23 May 2018

Wait, what?

"Oh, Valravn!" I thought, browsing the shelves in Redmond's. "I haven't had that in ages!"

Only when I got the bottle home and did a bit of research did I discover that I'd never had it at all. How did that happen?

This is the souped-up imperial version of Thornbridge's black IPA Wild Raven, though 8.8% ABV against 6.6% isn't exactly a radical transformation. It's an extremely dense black with a handsome off-white head. My bottle was a little on the elderly side but the hops were still getting busy, with Sorachi Ace's coconut elbowing the Nelson, Ella and Centennial out of the way. The thick darkness, in combination with the residual bitterness, give it a major bang of liquorice. A faint roasted element brings the finish, balancing in a way, but this is much more about those hops than the dark malt.

It doesn't taste anything like the strength, though. It's downright sessionable: smooth, tangy and bitter to the extent of mouth-watering, not throat-burning. I'm wondering whether it really needed to be this strong, but hey, I'll take it.

Quality stuff here, as might be expected. I'm just a little sad it took me this long to find it.