Friday, 12 July 2013

[BOTTLE REVIEW] Windsor and Eton, Conqueror

The quintessential British Black IPA.

The Black IPA (now officially the Cascadian Dark Ale the other side of the pond) is a relatively new style imported from America over to the UK. The idea behind it is to offer a strong dark beer, with a strong hop presence to match, without having too much thick chocolate and coffee flavours that will inhibit its hoppy IPA characteristics. Many breweries have attempted this style with varied success, but few demonstrate the Black IPAs potential elegance like Windsor and Eton's Conqueror. Clocking in at 5%, the beer pours a deep black colour with a nice tan head. To taste you get the malt body of a nice stout, with sweet coffee flavours coming through. However it lacks an overwhelming depth, allowing a full hop bitterness to come through on the finish. This isn't a flaw; the American hop aromas are really tangible and pleasant, completely against what your eyes and instincts will tell you - and fits perfectly in line with what to expect of a Black IPA.

The hard craft here is getting two contradictory beery elements to entwine into something palatable. Conqueror is probably the UK's best example of how it can be done correctly, and deservedly the most famous for it too. In spite of it's contrapunctal nature, the Black IPA really works well.