Vibrant Forest Metropolis (330ml, 6.0% ABV)

Matt, the cheery shopkeeper at the Southwick Brewhouse, has a bit of crush on the Vibrant Forest Brewery. Just mention the name and he starts cooing like a lovelorn teenager.

I can’t blame him – Vibrant Forest make a lot of good beers. In fact, they make a lot of beers, full stop. For a young brewery they’ve certainly been busy. Their website lists no fewer than 25 brews, including eight single hop beers, and seven creations from the slightly unnerving RadicAle™ range.

It’s fashionable these days to mix up beers styles like a Heston Blumenthal of the hop. It’s not uncommon to find a Black IPA, but the term has always offended my linguistic sensibilities, given that the “P” stands for “pale”. Metropolis avoids the problem by describing itself as an India Black Ale. Same thing, but without the oxymoron.

And black it certainly is – black as the Ten of Clubs, with a bit of a head on top to remind you you’re not drinking pure tar. The bottle says the beer is naturally hazy, but when it’s this dark, how can you tell? (The bottle also has a mini story composed with all the cheerful gibberish of a Flaming Lips song.)

The odor of grapefruit, mango and just a hint of roasted malt rises from the foam. The taste definitely puts it in American IPA territory – spicy grapefruit and pine – but after the initial attack of hops has subsided, there’s a warm base of chocolatey malt to enjoy.

At 6.0% this is definitely a sipping beer, one to appreciate while you ponder the inevitable robot uprising.

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