This HOPTIMISM from Stockton, CA’s VALLEY BREWING is what they call a “Black IPA”. Given how much I dug their orange IPA called UBERHOPPY a few weeks ago (8.5/10), I figured going a few shades darker could go either way up or down the scale. Black IPAs are a bit of brewer “slight of hand” whereby dark, roasted malts are added to the normal hop-laden concoction, sometimes adding just color, sometimes adding a completely different taste. HOPTIMISM definitely trends toward the latter, and takes it into an unfamiliar realm. It’s very roasty and hoppy. It’s got a creamy, Guinness-like head, and a surprisingly tingling aftertaste that just doesn’t go away. It has a slight “burnt” quality I’m not wild about, and said quality increases as the beer warms and turns it almost into a harsh, charcoal-like taste. It’s an “interesting” beer. So this is an IPA? Nah, I don’t think so. What it is is a 6/10.