Foothills Brewing Frostbite black IPA

frostbite for web

There are two things I dislike when it comes to brewery websites – a lack of updates and a lack of information. It’s something that bothers Benjamin Moore over at Active Beer Geek, too.

But fear not, that isn’t deterring me from doing my best to dissect what I can from Foothill Brewery’s Frostbite, a black IPA that’s apparently so new(!) it doesn’t have ratings on Beer Advocate or Rate Beer yet. Cheers to me for being ahead of the curve.

If you check their website, Foothills hasn’t updated their news section in years (2008 press releases coming soon!) or offer in-depth information about their brews to the nerds out there who may come to their site seeking additional information that’s not on the bottle. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that Frostbite used to be made by another brewery that was bought by Foothills, which completely changed the recipe.

(In all fairness, a writer for visited Foothills last month and apparently got the ingredient list for their beers, which throws me for a loop that they’d give it out to him but not post any of it on their website. So that makes things easier.)

So, with that lovely intro, let’s try to break down this overly hoppy black IPA after the jump.

Some lacing wanted to stick around, thanks to the wheat malt.
Some lacing wanted to stick around, thanks to the wheat malt.

Naturally, the beer poured a dark black, but I was disappointed there was very little head. Despite that, lacing stuck around throughout, perhaps a kudos to Foothill’s use of a specialty Midnight Wheat malt by Briess. I’ve pointed out before that using wheat in the grain bill is ideal for enhancing head retention, so I’ll chalk the success of the lacing up to that. My guess is that there wasn’t a ton of this wheat malt used, however, because this black IPA is so much more IPA than anything else, offering none of the balanced roasted grains-to-hop aspects you’d find in Duck-Rabbit’s Hoppy Bunny or Night Knight.

I popped the cap and literally proclaimed to no one in particular, “Holy crap, hops.” This is something I’ve never encountered with a black IPA to this degree. The smell was thick and pungent with earthy resins. On the bottle, Foothills says they used “Northwest hops” and the Examiner piece notes the hops used in the recipe were Amarillo, Citra, Magnum and Simcoe for dry hopping. Despite the use of these relatively high alpha acid hops, the beer offered little apparent bitterness on the nose while giving off rather refreshing hop smells that seemed very fresh. Focus heavily on the citrus and less on floral with this one, with those hops – except Magnum – offering great fruity notes punctuated by grapefruit and peach.

Unlike other black IPAs, there’s damn-near no roasted flavors to push the hop aroma around. The hops are almost overbearing, considering the style should maybe come off a bit more balanced, and the taste is all citrusy hop up front while the roasted malt is hiding and too scared to come out, except to wave goodbye at the very end of each sip.

On the rare occasion you do get some malt flavor, it’s just a quick flash at the back of your tongue before it disappears with each swallow. It gives the beer just a touch of sweetness that mixes wonderfully with the hops, but I sensed it so little I never got to really enjoy it. Overall, I found the body to be very light, making the beer smooth and not too dry, but again, without any of the malt characteristics I’d want from a black IPA. Another check in the straight IPA box on that.

As an IPA, I’d argue this is a pretty good beer. As a black IPA, it is not. To me, at least.

Frostbite stats:

  • Malts: 2-Row, Caramalt, Briess’ Midnight Wheat
  • Hops: Amarillo, Citra, Magnum, dry-hopped with Simcoe
  • Adjuncts: N/A
  • ABV: 6.5 percent

+Bryan Roth


4 thoughts on “Foothills Brewing Frostbite black IPA

  1. Mmm. Well, I just realized I need some work on my beer description sophistication, but do really like this beer and everyone I have shared it with also really liked it. I must say I am partial to NC breweries.

    1. It’s rare to go wrong with some NC beer, for sure.

      This wasn’t a bad beer, per se, just a little different for the style.

      Either way, I will always, gladly endorse beer from around here.


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