Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
Ah yes, the polarizing Black IPA. I can’t recall a style of beer that has caused as much of a scene as this newish style of beer has over the past couple of years. I’m one of those folks that has a rather benign attitude toward the style. I drink them mostly for review on this site, rarely buying them as a daily drinker like I would many standard IPAs. There are a handful that I would gladly go out of my way to purchase on a regular basis (21st Amendment Back in Black and another black rye in the excellent Karl Strauss Boardwalk Black Rye if it were only available on the East Coast).
Well, I can safely and emphatically add another to the short list of black IPAs that I would pick up in a heart beat — and with the added bonus that it’s relatively easy to find in my area. Firestone Walker’s Wookey Jack is an 8.3% ABV and 80 IBU black IPA brewed with rye. It also just recently won gold in the “American-Style Black Ale” category at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.
Wookey Jack pours with a dense, creamy cap of mocha colored foam. The beer has got to be one of the blackest examples of this style of beer I’ve encountered thus far.
Immediately upon pouring, the nose is surrounded by the fruity aroma of citrus (orange, tangerine), pine and spicy rye bread. A roasted malt and chocolate presence linger lightly in the background.
The roast malt character and earthy, spicy rye tempers what would otherwise be a seriously hoppy West Coast IPA. Grapefruit and pine arrive first before fading smoothly through the earthy rye and then settling in a drying finish with a hint of a roast. This beer is deceptively smooth and drinkable considering its ABV and level of bitterness.
It’s easy to see why this beer pulled out the win at GABF this year. It’s a well balanced and easy drinking take on one of the more controversial styles of beer available. It’s got a great hop profile, earthy rye/malt character and goes down quite smoothly for its size. I will most definitely be drinking more of this beer, though I fear it’s recent victory will make it that much harder to find.