As anyone who is familiar with The Brew Sherpas knows, we are big fans of the American Black Ale, ironically, if practically, known as the Black IPA or offensively known as the Cascadian Dark Ale. Regardless of the nomenclature applied to the style, it will continue to be a favorite at the Brew Sherpa base camp.
Style: American Black Ale
Availability: 12 ounce bottles and draft
The Duck-Rabbit Brewery is located in Farmville, North Carolina, which is in the Eastern part of the state. They sold their first beer back in August of 2004 and proudly proclaim Hoppy Bunny ABA to be their hoppiest offering to date. According to the crew at the brewery, they are happy and dance when they brew and that during fermentation, they sing softly to the yeast. Furthermore, they fancy themselves as dark beer specialists and research indicates that the Bunny receives eight separate hop additions to offer delicious bitterness and beguiling hop aroma and flavor.
The beer was poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Spiegelau tulip and served at about 55° F (pulled out of the refrigerator and allowed to warm for about 15 minutes). The beers flavor stayed relatively constant as it warmed, somewhat surprising as I anticipated the roasted malts to really stand out as it warmed.
The Bunny pours a deep, dark black with a fluffy, tan, two-finger head that dissipated into a tremendous amount of sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. Before I can even get the glass to my nose, I can already smell the citrus and pine hop notes spilling over the sides of the glass. Orange notes are the strongest aromas, but faint wafts of papaya linger in the background, offering a subtle complexity to the hop forward aroma. Mild agitation (swirling the beer around in the glass) as it warms brings out a mild roastiness with caramel and molasses notes. The taste follows the nose, for the most part, with strong pineapple and orange flavors that carry a pleasant earthiness up front, but are balanced by an astringent roasted black malt flavor with mild dark chocolate, vanilla and coffee notes. Medium bodied mouth feel, oily and strong carbonation that tends to thin out the mouth feel a bit.
The Duck-Rabbit’s Hoppy Bunny ABA is a prototypical American Black Ale. Some of the Black Ales that I’ve tasted had brewing flaws that were covered up by a heavy roasted flavor and/or huge hops, but The Hoppy Bunny ABA didn’t have these flaws. Duck-Rabbit Brewery is an accomplished brewery and I would not hesitate to have any one of their beers. For me, the Bunny is my favorite, but American Black Ales aren’t for everybody.
TheBrewSherpa rating (out of 100): 91
Recommend glassware: Tulip
Recommended Food Pairing: Grilled beef-kabobs with grilled vegetables, red beans and rice, blackened fish
Recommended Cheese Pairing: Monterey Jack or Edam