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Brew It Dark & Hoppy: The Balancing Act

Dark malts and ample hops intersect at a risky but rewarding flavor zone where few brewers dare to tread with regularity. Here we dig into recipe choices for distinctive, hop-forward black beers that avoid the pitfalls.

Josh Weikert Feb 22, 2021 - 13 min read

Brew It Dark & Hoppy: The Balancing Act Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves

Sure, there was a rush of black IPAs for a while there, and there are a few hop-forward stouts hanging around. But for the most part, compared to the tonnage of hoppy pale beers on the market, “dark and hoppy” is a relatively rare combination. So, why aren’t there more beers like that?

In a way, this is surprising because brewers and geeks alike tend to enjoy the extremes—so one would assume that intense grist and intense hops would crop up more often. On the other hand, this is a tricky zone: as beers get darker (and roastier), new challenges arise in the effective use of hops.

Let’s walk through the nuts and bolts of those challenges and then talk about how to convert those challenges into opportunities. With a little care and balance, “dark and hoppy” can and should get a regular turn in your brewing rotation.

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