This is one I’ve had a few times; an enjoyable beer, though too baffling to really put into words. It’s also a brutal fighter, the sort of beer you’d go at with a makeshift shield and a club, or a nuclear strike from orbit – whatever you have to hand, really. Given that I tend to relax in my home rather than start World War 3, a bottle of Midnight IPA had also kept the Baltic Espresso Porter company these past two months.
After the success of aging out the Baltic, I decided to put on my flak jacket and have a crack at the Midnight IPA. Even after two months, it is still pours a beer so black that light cannot penetrate its surface (to quote a Simpson’s line). The foaming, dark tan head is lively and itching to jump out the glass and punch me in the face. After I threaten it with pepper spray it sits there like an angry something and refuses to budge for ages.
Accompanied by a squad of marines, I do a recon mission to determine the aroma and, frankly, it’s bizarre. Soy sauce is one of the earliest impressions, with a general umami, savoury ambience and plenty of toasted notes. It then develops into a subtle sweet mocha cake, candyfloss and vanilla ice cream profile, with a resinous, floral ending.
It’s one of those ‘taste what you smell’ experiences, with the body of the drink giving a resinous mouthfeel that expands in the mouth like builder’s foam. The younger version is more floral, hoppy, and aggressive, with lots of savoury, dry resin flavours, a coffee cake mid-section and toasted coffee aftertaste. The dryness makes it either a sipper, or a prolonged cage fight, depending on how polite you’re feeling.
With a bit of age behind it, all of these qualities blend together; it’s as close as beer can come to the world of cigars aged in humidors or barrel-aged rum. It’s much smoother, bittersweet throughout, less dry, with hints of leather, oak, and dusty, dark chocolate, leading to a warm finish. It still has all of that strong, umami, soy sauce aroma going for it, but the floral notes have nearly disappeared.
From now on, I’m aging all of my Midnight IPAs. That little bit of time turns an angry youth into a classy gentleman.