We don’t sojourn to the Badlands because it’s “bad.” We go there because it’s good. It’s where we go to escape the noise, the hustle, and the daily trespasses. It may be vast, Paleolithic, simple and stark, but finding yourself on the sandy floor of an ancient ocean does wonders for the imagination, as well as the senses.
In the same way, our Badlands Black IPA looks anything but complex. It’s dark, a color we tend to associate with roasty heaviness… stoutiness….and porterness. Yet, if you close your eyes, and take a whiff, and let your senses truly lock in, you can visualize the fresh cut grapefruit, the juicy lemon and a fat and fragrant joint.
It’s like stopping amidst the gnarly junipers on the volcanic scree of the Flatiron Rock Trail to pick up a fossil, closing your eyes, and imagining a lush, long ago world where hungry T.Rex’s and scary finned and teethy shark-like creatures roamed the jungles and seas, respectively.
Well, maybe that’s a stretch. Let’s just say, the Badlands Black IPA plays tricks with your mind and delivers the unexpected.
The complexity comes from the way Chad brewed this beer, which we tapped from our 5 barrel system as part of our beloved "Heart and Soul Series" last week. When it comes to balance, Chad is like a zen master. He will not abide a beer that is too bitter, or too sweet. His mission is to add here, subtract there until he finds that bittersweet spot.
Chad layered in hop additions during the boil every 15 minutes, as opposed to a simple bittering acid bedrock at the base and an aroma push at the end. It took more time, and a uni-tasker's strict attention – not easy for a guy who’s simultaneously running a canning line, bottling line and a production brewhouse – but the fruits of said labor were more than worth it.
Chad carefully dosed the dark, roasted wort with the Church of Four C's – Centennials, Chinooks, Cascade and CTZ -- but his hop supplications were far from finished. After fermentation, Chad double dry hopped his Heaven-bound brew with citrusy Citra with another “new” hop, El Dorado, renown for it’s stone fruity notes.
Is our Bad any Good? I had my first pint yesterday and took notes. As you can see, with the rich crema head and mahogany blackness, my pre-quaff prejudice was towards a porter or stout. But the aroma came in with bright grapefruit and lemon, with a low to the ground dank pot-ness.
The first taste on the tongue was a strong roasted maltiness. As it warmed, I detected notes of chocolate and coffee, although these sensations may simply have arisen from a mixture of auto suggestion and romance. As I said, the Badlands IPA is a tricksterish beverage that toys with the head and tongue. My friend took a pull and imagined a chocolate tort with a raspberry drizzle, a strong and fairly unshakeable description I confess I was unable or unwilling to let go of.
All of this sounds "desserty" and “heavy” and yet the beer alights on the tongue with all the weight of fairy dust freshly sprinkled by a fasting Tinkerbell.
The finish is "hoppy," which translates as a detectable coat of hop field bitterness on the tongue. And here’s the fun part – it’s pleasant. The alcohol is warm and buzz worthy.
Folks, Badlands Black IPA has got legs. What does that mean? It means it’s got a future. It’s destined for The Mother Ship and eventually for delivery via cans or bottles or both.
“We’re limited on tank space but in June that will change,” predicts Chad, who never met a stainless tank he could not fill, on the double, on the spot. “When we’ve got the new tanks, I’d like to share our Badlands Black IPA with everybody.” It has occurred to him to horde, a thought ratcheting up in its intensity as we approach our final keg.
“This is my favorite Worthy brew of late,” the Balladeer of Balance continued. “Drinking this beer is like getting lost in the Badlands -- it helps me get shut of all the noise. And it opens my eyes to the amazing lights and colors all about, like a rainbow after a fresh rain in the high desert.”
OK. Those were not The Chadster's exact words. The Badlands tends to make everything sound better.
Get Good. Drink Badlands Black IPA.
BTW - Please go chase a rainbow along the trail in the Badlands Wilderness Area, about 16 miles East of Worthy Brewing off of Highway 20.