CorkBillyBeers #13. Craft, with Red/black IPA, via Blacks Kinsale, 9 White Deer, Sierra Nevada.

CorkBillyBeers #13

Craft, with Red/Black IPA, via Blacks Kinsale, 9 White Deer, Sierra Nevada.


The Darker Side Of IPA

Blacks Red Eye Redemption IPA, 5.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

“We’ve peppered a rich amber base with rye and saddled it with hefty amounts of Chinook and Topaz hops to round it up.” That’s the short intro by Blacks of Kinsale to their Red Eye Redemption IPA.

Colour is red, as you might have guessed. And there’s an off white head that hangs about for a bit, not too long, mind you. Aromas are quite strong, fruity and resinous, a promise of what’s to come. And thanks to those generous amounts of hops, what ensues is a muscular hop experience, yet the malted barley and the rye combine well to keep it all in balance even if the finish is tilted towards the hop lovers.

Blacks urge you to Gallop off into the sunset with this double dry hopped Red Rye IPA combining fantastic Chinook and Topaz hops with Amber malts and Rye for a berry pine balance with the caramel base. 

And I’d endorse that and make this a Very Highly Recommended beer. Good to see that the recent Stratasbeer – “hopped to the high heavens” with fresh Galaxy and Strata hops - has been suitably followed up. I know most of you don’t need a shot of redemption but why let the sinners have all the fun!

Very Highly Recommended.


9 White Deer Black Lightning IPA, 6.5%, 500 ml bottle

On a visit to Ballyvourney.

This stronger IPA pours dark, like a stout, and even the tanned head looks stout-like. I got a big head here but I did rev it up during the pour! After all, that is quite the motor bike on the label!

There’s a roasty toasty edge to the aromatics. And that edge continues onwards to wake up any sleepy taste buds. Now the fully engaged palate can appreciate the posse of hops here. They say: “This Black IPA is triple hopped with huge hop volumes of all the American hops expected of the style.” 

So hops galore as the malt plays a background role. The IBU is a high 52. But for all that, there is quite a balance and the brewery gives credit for that to the fact that they adjusted the (soft) water profile “to make the hops seem more rounded rather than sharp and harsh which can easily happen when using so much hops”.

“Black Lightning is hopped from the mash to the fermentor. We use Willamette, Chinook, Cascade, Summit and Centennial hops in very large volumes, about 100% more than a regular beer, but we don’t make it too bitter. It is an intensely hoppy and powerful beer. Like the legendary motorbike Vincent Black Lightning 1952 (the one on the label), this beer needs to be handled with care.”

The brewery 9 White Deer is nestled in the heart of West Cork making the highest quality Irish beers. “We have a range of uniquely crafted beers; our renowned pale ale, a beautiful Irish red ale, an award winning black IPA, the best stout you’ve ever tasted, our balanced IPA and seasonals… Everything we do is 100% gluten free.”

A cracking beer, well balanced. Our recent feature on the Ballyvourney brewery may be read here

Very Highly Recommended.


Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA, 6.8% ABV, 355ml can Bradleys

Once we pick fresh hops, the clock starts ticking. Each year, we visit the Pacific Northwest to hand-select the best Cascade and Centennial hops, race the harvest home, and brew immediately to capture citrus, pine, and floral notes at their absolute peak — aromas and flavors for the perfect winter beer. It’s a magical time at the brewery — has been for 40 years now! — when our brewers huddle around the fermentation tanks, toasting the start of a special season with a holiday beer in hand. Wrapped in red, consider Celebration IPA a true Christmas IPA, your first present of the holidays.”

So, in the early days of February, am I too late to the magic hop party? I wonder, as I pull the tab on this Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA.  It is a red colour - this much I am expecting - with a slightly off white head. All in all, a little lighter in colour than the 9 White Deer IPA. Aromas are that little bit spicy, hints of resin and yes it does, the hops that is, indeed still seem fresh.

And so it continues on the palate. Bit by bit though the bitterness of the hops take over and any semblance of balance fades away, even a few months after the harvest and the maturation,  it is still a big win for the out and out hops lover. Like all fads, it will please the faddists. 

According to author, Mark Dredge (Beer: A Tasting Course),  “there are few better red-coloured IPAs in the world. ….. The hops are tangy, grapefruit, herbal, and floral and overall reminiscent of Campari’s bittersweet balance.” Not too sure about the Campari comparison as that is perhaps my favourite aperitif!

In the Beer Bible, author Jeff Alworth says these beers “taste their best just days after they’re kegged, while that living essence is still at its freshest. By Thanksgiving they’re gone. Fresh hops beers are the ultimate harvest beers, to be savoured in the moment of ripeness, not hoarded and saved.”  

Must be a very special beer indeed if you can get it at its freshest! If I get to the West Coast in August or September, I’d be easily tempted to give this “delight to the hopheads of the world” a go, especially since I began to get more into this one during the last few sips!

Geek Bits

Malts: Caramelised malts, Two-row Pale

Hops: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook

Yeast: Ale Yeast

IBU: 65