Black Sheep Ale (Special) - Black Sheep Brewery PLC

Not Rated.
Black Sheep Ale (Special)Black Sheep Ale (Special)

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525 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 525
Reviews: 348
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 12.94%
Wants: 19
Gots: 38 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Black Sheep Brewery PLC visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Pale Ale |  4.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: purplehops on 07-13-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 525 | Reviews: 348
Reviews by lighthabit:
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice deep golden color with a much larger head than was expected,very nice lacing.Great fruity aroma of oranges with a real light hop presence.Taste is a little subdued but nice,fruity from the yeast I presume with a light hop backbone I also get dry malt in the finish.Could this beer get easier to drink?hey I really like this beer and glad I have a case.

Photo of RoyalT
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a beautiful ale. The color is a slightly hazy deep orange and the head was one of those not-too-foamy but pitting types with globs of lacing.

Smell – There’s that creamy malt and citrus hop aroma that I have enjoyed so much from other English ales. The touch of peppery spicing livens things up a bit, but this one is all about being mellow.

Taste – The malts lead the way here followed by the light hops and a smidgen of nut. All the ingredients work very well together.

Mouthfeel – Exceptionally smooth in between the cheeks. This ale is a little bigger than light-bodied with a very creamy texture.

Drinkability – A terrific easy-drinking English Pale Ale.

Photo of generallee
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 500ml bottle into an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The body has an orange amber color with a two finger head of light off white foam. The head is slow fading with a wispy thin layer just hanging on. Lacing is spotty and slick.

Smell: It has a very light aroma. All I really get is very light bready malt with very mild fruitiness.

Taste/Palate: Like the nose it has a light bready malt base with thin fruit notes. This is backed up and balanced by mild citrus and herbal hop bitterness. The light body has soft and mild carbonation and a somewhat thin and almost watery feel.

Notes: Overall it goes down easy but the thin feel and flavor are a bit of a let down. I do like what is there but I just want a little more of it.

Photo of Jason
4.13/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 16.9 oz brown bottle with no freshness date. Raised glass of a hop vine around the base of the neck is a bit showy.

Appearance: The head is quite spectacular, it is just a big stick foam messy. Nearly clear with a dark orange amber hue.

Smell: Lightly buttery and fruity, faint esters and some earthy herbal hop makeup the aroma.

Taste: Lightly smooth with a slim carbonation. Juicy and bursting palate of malt hops and yeasty by-products. Juicy fruit with some cracker-like maltiness, fruitiness is more of faint apple and pear. Hops are through with a sufficient bitterness and arousing flavour. Some mild ester and buttery diacetyl within the nuttiness of the yeast adds much complexity. The diacetyl almost doubles in the finish as the hops come back with a leafy finish add to the flavourful after taste.

Notes: I am quite pleased with this brew, flavours and aromas bouncing all over with an impressive head. All of this is the big picture for what an English ale is supposed to be.

Photo of merlin48
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1pint.9oz brown bottle pours out a mostly clear, amber gold colour. The head is an offwhite, enormous froth of thick and sudsy foam which leaves massive lacing of all kinds. Odd aroma for an English ale, with nectarines, and what seems to be a tart apple note dominating the nose over the usual malts. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and even. Taste is slightly bitter, with some funky hops going on. Malt profile is some very faint caramel. Earthy yeastiness, and some wild fruitiness provide most of the flavors. The hoppiness seems more herbal than fruity or floral in the taste. Spearmint comes to mind. It's light and refreshing and finishes with a herbal bitterness. This is, indeed, a Black Sheep, and would take me some time to grow accustomed to.

Photo of Weizenmensch
4.08/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has built a massive reputation in Britain in the fifteen years since its creation, and for good reason. It's quite unusual, for a Pale Ale - somehow I remember it being darker and creamier in Harrogate and Masham, North Yorkshire. It looks good for the type, slightly redder than usual, but with a nice head at the start. Retention lessens as the glass is emptied. As others have said, it has more effervescence than is ordinary, prompting more burps than the usual English cask ale. It's a nice beer, lots of different tastes, quite distinct hops, surprisingly warming, a good one to have drink at the Old Bell Tavern on a cold night in the Yorkshire winter. Carbonation does not spoil the mouthfeel but it is unusual. Overall, this is a true real ale that some Northerners would die for, and for good reason. I would drink this all the time if it were ever on cask here in Australia.

Photo of tigg924
3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: minimal head, clear, orange/brown in color

Smell: toasted malt and tea

Taste: toasted malt, tea, dash of caramel, and small hops at the end

Mouthfeel: light bodied, low carbonation, dry

Drinkability: To me this one met the style guidelines. The tea taste is the dominate flavor. I was not overly fond of it and have had better in the style. I will pass on this in the future.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale copper, leaving a thin level of white head.

The aroma was off-putting initially, but it eventually grew on me. Nose is caramel, malt, tea leaves, a touch of hops. The hops initially smelled off, but it passed once it warmed up.

Taste is bitter, malty, fairly decent. Typical for the style, with a lingering bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is about right for an EPA, about all I can say.

A decent English pale, but at the price point it's not one I'll regularly pick up. Bitter and full, but not memorable.

Photo of Swedes21
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml poured in a chilled pint glass...

Appearance - beer pours a gorgeous amber colour with a fluffy tanned head. Head is about 1-2 inches and has a lot of carbonation in it. Carbonation seems middle in the beer and lacing is decent.

Smell - I can smell a fruity presents with a hint of sweetness. A mild smell of hops as well, the beer smells really fresh.

Taste - very decent tasting beer, some minor aftertaste but it does not take away from the flavour. Found the fruity taste comes forward during the tasting as well. Not a dominant tasting beer,

Mouthfeel - light beer in the mouthfeel with a slight base of creaminess. The carbonation levels do increase, but nothing over dramatic.

Drinkability - An enjoyable beer, nothing i would hunt down but would drink if offered. Overall, i found the beer lacked a "punch" taste in the end, there was no quality that separates it from the rest in its field.

Photo of Magnus-Robot-Hunter
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%

Good Head, little bit of a yeast or faint sour tast, but smooth to drink.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of March 2012. I can't believe this is the first Black Sheep beer I'm reviewing - the brewery is a classic.

Poured into a straight pint glass. A faintly hazy orange-amber colour with low carbonation. Forms a decent head of frothy white foam that lasts for a minute or so before dissipating. Aroma of slightly sweet caramel malt with hints of yeast esters, toffee, stewed hops and butter.

Tastes of caramel malt with a mild bitter finish. Notes of fruity yeast esters, caramel/toffee, stewed hops and a hint of diacetyl in the background. Quite dry, with a subtle sweetness. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly with some astringency. Aftertaste of fruity yeast and caramel malt.

A decent ale. A restrained flavour and good body make for easy drinking. Dry but fruity. Well-crafted and worth sampling.

Photo of ADR
3.96/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazy ginger color, big and creamy head with suds that hold shapes like styrofoam. Sugary patchwork lace. Slight buttery toffee aroma. Mild and delicate to the tongue, flavor starts with some caramel and slight diacetyl but is soon counteracted by a well-done flowery hop that lingers into the aftertaste. Slightly papery and thinning a little too early, this beer still exudes quaffability -- I could toss back plenty of this one.

Source: Liquid Solutions

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice copper hue with a frothig offwhite light khaki head forming large bubbles and dwindles at a moderate pace. Aroma has a great ripe plum and fig fruity tone that jumps out with the initial smell. Some earthy herbal qualities are tucked beneath a sweet bread malt profile. Flavor is balanced not overly sweet or bitter in either direction, very much an English session ale finishes pretty dry. Some definite hop character with some mineral water tones, a bit of caramelized fruit and earthy herbal hop flavor blend nicely. Mouthfeel is well rounded medium bodied dry semi bitter finish left behind on the palate between each sip. Drinkability overall is prett solid, I would just rather drink a 10 dollar six pack instead of this for 3.99 a bottle. Worth a shot especially if your into English ales, I will see this beer again when in the mood.

Photo of rastaman
3.28/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Kind of edgy bland flavour. Nice hop bite and decent slightly roasted bitterness, but doesn't do enough to excite me, slight watery finish, i will give it another go after seeing its decent ratings, but i can't really see myself liking it that much.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a nonic)

A- This beer pours a clear but warm mahogany brown body with a gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles that glide to the surface. The spongy egg shell colored head fades to a thin film after a bit but last for a good while.

S- This beer has a light toasted malt smell with a note of pale malt and a light biscuit note as the beer warms. There is a soft green note at the finish that could be hops.

T- This beer has a soft dry toasted malt flavor with a light raw grain quality to it. There is a light fresh pale malt note that comes through as it warms aswell. The finish is a soft green herbal hops note that has a very light bitterness but it is dry.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a tight fizz finish.

D- This beer has some nice flavors but they are very soft and it makes this beer a bit drab. Perhaps on cask it would bring out more of the subtle notes but in the bottle it is not that interesting.

Photo of Brenden
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pale ale is on the darker side, a thick and murky orange that stops just short of edging into shades of brown. It has a nice crown of pale orange tinted foam, plenty thick and study. Its height is just more than one finger, retention is good, and it lacing is in patching and sticks well.
Bready in the malts with lots of fruits, there's a bread crust sort of dryness, some yeast, a little sweetness and a touch of spiciness with some leaf.
The taste has lots of ripe fruits, some paler as well as darker-skinned. Just a little earthy, the malts give off bread and just a hint of mineral along with the hops, which show a more herbal nature on the tongue. Underneath and running all through, it's lightly spicy and floral. Hops are firm, and it leaves no doubt this is a British variant as it seeks balance to keep a delicate complexity and depth, all while keeping the hops stronger.
It's plenty crisp in a sturdy medium body with a smooth flow, easing off into the finish but not thinning. There's a light earth and herbal dryness in the middle and beyond, ultimately making for a semi-dry feel.

Photo of Melchizedek
3.34/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a lovely coppery amber with a dense, dense foamy off-white head. Carbonation is slow but steady. Aroma is well-balanced, with a distinct flowery and fruity blend of hops and some yeasty bread and sweet grains.

In the mouth, true to style, though with a noticeable metallic tang. Hop bitterness is moderate, and carbonation lends a very soft mouthfeel to a medium-light body. A little apple-skin crispness, with woodier notes and a smooth bready/caramel undertone, but nothing stands out all that much.

It's a nice one, and it's a sexy-looking pale ale, but there's not much to distinguish it. Don't get me wrong; with the low ABV, I'd happily quaff gallons of the stuff, but it's just not much to write home about.

Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. A whole lot of unstated English-ness just seems to wash over me when I look at this.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, medium orange-brick amber hue, with two fingers of tightly foamy, and somewhat chunky off-white head, which leaves some random, scattered streaky lace around the glass as it gently falls away.

It smells of toasted, kind of sweet biscuity, bready pale malt, a touch of hollow caramel, a thin raisin and muted orchard drupe fruitiness, black tea, and floral, earthy hops. The taste is lightly charred biscuity pale malt, bready, buttery caramel, apple skins, over-steeped tannic tea, and an herbal, wet grass, and weirdly tincture-like hoppiness.

The carbonation is moderately understated, the body an adequate medium weight, and duly smooth, with a lurking, abashed creaminess. It finishes off-dry, the sweetish biscuit malt waning in intensity, in the face of a growing herbal hoppiness.

A reserved, enjoyable enough, and still quite tasty, crisp British pale ale - more or less well balanced, and a candidate as a decent potential sessioner, were I ever in a joint that offered such an option.

Photo of mintjellie
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer shows a copper-orange body with three fingers of tight beige head. The head has good retention and leaves behind a spotty lace. I smell deep notes of caramel and damp earth in this ales inviting aroma. There's a light hit of cracker at the beginning, followed by caramel and treacle. This is followed by a musty, leafy bitterness mid-palate that carries into a long finish. Faint fruit notes come out as the beer warms a little bit. Medium bodied with almost flat carbonation. It's very smooth. It feels substantial in the mouth without being bloating or filling. It's a great session ale.

Photo of dacrza1
4.06/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

DATE TASTED: February 1, 2014... GLASSWARE: Hobgoblin pint...OCCASION: prepping for the Super Bowl with Blades of Glory... APPEARANCE: orange-amber, semi-translucent body akin to tea; white, frothy, thin head; lacing twists and turns somewhat seductively... AROMA: luxuriant scotch-like notes; light, buttery English muffin; some malty elements too--attractive... PALATE: active, medium-bodied and drinkable; a pub compatriot for certain...TASTE: buttery, slightly doughy malts as an ESB would be; mellow with an unmistakable, oaky, highland fortitude; a dry, thin finish akin to sherry--though not nearly as powerful... OVERALL: A pleasant draught from a brewery I've had little else from, but in seeking to rate this beer (one I'd last drunk in 2005, if my records are accurate), I am pleased with the experience; it's no nonsense, light fragrance invites quick sips and rewards with thirst-quenching malts and enough hops to achieve a worthwhile balance ....

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1pt. .9 oz bottle > Samuel smith Pint glass

A hazy, orange-hued golden amber color, pretty pale with nice depth. Really lively carboantion rushes up to create a tight, rocky, cream colored head. wonderfully slow dissipation, easily 2" high and doesn't get much smaller very fast. Lacing is sticky.

The aroma is mild but very effective, dark toffee, loaf of rye bread, all-spice, gentle, herbal hops and roastie wheat; corn meal and a classic buttery English yeast...much like Shipyard.

One word comes to mind: Hearty. The flavor's are mild but they are all in wonderful balance with a pale, crisp malt that has a wheat and rye bready effect, all spice and gentle green herbs ride in with the hops and adds depth. Crispy, light and dry, very clean feeling, perhaps a bit watery. The English yeast adds a buttery, slick taste that is very much like the Shipyard Brewing co. house yeast. Ends sour and dry.

A really nice session brew with gentle flavor's that really work together.

Photo of sarahthevillain
3.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I bought this because I liked the bottle. Is that a good reason? I don't know. My point is I didn't really have many expectations.

But I liked the taste. It's nicely bitter, not overly. And the smell especially is something I'm down with, its a little fruity. The beer is a little cloudy and leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.

I was expecting something so bitter I wouldn't be able to finish it. It's not my favorite ale, but it is something I would drink again if it were offered to me. It's a little pricey, so I doubt I'll stock up myself.

Photo of LordHammer
2.97/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into my Northern Brewer glass.

A: A slightly cloudy light brown or dark amber color, with about a inch of cream colored head. Not sure on the origins of the cloudiness.

S: Mostly roasted malts, some bready/cracker notes, and a bit of English hops at the back end.

T: Malt dominated the party here. Lots of bread and crackers, some roasted malts (Victory?). Some hops at the end, but really nothing significant. Disappointing, as I was expecting some bitterness.

M: Not highly carbonated, but the mouthfeel was adequate for the style. Really just average.

D: A beer I could have several of, if there was nothing else available. Perhaps this was an older bottle where the hops had faded, but this was very average. Certainly was not above average in any way.

Photo of cokes
4.22/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A tan body that glows orange. The eggshell head isn't large, but it makes up for any shortcomings in stick alone.
Nose full of toast smothered with butter and orange preserves. Coupled with an earthy herbal hoppiness.
Begins with a healthy dollop of toffee sweetness. Add a pat of butter, and some repressed fruitiness (orange, again). Turn it back now, to toffee, and let it marinate. Ghosts of molasses, or maybe carob. Yeasty hues hold down the transition. Hops creep in. Tea-like, with rougher herbal pangs of bitterness.
Delightful, session, real-deal ale. This is quaffable in monster doses.

Photo of Sammy
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A standard English pale. Very decent hoppy and barley aroma. A bit light on taste but goes down well with food. Satisfying but nothing extraordinary. Understated bitterness and a great big head. Light body colour and mouthfeel. Dry and somewhat bitter aftertaste.

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Black Sheep Ale (Special) from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
84 out of 100 based on 525 ratings.