Everyone knows that craft beer drinkers are a fickle bunch. This month’s hot new release is next month’s forgotten fad. And there is probably no beer that’s considered more of a forgotten fad than black IPA. Well I for one am not happy about this. Of all the speciality IPAs (Belgian, black, brown, red, rye, white, New England and brut, to name a few), black has always been my favourite. So imagine my delight when I learnt that Afro Caribbean was teaming up with Port Elizabeth-based Richmond Hill for a Black IPA collab. It seems only fitting since Greg from ACBC was the driving force behind what I strongly believe to be both South Africa’s first collab brew and first BIPA – Valley of the Skulls, back in 2012 [link not found – you’re just gonna have to take my word for it].
Most South African IPAs focus on the fruity, whether it’s citrus, tropical or all-too-often, stone fruit. But what you get when you dip your nose into Previously Lit Area is pine. For a brief moment, I genuinely thought our Christmas tree was still up, and then I remembered that we packed it away on Boxing Day and anyway, it was made of…nylon? What the hell is that stuff fake Christmas tree needles are made of? But you get what I mean – there is a lot of pine on the nose of this beer. And then hidden away behind the Christmas tree there’s the merest whiff of coffee and chocolate.
Those dark malt notes remain in a supporting role when you sip and they’re very welcome. I like a touch of roast when I have a black IPA – without it what’s the point? Might as well be drinking an American IPA with food colouring. But happily, it is hops that take centre stage in Previously Lit Area. It’s a crisp and bitter, piney brew with a delightfully clean finish that leaves you happy you bought a six pack and not just a can.
Previously Lit Area (6.2% ABV) is a limited edition brew (the craft beer drinker’s favourite!) available in cans at Banana Jam Cafe (Cape Town) and Beer Yard and Beer Shack in PE. You’ll also find it on tap at Banana Jam and Richmond Hill Brewing Co while kegs last.