The Black IPA aka Cascadian Dark Ale style is one of the fastest growing in America. It combines the bitterness and aroma of a hoppy India Pale Ale with the roasty, malty character of a dark ale or stout.
With the style's popularity growing at a huge rate, no wonder Widmer Brothers Brewing has decided to take what was supposed to be a one-time only batch of beer and start brewing it year round.
Thing is, this stuff needs to be consumed fresh. VERY fresh. It was July when I had one bottled in March. A mere four months should be nothing at all, but in the case of this beer it had already had an impact. The hops were musty like a wet closet. The aroma was only mildly hoppy and largely forgettable. The malts were nice and dark, no chocolate or coffee to them yet nicely roasted and somewhat smokey, but without that nice blast of hops it only managed to be a light-bodied dark beer.
Maybe this would have been better if I had it fresh. Hoppy beers should be consumed fresh, after all. I'm very glad Widmer Brothers puts bottling dates on their labels -- too few breweries do that -- so I'm willing to say the blame for my being underwhelmed is on the age of the beer, not the beer itself. I'll try it again in the future if I can find fresh bottles.