03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Southern Tier Iniquity Black: Abandon All Other Dark Beers, Ye Who Enter Here

The sweeter, darker and heavier a food or drink, the likelier it is to be described as sinful. With dessert, the terminology of transgression is so overused that it's become nearly synonomous with sugar. With beer, the same often applies to high-alcohol dark beers, like Weyerbacher's magnificent imperial stouts Heresy (rating: 92) and Old Heathen (rating: 90). And the blackest beer I know -- not to say the sludgiest (that might be Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch, rating: 83, or Brooklyn Black Ops, rating: 88) -- but the most frighteningly pagan, light-absorbing, instant-buzzing, frost-defying beer I've ever had is Southern Tier's imposing Iniquity Black.

I'm a dark beer lover, and I know that there are some hills to be climbed daily, some monthly, and some only after great introspection. Iniquity Black is a beer for dear friends and special occasions. But, my God, it doesn't disappoint. I'm still swimming in the buzz and the aftertaste more than an hour after drinking my last drop. Though it's only ("only") 9.0% alcohol, I get a headier buzz from this beer than from many of a much higher caliber, like the Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. It's thick and sweet but hoppy, as the Imperial Black Ale style is technically a double or Imperial IPA. So it's thicker and bitterer than your standard high-alcohol stout or porter -- which is the dark beer I generally drink. It's a friend that comes over for supper and stays for a conversation well into the wee hours.

I'm still trying to learn to discern a bouquet of a beer using meaningful adjectives. The usual comments all apply: a strong, dark, black beer tends to evoke notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel; when it's that thick and rich, it tends to be compared to a milkshake that warms you as it goes down; and if its bitter hops match its muscular, sweet malt, then it's full-bodied. All of this is true for many a beer, though. There's something transcendent about Iniquity Black -- something to do, perhaps, with the lingering assertive aftertaste I can't and don't want to shake, or the sensation of the cool liquid on my tongue turning warm and thick down my throat, tickling my stomach, massaging my mind. Like a fine bourbon it burned smooth down the gullet and has stayed warm there all night. If this be sin, brother, I'll take some.

Rating: 93

Crossposted on Remingtonstein.

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