Of all the session IPAs out there, I’m a big fan of the Lagunitas offering, DayTime. Light-bodied and vibrant, with a punchy hop aroma and juicy citrus character, it’s exactly what I would want out of a 4.5% ABV, hop-forward session brew.
Lagunitas’ new offering, NightTime, is something quite a bit different. Although it boasts a similar hop profile, this is a thoroughly black IPA with almost twice the ABV. So rather than simply a dark version of their world-class session IPA, what we have here is a burlier big brother. Where DayTime is meant to keep you upright, NightTime will knock you on your ass.
The aroma immediately hits assertively, with notes of pine, mint and grass along with big chocolate character. There’s something there that is very much like fresh grass clippings and an undertone of miscellaneous citrus. It’s assertive enough that if the drinker was blindfolded, there would be no mistaking this for anything other than a black IPA, which is the most difficult thing about brewing this style—bringing hops and dark ale characteristics into harmonious balance.
Bitterness is moderate and not oppressive on the tongue, and lingers slightly as a wave of orange, pine and floral hops make their presence felt. There’s a solid kiss of light “roastiness” that dries out the back end of the sip with a lingering burnt toast character. As it warms, this beer expands in an intriguing way, especially in terms of its citrus flavors, which become more pronouncedly sweet and juicy.
This is a pretty darn solid offering from Lagunitas in the still-popular black IPA market. Unlike many, its flavors are well proportioned, thoughtful and complex. It’s certainly beer worth saving for the evening, even if drinking a 22 oz. bottle might make for an earlier than intended bedtime.
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
City: Petaluma, Calif.
Style: American black IPA
Availability: Seasonal, 22 oz. bottles