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 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.
very good

1,037 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,037
Reviews: 563
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 10.66%
Wants: 53
Gots: 58 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,037 | Reviews: 563 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mmcnaughton
4.75/5  rDev +20.6%

mmcnaughton, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of sm0key
4/5  rDev +1.5%

sm0key, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of Pellinore1
5/5  rDev +26.9%

Pellinore1, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of RandyJ
5/5  rDev +26.9%

RandyJ, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of Neffbeer
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Neffbeer, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of BearsDitkaBears
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%

BearsDitkaBears, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Exiled, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +1.5%

JAHMUR, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of thebouch01
5/5  rDev +26.9%

thebouch01, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of nanobrew
4/5  rDev +1.5%

nanobrew, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of DocDownUnder
4/5  rDev +1.5%

DocDownUnder, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of Jspriest
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Jspriest, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of mattyb
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours very dark with a fluffy cinnamon colored head.

S - I found the nose to be very muted, very slight scent of roasted malts.

T - Luckily this tastes better than it smells. I found the taste to be very big with roasted malts, surrounded by caramel and coffee.

M - A little creamy with medium body and light carbonation.

O - Like others have said, drinks like a porter/stout. I found it to be quite tasty and for $1.50/bottle I will drink some more.

mattyb, Nov 12, 2011
Photo of paxtonthegreat
4.85/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours super black in color with a very unique creamy head. Aromas of dark chocolate, leather, and tobacco in the nose. Flavor mostly consisting of dark chocolate, dark malt, and slight leather and roasty and smokiness. A great strong ale that I convinced my local pub to get on draft because I love it so much.

paxtonthegreat, Nov 07, 2011
Photo of SirSketch
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black beer with a mocha colored, soda- pop head.

S - Creamy milk chocolate, butterscotch candy, cappuccino, and even some cherry.

T - The taste is pretty roasty, astringent and dry, with coffee and lactose notes in the background. Chocolate is more of a bitter, dark chocolate than milk chocolate.

M - Thick, sticky mouth and little carbonation. Might be a bit too full-bodied.

O - Both sweet and chocolaty, while being roasty and with coffee flavor. Porter, stout or whatever you want to call it, this beer is delicious!

SirSketch, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of ColdPoncho
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - black body, big tan head, nice stout-ish look.

S - smoked meats, tanned leather, earth and wood hints, some dark fruits.

T - Nice smoke and roast on the malt front. A really nice malt profile, to be honest. Good balance of all things dark.

M - medium body, smooth, a bit drying.

O - a real nice beer. I'd drink this regularly. Nothing wrong with it, and its pretty tasty.

ColdPoncho, Oct 27, 2011
Photo of Mscarpen
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A supermarket, jet black beer with a crazy thin head and no lacking. Smells of floral, hops, and smoke. Tastes of extreme dark hops, mild chocolate, and a pleasant bitter back end. Thick mouthfeel with a very aggressive tonge coating.

Overall, a very surpising dark beer with tos of hops. If that is your sweet spot, then this is for you!

Mscarpen, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of monitorpop
3.28/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark Horse Black Bier

A: Black oil, with a ruby brown glow in the light. slight tan head that dissipates to almost nothing.

S: Faint roasted malts and a bit of smoke.

T: Molasses, roasted malts, bitter hops.

M: Silky with a light carbonation, almost no alcohol burn.

O: This is more of a hoppy stout than a strong ale. Not too bad, but it was not really what I expected.

monitorpop, Oct 08, 2011
Photo of hdelavega
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BeerThursdays for this beer.
Pours a nice black with a sticky light brown head that leaves a very nice lacing down the glass.
Smell is rich with roasty malt and a little sweet fruit.
Taste is well balanced with carmely roasted malt and a nice bitter coffee like finish.
Carbonation is nice and bright, it's pretty smooth around the mouth, there is a little bit of a grainy feeling.
I hope I can try some more from this brewery. Very nice!

hdelavega, Oct 04, 2011
Photo of jbierling
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

According to Dark Horse's web site: ABV 7.5%.

The Reserve Special is the oldest of all beers in the Dark Horse family. Its thick and when poured into a glass its color is extremely dark. Best described as a strong black ale.

Appearance: Black color.

Smell: Pleasant.

Taste: Very smooth. Finished strong.

Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Fun. Unique bottle and artwork. Loved the name. "Reserve" indicates something special and it fits the billing.

jbierling, Sep 25, 2011
Photo of ckeegan04
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pitch black with the thinnest of brown foamy head. Beer is inpenetrable even when held up to a light source. Foam quickly dissipates to the thinnest of rings and leaves spotty lacing around the glass.

S - Big aroma of roasted malt. Lots and lots of roastiness. In addition, I pick up notes of chocoalte and just a hint of dark fruits. The roasted malt really just dominates the entire thing though.

T - Roasted malt up front and lots of it. As that taste passes I get some bittersweet chocolate, a hint of vanilla and what I recognize as a touch of oak despite this not ever seeing wood as far as I know. Some dark fruits and a touch of spice sneak in on the finish.

M - Medium to full bodied and a touch sticky. Near perfect level of carbonation gives the beer just a hint of life on the tongue while still maintaining that near full bodidness.

O - An excellent beer. Not sure why it isnt just labeled a stout because that sure is what it tastes like to me. A great display of what can be done to showcase malt flavors without needing a big, hoppy slap in the face.

ckeegan04, Sep 20, 2011
Photo of Evil_Pidde
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours pitch black with brown head. Slow dissipation leaves decent lacigns.

S: Roasted dark malts, a bit smoked. Some dark bitter chocolate and strong black coffee.

T: Very like the smell: heavy roast on the malts, some smoke. Lots of dark chocolate and strong black coffee. Some vanilla in the taste. Some mild piney notes.

M: Long lovely bitter aftertaste. Body is full and carboantion is mild. Oily smooth.

O: If I had to describe this beer: a mix between Schwarzbier, Smoked beer and Imperial Stout. Nice!

Evil_Pidde, Sep 04, 2011
Photo of kagent777
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle obtained in a trade with (I am pretty sure) zrab11. Thanks Zach! Poured into my goblet.

Appearance: This is one dark beer, with a slight tan head that settled too quickly and left a little ring around the edge. Really, I cannot see through this one and the edges have more of a brown hue than ruby.

Smell: Smells of dark flavors smoke, wood, brownies. The malts are clearly present in a nice roasty way.

Taste: The roasty malts take center stage with a little coffee and dark chocolate type flavors. There is a bit of edgy char with a little bit of bite. This beer is not completely smooth and that is OK with me. There is a small pleasant grassy citric hoppiness that lingers in the background near the finish. The finish goes on for a while.

Mouthfeel: A full bodied beer as you might expect. The carbonation is perfectly subtle.

Overall: This is a nice alternative to stouts or porters, I enjoyed it very much. I would get this one again, if given the opportunity.

kagent777, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of Holland
4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: black as the night - is this a stout? The head is a brownish color, and it starts around 1-2 inches and dissipates to become a ring of lacing with some very fine bubbles left behind on top.

S: coffee, smoked wood, heavily roasted malts, a bit of butterscotch

T: starts with a coffee flavor, then some bitterness and sourness, then butterscotch, wood, earthy tones

M: medium bodied with quite a bit of hops to balance it, and just the right amount of carbonation to bring out the hops and coffee flavor bitterness. Nice!

O: this is a bier to savor - it's more beastly than you'd think. I paid $10 for the 6 pack, so solid deal for this quality beer. Still haven't had a bad one from Dark Horse - this one could take #2 of theirs.

Holland, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of pmarlowe
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Tulip glass. Thanks to scoot1969 for this one.

A: Pours a viscous black with a finger of dense, dark khaki head. Pretty good retention and nice sheets of lace.

S: Big roasted and smoke malts with secondary dark chocolate and espresso.

T: Roasted/smoked malt and espresso. Pretty dry, and not much chocolate to balance it, which makes this a little difficult to drink too much of. Tiny bit of alcohol noticeable.

M: Full bodied and mild carbonation is very good for the style.

O: I'm not sure what distinguishes this from a stout. But anyway, this is not bad for a stout-like beer, solidly on the roasty end of the spectrum (which is not really my cup of... beer).

pmarlowe, Aug 26, 2011
Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 1,037 ratings.