My first rating dilemma comes along today. Early on, we decided we were going with a ten point scale, using only whole numbers. This one falls cleanly between two whole numbers.
Beer: Wookey Jack
Brewery: Firestone Walker
Place of Purchase: Rumrunner (Tucson, AZ)
So first things first, the rating. This is solidly the second best Black IPA I have ever had. And the best rye IPA, period. But it doesn’t quite match up to my 10 point standard (Stone’s 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA). Perhaps if it were slightly more hopped and slightly less astringent it would have climbed over the top to join the few (in my mind) perfect brews. That said, it is solidly a 9+.
The first thing I noticed is the sheer blackness of the brew. It is dark, no light in, no light out. Then the smells hit you, chocolates, hops, an almost burnt roasted malt, maybe some fresh split pine. Overall the smell is best described as organic. It smells raw. The first tastes show some sweetness, a lot of quite strong, very flavorful hops. Very little citrus (it is there), some flowers and maybe a nice raisin flavor. The aftertaste though? Ooooooh… bitter, pucker inducing bitterness, some hops, and the rye becomes obvious, almost pumpernickel in taste (side note, I eat pumpernickel breads and bagels like they are going out of fashion, and have all of my life). Some slight chocolate hints at the very end of the aftertaste. I generally feel a bit silly mentioning how a beer feels in your mouth, but I would remiss if I did not mention that this *feels* resinous, dank, even (not a complaint).
While a place for a “bottled on” date to be on this 22 OZ bottle, no such date was actually printed on the bottle, nor or either of the other two bottles I have. However, it was purchased just this last Friday and consumed on the following Tuesday. The employee that it was purchased from said that they got it the week prior, so freshness is assumed (bottling started in April). For a brew with just 60 IBUs, this beer is bitter, but the spiciness of the rye definitely plays a strong role as well. Once the brew is given some time to warm, the malts and rye really come out and completely overpower all of the hops, and this beer nears closer to that perfect rating. But enjoy the varied flavors if you can get your hands on this one. It is not like any Cascadian Dark Ale I have ever had, and it is nothing like any rye IPA I have ever had. This is a new one to me, and it’s wonderful.
Sam, AKA Gamecat235