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No Rests for the Wicked: American Black Ale, Extracted

Maybe that P in IPA can stand for “pitch-black.” Once again helping us to extract the most characterful beer from extract brewing, Annie Johnson has the details on Cascadian dark ale, aka American black ale or black IPA.

Annie Johnson Nov 24, 2021 - 6 min read

 No Rests for the Wicked: American Black Ale, Extracted Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves

Beer-drinking America loves its IPAs, and that’s a fact. It makes little difference whether they’re juicy-hazy or West Coast crisp and clear, we love them for their hoppy goodness. Whether it’s full of dank, pungent aromas or tropical hits of citrus zest—doesn’t matter, just give us our IPA.

But the IPA spectra, as we know, stretch far beyond the pale—far past hazy or West Coast. Pick your color: We’ve got white, red, brown, black, plus Belgian and rye (hmm, maybe that whole brut phase is best forgotten), not to mention every level of strength from session to imperial, double, triple … hopwine, anyone? No doubt more varieties are on the way, too. Cold IPA is apparently a thing now—and we’ve even got Josh Weikert musing on the potential for German-style IPA.

Confused? Wondering whether “IPA” really means anything if it means everything? Hey, welcome to craft beer in the 2020s. Also, fear not: For now, we’re focusing on one of the most underappreciated, loved-but-then-forgotten sub-styles—the Cascadian dark ale. (The what?) We’re talking black IPA, or what the Great American Beer Festival guidelines call American black ale.

CDA and Other Acronyms

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Annie Johnson is an experienced R&D brewer, IT specialist, and national beer judge. Her awards include 2013 American Homebrewer of the Year honors.