Sagely Advice: Seek Out the Black Raven Wisdom Seeker Double IPA

February 25th, 2010 · 9 Comments · Beer Releases, California Beer, Washington Breweries

I don’t do a dedicated post about every single beer that impresses me, but the recent release of the Black Raven Wisdom Seeker Double IPA blew me away so much that I just couldn’t help myself. It is one of the most impressive Washington IPAs that I’ve had the pleasure of trying (and I’ve tried plenty of great ones). This is the second time that Black Raven has released the Wisdom Seeker, but I missed out on the first batch and was elated to grab some this time around. It was released on Tuesday, and they don’t expect it to stick around long. After it is gone from the tap room, there will be a few small kegs floating around local bars.

Wisdom Seeker vs. Pliny the Elder

The beer weighs in at 9% ABV, and I think Beaux (the head brewer/owner) said he used more than 40 lbs of hops to achieve the huge hop aroma and flavor that pops out of the glass. Citrus and floral hops dominate the aroma and taste, and moderately sweet malt balances everything nicely. It finishes lightly resinous and with a punch of alcohol, but by no means did I think it was too heavy. It is dangerously drinkable for such a big beer, and I had no problem finishing off my glass and then some of my growler a little later.

In light of the madness around Russian River Pliny the Younger lately and all the talk about how great California IPAs are, it seems to me that Wisdom Seeker can hang with the best. I shared a growler over at Bottleworks on Tuesday when they also had Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, and Port Mongo Double IPA on tap, and I heard several people declare that the Black Raven was their favorite of the bunch. That’s some serious praise. I’m sure freshness had at least a little bit to do with it, and it should. It’s not like the other beers were “old” (just a few weeks), but the hops are bound to jump out more from a local Double IPA that you can get the day it is released. All the more reason to drink local, I suppose. The Elder and Wisdom Seeker are similar beers in terms of ABV and hop intensity, and I’d love to see how they’d fare in a blind taste test.

And, as for the Younger, it’s a lovely beer…but after trying it again this week I have reconfirmed that I much prefer the Elder, and I definitely prefer the Wisdom Seeker:-) I’ll let the rest of you duke it out for the Younger in the future.

Wisdom Seeker Commercial Description:
ABV: 9.0%
IBU: 85
Malt: ESB pale malt
Hops: Nugget, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, Amarillo, Summit, Citra

Folklore and mythology present the raven as an omniscient creature with special powers and abilities. The Wisdom Seeker Double IPA gets its special powers from an enormous amount of hops and malted barley. Brewed in the West coast Double IPA style, this bold brew features massive citrus and herbal hop additions and a full hop aroma. Seek your wisdom cautiously; this hop feast packs a punch


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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Tony B.

    This brewery continually impresses me with the caliber of their beer. Really good stuff. They did a catnip pale ale this week, funny!

  • Amber M.

    We live right down the street from Black Raven and have been HUGE fan’s of Beaux’s work ever since they opened.

    The Wisdom Seeker is the first IPA I ever truly loved. If you have tried the Trickster IPA and are afraid of going to double, don’t be!! It is so much easier to drink! πŸ™‚

  • Devlin

    I can testify since I was at Bottleworks when Kaiser shared the Wisdom Seeker: it tasted better than both Elder and Younger. In Elder’s defense, it didn’t seem like the freshest keg I’ve ever had…but if had been, I probably still would’ve given Black Raven the nod. Take that all those who accuse me of being a WA beer hater!

  • ag

    That’s funny…The guy in the picture at Bottleworks told my friend the night before Bottleworks tapped that Younger keg that Bottleworks would NOT be getting any of the Younger….Hmmm

  • urban beer hiker

    The guy in the picture is still a trainee and doesn’t know anything. It’s hard to find good help these days.

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  • leek

    They just had their First Anniversary celebration this May 1 weekend.

    They had Wisdom Seeker, both in cask and in regular keg. It went very fast. I only got one of the regular. I already had several of the cask at the Cask Festival, and had the regular last year.

    Here was my email announcement to friends _before_ the event:

    “Right now their seasonal special beer is their Splinters, which is a bourbon barrel-aged
    strong scotch ale. Fans of Belgian beers will probably like it.

    “They’re also contract-brewing the beer for the 3rd anniversary of Malt & Vine. This time
    it will be a sour Belgian ale. The M&V 3rd anniversary isn’t until later this summer. [I got a taste of it last Friday, and it was nice and peppery.]

    “Black Raven won many awards recently — their Wisdom Seeker double IPA won First Place in the Peoples’ Choice awards at the Cask Festival, and their Tamerlane Brown Porter won First Place in the World Beer Cup, along with their Coco Jones, a limited release beer.
    Too many awards to list πŸ™‚

    “Rumor has it that Wisdom Seeker double IPA will be on tap May 1. It’s the best double
    IPA brewed in the state of WA. Only Pliny the Elder comes close, but that’s brewed in CA.”

    I hope some of you reading this came to the May 1 party. If not, you can certainly get more Wisdom Seeker on Tuesday, June 22, or at Saint Edwards Park the weekend before. Be there, or be square!!!!

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  • Robert in Renton

    I normally do not like IPAs, being into German beers as of late, (as a German brewer once said, (“you can cover up a real crappy beer with lots of Hops”), but this is a truly remarkable IPA. Ill put it up against Piney the Elder any day of the week.

    Black Raven is truly a unique brewery and deserves the attention it gets for its quality brews.

    A Diamond on the rough thats for sure. IMHO, the BEST brewery in the Northwest!!

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