The Beer: Street Cred
Stats: 7.5 percent ABV, 45 IBU
The Brewery: The Beer Research Institute, located at 1641 South Stapley Drive in Mesa, recently celebrated its first anniversary of bringing a fresh, new take on craft brews to East Valley residents. The brewery makes a number of interesting and innovative beers, but the star of the show is Street Cred, a Black IPA.
The Style: First made famous by Stone Brewing Company with the brewery's release of Sublimely Self-Righteous IPA, this fairly new style of IPA combines light flavors of roast and chocolate along with the forward hop aromas and flavors one would expect from a traditional IPA. The style has had moderate success in the United States, but far less than other beers in the IPA portfolio such as Wheat IPAs, Session IPAs, Imperial IPAs, and Traditional IPAs.
As you might guess, Black IPA is a bit of a misnomer. After all, with the "P" in "IPA" representing "pale," how can a beer be black and pale at the same time? But whether you call this style a Black IPA, a Cascadian Dark Ale, or simply a hoppy dark beer, this beer is a must-try for anyone looking for well-balanced flavors of roasted chocolate and citrusy hops. In fact, this beer is an incredibly balanced Black IPA, something that's very difficult to achieve.
Aromatics: Order a Street Cred and you'll get a black beer that clearly looks like a porter or stout. But the first thing that pops out will be aromas of pine, citrus, and a hint of black licorice. Roast and chocolate notes support, but do not lead as they would in a porter or stout.
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Flavor: Toasted malt, subdued hop flavor, and roast-y chocolate are perfectly in harmony with each other, none leading and none taking a supporting role. This is the definition of a balanced beer. Some resiny character accentuates the crisp, dry finish and acts as a perfect counterpoint to the richness of the chocolate notes.
Mouthfeel: This brew offers a medium body and carbonation, and is somewhat creamy and definitely not astringent. Slight alcohol warmth is present yet pleasant and acts as a nice bridge between the dark malts and the hops.
Overall Experience: A front of the palate citrus bite that blends into chocolate and roast notes, blended with pleasant alcohol, creates a fairly complex and very pleasing beer drinking experience. Many national beer companies have tried their hands at this style and none have come up with one that is any more impressive than this example.
The Beer Research Institute is open seven days a week and features a full menu and at least a dozen (or more) of their beers on tap. Check out the lineup at the Beer Research Institute website.