Posts filled under: Black IPA

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
Black Rye IPA
8.5% ABV
60 IBU

Despite generally hearing wonderful things about Firestone Walker’s beers, I have never drunk one. I bought their barleywine, §ucaba (a.k.a. Abacus prior to some weird legal nonsense I don’t understand), but I have left that to age in my basement before I’m going to touch it. I have consistently been tempted by their Double Jack, but a relatively high price and the fact that they for the longest time didn’t date their bottles turned me off (they have since started dating their bottles—other breweries please take note). I had been anticipating this one for a while, though, so the moment my store received it I was sure to buy a bottle. Relatively reasonable in price, too—much more so than Double Jack. Having loved both rye IPAs I have tried, Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye and He’brew’s Bittersweet Lenny R.I.P.A., I had great expectations for this beer.

Of Wookey Jack, Firestone Walker says:

Wookey Jack is our first foray into the dark outer world of black IPAs.  Rich dark malts and spicy rye careen into bold citrus laden hops creating a new dimension in IPA flavor.  This brew has been left unfiltered and unfined to retain all of its texture and character.  At 60 IBUs, Wookey Jack is gnarly on the outside yet complex and refined on the inside.

Wookey Jack pours exactly as it claims—black. Not as dark as, e.g., an imperial stout or anything, but of course. The tan-colored head is relatively thin, but its retention excellent. Very appealing beer.

Semi-surprisingly, there is actually very little rye smell to this beer, at least not to my nose. Make no mistake: Wookey Jack is first and foremost an IPA. Citrusy, grapefruit hops abound. I suppose this came as a slight disappointment to me, the lack of rye, but who am I kidding—this beer smells delicious nevertheless.

The taste follows the smell. Hops upfront. Nice, citrusy hops. Exceptionally tasty. I sensed a faint rye taste or spiciness in the background, but overall the taste was still very overwhelmingly “IPA” or “DIPA”. A customer had told me that the rye gave the beer a slightly rustic taste, which is indeed a very vague description of flavor, but one that I must agree with anyway. Wookey Jack ends with a nice bitter finish. It is a very well-rounded beer; it is neither too bitter nor too sweet.

The mouthfeel is great: a little bit sticky and a lot of smoothness. Carbonation is very nicely in the middle. Lots of lingering bitterness even after the beer has long left your mouth.

In summation, this is an exceptional beer. To be quite honest, however, if I were blindfolded while drinking this beer (and had no prior knowledge of what it was), I don’t believe that I would have guessed that it is both a rye-based and black IPA. Depending on one’s perspective, this may be either a blessing or a slight disappointment. In my case, it’s slightly more a disappointment, as I loved the strong rye flavors in Ruthless Rye and was hoping for more of that in this beer, but it’s hard to be disappointed for very long at a beer this good. I highly recommend seeking it out.

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