There is a relatively new style of beer that is tickling the palates of a growing group of admirers. American Dark Ale is a relatively recent development on the American brewing scene. The style really answers the wants and needs of those beer drinkers who lean toward the darker, more hearty ales, while still offering a great drinking experience to those who prefer the more hoppy brews - such as IPAs. American Dark Ales are noticeably more hoppy than the more malt-forward brews that fill other dark ale categories in brewing. At the same time, they have a much more malty character than a more standard pale ale and certainly are more rich in malt flavor than an IPA. The blending of the two styles is most often the result of dry hopping during the brewing process. In the past, the beers called American Dark Ales were sometimes referred to as Dark IPA, or even India Black or Brown Ales. It's all in the hops, boys and girls. It's all in the hops. Generally speaking, these dark ales pour very, very dark - black in color. They are a bit more "watery" than a stout or some porters. To many beer lovers American Dark Ales are the perfect brew, answering the taste needs of most beer fans - on any point along the malty-hoppy taste spectrum. Some of the most popular beers in this growingly popular category include: Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale - Stone Brewing Co. Wookey Jack - Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Yakima Glory - Victory Brewing Company Back In Black - 21st Amendment Brewery Snow Day Winter Ale - New Belgium Brewing Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) - Southern Tier Brewing Company Dubhe Imperial Black IPA - Uinta Brewing Company Hop In The Dark Cascadian Dark Ale - Deschutes Brewery Hoppy Feet - Clown Shoes New World Porter - Avery Brewing Company One of the beers being reviewed today is a delicious American Black Ale that is available locally. Enjoy. Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale Stone Brewing Company Escondido, Calif. You just have to love the dedication of brewers such as those at Stone Brewing who consistently turn out beers that are exciting and thought provoking. They may not always be to my taste, but so what? The creativity is always a kick. Self-Righteous Ale - an American Black Ale - is definitely right up my alley. Delicious. Hefty. Full bodied. Self-Righteous pours a deep, dark black creating a dark beige head of foam that is retained for a decent amount of time - a good while actually. There are hints of foam lacing left in the glass well to the end. Carbonation is light. There is a strong sense of hoppiness to this exceptionally well-balanced brew. What one might expect will be the up-front tones, actually move to the rear. The chocolate and coffee aromas are strong but more in a supporting role. The hoppiness is prominent and up front. There is a hint of spice in Self-Righteous - just a hint. At first wash you can easily understand why Stone holds the place of respect it does in the brewing world. The hoppiness revealed in the scenting process quietly explodes in a wave of citrusy flavor. There is a lot of mixed zest here - lemon, orange, even citron. The roasted malts create an expressive backdrop with the coffee and muted chocolate flavor actually bolstering the more floral citrusy hops. There is an interesting spice bite toward the end - a little salty, as though someone snuck a sprinkle of salt in for good taste. Dang! This is a full bodied brew that simply tickles the palate. It's not anywhere as thick as some might think while pouring. Self-Righteous is a wonderful dark brew with many of the characteristics of a hearty IPA, but still well balanced by a judicious use of malts. You have to try this. You may or may not like it, but you must give it a try to help better understand how really creative brewers are working. Starkweather Stout Liberty Street Brewing Company Plymouth Starkweather is a dark pour - a deep, deep brown with a thick head of foam that clings to the glass for a good, long while. A hearty blast of strong coffee - espresso - and rich chocolate fill the scenting process while deliciously expressing aromas of brown sugar and even hints of molasses offer a great layer of background tones. Starkweather is a very dark brew that washes well at first sampling. The mixture of elegant taste elements blend to make for a strong, somewhat sweet brew that hints at those beers that are often barrel finished. Despite some very, very distinct flavors, the balance is well maintained and nothing becomes too overpowering. This is definitely a malty brew - with the chocolates, burnt caramel, and rich coffee scents and tastes virtually covering up the limited hops. I found Starkweather to hold less "muscle" than I might have expected during the pour. I suggest this might be considered "medium bodied." The folks in Plymouth have turned out a very nice stout that will certainly find its way into the Crees household again. It is smooth drinking; very, very tasteful; and a fine example of a locally produced stout.