Versus Battle #6: Black IPA

Black IPAs.jpg

Two Black IPAs enter, only one leaves triumphant. Cthulhu on the Moon from Kaiju Brewing Company, versus the new kid on the block, the Suburban Brew.

Kaiju are well known for their monster artwork on their bottles and cans. They have eight beers in their regular range, including the Aftermath Double IPA, Hopped Out Red and Krush. Their website suggests their Black IPA has a complex malt bill, delivering layers of roasty, coffee flavours, offset with an herbaceous hop profile

The Suburban Brew’s Black IPA is their introductory beer into the market. The beer itself has been brewed via a contract at the local TAFE brewery. Initial feedback about this Black IPA have been quite positive and the list of bottle shops where this beer is available is growing every week.

Who will win?

Style Factors



Category Winner


Some citrusy, sweet, florally aromas. Pleasant aroma, not overpowering. Some malt but not dominating.

No real punchy aromas at all. Extremely subtle grassy hop aroma but have to struggle to find it. Some fruity esters.



Dark, dark brown in colour. Some hop matter floating making it slightly murky. Solid off white, lingering head

Black in colour with no murkiness. Lingering, moderate tan head.



There is a lot going on in the first sip. Real grassy, piney hop characters shine through. Some roasted malts and a tad bit of smokiness but hop driven. A serious bitterness to finish.

Very yeasty first impressions. Slightly fruity but no real malt roast presence. A nice bitterness.



Medium to full bodied with high carbonation levels. Little bit of creaminess.

Medium to medium light in body which tends to match style. No creaminess but a nice carbonation.


The King’s Opinion A very solid first effort from this company. Full of flavour. The aromas and first flavours are on point but the after-taste bitterness may need to be toned down a tad. For me, the flavours just don’t shine through. I am expecting some roasted malts and a huge hop hit, but it is slightly lacking.



THE WINNER IS…… Suburban Brew Black IPA 3 Points to 2.


My readers are going to start thinking that I am biased towards South Australian beers, however, it just goes to show that freshness is best. Most of the versus battles that I have done so far, have been won by a South Australian company. I am not saying those beers that weren’t successful are bad beers, but instead haven’t necessarily travelled well or aren’t as fresh as they could be. The Suburban Black IPA is fresh as and full of flavour which definitely helped it win.


Specialty IPA: Black IPA (Copied from the BJCP Website,

Aroma: A moderate to high hop aroma, often with a stone fruit, tropical, citrusy, resinous, piney, berry, or melon character. If dry hopped, can have an additional floral, herbal, or grassy aroma, although this is not required. Very low to moderate dark malt aroma, which can optionally include light chocolate, coffee, or toast notes. Some clean or lightly caramelly malty sweetness may be found in the background. Fruitiness, either from esters or from hops, may also be detected in some versions, although a neutral fermentation character is also acceptable.

Appearance: Color ranges from dark brown to black. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy; if opaque, should not be murky. Good head stand with light tan to tan color should persist.

Flavor: Medium-low to high hop flavor with tropical, stone fruit, melon, citrusy, berry, piney or resinous aspects. Medium high to very high hop bitterness, although dark malts may contribute to the perceived bitterness. The base malt flavor is generally clean and of low to medium intensity, and can optionally have low caramel or toffee flavors. Dark malt flavors are low to medium-low; restrained chocolate or coffee flavors may be present, but the roasted notes should not be intense, ashy, or burnt, and should not clash with the hops. Low to moderate fruitiness (from yeast or hops) is acceptable but not required. Dry to slightly off-dry finish. The finish may include a light roast character that contributes to perceived dryness, although this is not required. The bitterness may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. Some clean alcohol flavor can be noted in stronger versions.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium-light to medium-bodied mouthfeel without significant hop- or (especially) roasted malt derived astringency. Dry-hopped versions may be a bit resiny. Medium carbonation. A bit of creaminess may be present but is not required. Some smooth alcohol warming can and should be sensed in stronger (but not all) versions.

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