Regardless of what you call them—the descriptive but somewhat oxymoronic Black India Pale Ale or the more fanciful Cascadian Dark Ale—Black IPAs have emerged as a style to be reckoned with over the past several years. When done right they capture the best elements of the IPA and Porter genres. Among Central Ohio breweries, Land Grant has been making some of the best Black IPAs in Central Ohio, including EF-1 and Totes Liotes, the latter brewed in collaboration with Hoof Hearted. In this post I review their latest foray into the dark world of Black IPAs, Gravity Wave.
Their second installment in the Space Grant series, the name was inspired by the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime created when two black holes collide. They were predicted to exist by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago, but not detected this past year using the most sensitive measuring device ever created. A scientific achievement that is likely to be Nobel prize worthy, what better way to celebrate than with a special beer. Let’s see if the beer inside the can lives up to its namesake.
- Brewery: Land Grant (Columbus, OH)
- Style: Black IPA
- ABV: 7.9%
- IBU: 90
- Price: $11.99 for a 6 pack of 12 oz cans
The hop bill for Gravity Wave consists of Galena, Zeus, Citra and Galaxy hops. The black color comes from the use of Midnight Wheat and Blackprinz specialty malts. The description on the can reads as follows:
Predicted by Einstein over a century ago—and only recently observed by scientists—gravitational waves are created when two black holes rapidly orbit one another and combine, sending out ripples that disturb the fabric of space and time. To celebrate this wobbly astral dance floor, we’ve combined a variety of black-hole-black roasted malts with the cosmic vibrations of tropical fruit-filled Galaxy Hops, revealing a dark and mysterious Gravity Wave of our own.
To the eye Gravity Wave could easily be mistaken for an imperial stout. It’s nearly black in color and completely opaque, topped with a centimeter or so of creamy beige head. While it’s appearance may be dark and foreboding, the nose is all IPA, luring you in with an beguiling bouquet of fruity hops. There’s a nice mix of tropical fruit aroma from the Galaxy hops and dank, citrus flavors from the Citra hops. Head brewer Jamie Feihel told me that this beer received three separate dry hop additions and it shows in the nose. Going in for a taste I’m greeted with a harmonious mélange of roasted malts and fruit forward hops. The Midnight Wheat and Blackprinz malts give it a distinctive chocolate character with relatively little roasted astringency. Picture dark chocolate drizzled over a bowl of passionfruit and tangerines, and you won’t be far from the mark. The ample hopping lends a moderate degree of bitterness and makes each sip more dry than sweet. The finish is crisp and leaves you with a lingering bitterness befitting a beer packing 90 IBUs. The medium bodied brew slides easily over your tongue leaving behind a few monolayers of resinous hop oil.
Once again Land Grant delivers a Black IPA that makes you sit up and take notice. Gravity Wave looks like a stout and smells like an IPA, but the taste hits the sweet spot where both chocolaty malts and fruity hops share center stage. The dry finish and absence of astringent flavors from roasted malts keeps you coming back for more. It’s dangerously drinkable for a beer flirting with 8% abv. When this beer was first released the hop aroma was heavenly, and while the nose has faded a little with time, it is still a bold, flavorful brew. As of the time of this writing (June 13, 2016) cans of Gravity Wave are still plentiful around town. If you’ve not had the pleasure of drinking this beer I suggest you track some down while it’s still on the market. A task far easier and less expensive that building your laser interferometer based, gravity wave detection device.
Rating scale: 10 = perfection, 9 = excellent, one of the top beers in the world, 8 = very good, one of the top beers in its style category, 7 = good, a solid beer I’m happy to be drinking, 6 = average, not bad but not something I’m likely to buy again, 5 = below average, 3-4 = poor, should be avoided, 1-2 drainpour.