This was a beer that, while good, couldn’t quite live up to a positive memory of having it in the past. I first sampled Three Floyds’ “English IPA” (It’s 8.5% so I’m calling it a DIPA) over a year ago on the final day of my Michigan Beer Sojourn, and at that time I remember being blown away by waves of refreshing, citrusy goodness. That was on tap at the brewpub, and perhaps that form of serving plus a fresher sample were what made the difference. But either way, although I found this one to be solid this time around (find me a Three Floyds beer that isn’t), it suffered on the relativity-based plus-minus system for beer rating that Brother Barley recently introduced.

Before the body of this tasting note I have to say again that “English IPA” is a misnomer that would make you expect a brew around 5-7 percent ABV, as English IPAs usually tend to be. Also, with the prominent sweetness of this brew, you could easily have just called it an “English barleywine” and perhaps have been more accurate. I might even have rated it slightly higher if that was the case.

Three Floyds Blackheart English IPA

NOTES: 22 oz bomber, poured into a snifter. Appropriately metal-tastic label.

ABV: 8.5%, English “IPA”

APPEARANCE: Golden into light orange and slightly hazy, like a very light orange peel, with a finger of white foam.

AROMA: Toffee and orangey citrus, but also a little bit piney, which I didn’t expect. I find that with sweeter IPAs, I have a difficult time sorting out which aspects of the aroma are hops-based or malt-based. Is that malt fruitiness or hop citrus?

TASTE: “Candied orange slices” would be my favorite descriptor, but that’s hardly the only flavor going on here. I also get toffee and caramel and oddly, spiciness that is sort of peppery. It’s as complex in its fruit flavors as a big Belgian quad or something of the nature. Once again, it’s hard to tell which flavors are hops and which are malt, but there’s certainly a lot of citrus flavors and sweetness. Orange marmalade?

MOUTHFEEL: “Chewy” is the word, I believe. Feels like a big, slightly syrupy brew. Solid baseline of bitterness.

DRINKABILITY: Not too high, thanks to the sugar and the hopping. Like most DIPAs, not meant for pounding.

OVERALL: It’s sweeter than most American-style DIPAs in the same alcohol range would be, but also appreciably different.  I do enjoy this, but not as much as I did previously, when I remember it being more refreshing and more strongly hopped. Who knows how much these beers change from year to year, or how much time affected my bottle? I’ll give it another go, next time I see it. For now, 3 hops.


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