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WaPo‘s Greg Kitsock and I are both beer writers in D.C., and we frequent many of the same bars, shops, and overly geeky listservs, but rarely do we actually cross paths. So it’s significant that we both happened to choose the emerging “black IPA” style for our columns this week. Well, at least that’s what I wrote about. Kitsock told the story of the “Cascadian Dark Ale,” which is the terminology that he (and many brewers in the Pacific Northwest, home to the Cascade mountain range) prefers for this new cropping of hoppy American beers with thick, chocolatey malt profiles. The thinking, say advocates of the “CDA” label, is that it’s paradoxical to have a beer that’s both “black” and “pale” (the “P” in IPA).
But why would the Pacific Northwest get to own this beer style? Its origins trace back to Vermont. Stone, in southern California, and 21st Amendment, in San Francisco, make two of the country’s best versions, and Philadelphia’s Victory had a go at the style last year with Yakima Twilight. Cascade also is a variety of hop, the most common one in American pale ales (think Sierra Nevada); it’s representative of a lot more than this new breed of black, hoppy beer.
So for me, “Cascadian dark ale” is out. Yes, “black and pale” is an oxymoron, but if our nation’s eaters can handle Junior Whoppers and “tall” Starbucks lattes, I’m willing to look the other way for a black IPA. It just sounds cooler.