Brewery: Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company (Maxwelton, WV)
Style: IPA – Black/ Cascadian Dark Ale
6.7% ABV / 71 IBU
I wanted to like Mothman more than I actually did, because the can art rules hard and the urban legend underpinning the beer’s name is phenomenal. Mothman certainly evoked a lot of feelings. I wrestled with anger, denial, and bargaining before accepting that Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company’s perplexing black IPA is a solid and drinkable beer but somewhat misrepresented on its can. I expected something bold and toothsome, but Mothman drinks more like an English pub ale.
Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company described Mothman as “hop forward” and “hop balanced” on its site. The “hop balanced” part is really referring to the beer’s bitterness, but I think those two things are mutually exclusive. There is a little bit of bitterness from the Columbus and Amarillo hops, but it’s bitterness without complexity and none of the citrus or floral notes typically associated with those hops. And it’s the hops that define the IPA style, even if by definition, the Black IPA style tends to achieve a little more equilibrium between malt and hops.
What’s bizarre about Mothman is that it’s actually incredibly malt forward. The hops are fungible here, but you can really taste the malt, especially the unmistakable German B-Row. Setting aside the IBUs, Mothman more closely resembles a doppelbock or Vienna lager, which both tip the scales in favor of the malt. All of the hallmarks of those styles are here, too: medium body, medium brown color, and strong caramel/roast notes from the malt. Good flavor overall, but Mothman’s status as an IPA is in doubt even if locals desperately believe it to be true.
For more info, check out Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company here.