Black IPA – Style Overview


Some would say the Black IPA is fairy new style of beer. The BJCP style guidelines only included it in 2015 under the Speciality IPA category so if you go by them it’s not been around for long.

But Dark and Hoppy styles of beer have a much longer and interesting history. Back in the late 18th and early 19th century all beers brewed in England were dark (Porters, Stock Ale, Old Ale). This was due to kilning methods at the time. Also around this time beers were being exported to far flung parts of the empire. I am not mentioning India as the phrase Indian Pale Ale wasn’t used until many years after.

These brewers understood that a long voyage required higher ABV and hopping rates. So the porters of the day became stronger and hoppier versions for the export market, these also become popular for domestic consumption.

During the later half of the 1800s kilning process improvements resulted in paler malts. This saw a rise in lighter ales that were also highly hopped. Dark beers, although still popular up to the middle of the 20th century were on a steady decline.

Craft Beer Revolution

During the early 20th century beer, lets be honest, became bland. Probation in the US, The temperance movement and two world wars didn’t help. At the same time the rise of large corporate breweries with there generic lagers and shifting consumer tastes. The days of dark hoppy beers were truly over. What was left were standard stouts and porters with barely a hint of hop goodness.

Then in the 1970s and 1980s the craft beer revolution started in the USA. At first focused on more traditional IPAs but using native American hops. These beers were bitter, with good hop aroma. The craft beer scene was born.

During this time every brewery in the US had an IPA. Then sometime in the early 1990s the Vermont Pub and Brewery release a dark, hop forward beer. The Black IPA was born.

Style Guidelines

The BJCP overall impression says :-

A beer with the dryness, hop-forward balance, and flavour characteristics of an American IPA, only darker in colour – but without strongly roasted or burnt flavours. The flavour of darker malts is gentle and supportive, not a major flavour component. Drinkability is a key characteristic.”

So how do you get dark but without roasted or coffee flavours? Using de-husked roasted grains for most of the colour. Hop flavour comes from classic American hops. Bitterness has to balanced against these dark grains.

OG1.050 – 1.085
FG1.010 – 1.018
ABV5.5% – 9%
vital statistics

Recipe Formulation


As you will be adding lots of roasted malts aim for a balanced profile. Although don’t get too hung up on your water there is a lot going on in this beer!

Grain Bill

We are going to build a complex grain bill. For your base malt start with something like Maris Otter at around 60%-70%. We will then add some flaked barley (5%-10%) also include for Rye Malt (5%-10%). To get the colour you are going to use Carafa III (3%-5%) and Roasted Wheat (3%-5%). I also like to include some Crystal 40 (5%-10%) for a touch of sweetness.

Aim for an OG around 1.063 which should give a beers close to 6.5%


Think classic west coast IPA hopping and you won’t go too far wrong! You want to keep the IBU lower as you will get some bitterness from the dark grain so aim for 40-55 IBU. You will get most of your bittering from a 60 mins addition 35-40 IBU then the remaining around 5 to 10 mins before the end of the boil. You can then hit it with a large flame out addition I would go upwards of 50 grams.

Finally you will want a dry hop addition 4-5 days before the end of primary fermentation, again plenty of good as you want a big hop aroma.

Hop selection is up to you, but stick to classic American IPA hops (Citra, Amarillo, Cascade, etc)


Use a good clean ale yeast like US-05 or WhiteLab WLP001 and ferment at 18c to 20c.

Below is a link to my latest recipe.

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