Beer Review: Drake’s Brewing Company Jolly Rodger 2013 Imperial American Black Ale


Brewery: Drake’s Brewing Company
Beer: Jolly Rodger 2013 Imperial American Black Ale
Style: American Black Ale / Black IPA
ABV: 11.5%
Character: 2013’s version is an Imperial American Black Ale/Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale. Brewed with an aggressive late and dry hop additions of Simcoe, Mosaic, and Chinook hops
Metal Connection: ALESTORM – Drink


 jollyrodgerI couldn’t have picked a better beer as my first encounter with Drake’s Brewing Company. Jolly Rodger is the breweries longest running seasonal beers dating back to 1990. The thing with Jolly Rodger is that every year’s release is a completely different style of beer. The original was Jolly Roger’s Extra Strong Ale, an English-style Barlywine. Other incarnations of Jolly Rodger throughout the years has been an Imperial Brown Ale, Imperial Red Ale, Imperial Black IPA, American Barlywine to name a few.

This version here that is being reviewed is their latest one, which is an Imperial American Black Ale (aka Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale). It was brewed with an aggressive late and dry hop additions of Simcoe, Mosaic, and Chinook hops, which give this beer a wide spectrum of hop profile ranging from citrus, resin, and spiciness.

Drake’s is not a brewery that is available here in Texas, so I want to thank my good friend, Jorge Espinoza of Brewerianimelogs for shipping this beer to me. Without his help, this beer would not have made it here to

For this session, I used a Real Ale Brewing Company 18th Anniversary tulip glass. This beer poured a dark black color with some transparency when held up to the light to which you could see traces of a very dark brown color, but upon first gaze, this beer appeared black in color. It was topped with a khaki colored foamy head which was a little over an inch thick. Great head retention throughout this session. It fizzled down to a about 1/4 of an inch, but stayed around for quite some time, leaving a fantastic sheet of sticky lacing down the sides of the glass.

The aroma was chock full of great characters. The hop profile seemed to be all over the place. The mixture of hops used in this beer made this beer have a whacked out aroma profile. Each sniff would profile something for me. I would pick up on some citrus first, then to a floral, earthy, piney aroma, and would finish with a dank resiny smell. Other times the dank resin profile would be more dominant in my nose. Either way, the hops were present ad dominant in this beer. The base of the aroma would be caramel, toffee, earthy/muddy, some dark toasted malts, dark fruits like figs or raisins, and some molasses. Considering this is an 11.5% beer, it is masked well in the nose.

The flavor profile is much like the aroma. Each swill, I would seem to pick up on a different hop characteristic more dominant than the rest. At times the dank resiny taste would shine through, and others my taste buds would pick up on the citrus more, all the while, the piney, earthy character would play second every time. I really enjoyed that in this beer. The backbone of flavor would be the malts and yeast. Behind the hops, there was a wall of toasted dark malts, a burnt biscuit bread flavor, a bit of toffee, some dark fruit notes, like figs or raisins, and some caramel, sweet molasses. The aftertaste was that of an earthy, muddy type of taste. Again, the high ABV is well hidden in this beer behind the flavors present. I mean, its there, for sure, but just not as dominant as I expected it to be. Well played Drake’s, well played!

The body is a medium thickness, and has a mouthfeel that is both creamy and sticky. The finish is dry with a nice subtle alcohol burn.

Overall, I was impressed with this beer. I should have gotten two bottles, because when Jolly Rodger comes out again, if it is following their routine, it will be a different beer released later this year. I’m sure now, if there are bottles floating around still the aged version will be different anyway. I am very happy I was able to get my hands on this beer. I look forward to seeing what future releases of Jolly Rodger will be like.

AlesMetal Connection: Well the Jolly Rodger name, of course comes from the skull and crossbones flags flown by pirate ships, so what better way to pair this beer than to pair it with Metal Pirates. I give you Alestorm, a band who claims to play True Scottish Pirate Metal. Since 2004, when they started off as Battleheart, they have been playing Folk/Power Metal all themed around pirates, drinking and adventures. In 2007, when they signed to Napalm Records, they were asked to change their name, so then they became known as Alestorm. This name is definitely more fitting for them. I hear a song from them and I immediately want to pick up a beer. In fact, the song chosen for this Metal Connection is called “Drink” and just listen to the words of this song, and you will understand. This song comes to us from their latest full length album, Sunset on the Golden Age, which was just released last month.

We live each day like there’s nothing to lose
But a man has needs and the need is booze
They say all the best things in life are free
So give all your beer and your rum to me!

We are here to drink your beer
And steal your rum at a point of a gun
Your alcohol to us will fall
Cause we are here to drink your beer


Author: BeerMetalDude

Owner of Beer Metal Media. Creator/Host of The Beer Metal Show Podcast & It Came from the Cellar Podcast

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