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Good Beer Hunting

May 27, 2021

In times of crisis, people tend to turn to the comfort of familiarity, whether it be revisiting the family recipes they enjoyed as a kid or just attempting to relive some idealized version of the good old days. Over the past year, between quarantines, lockdowns, and political strife, nostalgia has made a big comeback, in everything from the music we’re listening to, to the very beers we drink. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been reaching for more of my tried-and-true favorites during the pandemic. If the world is crumbling around me, at least the last thing I’ll taste will be the predictable deliciousness of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with a soundtrack of glorious ’90s pop to accompany it.

But there are more beers from the recent past to rediscover, and none more ripe for such examination than the humble Black IPA. Underappreciated by the masses but beloved by brewers from all over, the Black IPA has always been polarizing. Jonny Garrett dives deep into the history of the misunderstood style, its origins, evolution, and surprising (albeit small) comeback over the past year in his piece titled “Darkest Before the Dawn — The Unlikely Return of Black IPA,” which was published on Good Beer Hunting on April 6, 2021. By “comeback” I mostly mean people waxing poetic about the style, but there have also been a handful of enterprising masochists who refuse to let it go the way of the Brut IPA. Bless them for it.

In this conversation, Jonny and I will discuss exactly who is asking for Black IPAs, how examining the style for this story sparked some surprising positivity for him personally, and what it was like talking to beer icons brewing at powerhouses like The Alchemist and Firestone Walker. We’ll also talk about how Hazies and Black IPAs were both born in the same small corner of Vermont, how their paths diverged so completely, and why it’s so important to relish the small joy found in a glass of good beer.