Craft Beer: Galway Bay take double IPA to another level with Solemn Black

Solemn Black is virtually opaque when it finally fills the glass under a generous tan head
Paul McConville

TAKE a look out your window and chances are it's dark. It could be three o'clock in the afternoon and it would probably be well on its way to being pitch black.

Dark weather often calls for dark beers, and they don't come much darker than Solemn Black from Galway Bay. The western beer makers have been churning out a fair few double IPAs lately, either on their own steam or in collaboration with a few other like-minded brewers. But now they've taken all this to another level with a black DIPA.

Solemn Black is a weighty number, in more ways than one. For a start it's 8.5 per cent – the sort of strength you'd expect from a DIPA, but considering it comes in a pint bottle, it'll be one you'll be nursing for a while, possibly over a log fire or in the glare of some Christmas lights.

Anyway, despite the dark appearance, those juicy aromas hit you immediately on the pour and this beer races out of the bottle. It may have the look of a stout, but it does retain the consistency of an IPA. However, when you consider that the trend for DIPAs lately has been the murkier, the better and with a fair amount of dark malt chucked into Solemn Black, it is virtually opaque when it finally fills the glass under a generous tan head.

There are fantastic aromas flying off that head – juicy, piney, roasty. Flavour-wise it's similarly complex. You get all those big fat tropcial flavours - mango, papaya, pineapple, a hint of peach but the dark malt – and the 8.5 per cent abv – gives a lovely, warming quality with hints of coffee and bitter chocolate.

There's a nice bitter, resinous hoppy finish to it and with all that flavour going on, the strength doesn't really overpower it the way some double IPAs can.

:: IF THE craze this year has tended towards the murkier end of the things, one recent beer project has opted for more transparency. With the help of Mourne Mountains Brewery in Warrenpoint, technology firm arc-net and Ireland Craft beers have come together to create beer that allows consumers to fully trace the source ingredients. Each bottle of Downstream IPL comes with a QR smart code which, when scanned, will give drinkers a unique online presentation of where the ingredients of each bottle have come from.

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