Monday, November 15, 2010

The Great Debate and what Drake's did About It

While the weather isn't acting like it's Fall yet (at least not in the Bay Area), Drake's started to brew up a great Fall beer- the first batch of a very special IPA.

Some of you may have heard of a "Cascadian Dark Ale." You may have also heard of a "Black IPA" or an "India Black Ale." And if any of these titles are familiar to you, you've maybe heard about the ongoing debate about which one should be the official name for the style of beer. For those of you who haven't heard of any of this, here's a little history on the issue.

People hailing from the Northwest believe "Cascadian Dark Ale" best suits the beer style. According to a posting on by Matt Van Wyk from Oakshire Brewing Company in Eugene, Oregon (part of the "Republic of Cascadia," i.e. the Northwest- does this include Northern California? That's a debate unto itself...), a Cascadian Dark Ale should have a flavor balance between a big "Northwest" hop aroma, meaning "citrusy, piney and resinous," some sweet malty flavors, hints of roasted malt, chocolate malt, or some caramel notes, and a dry finish. Here are some of the other reasons, according to Van Wyk, to call this beer style a CDA:

1. Using the term "black" and "pale" in the beer name is confusing to a consumer
2. It does not taste just like an IPA
3. Asking for an IBA in a noisy bar or restaurant sounds too much like IPA and may cause confusion, resulting in receiving the wrong beer
4. Many of the ingredients for a CDA should be sourced from the Cascadian region
5. Many early pioneers of the style come from the Cascadian Region

Indeed, some very interesting and unique points Matt...

Proponents of dubbing the beer style Black IPA or IBA obviously feel differently than Van Wyk. This video, Cascadian Dark Ale Debate, created by Michael Dawson and Jake Keeler of BrewingTV, is a great resource for more in depth information on the issue.

Personally, I don't really care one way or another. I understand why the Cascade region wants to call the beer a Cascadian Dark Ale, and I can even understand why the beer style should be called that across the board (if most of the main and defining ingredients are from Cascadia, why not call it a Cascadian Dark Ale? We call some beers "English Bitter" and "Irish Red," so why can't Cascadia call their version of the beer what they want?). BUT I can also see why a more general name like Black IPA or IBA is desirous- you don't have to make a dark beer with roasty characteristics and similar to an IPA in hop profile with Cascade hops...

... and that's exactly what Drake's did!

Drake's response to this debate was to come up with their own name and even their "own style." After all, the Drake's motto is "Drink Different..." This beer isn't meant to be a statement in favor or against either side of the debate. It's just meant to be an awesome beer with big flavor and hop aroma.

And so, without further a do, I introduce to you our Chinookian IPA. A DARK, HOPPY ale, reminiscent of an India Pale Ale, made with a variety of hops including a hefty dry-hopping dose of Chinook and Centennial hops. The batch should be ready for retail accounts within the next few weeks. When it does come out, it would be fun to drink alongside some tasters of Cascadian Dark Ales/Black IPAs- you know, just to see if there is a difference...

And don't you worry, I'll be sure to let you know when Drake's Chinookian hits the bars in the Bay Area.

Cheers 'til next time!


P.S. Just for the record, the beer on the left is the "Cascadian Dark Ale" and the beer on the right is the "Black IPA"...

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