Beer Review: Iscariot (Boneshire Brew Works)

Beer Review: Iscariot (Boneshire Brew Works)

Iscariot (by Boneshire Brew Works) is a delicious roasty black IPA

Oooh boy that was a classic of a game. Lead off with a 3-0 lead and then the Cincinnati Bengals quickly let it all slip away and allow Steelers to go and score 27 points unanswered for a 27-3 thrashing that would leave Freddy Krueger with nightmares.

It was ugly. It was brutal (five sacks that were less than four seconds from snap). It was…. it was typical Cincinnati Bengals in primetime. Thats about the gist of it all right there. Zac Taylor. Marvin Lewis. It doesn’t matter. Just the same old same old.

So how do you handle mediocrity going depressing into complete and utter dumpsterfire? By drinking at your local saloon, thats how! And by local saloon I mean Boneshire Brwe Works, and by drinking I mean having some excellent craft beers.

I started off with the Tried and True Mango. Which was absolutely phenomenal. If you click the link there, you can read my review on it. I have loved the other Tried and True variant as well (pineapple), and of course the original Tried and True is outstanding.

So after having a delicious and juicy beer, I decided to flip gears a bit, but still stay in the supposedly “lighter” territory (going from Witbier to IPA)…. but with TWIST! (Cue Adult Swim M. Night Shamalayan voice.) Its a Black IPA! A style not done a whole lot, not just in this area, but in general it would seem. And a style that… can go either way and be either a flop or be a great beer. It is easy to get some off flavors with this style (in my opinion) and get some astringency and really bitter burning flavors.

The BJCP has the following to say on Black IPAs:

21B. Specialty IPA: Black IPA

Overall Impression

A beer with the dryness, hop-forward balance, and flavor characteristics of an American IPA, only darker in color – but without strongly roasted or burnt flavors. The flavor of darker malts is gentle and supportive, not a major flavor component. Drinkability is a key characteristic.


Color ranges from dark brown to black. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy; if opaque, should not be murky. Good head stand with light tan to tan color should persist.


A moderate to high hop aroma, often with a stone fruit, tropical, citrusy, resinous, piney, berry, or melon character. If dry hopped, can have an additional floral, herbal, or grassy aroma, although this is not required. Very low to moderate dark malt aroma, which can optionally include light chocolate, coffee, or toast notes. Some clean or lightly caramelly malty sweetness may be found in the background. Fruitiness, either from esters or from hops, may also be detected in some versions, although a neutral fermentation character is also acceptable.


Medium-low to high hop flavor with tropical, stone fruit, melon, citrusy, berry, piney or resinous aspects. Medium-high to very high hop bitterness, although dark malts may contribute to the perceived bitterness. The base malt flavor is generally clean and of low to medium intensity, and can optionally have low caramel or toffee flavors. Dark malt flavors are low to medium-low; restrained chocolate or coffee flavors may be present, but the roasted notes should not be intense, ashy, or burnt, and should not clash with the hops. Low to moderate fruitiness (from yeast or hops) is acceptable but not required. Dry to slightly off-dry finish. The finish may include a light roast character that contributes to perceived dryness, although this is not required. The bitterness may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. Some clean alcohol flavor can be noted in stronger versions.


Smooth, medium-light to medium-bodied mouthfeel without significant hop- or (especially) roasted malt-derived astringency. Dry-hopped versions may be a bit resiny. Medium carbonation. A bit of creaminess may be present but is not required. Some smooth alcohol warming can and should be sensed in stronger (but not all) versions.


Most examples are standard strength. Strong examples can sometimes seem like big, hoppy porters if made too extreme, which hurts their drinkability. The hops and malt can combine to produce interesting interactions.


A variation of the American IPA style first commercially produced by Greg Noonan as Blackwatch IPA around 1990. Popularized in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California of the US starting in the early-mid 2000s. This style is sometimes known as Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA), mainly in the Pacific Northwest.

Characteristic Ingredients

Debittered roast malts for color and some flavor without harshness and burnt qualities; American or New World hop varieties that don’t clash with roasted malts. Hop characteristics cited are typical of these type of hops; others characteristics are possible, particularly if derived from newer varietals.

Style Comparison

Balance and overall impression of an American or Double IPA with restrained roast similar to the type found in Schwarzbiers. Not as roasty-burnt as American stouts and porters, and with less body and increased smoothness and drinkability.

Vital Statistics


50 – 90


25 – 40


1.050 – 1.085


1.010 – 1.018


5.5% – 9%

Commercial Examples

21st Amendment Back in Black (standard), Deschutes Hop in the Dark CDA (standard), Rogue Dad’s Little Helper (standard), Southern Tier Iniquity (double), Widmer Pitch Black IPA (standard).


Iscariot has been a staple for Boneshire Brew Works, cycling on their tap lists and through their brite tanks / fermenters regularly, and is one of my favorites. So let’s break her down.

Beer: Iscariot
Brewery: Boneshire Brew Works
Style: IPA – Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBU: 75
Untappd Write-Up: Torn between the Light and the Dark, Iscariot is a juxtaposition of flavors at war with itself. Roasted malts initially blanket your palate, only to be quickly stabbed with the bite of bitter hops. Which side do you
prefer? Enjoy the internal struggle.

The Untappd write-up is pretty accurate. There is two sides to how this beer tastes and plays out in your mouth, but ultimately it makes for a good combination, and works in a wonderful tandem (…not necessarily how the tandem of the original Iscariot worked with his ‘boss’….. ….just saying…).

Appearance is a lovely darker brown going to black. It has a very rich creamy looking head with a light brown coloring. Varied bubbles, good carbonation, nice dark black IPA coloring, everything is looking right and correct so far. Slight murkyness but overall its able to have a light shine through it.

Aroma is roasty malts, hoppy, and stone fruit. Very little stone fruit, the majority of the aroma on this is coming from the very roast forward malts and then the hops taking a big kick out of your nostrils as well. It all matches very nicely to make for a wonderful smelling beer.

Flavor is again, malt forward, but with a hop bite afterwards. There is a some caramel to the malts but for the most part its straight roasty. Due to the malt bill, its not super easy to pin down what exact hops are used but it has an earthy / grassy hop note. The flavors are kind of all bouncing around in your mouth fighting back and forth – the light and the dark – but it makes for an very tasty and interesting conclusion. Mouthfeel is nice and consistent, nothing cloying, no astringency, nothing off, nothing bad, its a like drinking an IPA as far as mouth feel goes, just with more roast notes, and with a darker look, thats all.

No after taste that’s off putting or causing weird burps, just a nice tasty flow and ending.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.7 (as of 10.1.19)

Midwest Coast Brewing Company reached out to me tonight and we finished our interview and got some pictures from their big grand opening weekend there in Chicago, so look for that to get posted sometime between Wednesday – Friday (most likely Thursday). Should be a good look at a promising new upcoming brewery!

Keep drinking tatter tots!

-B. Kline

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