The Curse or the Blessing?
A Review of Holy Mackerel Mack in Black by Gordash Beer Co.
Posted on 1/15/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
Often I've said that being craft beer lovers makes us the recipient of one of the biggest gifts in the better beer world. We get to experience the endless creativity that is seemingly limited to only what those mad scientists can or cannot get their hands on and place into our little bottles of beer goodness, that dwells within all craft brewery walls. More often than not, the experiments that take place end up being another point in the win column for us as well as the breweries. But on some rare occasions, despite the best intentions of the brewers, we end up with a face contorting glass of what could have been. A few days back, I picked up what I hoped would be an enjoyable walk on the wilder side of things when I grabbed the Holy Mackerel Mack In Black by Gordash Beer Company. Well, they got the wild right. Enjoyable? I's still a little lost on that one.

For review purposes, this was a 2009 vintage bottle. The bottle itself states that the beer is suitable for aging

In the glass, the Mack In Black lives true to its name. Sitting there, it is indeed black, and it actually appears to be quite mouthwatering. A creamy tan head came forth with an aggressive pour, but retreated to nothing more than a ring around the outer edges of the glass, and left little to no lacing no matter how many times I tried. Believe it or not, at times its hard not to confuse it as far as looks go, with a quality stout. As soon as you get your nose in the glass however, all resemblances to a stout go out the window. There are some really dark fruits floating around in there, such as plums, figs, black cherries, and even some raisins. And laying just beneath that layer of fruit is a bright chocolate layer that was very surprising and pleasing at the same time. But there is a sour quality that keeps jumping on top of everything else no matter how many times you push it aside. The bottle states that the beer is made with pomegranate juice, and you can definitely tell. It catches you off guard, and then refuses to let you forget it.

The first sip removes any doubt as to if the bottle was telling the truth about the pomegranate juice being involved. Its very up front and very tart. Its one of those ''cheek stuck to your tongue'' tarts that are hard to miss, as well as hard to get past. And that's very unfortunate because I don't know too many people who would give the effort needed to do so. But if anyone did, they would find an otherwise great imperial black ale laying just below the surface. The dark fruits come through just as in the nose, with plums being the load carriers, and there is a great malty backbone that comes with a basic chocolate flavor that I found quite nice.

So this is where I find myself torn as a reviewer. If I'm rating the Mack In Black overall as an imperial black ale, I could go either way. I would probably let it fall in the average to below average range because at it's core it is a great imperial black ale, but the pomegranate juice just didn't work in my opinion. However, if I am grading it as a boundary stretcher and style pusher, I would have to give it mad props. I know that I wouldn't recommend it to beginners. It's just way out of their league. There is way too much going on in there and again, my hats off to Gordash Beer Company for going out on a limb. But part of me would really be interested in getting some more experienced palate opinions about it. Who knows? Maybe there are some people out there who would really love it. And then my question could be truly answered: Is this one a blessing of the craft beer world, or a curse?

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Holy Mackerel Mack In Black by Gordash Beer Co.
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