There was a time when the idea of a Black IPA in M&S would have caused grandads to choke on their shortbread, but M&S are becoming more bold with their beer range by the day.
It claims to be an Anglo-American beer, made with "7 black malts" (really are there 7 types of black malt?!) and with a 5.7% abv the anticipation of a bold beer builds.
The nose sadly is as faint as a distant heartbeat, a whisper of American pine but no resounding hoppy backlash.
The first sip is undoubtably thin, almost watery, the disappointment is tangible, no mingled "7 black malts" or "rich caramel" as proclaimed by the bottle. However, there is a recovery, what follows is confident developing of the flavour, no big chocolate or roast flavours, but a multilayered green hop taste that sticks to the tongue. The finish is not overly dry or bitter, leaving the fresh hop taste hanging as the black liquor washes away.
I'd love to love this beer, but sadly it promises far more than it delivers. It feels thin, one dimensional and mass produced. If it's your first black IPA you will enjoy it, but it's undoubtably at the basic entry end of the style.
6/10 Thin, shy and lacking the boldness required to impress.