Phillips Cabin Fever Imperial Black Ale

Reviewed by on February 20, 2015 in Winter Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Phillips Brewing Company

  • Origin: Victoria, BC, CA

  • Rated On: February 20, 2015

  • Best Before: May 21, 2015

  • ABV: 8.5%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: American Black Ale

  • Rating: GREAT !!

The Review

Cabin Fever is an aptly-named brew for we who live in the so-called temperate zones – winter can go and take a flying leap, as far as I’m concerned – I’m kind of itching for the return of my desire to go outside, even when I don’t have to, and maybe this will help?  Phillips’ second posting in the Beer Guides this week (kudos for that), one which seems inspired by some sort of bedlam in the brain stem.

This 650ml bottle pours a very dark, polished mahogany brown hue, with significant red cola highlights, and three fingers of puffy, shiny, and rocky beige head, which leaves some broad, fuzzy swaths of patchy and chunky lace around the glass as it lazily sinks away.

It smells of sweet citrus, pine and perfumed floral hop esters right off the bat, followed up by some oily bar nuts, biscuity chocolate malt, a slight yeastiness, dry bready caramel, and a further pithy musty vegetal character. The taste is gritty, toasted dark bready malt, singed cocoa powder, bitter citrus cream and spruce tips, and some further floral, earthy hops. Simple, but really quite effective, and no sign of the elevated boozy-booze. The carbonation is duly clear and present, a tad frothy, and generally agreeable, the body a solid medium weight, a wee bit airy, and mostly smooth. It finishes off-dry, the roasted chocolate malt and prickly citrus/pine hops still running the table.

I’m usually nonplussed by most versions of this style, mostly on account of their lack of long-haul drinkability, for whatever reason (ok, maybe it’s the pedantry of something pale being called black – there, I said it).  Anyways, not so here – Phillips has rendered a smooth, blackened and semi-sweet, but still hoppy ale, all deftly balanced for our at-home imbibing pleasure, and with an extra alcohol boost that you won’t even see coming.

Brady White

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