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Beer Reviews

Blackheart

Three Floyds Brewing Co.
Munster, IN
USA
http://threefloyds.com/

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)


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I have three things in common with Bruce Dickinson: One, we both like Iron Maiden (at least I assume he does, because he’s the lead singer, after all). Two, we both think Steve Harris’ lyrics can get a little pretentious. And three, neither one of us has tattoos. I bring this up because of the tattoos thing. See, the downright scary freakazoid label art on the bombers of Three Floyds’ latest release, Blackheart, an “English-style IPA,” is courtesy of a couple of artists at Black Heart Tattoo in San Francisco.

This tat trivia got me to thinking about how all the world seems to have a tattoo as some sort of rebellious statement, even though all the world having a tattoo makes this statement, if not moot, kind of watered down. Then I thought I should quit living outside of society and—in the event I ever get to San Fran—I should stop in at Black Heart and have ’em etch “It’s Not Normal” across my forehead to join the tattooed “in” crowd. Maybe then I’d be able to find a girlfriend and a job, and finally move out of my parents’ basement.

While you all pine away at that dream, I’ll fill you in on this beer. Like I mentioned before, Three Floyds describes this as an “English-style IPA,” but we all know how reliable the madman of Munster’s descriptions are. Normally when you see something described as “English-style,” it’s a qualifier letting you know that it’s sort of like an American version, but watered/wimped down. As I said, normally. But this IPA, my friends, is definitely not normal.

It pours a super cloudy, dark orange: dark shadows seem to hang underneath the thick, sticky head. Sure, it’s named after the tattoo parlor in San Francisco, but when I hold it up to the light, my fingers cast a hazy pall of blackness in the heart of the beer. Spooky. The nose is a huge bouquet of bright, piney hops and a ton of earthiness in the back end of the sniff.

Now, the sipping. After the eerie pour and the daunting sniff, I have to admit I’m a little intimidated as I stare at this pint glass of otherworldly elixir. But I remember Charlie Papazian’s advice: don’t be scared, it’s only beer. I take a deep breath and sip …

A medium-sized, rather soft body actually starts off with surprisingly sweet, sugary malt. For half an instant I’m almost stunned. Then an abrupt avalanche of grapefruity hops buries the sweetness, a bitter landslide that transforms into the deep earthiness you expect from a massive dose of classic United Kingdom hop varieties. And we’re not even done with the sip yet! The finish is LOOOOONG for an IPA, and it’s all old school UK hops, so intense and earthy that you could say it displays notes of dirt (the good, store-bought dirt, not that harsh unpleasant stuff). Let it warm, and the sweet, light malt makes a reappearance, contrasting amazingly well with the powerful bitterness.

Obviously, the “English” style in this IPA refers to the use of UK hops, because this thing is the opposite of watered down. It is MASSIVE in both hops, malt, and ABV. Although no alcohol content is given, it’s up there: I was reeling after taking my time finishing my bomber. I might even go so far as to say it’s bigger than their imperial IPA, Dreadnaught. Some folks might find all that alcohol and grave-dirt flavor as nightmarish as the label art, but those non-normals who can handle it will be as happy as a sorority babe with a brand-new skank tat. Kidding—kidding! Seriously, you’d be much happier than that.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on July 7, 2008.
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