It was the cool pooch in shades that caught my eye. And then I saw the words to the left of the dog’s right ear – Fear the Dark.

OK. I accept that challenge. And I accept it knowing that Lagunitas, makers of this beer, Night Time Ale, are hop lunatics.

I would love to love Lagunitas, but every time I feel shanghaied by hops.

Will this be the one? Will Night Time Ale finally make me a fan of Lagunitas Brewing?

Yes! Wow! This is so good, such a perfect beer.

The aroma stirs primal feelings. It smells like beer. And earth.

That earthiness carries over to the taste, which is liquid anthracite. Deep, dark, roasty, toasty and tasty.

It’s as if all the dark flavors you can imagine – coal tar, stewed prunes, espresso, dark chocolate, charred bacon, burnt toast, raisin pie, fire-cured tobacco leaf, black licorice and tanniny black tea – were compressed into a little ball of darkness and then infused into a hop-forward beer. The dark flavors dominate and subdue any rampant hop bitterness. The hops are still there, bigly, but they are subservient to the abundant dark roasted malts.

It’s an exquisite marriage of flavors. Each sip causes me to pause and ponder the cascading dark flavors tantalizing my palate. Such beautiful darkness in my mouth!

There is no doubt as I continue drinking Night Time Ale that this is one of the world’s most magnificent black IPA’s.

 I must contradict the label – don’t fear the dark!

Night Time Ale, a limited release from Lagunitas