through a glass, darkly
Recently my favorite bar has had a few wonderful black IPAs, as well as hard-to-find stouts and porters, on tap. I've been busy doing "research." Wonder if the Gazette will give me an expense account? Can I write off my drinking habits? No?
New England people, or beer traders: keep an eye out for Maine Beer Company's "Weez". As black as you'd expect, but surprisingly bright in flavor, unusual to find stout-like flavors with such a sprucey IPA finish. One of the rare beers I'll get two weeks in a row - and whatever strain of hops this is, I'm into them.
One I liked almost as well was Uinta's "Dubhe". Less bright than the Weez, but remarkably flavorful. Lots of chocolate notes in this one, but without that candied artificial flavor of the generic "chocolate stout"-type beers out there. Perhaps having the bitter finish just makes this flavor set more palatable and appealing to me, but either way, this could go well with dessert without making you feel overloaded. This might even age well, which isn't normally recommended with IPAs, but I'd be willing to risk a bottle.
Jack's Abby Brewing has an outstanding l Baltic Porter called "Framinghammer", and I'd recommend you stop at one, or else you might well feel like someone took a framing hammer to your skull. The ABV is 10, but I've seldom tasted so much in a beer, and all of it very well balanced. If you prefer stouts to porters, THIS is a porter you can feel good about, with none of the "I'm drinking a bottle of pennies" vibes one gets with a cheap porter.
Lagunitas "ScareCity2: Rye Cocoa Porter" - again... if I have the choice between stout and porter, I choose the one more likely to give me the coffee/chocolate/toasty flavors we've come to expect from dark beer. This sounded fine, but I lack words to tell you what it tasted like - the coffee! The chocolate! The toasty rye notes! Almost perfect, perhaps rendered more so by knowing how limited-edition it is.
While you certainly could pair some kind of mild or bland food (think starches) with any of these, other than perhaps a small piece of dark chocolate, I wouldn't. These are beers of such profound flavor, they deserve your undivided attention. Save these for after dinner, because with ABVs this high, you'll need to have food in your stomach or else you're going to be wobbling.