A style of beer that has been talked about a lot in the last year or so is the Black IPA. Some people say that you can’t have a beer simultaneously called “black” and “pale” at the same time. Others believe that the name should give homage to where the style originated from, and thus the beer should be called Cascadian Dark Ale. I’m not going to get into that argument, but when I drink Dubhe by Uinta, I call it good.

This beer pours a very dark brown and tops itself with a small, tan head. The color itself is interesting in that it is not opaque, but you really can’t see much through it. For a beer this dark, I’m surprised by how crystal clear it is when you hold it up to a light. And just like a Guinness, you see mostly black with ruby highlights.

So, it passes the sight test. Taking a whiff gives a very familiar American hop character. I get lots of citrus, but I also pick up some mint too. I also get some sweet caramel from the malts. Not a lot of roast for a beer this dark, nor should there be. When you drink a black IPA, the beer should taste about the same as its pale counterpart. This brew does a great job of masking that dark character, but what it doesn’t mask is the alcohol. At 9.2% abv, this beer gives a bit of warming and hits hard.

The flavors are just what you would expect out of a great IPA: Lots and lots of hops! Dubhe has just a bit of grassyness but is hop forward with its pine and citrus. It also has a very firm bitterness that seems to really coat the tongue. The gimmick of this beer is that it is brewed with hemp seeds. I don’t taste much in the way of “hemp” flavor, but marijuana and hops are close relatives in the plant world so it might be hard to tell where the hops end and the hemp begins.

Dubhe is a fantastic Imperial IPA that provides a full-flavored beer with a nice alcohol warming. If you’re looking for something similar, try out Stone’s Subtly Self-Ritious or Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet 1.5. Dubhe is available in four packs for about $10.

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