This decidedly American entry (credit is given to Vermont brewer Greg Noonan) combines roasted malts, which add flavor and color, with a fairly aggressive hop profile that gives it a nice bite. Just the thing for our unseasonably cool late-spring weather.
Reel Swordfish Double Cascadian Dark Ale
Cascadian Dark is an alternative moniker for the style, and this one from Washington's Fish Brewing is about as dark as they come. It's a floral hit of pine-laced hops and citrus on the nose, with just a touch of roasted malt. On the palate, you get a mix of toasty, mocha-tinged malt, backed by fruity, nicely bitter hops, with a lightly sweet, red fruit finish.
Rogue Dad's Little Helper Black IPA
Just in time for Father's Day, this Oregon brew pours a dense mahogany with a thin tan head. The aromas are marked by roasted grain, fruity hops, coffee and vanilla. Very dry on the palate, pine-spiked hops dominate up front, with earthy malt and mocha punching through, then giving way to more pine resin and heady hops on the finish. Not for the faint of heart.
Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA
This beer has a deep ebony color with just a touch of froth. The nose is a light mix of fruity hops, creamy toffee, licorice and malt. The palate is an intriguing combo of toasted bread, coconut, caramel, crushed espresso beans and bitter hops. Though it's a bit scary at 9.2 percent alcohol, this beer is another worthy effort from the Utah-based brewery.