Hoppy dark beer? - Home Brew Forums
Register Now For Free!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Hoppy dark beer?

Thread Tools
Old 05-23-2011, 05:55 AM   #1
May 2011
Chillicothe, Ohio
Posts: 386
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

I'm a noob to brewing, but not to drinkin . However, I have found maybe only a handful of IPA style hoppy (or maybe a little less hoppy) darker beers (save CDAs). Similarly I don't see many recipes for them here. Is there a particular reason for this? Is it hard to make the heavier malts and hops blend well or something?

If I were to try to make a hoppy dark beer is it as easy as dry hoping a good recipe? Could I still use hops with high AAUs?


BTW: This site rocks! You all have been invaluable to me. I'm sure that I'll further annoy you with many questions.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 06:14 AM   #2
Feb 2011
Portland-Metro, Oregon
Posts: 249
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Some Russian Imperial Stouts approach 100 IBUs, but the lack of flavor or aroma hops in those recipes is pretty universal. I made an oatmeal stout once that had a lot of Cascade hop character in the flavor and aroma, and it was quite pleasant, but unfortunately that was all but gone by the time the beer itself fuly matured.
Also, the characteristic sweet nuttiness of many darker grains does not generally lend itself to certain flavor and aroma hops (most of the time resinous, citrusy, or piney hops are to be avoided). There is also a pre-existing bitterness from many darker roasted grains that fulfills some of the job taken by hops in other styles.
Dark beers with a strong hop presence are certainly possible, but not easy, in part due to the slightly longer ageing times and the nature of many darker malts and grains IMO.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 01:03 PM   #3
Senior Member
theonetrueruss's Avatar
Oct 2010
Woodstock, GA
Posts: 859
Liked 51 Times on 37 Posts

There are commercial examples.. Sweetwater Happy Ending is basically an imperial stout that is dry hopped.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 01:06 PM   #4
Bob's Avatar
Nov 2007
Christiansted, St Croix, USVI, US Virgin Islands
Posts: 3,927
Liked 144 Times on 105 Posts

Good answer!

Primarily, it's to do with complexity. It's pretty easy to brew a hoppy IPA: Mash some pale malt, add hops to taste, ferment. It's simple.

When you start adding more ingredients, the complexity rises, and the more complex a thing/process is, the greater the possibility it's going to go wrong. There's a reason why K.I.S.S. is an axiom.

One of the complexities which make hoppy dark beers difficult is flavor and perceived bitterness. The darker roasted grains have a bitterness all their own, and a very pronounced flavor. It takes a lot of tweaking to emerge with a recipe that's worthwhile.

Complex flavor is a difficult target to hit. The more flavor constituents present in the food being tasted, the greater the chance it'll all go wrong.

What sort of analogy can I make here? Hmmm...

It's like paint. If you take two or three colors, carefully choose the amounts to blend, you get another color. It's pretty easy to get purple from a bit of blue and a bit of red.

What do you get when you mix seven or eight colors? A sort of icky greyish brown. No matter how carefully you choose the starting colors or the amounts thereof, you get icky greyish brown.

Taste works the same way - if too many flavors collide, it's just "meh" at best and "yuk!" at worst. That's why beers like Imperial Stout tend to avoid flavor hops - added to obviously perceptible levels - and instead rely on the roasted malts for flavor. Hell, it's hard enough getting the roasted malts figured out! Adding [i]another]/i] flavor, and suddenly you're spinning too many plates.

That's why many CDA recipes use a debittered black malt like Carafa for color: There's no flavor contribution, it's just color.

You could just take a strong Porter recipe (OG ~1.065) and dry-hop the bejeebers out of it. But that's risky; you don't want much more than a hint of roast-malt flavor in CDA, and you don't want Crystal-malt characteristics at all. Plus it needs to finish dry. I'd rather brew a grist consisting of pale malt and add some Carafa II or III (or probably Sinamar). In fact, I'd brew my standard 19th-century IPA recipe (all pale malt), add enough Sinamar to make it black, and use Cascades instead of Goldings. That's it.

Check out the BYO article on the style.

One of the reasons why you're not seeing many recipes is that it's a relatively new style. Give it time.


Fort Christian Brewpub
St Croix, US Virgin Islands

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 01:42 PM   #5
Shaneoco1981's Avatar
Apr 2011
Rochester, MI
Posts: 581
Liked 12 Times on 12 Posts


This is a very nice, very hoppy amber ale. I am about to bottle some time this week. I did sneak a small amount to take a gravity reading and it's good.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 01:51 PM   #6
JLW's Avatar
Jun 2010
Richmond, VA
Posts: 3,397
Liked 43 Times on 43 Posts

Here is one of my favorite recipes. I was sad when the last one was gone. I will be brewing this again toward the end of the summer.

"The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it is difficult to detrmine whether or not they are genuine" - Abraham Lincoln
Fine Creek Brewery

Primary: 12-12-12 Wee Heavy, Stone Ruination Clone, Bell's Better brow Ale Clone and Saison d'Hiver
Botteled: All Columbus IPA, Chocolate Peppermint Baltic Porter, Ewalds Altbier, Hopslam Clone, Scottish Strong Ale, Fine Creek Saison, Not so Pale Pale Ale, Double Chocolate Oatmeal Imperial Stout
Kegged: Indian Brown Ale

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 02:04 PM   #7
Jul 2010
Santa Cruz
Posts: 971
Liked 13 Times on 13 Posts

Bob said it really well. Darker beers are driven strongly by the malt profile, as opposed to an IPA that is driven by hops, or a Belgian that is driven by yeast (IMHO).

You would want to go with debittered or lightly roasted grains to get that dark tone, while keeping the body flavor itself not too heavy/harsh, else the hops will get lost or just blend it poorly. As Bob said, your flavor with just turn into a Grey.

Why don't you see many recipes? Even though we are a creative bunch, the "Dark Ale with strong hops notes" doesn't really fall into a real BJCP category, or at least not any that I am familiar with, though I am far from an expert. Thus we tend to not run into beers like this, and therefore don't have a source of reference, able to taste a brew and go "Oooooh, I see what they did there, now I am going to try it!"

If/When you brew up this concept, post the recipe if you have made it up yourself, or just let us know in general how it turns out! Could inspire others to pursue this blend of styles.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 03:14 PM   #8
TopherM's Avatar
Mar 2011
St. Petersburg, FL
Posts: 3,974
Liked 450 Times on 355 Posts

Do a search for India Black Ale or American Black Ale.....these are considered "emerging" styles that basically have IPA/Pale Ale hop bitterness and aroma, but dehusked black malts, so it gets a black COLOR without all of the smoked flavor that would mask the hop taste and smell in a Porter/Stout. Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale is a commercial example if you want to track one down.

Here's a sample recipie:


If you can lager, you can do the same thing (dehusked black malt) to make black lagers, like Sam Adams Black Lager or Shiner's Black Lager. The Shiner's is very tasty, if you want to check that one out as well.
Primary #1 - Midnight Ryeder (Midnight Wheat and Rye)
Primary #2 - Florida Weiss
Primary #3 - Kane-DOH APA (Honey Citra APA)
Secondary #1 - Downtown Flanders Brown (brewed August 2012)
Keg #1 - Raspberry Florida Weiss
Keg #2 - Cinnamon Raisin Cider
Keg #3 - NONE!
Bottled - NONE!

Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2011, 03:17 PM   #9
May 2011
Chillicothe, Ohio
Posts: 386
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Thank you all for your advice/recipes. I knew there had to be a reason that I didn't see many, I just wasn't sure what it was. This line of thinking was indeed inspired by Yooper's Malty Pale/Hoppy Amber recipe. When I get comfortable enough with the process I think this is the first experiment that I will probably start. Right now I'm leaning towards using a brown ale since they don't seem to be as roasty (in general...I know many are). I'm going to start looking for a lighter roast dry brown recipe and mod it from there. Maybe try for an I"B"A?

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
very very hoppy and bitter beer.. wkawk2416 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 11 01-04-2011 08:25 PM
new beer too hoppy? BaronIV Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 06-26-2010 03:43 AM
very hoppy beer OHIOSTEVE Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 3 03-25-2010 02:02 PM
My first experience with a very hoppy beer carnevoodoo Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 13 06-26-2007 06:49 PM
Very Hoppy Beer simzy Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 4 08-28-2006 04:39 PM

Forum Jump