Black Sheep Ale (Special) - Black Sheep Brewery PLC

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Black Sheep Ale (Special)Black Sheep Ale (Special)

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349 Reviews

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Reviews: 349
Hads: 530
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 19
Gots: 39 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 349 | Hads: 530
Photo of Knapp85
3/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Black Sheep Ale is much like most of the ESB's on the market out there. The color is amber or copper. The head is white and soapy. The lacing isn't too bad here. The smell is mostly malts and a little bitterness going on. The flavors are of dry malts with a little sweetness in the background. The the mouthfeel is smooth and for the most part really drinkable. (365 characters)

Photo of generallee
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
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. (775 characters)

Photo of Brewbro000
2.91/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours an amber with a one finger head but only with a very strong pour, head recedes to a light layer of foam with some large bubbles and good lacing
S: sweet caramel and bread from the English malts comes through, some mild fruityness on the back end
T: not a lot of complexity with this for me. I didn't expect much considering the style but it's just bland and lacking more bready layers
M/D: more carbonated than I would have wanted. I would expect this to be much better on cask (486 characters)

Photo of cichief
3.18/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on cask at the Wellington Arms near Paddington Station, London.

A- Pours a hazy gold with a snow-white head.

S- Some hint of malt, but very little hop aroma.

T- Malty with a somewhat dry finish, bready.

M- Thin to medum in body, not a lot of carbonation.

D- Nothing special about this pint, average at best. (316 characters)

Photo of bgildea
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear nice amber color with little to no white head that left some slight lacing.

S: Nice smell of fruits (maybe dates and figs), nuts, and some spices. Slight grain smell towards the end.

T: Starts with a nice sweet flavor that was conveyed in the smell. The flavor then moves into a nice bitter flavor from the hops. Both flavors play off each other very well and balance nicely. The bitter finish is a nice surprise considering I didnt get much of the bitter flavor when smelling it.

M: Very thin beer. I wasnt expecting much, and definitly didnt get much chew with this beer.

D: The beer is very drinkable. It's an easy drinking ale with a decent balanced flavor that will bring you back for another.

Overall: Overall the beer is pretty good. I enjoyed the nice sweet aroma that the beer had. The balance of that sweet aroma in the flavor along with the hoppy bitter finish made for a nice complex flavor. I would recommend this beer to any beer drinker out there. (984 characters)

Photo of huxcrunner
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a-light amber brown color with about 1.5 fingers of off white head with moderate lacing

s- aromas of caramel malts and chocolate. clean crisp full aromas

t- it has a good balance of sweet malt and hop bitterness has a toffee flavor that isnt overpowering

m-good fullbody good balance of carbonation

d- overall this is a very good beer, i prefer the yorksire ale more but this is still a very good beer and i would highly recommend trying it if you enjoy english ales (471 characters)

Photo of Guitarctica
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was at whole foods when my wife called me up and asked if I could bring home a nice mild beer. I noticed this in the craft beer section wanting to try something different. I happen to be partial to ales anyway. I decided to get this and a bottle of Fullers 1845 hoping one of them would fit the bill.

Poured into a snifter.

A - Dark brown, like burnt caramel. One finger of foamy off-white head. Lacing not too impressive even after swirling.

S - Nutty with light caramel notes. Some dark fruit like fig.

T - More nuttiness. Perhaps almonds. Bittersweet with light breadiness. Woody flavors and a nice hoppiness round it out. Slight caramel.

M - Full bodied. Though it is bittersweet, it coats the mouth nicely and isnt astringent at all.

D - Good flavor. Somewhat filling, but not aggresive.

Final thoughts - I would recommend this to anyone who likes bittersweet chocolate or nutty beers. Good mouthfeel. One of the better dark ales i've had recently. (963 characters)

Photo of flyingpig
3.86/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an nice amber colour with a huge, foamy white head that is extremely thick, lasts well & leaves some rather nice lacing around the glass. Some nice carbonation evident too.

Buttery on the nose with grassy hops & a faint fruity smell. Maybe a hint of apple & orange with a slightest toffee smell too.

Sweet tasting to begin with that quickly moves into a moderately bitter finish that is very nice. The flavour tastes of a mixture of toffee & apple with a definite orange like finish.

Medium bodied & quite smooth with very good carbonation. The foamy head is a joy as well. The beer is quite crisp with a dry finish that leaves you wanting more.

This is an excellent all round ale that is incredibly easy to drink & would work wonders as a session ale. (762 characters)

Photo of rfgetz
3.91/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear coppery amber color with a nice plume of sticky white head, good retention and lacing. Scent is nutty with touches of toffee, fruit, bread and earthy/herbaly hops. taste brings all the components of scent in a nic elight balanced flavor. Medium bodied, slightly oily, dry. A nicely English Pale Ale with good flavor for the low ABVs.. (348 characters)

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

Pours pale amber with a soapy off white head with lacey windows Smoky-toasted nose with maybe some mown hay hops.
Seville orange jam and toast, aggressive biting cedar oil, ginger powder and tea bag Goldings hops. Spicy finish, dry linger. Light - medium, fizzy, some cling.

Big English hops - the bitter side of bitter. Nice feel, too. I'd go back. (350 characters)

Photo of paxkey
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

surprised by pour. was expecting it to come out very dark based on the name.

Pours out amber/copper with a small head that is gone quickly. slight carbonation noticeable in glass.

biscuit malt off the nose. grassy hops. not a strong aroma but very pleasing.

good bitterness, refreshing and a bit of malty sweetness. bitterness lingers long after the sip. a little bit of yeast flavor and minerality. really good bitterness.

nice stuff. (441 characters)

Photo of 9InchNails
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Crisp, Dry and Bittersweet is what it says on the bottle. Imported by Eurobrew, Inc.

Interesting color body. Redish orange in the body and gold on the sides. Off white head.

Citrus I'm thinking orange, bitterness from the hops, some malt background.

More malt upfront like a bread-y taste mixing with orange and lemon with some bitterness. But after a few sips it seems to taste like a flat club soda. The taste was unique in the beginning but becoming very strange at the end. Weird.

Body is light to almost medium feeling. Very strange feeling in the body. Very hard to explain.

Drink ability is hard to explain. I wouldn't mind having another to try to figure this beer out. It's not horrible tasting but just overall a very strange beer. (747 characters)

Photo of Wattsox
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, consumed Jan 2011, BBE 28 Nov 2011.

A - Copper brown colour, decent head which dissipates fairly quickly, leaving a light amount of lacing throughout.

S - Smell is mainly Toffee-like malts with a hint of apple.

T - Toffee, malty taste with a nice hop balance to add a touch of bitterness. Finish is a little hoppy and slightly bitter but not overly dry.

M - Mild pleasant carbonation with a medium body.

D - Very pleasant and drinkable and would definitely work as a session beer. (500 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
3.6/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a clear amber/orange colour with a huge frothy off-white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for a short while before it began to dissipate.

Smell - malts, toasted/roasted nuts, cask wood, orange

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a low to average amount of carbonation and the most noticeable flavours are malts, toasted nuts, and a touch of orange juice. There is also a lot of toffee flavour. The beer finishes with a light malty aftertaste.

Drink - This is a nice easy drinking beer that would be perfect for a session. (665 characters)

Photo of JayS2629
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Hazy brown copper color with puffy white head that recedes quickly. Strandy legs of lace.

S- Toffee, hints of pear and apple. Musty tea background.

T- Sweet malts, musty notes, tea, mineral waters and caramel apples.

M- Carbonation is pleasant with aa medium body and crisp front. Dry finish.

D- Very drinkable and refreshing. (334 characters)

Photo of damndirtyape
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Single bottle poured into a Tulip stout glass. While there are numbers stamped on the neck, I cannot interpret them.

Appearance: Mostly clear (slight haze) coppery to pale amber beer. Poured a nice foam (lots of big bubbles) about 1/2" thick, but this died down to a thin film across the top. Islands, strands, and chunks of lacing on the glass as I drank it down.

Smell: Toffee-like malts with some mild apple cider-like smells thrown in.

Taste: Sweetness up front followed by an immediate strong-tea like bitterness, then a maltier finish with some apple-like notes. Every now and then the bitterness takes on a musty/barn-like note, but this seems to be more of a cold beer problem. Those notes don't appear again as the beer warms up and the malts start to get a bit more pronounced. It's still quite good cold though.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation on the tongue, otherwise very slick but on the watery side of thickness. Not that I"m complaining - it works with this beer; it really captures the feel of an English ale.

Drinkability: Goes quite well with a meal (apple cider chicken and mashed potatoes) - enough flavor to be noticed, but not so much that it gets in the way. I think this one would be right on from a cask, and it's a very good, and sessionable, British ale. It may not be tops in everything, but it was gone fast. (1,342 characters)

Photo of mountsnow1010
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice brown color. A bit cloudy. Head goes away quickly. Leaves a nice bit of lacing though.
Smell - Getting a hint of pear and apple. Get a bit of drying sensation- maybe mustiness.
Taste - Hops at the front with a nice malt pushing the flavor along. Liking the malts in this one. The label says "crisp, dry, and bittersweet." I would agree with that.
Mouthfeel - Nice. Clean...bubbly.
Drink- I could have several of these. Thanks, Britannia!

Overall quite enjoyable but nothing to write home about. If I had more than one, this'd be a great session beer. (560 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.5/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Poured from a bottle into a Hoegaarden pint glass in low altitude Galway, Ireland, on December 8th, 2010. Pours a clear dark gold with a thin head that does not retain well. Moderately appealing.

Sm: A light fresh scent of malt, barley, maybe a hint of roast? Difficult to discern individual notes with my broken nose. What I can detect is nice.

Taste: A flat open to a one note body with an off finish. Not well balanced nor well built for a pale ale. I do like the main note of the body, but the rest needs work.

Mf: Too wet until the finish, which dries it up nicely. But the texture of the finish contrasts sharply with the smoothness of what precedes it. Unpleasant.

Dr: Won't buy it again, especially at this price. (732 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy burnt orange with a rocky head that leaves a few splotches of lace behind

Smell: Toffee and a stone fruit, tea-like aroma

Taste: The toffee arrives first, but by mid-palate, the fruity tea-like flavors arrive, accompanied by a mineral element, as well; after the swallow, the sweeter toffee and fruit elements balance out nicely with the bitter, earthy flavors; a bit of woody character in the finish, as well

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A fantastic session beer that ranks with the finest of what gets imported from the British Isles (607 characters)

Photo of peensteen
3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale copper colour with a light white head that didn't stick around too long. Sweet malt and candy apple come off of the nose leaving a little to be desired. A nice bitterness comes out from the first sip with an underlying sweetness, the malt reveals itself before the hops takeover for a long dry finish. Medium body and well structured. I will probably pick this up every so often, a quality british ale. (415 characters)

Photo of MetalHopHead6
3.13/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Black Sheep Ale is malty-sweet and very dry.

It poured light see-through amber with a 1/2-finger head that immediately dissipated. It left a laceless crystal clear glass. The smell and flavor were one-dimensional caramel-like malty sweetness with a lingering metallic after-taste. The feel was thin and fleeting save an extremely long-lasting dry finish. It was moderately refreshing.

Black Sheep Ale has a lager-like ordinariness and an overall shrug-inducing what-was-the-pointness. (486 characters)

Photo of mdwalsh
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a nonic pint glass, this beer is a golden brown, glowingly bright, with a large, puffy off white/beige head, which has a lot of texture to it. There is a lot of active carbonation/lacing going on, so it's difficult to see, but it looks mostly clear, just a touch hazy though, with notes of red on areas penetrated by direct light. The head falls back to about one finger and lingers quite a while. 4

S: Immediately upon pouring, there is an aroma of herbs and yeast. The English hops here are really quite pungently aromatic, but the yeast is really noticeable. Not a bad thing, but it's very much there. A closer inspection intensifies the hops while the yeast takes back seat. I'm getting almost an American bite to these hops. There's also a slight metallic note. It's difficult, but I'm going to go with a 3.5 since I went high on the appearance.

T: A nice, mild bitterness, just the slightest bite. Herbal hops are still there, as is the yeast, which is playing nicely with the slightly caramelized barley. I get no hint of any common off flavors from production, though there might be a slight skunking going on, but not enough to detract from the experience and nothing that's the brewers fault. The slight metallic taste (which I often get in English Beers) still nags at me, but again, it isn't displeasing, just present and something that seems to help make this beer this beer.

M: Very nice mouthfeel for a lighter, yet flavorful beer. A good carbonation level, being higher than what most people would think of British beer (that it's flat) but nowhere near the highly over carbonated American Lagers. 4.5

D: Superbly drinkable beer, and something that may very well enter my normal rotation, or at the very least something I will frequently suggest to others. (1,791 characters)

Photo of Swedes21
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
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. (912 characters)

Photo of kwjd
3.23/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden orange colour with nice white head and some spotty lacing. Smell is of bready malt with some caramel and a hint of grassy hops. Flavour has very little bitterness for a pale ale, but nothing is off about it either. Carbonation level is good. Overall a little bit weak. (283 characters)

Photo of biegaman
3.66/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At my desk the beer looks out of place - it belongs on top of a time-worn wooden counter-top in a musty tavern somewhere in England, and definitely nowhere near a computer. Its strapping and densely coppered body, arrant but airy head and tattered lacing are aesthetic and characterful and its clarity is so fine you can see the bubbles launch themselves off the bottom of the glass. Nearly picture perfect.

A lot of beers smell reminiscent of toffee and caramel but few so vividly and flavorful as this. I envision a medieval county fair, the voice of a child begging for a candy apple or date squares. A light hoppiness imparts a fleeting fruitiness to compliment all the decadently sweet, sugary notes. A tonic, chalky, mineral-y water, and just a hint of coast-side flora, come across with the character and manner of a stiff sea breeze.

Indeed, the minerals in that water jump out on the palate like a basketball player reaching for a rebound; they almost prick the tongue and both preclude and conclude each taste. While the beer is actually quite light-bodied, it comes over the palate with a deceptive amount of strength in thanks to the tonic-like water and an eager carbonation.

The flavours are all quite toothsome: vanilla-y oak, date squares, honey, hop cones, flower blossoms, nut brittle and toffee cake. However, it's a lineup that looks more impressive on paper than it seems on the palate and the tastes don't exactly present themselves to you, it requires a little work on your part to seek them out. They also part quickly; the finish is drying and bitter enough to leave your palate feeling slightly shortchanged.

Pasteurizing a beer and then bottling it and shipping it half way across the planet only to have it sit on a shelf for an uncertain amount of time at warm temperatures is kind of like driving a stake through its heart and hoping that it dies and fails. That being said, Black Sheep Ale still fares surprisingly well and makes a great quaff for anyone who appreciates flavourful, sessionable and traditional British-style ales. (2,069 characters)

Black Sheep Ale (Special) from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
84 out of 100 based on 349 ratings.