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Earlier this year, Stone Brewing Co. played to the tastes of its hop-hungry fans with their Fifteenth Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA.

Over the past two years or so, black IPAs (India pale ales) have become more and more prominent, and Stone’s celebratory take on the style has been recognized as one of the top-tier varieties on the market. The problem? Given that it was a limited-edition anniversary beer, it’s time on the market was short.

What is a hop head to do when faced with the prospect of zero availability?

My advice: pick-up a bomber of Black Lightning Porter from Poway’s Lightning Brewery. Porters, particularly robust, dark roast, high-alcohol versions, have always been one of my favorite beer styles.

I’ve been a fan of Lightning’s 8.5% ABV Baltic porter since first tasting it and have purchased it consistently year after year. I thought I knew this beer, but an uncapping of the latest batch this weekend showed me there’s another side to Black Lightning. Clearly, Lightning’s owner and head-brewer Jim Crute agreed. This year, taking note of the burgeoning black IPA trend, he decided to tweak the beer and the results are outstanding, particularly for those missing that Escondidian number.

For the latest batch, Crute increased the IBUs (International Bittering Units) well over 100, using a blend of Nugget, Cascade, and Golding hops for bittering, Cascade for flavor, and a mixture of Hallertau and Golding for aroma. The result is a beer with a creamy texture and rich dark chocolate notes that almost illogically meld with the bitter, floral backbone from the hops. Sadly, it’s also a seasonal beer, but the good news is Black Lightning season is officially on. So there’s plenty of time to bag this standout beer at local stores, including Henry's Marketplace and BevMo and at the brewery.

Lightning Brewery is at 13200 Kirkham Way.

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