It's been awhile since I reviewed a high-IBU (international bitterness unit) IPA. It's also been awhile since I've drank one. The shift is partially seasonal and it's impermanent, but it also stems from conversations I've had in recent weeks with folks who really know beer (I hope to post several of those soon). Sometimes your palate needs a break.
As an IPA lover I couldn't stay away for too long, which is why I popped open a bottle of Boulevard Brewing's latest offering earlier this week. "Grainstorm" is a black rye IPA that weighs in at 68 IBUs and 7.7 percent alcohol by volume.
Boulevard really went to town on this beer, using four kinds of hops and three kinds of malt. Amarillo, Citra, and Cisco varieties are used in dry hopping. Unlike many black IPAs, Grainstorm is not brewed with roasted malt. The use of pale malt and roasted wheat (high color/low roast) allow the rye flavor to come through.
Let's crack this one open. A marketing team after my heart peppers the label with weather puns, noting that "a high pressure system of pungent hops" will deliver a "big, wet wallop to the senses". There's plenty more of them on there (you should see the full press release).
The beer is thunder-storm black (sorry) with a brown head that doesn't seem to want to go away. In fact, a too-quick pour causes the head to go all over the counter. We trod on.
The dry-hopping is evident in the nose, which is pungent and piney with loads of citrus. Despite knowing that there's no roasted malt it's still a surprise not to get some on the first sip. Pepper and grass replace the smoke and chocolate typically found in a black IPA. The beer is no less intense; it may even be more intense because the rye and hops have nowhere to hide. The Kansas City brewery has released Grainstorm in 750-ml bottles and kegs.