1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch AleDark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,410 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,410
Reviews: 532
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.41%
Wants: 106
Gots: 148 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  9.75% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Available September to March.

(Beer added by: ypsifly on 01-28-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,410 | Reviews: 532 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Turbid pumpernickel brown that lightens to blurry orange peel at the borders. A barely audible escape of CO2 on crown cracking made the small ecru lid a foregone conclusion. The foam melts within minutes and leaves the pint glass virtually untouched. Not a good start, though the beer itself looks fine.

The aroma almost gets the quality train back on the tracks. It's caramel malty and smells more earthy than sweet. Some peat smokiness would be nice, but quite a few American wee heavies fall short in that department. Let's see if it opens up and displays a little hidden depth as the beer gains a few degrees.

When it comes to flavor, Scotty Karate delivers in a major way. *This* is what I expected this big American-brewed Scotch ale to taste like. With a bigger body, we could be looking at greatness. Although there isn't an abundance of barrel-aged character, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Dark Horse put SKSA in bourbon barrels for at least a brief time.

Flavors include chocolate, golden toffee, butterscotch, sugared pecans, medium-dark fruit, and a tobacco, tea, and hop leaf bitterness that concludes each mouthful with a gradually tightening, focused flourish. It may be nothing more than an overactive imagination, but a phenolic peaty tanginess and a puff of smoke are present as well.

The mouthfeel tends to settle in over time and bulks up just enough to earn the above score. Surprisingly, the understated carbonation works extremely well. I wouldn't add even one more bubble.

Forget the first two scores. I don't drink beer because of the way it looks or smells. I drink beer because of the way it tastes. Scotty Karate Scottish Ale is the real deal and should be sought out by anyone who loves a good wee heavy. Thanks to bakerslp for the bottle.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 28, 2009
Photo of robbyc1
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber with a nice off white head, no lace.

Smell has nice roasty malt, a bit of smoke.

Deep malt, no sign of the alcohol, well hidden, not as complex as expected.

Smooth with just the nice carbonation. Easy drinker, nicely done.

Just not as complex or not as deep flavor as Oscar Blues or Lake Louie versions. Surprising given the high abv, good not great, especially for the 4 pack price.

robbyc1, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of TomGavin
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried on-tap at Jerry's at Damen and Division. If you live in Chicago and consider yourself a beer aficionado, you'd better have been to Jerry's. They specialize in N. American beers and world-class sandwiches. Needless to say I dine there at least once a week...

A: After being tapped the beer appears
with a brownish red mahogany hue, with little to no head around the rim of the glass--maybe a mm or 2.

Nose: Roasted malt backbone with baked cookie dough sweetness. Caramel organs. Cinnamon veins . Brown sugar blood.

Mouthfeel: Soft body, medium carbonation

Taste: Quick, slick malt, blueberry, hint of coconut doused with cinnamon and white pepper with a tinge of alcohol.

Comment: A lot of press on this "wee heavy." Still, it goes quite well with a smoked salmon sandwich and a cone of fries with southwest mayo.

TomGavin, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of Beejay
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A very dark nutmeg brown.. Low amount of head, even though a fairly aggressive pour.

S: Like a heavy moist bread.. Nutty, Some pine in there, maybe damp soil.. Smells like a forested area, after a heavy rain, when the air is muggy and smells earthy.. But in a good way..

T: Sweet, like pumpernickel bread.. a little kick of bitter at the end..

M: good in general, nothing to complain about, a little slick.

D: A perfect beer for a camping trip, sitting around the campfire. Very nice, not an everyday beer, but good.

Beejay, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of danielharper
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

(Nine point seven five percent ABV? Hell, I had no idea -- I had never heard of this one when it went on tap at the Strut, and ordered a couple just to see what it was like. I figured it for an Oatmeal Stout or a Brown Ale, never thinking it might be a Scotch Ale, but from my notes it fits as a Scotch Ale much better. What follows are my notes verbatim. I originally gave numerical ratings based on my understanding of the beer as a weaker style, but I'm altering them from my notes based on the Scotch Ale style.)

Appearance: Black body, no head. Slightly brown bottom. Somewhat hazy.

Smell: Malty, dry, somewhat bready. Slight yeast.

Taste: Slightly astringent [edited to add -- no crap, that's what almost ten percent ABV will get you], heavy with malt [another edit -- this should have told me this was a Scotch Ale]. Somewhat malty and with notes of coffee and chocolate malt.

Mouthfeel: Moderate. Coats the tongue and goes down clean. [A bit thin for a Scotch Ale in my opinion, but maybe I've been spoiled by too much Skullsplitter.]

Drinkability: Pretty drinkable, a bit dry and astringent for my taste. [Since these are the exact characteristics you're looking for in a Scotch Ale, consider that high praise.]

I'm a bit embarrassed that I couldn't ID this as a Scotch Ale, but the Strut is more a coffee place than a bar; they've got about four beers on tap. I never figured they'd go for anything with any kind of complexity or serious ABV; my opinion of the place has gone way up based on realizing what this beer really is.

danielharper, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of CrazyMacHarris99
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark cola brown with ruby red highlights. There is a 1/4" head that quickly diminishes to a slight ring. There is a good bit of white sediment on the bottom of the glass. Smell is mostly fresh bread and a lot of malt. The taste is all malt with sour cherries and sweeter dark fruits. There is a slight earthy peat flavor as well. Almost like a forest floor. The mouthfeel is creamy but there is a bite to this beer. Its tangy but not too sour. The alcohol is well hidden which makes this one easier to drink but its still a sipper. Great big Scotch Ale. I'm very impressed.

CrazyMacHarris99, Feb 12, 2009
Photo of kbeals
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An extremely deep red, nearly black beer. About two fingers of brown sugar colored head, disappears relatively quick, not much lacing. Smells of sweet caramel malts, with a bit of an alcohol edge. Taste is much the same, a lot of flavor to this. Sweet malts, a bit of brown sugar, and an alcoholic warmth round out the taste. Light-medium bodied, and a definite drinkability. I wish that I had another one of these right now. Any fan of scotch ales should enjoy this beer.

kbeals, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of BierFan
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No freshness date that I was able to find. Poured from a 12 ounce brown bottle into a flute.

Appearance: Very thin head vanishes in literally seconds, leaving me with only the dark red beer. It's almost black, really.

Smell: Very sweet and malty. That's about all there is to it.

Taste: Quite a bit of smokiness to it. Earthy is a good word to describe this beer. More complex than most Scotch ales I've had.

BierFan, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of israel
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to pwoods for providing the opportunity to try this beer

A - Opaque with a slightly thin head that kinda goes away quickly and just forms a halo of sorts around the rim. there's no lacing and I can see carbonation bubbles streaking along the sides to the top.

S -Definite dark fruits with an alcohol presence, reminds me of a fruit bread. Great aroma and very inviting, I caught myself smelling this beer more than was necesarry.

T - After my initial taste I had to double check the ABV% to make sure this beer was actually almost 10%, very smooth for such a alcohol presence. The flavors don't seem overly complex but this works really well for this beer IMO. Lots of malty goodness accompanied with flavors of dark fruits and candies.

M - Not a ton of carbonation which really works well for this beer. The beer just sorta slides over my tongue leaving a smooth pleasant aftertaste.

D - This is a great tasting scotch ale and one that I will definitely seek out again, but being so high in alc.% you really can only have so many of these.

israel, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of kels
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a bottle of this at Foran's in Detroit last weekend. Here's the review:

Appearance: Dark brown/black with amber highlights and a short, quick-fading light tan head. Very little to no lacing remains.

Smell: Very strong presence of alcohol and smoky, woody peat hit the nose immediately, followed by a less intense malty presence. Smell is forward and pleasing.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The defined flavors of peat and charcoal combine with very sweet malts. All that heaviness is balanced really well by a bright citrus hop presence that doesn't outweigh the sweetness with too much bitterness. The carbonation is moderate, and the mouthfeel is slightly thin.

Drinkability: Definitely high. Really smooth and pleasingly complex representation of the style.

kels, Feb 01, 2009
Photo of Chicchan
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow! Dark Horse strikes again. This is my new fav. Dark and malty w/ a bread/fruit nose. Tastes like bread without the bite of the 9.75% alc. Not to be underestamated. I've only got 2 left on the shelf and one is going to my basement for aging. Peace!

Chicchan, Jan 26, 2009
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this brew from SirSketch, Thanks Zach!

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - murky brown color with a tan head that settles to a ring/layer.

S - sweet date/fig in the aroma.

T - sweet dark fruit flavors upfront with a sour cherry bitterness on the finish.

F - medium/full bodied with mild carbonation.

D - drink it slow and enjoy.

JoeyBeerBelly, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of morimech
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown with a small, tight tan head that hangs around until it eventually settles to a thin cap. Malt really comes through in the aroma. Has a smell of dark bread, toffee, and hazlenut. Thick malty taste. Just a hint of dark fruit and nuts. Sweet flavor overall. No hint of the 9.75% ABV. Thick and creamy mouthfeel combined with the maltiness makes this a big beer. One of the best Scotch Ale I have had and one of the better Dark Horse beers.

morimech, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of kasper
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle compliments of pepsican, likely over a year old but aged in refrigeration.

A: Pours a semi transparent mahogany with ruby accents. A burnt copper head appears oh so briefly though never more than a millimeter or so before fading to a ring and leaving a sticky leg or two on the class.

S: Huge aromas of butterscotch, carmel, banana date nut bread, and some red ripe fruit that I can't put my finger on. One of the most enticing aromas I've picked up from a brew lately -- never had a scotch ale before, actually.

T: Wow, where's the almost 10% ABV? This puppy is smooth as *$)# -- big carmel flavors up front, bitter of bitterness like butterscotch snapps on the end. Not overly complex here, but delicious.

M: Smooth and somewhat slippery. Really low levels of carbonation. Not sure if this was the age on the brew or the intended result, but it doesn't work against the brew like would be common in other cases or styles.

D: Really tasty sipper that goes down twice as smooth as one would think after reading this brews credentials. This beer has opened my eyes to the scotch ale wee heavy style. Looking forward to trying some others.

kasper, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of Bung
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Suprisingly dark brown pour, not a lot of light gets through this. No head to speak of.
Sweet brown sugar, malt and booze aromas. Booze aroma increases as it warms.
Tastes raisin, sweet malt, toffee, molasses. Maybe just a hint of smoke. Did not get any chocolate out of this. Alcohol is not as present as in the nose. Could be fuller bodied, but it is not supposed to be a heavy, though the alcohol content makes me think were thinking about it. Does have nice stickiness, which increases as it warms.
Did not find this terribly drinkable.
Good overall, but not great and not as good as the other dark offerings from Dark Horse.

Bung, Jan 11, 2009
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The beer is dark red with a creamy tan head. The smell is all malt and ethanol, very sweet and caramel-like, very good for the style. The taste is likewise good, malty and sweet with an alcohol burn. A thick and rich meal in a glass. Can Dark Horse do anything poorly? They are an excellent brewery, I'm pretty confident in each purchase from their fine arsenal.

TurdFurgison, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of KeefD
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark amber brown color with no head from a hard pour and no lacing. Aroma is nutty, with loads of caramel and dark sugar. Flavor is loaded with caramel. It's sweet, but not cloyingly so. Hints of nuts, a little bit of maple syrup, and the lightest herbal, grassy hop tinge in the background. It's definitely not balanced. This is sweet and malt centric. I like it. I like it a lot. Mouthfeel is thich and creamy, medium to full bodied. If the alcohol truly is 9.75%, I'm impressed because I can't taste or feel it at all. Very nice brew. I think I'll have another.

KeefD, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of luciusgilmer
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wanted to try another Scotch ale after trying 2 underwhelming local brews (Bell's Christmas and Arcadia Creek).

A: a nice effervescence as the bubbles rose to a head, diminished, then rose again; a good hearty rust (roux) color. A lot of stuff stuck to the bottom of the bottle.

S: nice, toasty, if a bit on the alcohol smelling side (this is a 9.5 or so ABV).

T: very rich; not smelling or tasting "toffee" per se, but it's sweet mixed with malty and toasty.

M: This was fine, smooth, even a bit creamy, if a bit high on the ABV for me for these flavors, meaning I detected the alcohol a bit early

D: I'll try again perhaps--only qualm is the higher alcohol makes this more of a sipper, but its flavors don't necessarily warrant that.

luciusgilmer, Jan 07, 2009
Photo of Gehrig
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A thin finger of slightly tan froth rests atop a cloudy mahogany body with toasted orange highlights. Modest duration and lacing somewhat deter Scotty Karate's presentation, making mine based on a great color. Rich aromas--cinnamon, toffee, chocolate, roasted hazelnut coffee--delicious.

The taste is a wonderfully complex amalgam--part dense, malt, part sour, but more sweet--like a sweet-and-sour sugar cookie, honestly. This is a testament to the bready malt pervading Scotty Karate. A hint of raspberry finishes this off.

Splendid mouthfeel, with the smooth malty texture carrying the day but not without more carbonation than I expected. Very delicious but also strong, the 9.75% ABV catches up before this is through. Yet this us a tremendous Scotch Ale, ranking right there with Founders Dirty Bastard, the perpetually underrated brewery Sprecher Pipers, and Traquair Jacobite atop my personal list of favorite Scotch Ales. Very delicious and not to be passed by.

Gehrig, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of mentor
3.33/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a half finger light brown head over a clear rich brown liquid. Head soda pops away. Smells toffe, rich caramel, mild chocolate. Wet overall with tame clean alcohol. Mild citrusy and a tannic earthiness.

Tastes robust. Rich wet sweet with dark grains and dark fruits. Malt is toffee, dry chocolate, and a gentle sour astringency. Fruits are fig, dark raisin, and berry. Finish dries from alcohol and a bit too strong carbonation, which is good as the beer would be way too sticky sweet otherwise. Smoked grain is very low and comes across mostly in the end. Blends well into the chocolate. Thick sticky mouthfeel and medium, yet aggressive carbonation. Drinkability is meh.

mentor, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of deereless
3.55/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark latte color, medium layer of foam, somewhat murky, no lingering signs of carbonation - 3.50, S: Slightly vinegary, some alcohol aromas, overly ripe to rotting plums that remind me of a plum brandy, heavy on the malts - 3.25, T: Strong bitterly sweet malts, mildly sour, dates and black raisins - 3.50, M: Heavy - 4.00, D: Scottish Ales are outside of my area of expertise but this one is very pleasant and drinkable - 3.50

deereless, Dec 23, 2008
Photo of Tone
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, cloudy brown color. Great head of an off-white color (2/3 inch) , good retention, and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malts, slight fruit aroma, and a few other ingredients that are beyond me at this time of rating. By far, the most complex beer I've rated up to this point - wow. Fits the style quite nicely. Tastes of roasted malts, some sweetness possibly from malts, low carbonation, sharp bitterness in the background (some herb or spice). There's a tart aftertaste and a dryness after a sip or two. Overall, a strong beer with lots of flavor and body. Complex from beginning to end - worth a try.

Tone, Dec 20, 2008
Photo of Beertracker
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark Horse presents Scotty Karate Scotch Ale. Scotty Karate pours up with a modest carbonation that creates a sustainable, cream colored head that neatly rings the murky, mahogany brown-deep russet body. The clarity becomes much brighter as the beer comes to room temperature. The doughy, sweet aroma shows some nuttiness with a touch of perceivable roastiness along with plenty of caramel, treacle & toffee character. There's a lovely fruity, spiciness that's reminiscent of freshly baked persimmon stollen along with an earthy smokiness that emerges as the beer warms in hand. The generous flavor starts off big & bold with a rich caramel, chocolate laced maltiness that's barely contained by a moderate bitterness which brings a touch of balance to this malt monster! There's an interesting dark, spicy, ripe fruitiness e.g. black currants, blackberry cobbler, figgy pudding that underlies each sip which eventually leads into a rich, satisfying, cheek warming finish. This is a fine Scotch Ale for those long, cold winter night's ahead. Here's to Scotty Karate!

Sláinte! Beertracker

*Trader's Note: Thanks to aqsprint for the opportunity!

Beertracker, Dec 18, 2008
Photo of seaoflament
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Scoobydank for this extra.

Pours a muddy, dank brown with about half inch of foam. Not much retention.

Nutty malts, caramel, brown sugar, cola, vanilla, fruity, and a slight peaty aroma in the background. Slight smoky with overtones of oak. A bit of raisins and plums.

Loads of caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak, cherry, and raisins. Nutty and cola flavors in mid-palate. Toasted finish. Fruity alcohol finish.

seaoflament, Dec 12, 2008
Photo of xfactor9600
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter by the bartender from the tap.

A-Deep, dark brown beer with a quickly disappearing tan head.

S- Wafts of caramel and hops.

T- Virtually no bitterness. Strong hints of toffee, which I did not perceive in the initial aroma of the beer.

M-Carbonation was somewhat low, but it made the beer very smooth.

D-After a long week at work, it was a nice change of pace beer. I liked it so much that I had a second one and convinced another at the table to give it a try.

xfactor9600, Dec 10, 2008
Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,410 ratings.