As many of you probably know already, Black Husky Brewing is one of my go to breweries. Every beer that I have had from them has been excellent, and I try to do my best to get at least one bottle of each release from the brewery. So, I was definitely looking forward to the release of one of the newest beers, Howler Imperial Pale Ale. Unfortunately I missed the first couple deliveries down to Milwaukee, but was recently able to find a couple of bottles at Discount Liquor in Milwaukee.
If you track Black Husky beer releases you may know that the couple who runs Black Husky, Tim and Teri, also really, really like Huskies. In fact they have quite a few retired sled dogs who grace the labels of their beer. Howler in particular made his debut on the label of the Pale Ale, so it is only fitting that he should make a repeat appearance on the Howler Imperial Pale Ale which was first released last summer.
Tim and I have had many conversations about his beers and one concern that I have mentioned to him before is that his Pale Ale really has all the malt and hop characteristics of an IPA… Whenever I bring that up, he just rolls his eyes and says, “you may call it an IPA, but we don’t care. Just drink the beer already”. He is quick to follow that up by mentioning that “balance is a dirty word,” and beers should be as extreme as possible.
Howler currently does not have a score on either of the two major review sites... On with the review.
You don't name a brewery after a dog (Black Husky Brewing named after Howler) unless he's an exceptional dog. Not that Howler listened exceptionally well, or was an exceptionally good sled dog - he sucked! But he was a dog who lived his life as we all hope to live - with Grace. Howler's philosophy could best be put in the words "Don't tell me what I can and can't do. Oh wait, there's a beer. OK." Howler once said to me, "Don't get pushed around, have some dignity, enjoy the buffet, a good beer, and take time for naps."
Tim Eichinger adds:
It’s pretty straightforward. Lots of malt, honey and Simcoe hops. The style Imperial Pale Ale, is really driven by our designations than BJCP. Since Howler is the dog on the pale ale and this is a bigger version of that beer we call it an Imperial Pale ale. It’s probably a triple IPA or something like that. There are so many double IPA's out there right now that don't have the malt that Howler does that I think it’s hard to make the comparison.
Black Husky Howler pours a brilliantly clear reddish amber with cherry red highlights. It sports a thick, creamy, light tan head with moderate breakup that holds excellent retention, and leaves heavy lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. Malt and hop aromas abound in this beer. Caramel and a massive dose of pine lead on the front end with notes of bready malts, candied orange peel, blood orange, and ruby red grapefruit rounding out the middle. The finish is caramel, slightly sweet alcohol, and hint of honey. This aroma is amazing, and I don’t think I have ever had an all Simcoe beer with an aroma this complex.
For as amazing as the aroma is, the flavor is pretty great too. Caramel malts and tons of piney hops come to the forefront, and are supported with a full maltiness and a hint of orange peel. Butterscotch notes, more pine, honey, bready malts, and a touch of alcohol sweetness round out the back end. Bitter sweet orange hops, and sweet alcohol linger into the aftertaste. However, I don’t mean to give any indication that this is anything but a hop bomb. Howler, has its fair share of hops, coming in at a fairly high level of bitterness, but the massive amount of bready and caramel malts support the high IBUs. This is a wonderful full bodied beer with a moderate level of carbonation that leaves a lingering bitterness in the mouth long after the last sip.
Black Husky beers are often my go to if I walk into a liquor store and just want to pick up a new beer wanting it to be exceptional. Howler, like so many other of Tim Eichinger’s brews does not disappoint. I am continually floored by his releases and have yet to try one that doesn’t leave me wanting more. Sadly Howler is a new release that is at the end of its release cycle. It will be a long year waiting for the next release, but there are many other great Black Husky beers to choose from!
That’s all for today, be sure to check out my write-up on the E-series Howler this Friday!