Picture your favorite porter. Roasted, malty notes, thick and lacy on the glass. Now picture your favorite IPA. Crisp and floral and bitter on the backend. Now imagine those two beers going at it like the prom king and queen in the back of a rented limo. Maybe there’s Barry White on the stereo. Or Beyonce. I don’t know; the music’s not important. What’s important is that the porter and the IPA have a baby, and that baby is the Contortionist Black IPA, a beer that marries the roasted notes of a porter with the hop-goodness of an IPA for an entirely confusing, but successful winter seasonal.
Hi-Wire is one of Asheville, N.C.’s newest breweries, and one of only a handful from the South’s capital of beer to bottle and distribute. The Contortionist is just the second seasonal from Hi-wire to get bottled.
The beer pours pitch black with a decent, creamy head, but smells like grapefruit, which is about as confusing as the position that the very bendy lady on the label has found herself in. But take a sip and those seemingly opposing characteristics come together like Sonny and Cher.
At first, the beer is dominated by notes of roasted coffee, and a faintly sweet and malty backbone. Until the hops takeover and then the beer is dominated by the IPA’s signature bitter, but entirely pleasant, grapefruit character. Don’t let the dark appearance fool you, the Contortionist hits 84 on the IBU scale, and you can taste every single one of those units. Essentially, you’re getting a very happy marriage of coffee and grapefruit. Throw in six slices of bacon, and you’ve got the breakfast of an 87-year-old war veteran here.
While there isn’t an overwhelming sense of sweetness, there is a thick, almost chewy mouthfeel that’s typically absent from most IPA’s. This beer has meat to it. Weight. Consider this the winter seasonal for people who don’t want to give up their hops.
Brewery: Hi-Wire Brewing
City: Asheville, N.C.
Style: Black IPA
Availability: Winter seasonal