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Review: Peak Organic Hop Noir

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  October 29, 2012 07:36 AM

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Most of you reading this blog are craft beer diehards, but sometimes I'm asked to explain a little bit about the styles of beer I'm reviewing. Today's beer is a good one to do that with. Forgive me if the following paragraph is familiar to you.

An IPA, or India Pale Ale, is a beer style characterized by a high level of alcohol and hops. Hops are a bittering agent. When someone says they like hoppy beers they generally mean they like bitter beers. That's simplistic, but it's a good starting point. Because there are various kinds of hops and there are an infinite number of ingredients to add to a hoppy beer, there are variations within the IPA family. A black IPA is one recent IPA hybrid.


Hops make a black IPA an IPA, and black malt makes it black. Simple enough. So along with those bitter, citrus-y flavors from the hops you should expect smoky, chocolate-y flavors from the malt. In other words, you should expect a big beer.

Hop Noir, a black IPA from Portland, Maine's Peak Organic Brewery, is an excellent example of one of these big beers. The stats are a good hint. At 8.2 percent ABV and 98 IBUs, you have a pretty good idea of what you're getting. But not all big beers are as good as this one.

The beer pours an inky black with a big, light-brown head. No chance of peeking through to the other side of this one. Centennial hops combine with the roasted malt to produce both a sweet and bitter aroma.

Thick pine and citrus flavors hit your tongue first, but they're balanced by a smoky backbone. There's sweet caramel in here, too, but the hops never go away. They remind you of their presence from start to finish. This is a truly exceptional beer.

On the Peak Organic website it says to enjoy the beer with a night-light. I like that. You might also pair this beer with a hearty meat dish, food with spice, or any kind of stinky cheese. You know, the good stuff. A six-pack of the beer retails for around $10 in the Boston area.

Any of you have a favorite black IPA? E-mail me ( and start a conversation. Follow me on Twitter. Cheers.

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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