One of the most fascinating aspects of bottled beer is it can be a voyage of discovery. New ideas, new approaches, and ultimately new flavours make it an ever changing and evolving subject.  

Today influences transcend continents as never before, and styles end up in the most unlikely of places.

One such example is the Permon Brewery at Sokolov in the Czech Republic, who's arrival was to see brewing return to the region after a 50 year absence. Now sited at the renovated St. Anthony's Monastery they were to make this there permanent home in 2011 after a spell of nomadic brewing in various other locations within the region.

What marks them out as slightly different to other Czech breweries is that instead of concentrating purely on lager styles, international influences ( notably American) have led them to explore a new direction.

Interestingly their facilities allow them also to brew top fermented ales, and there range consists of an English Pale Ale, Summer Ale and Sherpa (an American inspired pale ale). But, one other style they make is of particular interest...Black India Pale Ale.

Always a strange contradiction in terms BIPA's as they are abbreviated (unlike true India Pale Ales which date back to the time of the British Empire) were an American invention making there first appearances during the 1990's.

Like its pale counterpart though it requires a high hop rate, which in days gone by (along with a relatively high alcohol content) was essential in allowing the beers to survive the long journey by sea to Bombay and Calcutta.

So how does the Permon BIPA fair?

Well, firstly, putting it against the backdrop of the country in which it is being produced you hope that it will adhere to the American spirit of the style, with defined flavours and characterful depth. But, being the Czech republic there may be a tendency  to scale the flavours back, which would give it local appeal, but not be true to style.

So which way does it swing?

The first hint of what may be to come is in the colour itself which is a deep brown mahogany hue. The American variant you would expect to be far darker, almost black by comparison.



The aroma is one of  cereal grain with light baked Melba toast notes. The flavour is one of malt sweetness, medium weighted palate, and slight liquorice, with little definable hop character. The flavours are loose knit and lack cohesion, with a finish which fails to linger as you would hope. Given it's 5.7%Alc/vol. you would expect more depth.

The beer then, ironically, is a pale imitation of  its American counterpart falling short in not attempting to be true to style. Presumably this is for commercial acceptability closer to home.

Sadly whilst the inspiration is there to create something new it has to be followed by the desire to take a risk and put character to the fore.

Being mainstream is not an option any serious craft brewer should even consider. 

To boldly go should be the journey to take, and what ever the results, it can only win you respect...


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