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Black Sheep Ale (Special) - Black Sheep Brewery PLC

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

511 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 511
Reviews: 346
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 13.21%
Wants: 16
Gots: 29 | 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.
View: Beers (14) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 511 | Reviews: 346 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of marcobrau
3.42/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is quite pretty after being poured into my imperial pint glass. This clear, amber brew has a great half-inch head of foam that is sustained for a few minutes and some nice lacing is left down the sides of the glass as the head falls. The aroma is weak, but bits of fruity esters and woody hops are present. My tongue is greeted by sweet malt and spicy hops (unusual for a British ale) followed by a fairly assertive and somewhat tannic hop bitterness that teases the side of tongue and dries out the mouth; this an unpleasant effect. Despite this flaw, this is still a fairly enjoyable pint, but I recall it being a bit better in '04.

Photo of Gagnonsux
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color is golden copper with very good carbonation. The thick, chucky head has excellent retention and leaves thick lacings. The aroma is of English malts with an almost honey-like sweetness in the mix. A touch of hops adds a little something to the malt smells. The first couple of sips seem overly bitter, but then as Black Sheep warms up, a nice fruity malt flavor comes to life. A decent English hop flavor comes in towards the finish. Still, I find this a little too bitter and hopped for the style. Which is strange, because I love an APA to be this hoppy. This isn't bad, but not an EPA I'd be too tempted to buy again.

Photo of TheDeuce
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Sheep Ale....

Appearance-dark brown in color with a huge foamy head over three fingers in length, cascading beauty finally simmers down, leaving a nice silky finish.

Smell-grainy malt and slight hop aroma permeate from the glass, alcohol is well heady behind bready malt, quite appetizing.

Taste-light yet flavorful, a superb balance of malt and hops into a great drinking beer, I'm impressed.

Mouthfeel-light in the mouth yet flavors abound, finishes with a slight sweetness, good drinking.

Drinkability-light drinking at only 4.4% alcohol, makes for a superbly balanced session brew.

Overall-there is something to be said for a balanced beer and Black Sheep Ale is one of the best balanced beers I've ever drank, definitely check this one out, while there is nothing to shout about the sheer simplicity and balance of this brew left me very satisfied.

Photo of Morris729
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear orange-amber color with a thick and creamy light tan head that sticks all over the walls of the glass. Nose is sweet bread pudding with notes of buttery alcohol and dark rum. Taste also contains a lot of the sweet malt and bread flavors that were present in the aroma along with a mild fruitiness (predominantly plum and apricot) and a bit of black tea all followed by a bit of citrus and mild hop bitterness. A nice English ale to be had here.

Photo of jokelahoma
4.27/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a "new penny" copper, with a thin head that dissipates far too rapidly. It does lace, but there's little head to speak of. The head that does appear is nice and tight while it's there. Seeing as how this is bottled and not cask, I'm disappointed in the lack of staying power on the head.

Aroma is fruity, earthy, and a little bready. Not a lot of malt smell to this one, just hops and yeast.

Taste it a big mouthful of bitter hops. Delicious! Once the initial bitterness dies down, a lovely floral flavor takes over. Very little malt flavor sneaks in, but it doesn't stick around any longer than it takes to say "hi". Beer finishes very, very dry, with a lingering flowery hop bitterness that's quite prickly on the tongue. I can see how some may taste metal in this with that much thorny hoppiness, although I myself do not. The lasting effect in your mouth is that of just having sucked on a few flower petals. Quite nice, actually. It could stand to have a bit more malt character, but as beers like this are generally designed around the hops, it's likely just what the brewer set out to create.

Mouthfeel is deceptively light, more likely than not due to the bitterness and carbonation playing tricks with your tongue. It isn't watery, by any means, but it's dry enough that it seems to disappear from your mouth, rather than leaving an oily reminder of what you just drank. In my opinion, it's just what this beer should do.

The brew is really very drinkable. It's not heavy or filling, and the dryness lends to your feeling like taking another drink very soon after the last one. Not nearly as sweet or as bready as the Monty Python Ale by the same brewery. This one comes much closer to my idea of a great English ale. I'd give it a thumbs up, but then I'd drop my glass, and we can't have that, can we?

Photo of sinistermadman
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a clear copper while emitting a burly two-finger head. Head retention is good and leaves a nice lacing.

Smell: Ripened fruit, herbs, and dare I say mild citrus

Taste is cold steel. There is some subtle hop bitterness which comes through, but the taste is very thin otherwise. Mouthfeel as I said - thin with little carbonation. Aftertaste is organic and makes me wonder if I picked up a skunky bottle at the market. A little too pale for me.

Photo of DrJay
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear amber colour with a little red in there. The slightly rocky head is just off-white and shows good stickage and retention, even though there wasn't much off the pour. The aroma has plenty of caramel and fruity esters, low earthy hop aroma. Fruity up front (mostly apple), quickly mellowed by some malty sweetness. Slightly buttery. Bitterness comes forward at the midpoint and carries through into the finish. Hop flavour is grassy and floral to start, but there's a bit of citrus that shows up in the finish. Medium body and carbonation. Slightly creamy texture. Very enjoyable.

500 mL brown bottle, best before date stamped on the neck.

Photo of 2ndstage
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great English ale. Sampled at home from bottle. Pours a little effervescent at first but it settle down nicely after some time in the glass.

Color is a nice darker honey color with a few ruby highlights. Fairly dense head that settled down to a good cover and lace after a drink or two.

Aroma very nutty and fruity somehow at the same time. Classic for this style to me just the right amounts blend together beautifully

Nice malt balace to the hop bitterness. Very smooth drinking would not hesitate if offered another almost too quaffable.

Exceedingly balanced great example of the English Pale.

Photo of wl0307
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this beer at home on 3 May 05, with the BBE date of Oct. 05.

Appearance: served in Fuller's ESB goblet, it pours dark-orange or dark amber colour, with a thin layer of milky-white beer head which lasts for quite a while, with beautifully fine bubbles...looks rather nice.
Smell: rich fruity hoppyness and candyish, nutty maltiness dominte the nose; suggesting a rich-bodied ale.
Taste and Aftertaste: quite gassy in contrast to how it looks! after managing to overcome the conflicting impression, there is profound, bittersweet maltiness flowing through, combined with rather flowery but dry (even crisp) hoppy palate; finished with the kind of lingering, but not OTT, bitterness which is both vertical and intensive (akin to that of the traditional Golding hops).
Drinkability: it is indeed a one-is-not-enough, balanced, robust premium bitter, whose body and structure definitely outweigh its alcoholic strength, and that's why I really enjoy it!

Photo of malty
4.47/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an clear orange-honey color with a moderate and multi sized bubble cream colred head from a 16.9 oz. tapered neck bottle. Head disipates quickly if you fail to give it a forceful pour.

Scents of crabapples, followed by other fruity esters. Yeasty and crisp. Very fresh and clean.

Flavors of clean prickly hops with honey butter and (faint) ginger. Has a fresh herbal flavor with just enough malt balance to keep it balanced. Funny, but the green apple Jolly Rancher bite-sized hard candies come to mind...seriously.

Mouthfeel is delightful. Airy and kinetic with a good dose of playful carbonation. Light-medium bodied with a crisp semi-dry finish.

Drinkability is very generous. Quenching with a lot of interesting flavors that will keep curious drinkers coming back for more.

Overall a zesty and high quality ale. A perfect balance of sweet and dry with a crisp and slight tart component also. Complex but very approachable. A great year-round offering for beginners to veterans. A fine english ale indeed.

Photo of scottum
3.59/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a perfect amber with a huge full light tan headskie that just won't quit. This beer does not, however, taste quite as good as it looks. Hop bitter comes on rather strange but does serve to balance a mellow malt chew. A decidedly average beer. Very plain.

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 kosmoraios
3.27/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up last week. Pours a light amber color with a very small head that dissipates quickly, leaving a small ring and a bit of lace on the glass. Grassy hops are noticable in the nose immediately, with a hint of apple and a tinge of apricot. Flavor is peppery and a bit fruity at first, with some decent complexity manifesting itself as the ale warms. There is a bit (not much) of toffee-like sweetness, and a hint of sourdough. There is something else entirely, a fresh "green" taste. Not bad, but somewhat unique.

Mouthfeel is the best thing this ale has going for it. Crisp and clean, quite peppery, with ample carbonation and smoothness, and an aftertaste that is quite enjoyable. An extremely drinkable ale over pizza or something. This ale is an excellent starter ale for someone who is used to drinking domestic swill.

Photo of Sigmund
3.62/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle, as "Black Sheep Ale", bought in England. Amber colour, moderate fluffy head. Aroma of toffee / caramel and dried fruits, hints of barnyard. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, moderate flavour of dusty malts and hops. A bit too carbonated for my taste.

Photo of ppoitras
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16.9ozer bottle bought from Harrington's Wine & Liquors, Chelmsford, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" off-white head over the slightly cloudy, orangey- amber brew. Head is frothy and lasts well, with nice lacing. Aroma is a light pale malt sweetness with bitterness apparent as well. Taste well-balanced, yet delicate bitterness rears its head upon the swallow. Right what I expect from the style. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, and drinkability is great. Check it out, this one's worth the trouble for a single visit or a session. Imagine it on cask at the source land, mmm...

Photo of LarryKemp
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This ale poured an amber copper with very good clarity and a cloudlike fluffy white head. Columns of bubbles rose through the beer and maintained the long lasting head.

When I first sniffed this ale, I thought that I could detect a definite aroma of caramel. Now it is still there, ever so slightly and the earthiness of the hops have taken charge.

This ale starts with a slight bitterness and then rushes into a caramel sweetness. But at no time is the bitterness ever gone completely. The finish is dry but is a long time coming. A nice complex mix of hops and malts.

It has a light to medium light mouthfeel. It has a moderate amount of carbonation which tickles the tongue.

A nice session that has a great taste. This is a good beer to demonstrate the various aspects of taste - hops and malts - yet not so strong as to blow your mind.

Photo of BDTyre
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice burnt orange colour with a light, fluffy white head. Good smell, a nice combination of malts and hops. Taste is of a similar balance, with a creamy hint to it. Smooth, with a slight fizz. Very strong flavour, rich and satisfying. Good drinking.

Photo of Naerhu
2.1/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Opaque orange body with a head so low, it is submarine.
Whisky malt and peet aroma.
One dimensional maltiness followed by leather and huge, just huge tobacco. Big bitterness, followed by burnt cigarettes and more tobacco. Burnt sugar and more bitterness.
The harsh bitterness detracts from any body the ale may have.
Is this a bad bottle or bad beer, I do not know, but it does not taste like what any of the other reviewers describe.

Photo of dauss
3.37/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 1pint .9 fl.oz bottle. It looks like a hop vine that encircles around below the neck. No freshness date, stamps, or notches.

Apprearance: Slightly hazy golden color with a touch of ruby. A medium white head forms even with a hard pour. Fades fairly quickly, but leaves a lot of lace.

Smell: Just a tiny bit of tartness, some fruity esters, good amount of diacetyl, malty sweetness, and maybe a touch of alcohol.

Taste: At first it tastes like nothing, then the typical english bitter bitterness midway and in the finish come through. Very light carbonation and medium body. More diacetyl and fruitiness. Finishes very very dry and a weird aftertaste.

Notes: Not that tasty at first. It gets better the more you drink, but it just has such a dry finish that I'm not a big fan of. It is also just a little bland and a watered down kind of taste. I've had better.

Photo of dgallina
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Nice slightly cloudy amber color with an impressive rocky and creamy head which stays around nearly forever. Smell is somewhat faint; sweet caramel malts with an overlay of flowery hops. Flavors begin with sweet (almost honeyed) caramel malts, develop with fruity and fragrant hops, and finish with a tart, leafy, and very dry hop bitterness. Very light (perhaps too light) in the mouth, with strong carbonation.

Somewhat uneven, but overall a tasty and extremely quaff-able ale.

Photo of kmpitz2
3.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured an amber hued golden color with no head. The nose had some honey sweetness atop a layer of caramel, but no real hop of note. The flavor was mostly caramel touched wtih honey, finishing with a nice bitter, as expected in an english beer. The feel was thin to moderate...nothing real special here. The drinkability was not bad, but not great. Just an ok beer.

Photo of TexIndy
3.37/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

16.9oz bottle - no freshness date. Poured a dark amber with a little head and little lace. A good looking beer with a great smell. After pouring it, the color and smell had me looking forward to great tasting beer. Unfortuantely, it was disappointing. It was light bodied and had an almost watered down aftertaste. Worth trying once and maybe mixing in once in awhile but not a keeper in the regular rotation. PR 2.5 RHML.

Photo of allengarvin
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Half-liter bottle, in an English tulip glass.

Appearance: Amber/dark-gold appearance, with a typically English small head. Moderate lacing as it drops.

Aroma: Fruity, malty aroma. Some low, earth hop aroma.

Flavor/Body: Pretty big mouthfeel from the start, with some nice unidentifiable fruity flavors. Malty caramel in the middle. Some diacetyl butterscotch; medium-low hop bitterness and low, spicy/earth taste. Bitterness becomes more prominent just as the beer finishes, and lingers a while.

Somewhat reminiscent of Sam Smith PA, but more malty. A quite decent example of a north-England strong bitter.

Photo of sutcliff
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very good head. Fluffy and full. The color was a nice copper color like a good tan. The first sip was tasty. The malt was apparent and sweet but there was some bitterness in the background. The mouthfeel was good but lacked some body. The aroma was pleasant but the hops were not overpowering. Worth a another try.

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

poured copper with light tan medium sized head and good lacing.aroma, malts, caramel. sweet. flavor citrus hints of malts,fruity, has some sourness with a bit of sweetness. not to bad of a beer but nothing special about it it will be one f those beers that I will buy again

Black Sheep Ale (Special) from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
84 out of 100 based on 511 ratings.