Tasting Notes: The Unkindness from Barley Mow Brewing Company

img_20170212_150838_923The work week gently fades to black as we get into some Tasting Notes covering The Unkindness Black Ale from Barley Mow Brewing Company (Largo, Florida).

Fondly referred to as “the beer that started it all” for Barley Mow Brewing Company, The Unkindness is an American Black Ale (a.k.a. a Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA) that has been named after a flock of ravens.  This offering blends an assertive hop bill with a dark malt backbone to provide a dualistic experience that boasts notes of pine, grapefruit, chocolate and coffee.  The Unkindness is a Core/Year-Round release that is available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer establishments located within Barley Mow’s full distribution area.

Alright, it is now time to grab a pen and a glass to embrace the darkness residing within The Unkindness!

Tasting Notes for The Unkindness Black Ale from Barley Mow Brewing Company

Appearance: The Unkindness settles into the glass as an incredibly dark brown, nearly black colored brew.  Held to the light, the beer remains opaque but does display some richer brown hues.  The pour built a perfect two fingers of creamy, tan foam.   Head retention is very good, but the showstopper here is the elaborate lace patterns that sheet the glass and completely coat it by drink’s end.

Aroma: As the beer pours, juicy grapefruit and citrus notes anxiously fill the air to greet the nose.  As the beer settles, those hop notes mingle nicely with a building earthy grain quality supported by notes of dark roast and coffee.  Fresh tobacco and a wisp of chocolate bring it all together to beautifully round off the aromatic profile.

Taste: The really interesting characteristic here is how the hops effortlessly weave themselves into every aspect of the flavor experience.  They first appear innocently and playfully as a subtle pop of grapefruit and pine.  Just as the roasted malts push forward to expose notes of bittersweet chocolate and black coffee, the hops slide in to cradle them with a complementary bitterness of citrus zest.  Hearty, roasted grains then meet resinous pine to strike a balance between dankness and sweetness. A gentle herbaceous quality saunters in at the end to leave a final, lasting impression courtesy of the hops.

Mouthfeel: This brew is medium in body and has a medium carbonation level.  On the palate, the beer confidently walks a tightrope, teetering on the edges of both bitter and sweet.  At 7.4% ABV, the beer does bring a bit of warmth but it is nothing excessive or unpleasant.  The aftertaste leaves lingering tones of dark roasted malts, grapefruit zest and touch of herbal qualities.

Final Thoughts:  The Unkindness proves to be a wonderful study in the idea of balance.  The sweet, roasted malts and assertive hops engage in a delightful tug of war that results in a beautiful stalemate that truly captivates the senses.  Although the hops can be fully enjoyed throughout the experience, the malts temper their bitterness with meticulous precision.  In a loud but composed proclamation, the hops and malts both voice their worth with a more than justified display of hubris.  If these ingredients – and the brewers behind them – did not have this cocksure level of conviction, the beer resting in the glass before us would not be nearly as delicious, easy-drinking or impressive.  Impressive . . . that is indeed the best word to describe The Unkindness.  This beer is a remarkable representation of the American Black Ale/Cascadian Dark Ale/Black IPA, and we could easily make an argument for it being a benchmark for the style.  Ridiculously good.  Prost!