Beer in America was a local product from the first colonies of European settlers through the dawn of Prohibition. Part of this was necessity, the lack of reliable refridgeration and packaging made it difficult to transport fresh beer. Prohibition wiped out many of the small breweries, and after its repeal large, industrial breweries dominated American beer for decades. The craft beer movement has brought back the ideas of local flavor along with the use of quality ingredients and a willingness to innovate. When Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan founded their brewpub in San Fransisco in 2000 they wanted to bring back the focus on community themes. Fittingly they named their brewpub after the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition. 21st Amendment Brewing Company has grown dramatically and now their beers are distributed in cans and on draft across the country (the canning line is actually done in Minnesota for cost reasons). One of 21st Amendments year-round releases is Back in Black, a black IPA. 21st Amendment pays homage to American history by naming beers after well-known moments. Back in Black refers to Paul Revere’s midnight ride through the streets of Boston. It is also fitting that a black IPA is one of their flagship beers, since this style is one of the few to originate in the US. Back in Black combines Black, Crystal and Munich malts with Cascade and Centennial hops.
21st Amendment Back in Black pours a cola brown with a huge off-white head. The smell has some hops, with pine and floral notes, but they aren’t overly strong. There are also mild dark malt scents. The taste starts with the hops, strong flavors of deep forest and freshly cut grass. The dark malts are also well represented with touches of coffee, molasses and brown sugar. The beer is solidly bitter, with just enough malt flavor to keep it from being overwhelming. Back in Black is medium bodied and drinkable, it weighs in at 6.8% ABV. The finish is a pleasant mixture of some dark malt sweetness and mouth puckering bitterness. Overall this is a solid version of a black IPA, with a nice balance between the malt and hop flavors. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.