Widmer pitched their hat into the Cascadian Dark Ale arena this year with their W’10 Pitch Black IPA (this year’s Brewmasters’ Release). Somewhat confusingly, they gave the beer the “Black IPA” moniker but give credit to the Cascadian Dark style on their page for the W series:
Pitch Black IPA is a Pacific Northwest twisted tribute to an IPA style of beer. It is almost a traditional IPA but it is instead brewed to the emerging style of Cascadian Dark. We add a modest amount of a specially made debittered black malt to give this IPA a very dark color but without the characteristic dark malt flavors. Pitch Black IPA is hopped generously in the brewhouse and then again later during the dry hopping process.
So Widmer’s naming of this as a “Black IPA” while giving tribute to the “Cascadian Dark” style is essentially a marketing choice: more people will see “Pitch Black IPA” and will possibly be more inclined to buy (the familiarity and comfort of the “IPA” label). It’s 6.5% alcohol by volume.
Appearance: Very dark cola brown, deep garnet red when held to the light. Cappuccino foam head.
Smell: Curious mix of American citrusy hops and brown, chocolatey malts. Not as fragrantly hoppy as a regular IPA.
Taste: Roasted malts and piney hops, which combine to give it a pitch-y quality, almost a tar note. Dark brown malts lend a dry character, and the otherwise citrus-American hops exhibit none of that fruity quality here—very bitter.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full-bodied with dry thick finish.
Overall: Pitchy, bitter, dark and roasty but not porter-roasty; unusual but good—though (like the style) it may take some getting used to.