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Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse Reserve Special Black AleDark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

1,019 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,019
Reviews: 561
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 52
Gots: 55 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: xlperro on 05-28-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,019 | Reviews: 561 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MSG0125
1.12/5  rDev -71.6%

MSG0125, Today at 01:51 AM
Photo of TheDarkestYouveGot
1.25/5  rDev -68.4%

TheDarkestYouveGot, Jun 05, 2012
Photo of ModemMisuser
1.7/5  rDev -57%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Had on tap at Dark Horse.

As a Dark Horse fan, I had high hopes for all their beers. This one disappointed. I'm not sure why others rate this one so relatively high. Though, as a genetic bitter taster, maybe I'm tasting compounds in it that others cannot taste, or taste only very mildly.

All I tasted were burnt, acrid, bitter flavors, and I didn't enjoy the beer. Could not even finish the flight's sample cup.

ModemMisuser, Jul 06, 2011
Photo of thirdeye11
1.93/5  rDev -51.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Thanks to amietaj1 for including this as an extra in our trade!

A: Pours the blackest of blacks. Darker than almost any beer I've ever personally poured including a load of stouts. I can't get any light to filter through this beer. No head, and minimal lacing.

S: Smells like plastic, leather, and some burnt toast/coffee in the nose. There's also a roasted malt smell.

T: Smells exactly like it tastes. I had no expectations when I cracked this one, but it wasn't for me at all. I have began enjoying stouts and RIS recently. This beer is similar in some ways, but lacks all the good characteristics those seem to possess.

M: Nice and creamy. Carbonation is spot on.

D: I couldn't finish mine. Drainpour and my first in a VERY VERY long time.

I'm not certain my sample wasn't bad. It was shipped laying on its side, and when I cracked it open there was a trail of something that had situated itself on the side of the bottle. Stayed there after I poured it too and I couldn't get the sediment out even after rinsing the bottle multiple times.

thirdeye11, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of RHB33
2/5  rDev -49.4%

RHB33, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of kennyo
2.13/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle

Poursa pitch black beer with a small brown head that disapates right away.

Aroma is chocolate, ground coffee, beef jerky

taste is very dry, kind of harsh on the back of the throat and coats the toungue. very roasty, too much roast not enough malt base to cover some of this harshness

kennyo, Sep 23, 2006
Photo of mwar
2.25/5  rDev -43%

mwar, Mar 30, 2013
Photo of JBarx
2.25/5  rDev -43%

JBarx, Aug 19, 2012
Photo of rprinz22
2.5/5  rDev -36.7%

rprinz22, Jan 14, 2012
Photo of ElizabethCraig
2.6/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On tap at Dark Horse Brewing Company - this is an abbreviated review.

Taste is strong dark chocolate, dry and extremely bitter. My husband and I are both pretty sensitive to bitter tastes - he was completely overwhelmed by the bitter taste and I could only take a few drinks of it.

I have a problem, for example, with a lot of 'charred' black roasted coffees. As a coffee roaster, I kind of resent those bitter flavors being foisted on the public as the 'ideal' coffee when it's only 1 roasting style on a spectrum of tastes.

This is one example of a beer that I know others may really like and appreciate, but if you're very sensitive to bitter charred tastes and don't find them appealing, you may not like them in your beer.

This beer improves greatly (to my palate and preference) once it's near room temperature. My complaint is that I don't want to wait to drink beer until it's warmed up that much.

ElizabethCraig, Jul 04, 2011
Photo of BeerImmediately
2.68/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Came into this one with high hopes given all the recent hype around here. On draft into pint glass.

Color was deep brown, with a thin tan head. About as expected for a bar pour.

Not much to the smell - little bit of sweetness from molasses and maybe some bittersweet chocolate.

Taste just didn't do it for me - Seemed more like a Smoked beer than anything else. Had a hint of the dark chocolate, accompanied by bitter bark, and harsh, astringent smokiness.

Really sharp, yet thin mouthfeel, which I was not expecting. While ASA varieties are varied, most have a thicker, heartier quality than this. The mouthfeel does improve with higher temperature, so I'd recommend serving at 50 degrees to make this a bit smoother.

If I were a smoker, I imagine I'd dig this beer, but this one just smoked me out and it killed the drinkability for me.

BeerImmediately, Aug 22, 2009
Photo of jrallen34
2.68/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I drank this from a bottle into a chalice.

It pours a motor oil black with not much head and poor lacing.

The aroma is ok but nothing special. There are notes of coffee and light hops.

The taste is just bad. Its light coffee, but this beer doesn't know what it wants to be. Its certainly not an american stong ale. Its in between a porter and imperial stout.

Mouthfeel is ok, but drinkable.

jrallen34, Sep 26, 2009
Photo of carlborch
2.73/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured a beautiful silky black with rather modest head. The head is dark-brown, like the "crema" on the espresso. Has an oily look and dissipates within a minute to a thin film. Chocolate notes on the palate. Rather light formation of Belgian lace. Nice lingering. Medium body. Not as dense as the color and pour suggested. Subdued roasted notes. Hints of coffee. Some bitter hops. I like it, but am not overly impressed. I expected more ale yeast character. While I will not seek it out, it is better than a great many beers.

carlborch, May 27, 2009
Photo of zonker17
2.75/5  rDev -30.4%

zonker17, Oct 05, 2012
Photo of david18
2.75/5  rDev -30.4%

david18, Dec 29, 2013
Photo of dads_basement
2.75/5  rDev -30.4%

dads_basement, Jun 29, 2014
Photo of jameyp
2.75/5  rDev -30.4%

jameyp, Aug 31, 2012
Photo of biglite351
2.85/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - black ad pitch. Tall grey brown creamy head.

S - smoked malts and a good bit of chocolate. A little bitter turn in the end.

T - smokey malts again with dark chocolate. A lot of bitterness in the follow through.

M - good coating, just a hint of tingle on the top of the tongue.

D - too bitter for more than maybe two.

biglite351, Nov 10, 2010
Photo of otto251068
2.88/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours oily black, a dark reddish brown color along the edges. A very dense liquid, no light passes through. A thin, dense layer of head on the pour almost disappears after a few seconds. A thin ring of foam remains around the outside of the glass with some dense bubbles remaining in the center. Impressive so far.

Smell: Day old coffee grounds. A little bit of sourness, a little bit of sweetness, but mostly coffee. A bit of smoke, not much else. As the glass warms the alcohol comes through.

Taste: Roasted dark coffee with a lot of burnt flavor. Plenty of bitterness throughout the drink. There is a sourness presence that I don't like. For me, although it does fade as the beer warms, the coffee and burnt flavors are just too overwhelming.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a high carbonation. The bubbles prickle the tongue and take away from the taste a little. Again, the sourness doesn't fit well with my taste buds.

Overall: I just can't get by the sourness of this beer after the swallow. It would seem to fit better with a Milk Stout. I would drink another one, but not two in one night.

otto251068, Nov 07, 2010
Photo of DanJ
2.9/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured rich oily black into a pint glass, tan foamy head that did not last.

Burnt coffee, roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate aromas with a hint of fruity ester.

Tasted like burnt coffee grounds, bitter chocolate, high bitterness, dry bitter finish.

Medium body, astrigent, medium carbonation, no alcohol warmth.

I do not think thinks this is a real drinkable beer, to hoppy for the style. The finish could be a lot less bitter. The hops overpower the coffee, malt forward taste. I believe this is more of an American Stout than a Stong Ale.

DanJ, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of xav33
2.9/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Bier Ale
12 oz bottle
Recent brewing, arsed over 11/06
Medium pour in an English pint

Poured black with a moderate light brown frothy somewhat lasting head with a tiny ring of lacing.

Smelt of strong nuttiness, mild coffee and cream, mild chocolate, with vanilla cola notes.

Taste was upfront strong bitter coffee and burnt taste with light sweet molasses, followed by a harsh burnt taste and moderate coffee, licorice and nuttiness, on a long bitter burnt finish. Mouthfeel was medium to full bodied, creamy, lively carbonated, with harsh astringency.

Overall, a harsh and not so subtle beer. It smells and looks wonderful, but doesn't beg to please the tastebuds.

xav33, Nov 02, 2006
Photo of tayner
2.93/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle with no freshness date.

was expecting an ale, got a stout out of this bottle for sure. poured black with a huge foamy head that ended up eventually settling into a ring with a slight film across the top.

Bitter citrus/floral hops up front with roasted malts, coffee, bitter chocolate all prominent as well.

Tastes thick and grainy. is this brew unfiltered?

This one doesnt seem balanced enough for me for some reason, too much bitterness in the finish for me, not enough balance. One of these is enough, but worth trying. not my thing

tayner, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of schusterbauer
2.98/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

a -- just what you'd expect: very dark brown, virtually black

s -- roasted coffee beans, chocolate, slight alcohol burn in the nose -- nice!

t -- wonderful flavors here, strong roasted flavors, chocolate, black licorice... but it all seems very watered down. finish is very thin, with little to no flavor lingering after i swallow.

m -- a watery thinness competes with the flavors; mouthfeel puts me in the mind of drinking a Coke

d -- given the style, perhaps a bit too drinkable. i could've downed this in 3 minutes and it would've felt refreshing. that's NOT what i'm looking for in a double stout.

overall -- after reading all of the good reviews of this beer, i'm sincerely hoping this was just a bad bottle. i really enjoy Dark Horse's "too" cream stout, and so i was excited to give this one a try. not a terrible experience, but i am disappointed, because it was just okay, in every sense of the word. perhaps i'll revisit in the future.

schusterbauer, Nov 15, 2006
Photo of Rohkey
3/5  rDev -24.1%

Rohkey, Jun 17, 2013
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Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,019 ratings.