a bit hazy; if opaque, should not be mur­ky. Good head stand with light tan to tan color should persist. 
A mode­ra­te to high hop aro­ma, often with a stone fruit, tro­pi­cal, citru­sy, res­i­nous, piney, ber­ry, or melon cha­rac­ter. If dry hop­ped, can have an addi­tio­nal flo­ral, her­bal, or gras­sy aro­ma, alt­hough this is not requi­red. Very low to mode­ra­te dark malt aro­ma, which can optio­nal­ly include light cho­co­la­te, cof­fee, or toast notes. Some clean or light­ly cara­mel­ly mal­ty sweet­ness may be found in the back­ground. Frui­tin­ess, eit­her from esters or from hops, may also be detec­ted in some ver­si­ons, alt­hough a neu­tral fer­men­ta­ti­on cha­rac­ter is also acceptable.
Medi­um-low to high hop fla­vor with tro­pi­cal, stone fruit, melon, citru­sy, ber­ry, piney or res­i­nous aspects. Medi­um-high to very high hop bit­ter­ness, alt­hough dark malts may con­tri­bu­te to the per­cei­ved bit­ter­ness. The base malt fla­vor is gene­ral­ly clean and of low to medi­um inten­si­ty, and can optio­nal­ly have low cara­mel or tof­fee fla­vors. Dark malt fla­vors are low to medi­um-low; res­trai­ned cho­co­la­te or cof­fee fla­vors may be pre­sent, but the roas­ted notes should not be inten­se, ashy, or burnt, and should not clash with the hops. Low to mode­ra­te frui­tin­ess (from yeast or hops) is accep­ta­ble but not requi­red. Dry to slight­ly off-dry finish. The finish may include a light roast cha­rac­ter that con­tri­bu­tes to per­cei­ved dry­ness, alt­hough this is not requi­red. The bit­ter­ness may lin­ger into the after­tas­te but should not be harsh. Some clean alco­hol fla­vor can be noted in stron­ger versions. 
Smooth, medi­um-light to medi­um-bodi­ed mouth­feel wit­hout signi­fi­cant hop- or (espe­ci­al­ly) roas­ted malt-deri­ved astrin­gen­cy. Dry-hop­ped ver­si­ons may be a bit res­i­ny. Medi­um car­bo­na­ti­on. A bit of cre­a­mi­ness may be pre­sent but is not requi­red. Some smooth alco­hol warm­ing can and should be sen­sed in stron­ger (but not all) versions. 
Over­all Impression
A beer with the dry­ness, hop-for­ward balan­ce, and fla­vor cha­rac­te­ristics of an Ame­ri­can IPA, only dar­ker in color – but wit­hout stron­gly roas­ted or burnt fla­vors. The fla­vor of dar­ker malts is gent­le and sup­port­i­ve, not a major fla­vor com­po­nent. Drin­ka­bi­li­ty is a key characteristic.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Debit­te­red roast malts for color and some fla­vor wit­hout harsh­ness and burnt qua­li­ties; Ame­ri­can or New World hop varie­ties that don’t clash with roas­ted malts. Hop cha­rac­te­ristics cited are typi­cal of the­se type of hops; others cha­rac­te­ristics are pos­si­ble, par­ti­cu­lar­ly if deri­ved from newer varietals.
A varia­ti­on of the Ame­ri­can IPA style first com­mer­ci­al­ly pro­du­ced by Greg Noo­nan as Black­watch IPA around 1990. Popu­la­ri­zed in the Paci­fic Nor­thwest and Sou­thern Cali­for­nia of the US start­ing in the ear­ly-mid 2000s. This style is some­ti­mes known as Cas­ca­di­an Dark Ale (CDA), main­ly in the Paci­fic Northwest. 
Most examp­les are stan­dard strength. Strong examp­les can some­ti­mes seem like big, hop­py por­ters if made too extre­me, which hurts their drin­ka­bi­li­ty. The hops and malt can com­bi­ne to pro­du­ce inte­res­t­ing interactions.
Com­mer­cial Examples
21st Amend­ment Back in Black (stan­dard), Deschu­tes Hop in the Dark CDA (stan­dard), Rogue Dad’s Litt­le Hel­per (stan­dard), Sou­thern Tier Ini­qui­ty (dou­ble), Wid­mer Pitch Black IPA (stan­dard)
Spe­cial­ty IPA isn’t a distinct style, but is more appro­pria­te­ly thought of as a com­pe­ti­ti­on ent­ry cate­go­ry. Beers ente­red as this style are not expe­ri­men­tal beers; they are a coll­ec­tion of curr­ent­ly pro­du­ced types of beer that may or may not have any mar­ket lon­ge­vi­ty. This cate­go­ry also allows for expan­si­on, so poten­ti­al future IPA vari­ants (St. Patrick’s Day Green IPA, Romu­lan Blue IPA, Zima Clear IPA, etc.) have a place to be ente­red wit­hout redo­ing the style gui­de­lines. The only com­mon ele­ment is that they have the balan­ce and over­all impres­si­on of an IPA (typi­cal­ly, an Ame­ri­can IPA) but with some minor tweak. The term ‘IPA’ is used as a sin­gu­lar descrip­tor of a type of hop­py, bit­ter beer. It is not meant to be spel­led out as ‘India Pale Ale’ when used in the con­text of a Spe­cial­ty IPA. None of the­se beers ever his­to­ri­cal­ly went to India, and many aren’t pale. But the craft beer mar­ket knows what to expect in balan­ce when a beer is descri­bed as an ‘IPA’ – so the modi­fiers used to dif­fe­ren­tia­te them are based on that con­cept alone.
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.050 - 1.085 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.018 SG
25 - 40 SRM
5.0 - 9.0 %vol
50 - 90 IBU