By Julia Burke, Beer Editor
A "dark pale ale" — sure, why not? Ellicottville Brewing Company has a competent hand with sessionable, balanced, and tasty pale ales, so I had high hopes for this latest example of the dark-and-hoppy trend.
Black Hops is hoppy enough on the nose, with just a hint of roast to back it up, but overall the aromas are quite understated. It's an appropriate black walnut color in the glass with a one-finger head and some short-lived lacing.
On the palate, a reasonable balance of roasty dark malt and citrusy hops but no real body or brightness of flavor makes it a simply okay sipper: rather than wanting to keep sipping I found myself forgetting to.
Were I on a date with a human version of this beer I would have been shamelessly checking out other men the entire time.
Ellicottville's website describes this beer as "designed to get the job done!": not a particularly ambitious goal, and it shows. Why make a limited release in a trendy style designed to maximize flavor and then admittedly phone it in? It's not hoppy enough to put "hops" in the name and not malty or chewy enough for stout and porter drinkers; it's just rather bland. For a session beer I'd much prefer their Oktoberfest, nut brown, or standard pale.
(2 out of 5, Average)