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To Chicago, From Founders: Dark Penance

By Ben Kramer in Food on Oct 28, 2014 6:00PM


As the days grow darker, so do the beers. Stouts, porters, and brown ales are the brews for the autumn and winter seasons but this year Founders is shaking things up with their Dark Penance, an Imperial Black IPA that’s been available since October and will run until the end of the year.

Dark Penance is heavy in alcohol percentage (8.9 percent) but light in body. As the name suggests, DP is dark. When poured in a glass, it takes on a black appearance that dissipates to a brown towards the bottom of the mug.

The "Imperial" title comes from the beers high alcohol content, along with the 100 IBU’s it possesses. Though bitter, Dark Penance is balanced by sweetness and a slight roastiness which is provided by its crystal malt base, keeping this beer from being a hop mess.

Creating this beast didn’t come easy though, as it took about a year to develop. Most of the time was spent on getting the hops to come through the dark malt or as Founders Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki explains, it was about “trying to get aroma to really come through and to taste like a hop forward beer, not just a hoppy stout.”

Only two hops were employed for this beer— Centennial and Chinook. Kosmicki praises Centennial as, “an awesome IPA hop: stands well on its own, lot of citrus flavor.” The breed is also familiar to the Founders crew as it’s used in their Centennial IPA.

The Chinook provided a more of a pine flavor and when combined with the Centennial, made a pairing that worked for Kosmicki. As he states, “it was unique, it was something we hadn’t done with other beers here. So, it was a hop combination that I wanted to give a try and it seemed to work really well.”

It has worked well, as this beer will be a fixture in Founders specialty beers series, meaning it will be back next year during and for the same amount of time. Dark Penance has been spotted in several bars across the city. Places like Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark St.), and The Map Room (1949 N. Hoyne Ave) have held, and may currently still hold, Founders newest offering.

For those who want to play it safe, visit your local Binny’s and see if you can pick up a 4-pack of this seasonal jewel. Imperial Black IPA’s aren’t exactly common, so don’t wait on trying this one. This beer will be available going into December. But December, like winter, will be here soon and before you know it, this beer will sink into a nine month hibernation.