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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

991 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 991
Reviews: 559
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 52
Gots: 50 | FT: 2
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: 991 | Reviews: 559 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bjohnson
bjohnson

Massachusetts

3.9/5  rDev -1.3%

Big thanks to hoppymeal for this offering.

A: Pours a black stallion color with a creamy one finger dark caramel colored head. Slight retention of a film in the center of the glass.
S: Roasted black malt with sweet chocolate and sharp coffee notes. Slight dark fruit presence with a swirl of the glass.
T/M: Immediate sharp bitter coffee flavors that are evened out by sweet chocolate and caramel flavors. Initial sharpness shifts into a soft smooth creamyness on the palate. Pretty hefty bitterness in the finish with a dry aftertaste. Full bodied and damn complex. A nice tasting double stout and one I look forward to sampling again.
D: High abv goes unmasked. Easy drinking and smooth. Bitterness was bigger than I expected it to be, sometimes garnering to much attention by overpowering the other flavors.

12-04-2006 00:00:19 | More by bjohnson
Photo of maundythirsty
maundythirsty

Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +1.3%

As black as advertised. Not a hint of brown. Slight -- but nice-looking -- chocolate milk colored head. Smells a little sour, and mostly of burned coffee.

Tastes like burned coffee and smooth, heavy malt. A little bitterness rounds it out, building in the mouth sip by sip. So tick and velvety, the mouthfeel is unbelievable. Sets the standard for big stouts. Easy going carbonation.

A nice winter drink. Mellow and well-crafted.

11-26-2006 19:26:22 | More by maundythirsty
Photo of benito
benito

Oregon

3.8/5  rDev -3.8%

As others have noted, the artwork (wacky donkey) on the bottle does little justice to the quality or strength of this beer.

It's strictly black with little head and some good, sticky lacing around my mug. It has a bouquet of molasses, and tastes predominantly of burntwood and chicory. There's a crisp bitter finish that's very peppery, giving it a long bite to round of an otherwise smooth palate.

Dark Horse seems to specialize in stouts (that means they're competing against Bell's in Michigan no less!), and this is the finest one I've tasted from them. A serious and charismatic brew. Recommended.

11-23-2006 21:34:47 | More by benito
Photo of lou91
lou91

California

3.88/5  rDev -1.8%

I thought this was a black beer and not a stout but it is all double stout - dark thick and a beautiful dark brown head. The nose was also a wonderful compliment of bitter chocolate, toffee and dark coffee. The taste was solid but the worst mouthfeel I have ever felt in this style. Aside from this flaw it is tasty.

11-20-2006 06:17:15 | More by lou91
Photo of schusterbauer
schusterbauer

Michigan

2.98/5  rDev -24.6%

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.

11-15-2006 14:10:48 | More by schusterbauer
Photo of Winter
Winter

Wisconsin

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%

Don't judge a beer by it's label art. Goofey looking donkey artwork on the label undermines the true gem inside. This pours motor-oil black with a nice dark brown head, which I got after coaxing it with a hard pour. Pleasant vinous aroma with cocoa and chocolate malt. The mouthfeel is very full-bodied. This is a big stout all the way. Chocolate and roasted/burnt malt on the front end. A dry stout-like bitterness follows. Hints of oak and burnt raisin in the middle. There's a dry hop bitterness toward the back. Finishes with layered chocolate and alcohol. Very solid yet unassuming double stout.

11-08-2006 04:58:18 | More by Winter
Photo of adammills
adammills

Michigan

3.83/5  rDev -3%

Pours a jet black with a disapointing head. It is very thick as it pours, far from watery. The aroma as it pours smacks you right in the face, very coffee. Sweet, bitter, maybe a hint of chocolate. The it almost hits like a porter, the beer is rather sharp. For such a thick looking beer the mouthfeel is lighter than I expected. Alcohol is present in the back. Pretty good, would not buy again however, but worth a try.

11-06-2006 02:07:00 | More by adammills
Photo of xav33
xav33

Michigan

2.9/5  rDev -26.6%

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.

11-02-2006 07:00:20 | More by xav33
Photo of dogfooddog
dogfooddog

Panama

4.33/5  rDev +9.6%

this bottle courtesy of MABZ....ours with thick tan head, this nearly-black beer is nearly opaque. Wonderful odor of sweet dark candy and roasted malt, very appealing. served 55f.

taste matches - fairly sweet at first, then the whole impact of burnt chocolate-like malt hits the tongue, in a way almost overwhelming. very enjoyable.

highly recommended.

11-02-2006 06:19:41 | More by dogfooddog
Photo of terrabyte
terrabyte

Wisconsin

3.9/5  rDev -1.3%

Wonderful black color with an even better dark-tan head. The head doesn't last long and ends into a limp thin head.

Smell is like dark roasted coffee than eventually fades after tasting it.

The flavor is quite strong, which I appreciate. However, it seems a bit burnt. Chocolate, coffee, and bitter. At least it's interesting. The other beers I reviewed tonight I complained about the lack of strong flavor. This beer has strong flavor, even if some of it is in the negative. However, it's a quality I was looking for. This beer has something going on, and if it hits your goals, it'll be a favorite.

09-26-2006 01:17:07 | More by terrabyte
Photo of kennyo
kennyo

New York

2.13/5  rDev -46.1%

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

09-23-2006 02:11:03 | More by kennyo
Photo of badbeer
badbeer

Iowa

4.3/5  rDev +8.9%

Pours an dark black color with a tan and darker brown colored head, looks nice and creamy. Smell is hoppy, roasty, and chocolatey. Taste is slightly astringent, but plenty of hops in there and a nice cocoa flavor and a roasty undertone to help balance things out, quite good. Mouthfeel is nice and thick with lower carbonation, just about perfect. A very solid beer that I plan on getting again. I think this one will get even better with age, a hypothesis I plan to test out.

09-12-2006 03:38:13 | More by badbeer
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

3.7/5  rDev -6.3%

12oz single, Riley's, $1.89...Welcome to Wisconsin Dark Horse

appearance: poured into a snifter...opaque black body, extremely dark, light creamy chocolatey head with just slight lacing around the rim...dark bold double stout, looks quite nice. Odd label, but I like it I guess.

smell: very roasty, licorice, burnt coffee grounds, cocoa powder, dark roasted malt. bold dark aromas

taste: I remember tasting this at the Great Taste of the Midwest and not being overwhelmed. It's certainly a different type of double stout...licorice flavours are big, char, lots of burnt flavour, very roasty, cocoa powder, dark roast, molasses.

mouthfeel: waaay to thin for my taste, bitter dry finish

drinkability: pretty good, not my favourite DH beer

08-31-2006 00:18:57 | More by dirtylou
Photo of lackenhauser
lackenhauser

Maryland

4.33/5  rDev +9.6%

Deep black with a seriously nice tan head. Slight head lingers on the surface down the glass. Nice roasted aroma-somewhat of a cross between mocha and a fine grade of chocolate. Somewhat faint but a pleasant aroma overall. Big, killer chocolate flavor. Huge graininess with a mellow, very rounded roasted flavor. Just a great mix. Good body but the grainy flavor leaves it a bit dry overall. Very, very drinkable beer. The dry/grain flavor is a tad much but very yummy indeed. Thank you sir may I have another?

08-27-2006 18:19:33 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of Golden2wenty1
Golden2wenty1

Wisconsin

4.08/5  rDev +3.3%

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison. Was expecting a schwarz from the name, surprised to find it was a double stout upon checking BA.

Pour: midnight black, zero visibility, inch of creamy cappucino foam leaving impressive lacing for the ABV.

Nose: bittersweet cocoa powder, bitter roasted malt, espresso bean and lightly smoked jerky

Taste: intensely bitter, almost ashy, roasted malts; Dutch cocoa powder, prune, burnt espresso bean, smoky jerky and a lightly fruity raspberry finish. The 8% is nowhere to be found - kudos.

Feel: creamy and chewy, but thinned in the finish from the 8%. A little metallic grit on the tongue.

Drinkability/Overall: a nice, roasty, bitter, mild, drinkable double stout. A nice alternative to Storm KIng in the category. Glad to see another good brewery being distributed in Madison. Bring it on.

08-22-2006 04:58:18 | More by Golden2wenty1
Photo of brewcrew76
brewcrew76

Wisconsin

3.8/5  rDev -3.8%

thanks to beerinator for this one

A - Solid black with a thin brown head that dissipates to a small brown oil slick floating on top. This one is dark not allowing any light to penetrate.

S - Roasted malt, coffee, hint of dark chocolate.

T - Very roasty, almost ashy. Sweet chocolate balanced by bitter/sour coffee flavors. The roasty/ash aspect combined with the bitterness comes across just a little too strong for my liking.

M - A little on the thin side of a full mouthfeel. Ends very dry. The alcohol is hidden very well.

D - A solid stout that is just slightly astringent.

08-04-2006 21:58:26 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of CortexBomb
CortexBomb

Michigan

3.83/5  rDev -3%

Bottle of unknown age...pour is jet, but not much head around...only average. The appearance is helped by the viscuity of the body though, heavy clinging, which puts it back up a half notch. The smell reminds me why I like stouts though, exceptionally roasty with a hop and coffee edge on it...textbook stout.

The taste starts out with a roasted malty aspect and then goes big into chocolate with a strangely spicy undertone, almost limey...somewhat reminds me of Batch 7000 by Bells in that regard. Very malty, heavy on the coffee with the hops being more present than a standard stout, but not dominating either...good stuff.

The mouth, not as heavy as I would like, but it's not overly watery either. Some hop tingles as well...a shade above average. Drinkability, also about par for the course.

The bottom line: a pretty tasty stout offering by the guys from Dark Horse. Does a nice job of incorporating hops strongly without making them unbalance the brew and make it less enjoyable.

06-13-2006 00:04:30 | More by CortexBomb
Photo of beermanbrian
beermanbrian

Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +13.2%

Opaque black beer with a thin tan head. Tan film hangs around and does give some nice lacing. Smell is a big WOW. Bitter chocolate, burnt coffee, smokeyness. Taste is so nice and full. This is one I wish I would have bought more of. Chocolate taste up front that turns into a nice burnt coffee bitterness. Finishes dry with a smokey aftertaste. I will have this beer every chance I get.

06-04-2006 00:47:02 | More by beermanbrian
Photo of WeisGuy
WeisGuy

New York

4.33/5  rDev +9.6%

a - deep dark black with a good sized tan head that leaves a nice lace

s - roasted malt and espresso, perhaps some bittersweet chocolate too, nice bitterness in the aroma

t - wow, this one is very well balanced with the roasted malt and coffee flavors complementing each other nicely, the bitter finish just lingers in your mouth until you take another drink, the alcohol is not there in taste, but it definitely warms you up

m - very thick and creamy feeling, a little carbonation evident, coats the mouth very well

d - very drinkable for the style, I could definitely handle two of these, more than that is asking a lot for a double stout

One of the biggest suprises I've ever had in beer tasting. The label sure makes this look like an amateur beer, but everything else about it says that these guys know what they're doing. I really enjoyed this beer...not quite as much as Bell's Batch 7000, but it's right up there in my book. I really wish I could find this beer in my area. Good thing I spend a lot of time in Michigan.

06-03-2006 19:26:22 | More by WeisGuy
Photo of Wildman
Wildman

Ohio

4.1/5  rDev +3.8%

@Darkhorse
This beer poured into the glass and formed a black hole that seemed to swallow all light that tried to enter it. It formed a light tan head that slowly subsided. An aroma heavy of malt and coffee. The flavor was of malt, burnt coffee and a touch of chocolate. It had a medium body with a slight burnt aspect to the finish. All in all, a good beer.

06-02-2006 01:30:18 | More by Wildman
Photo of EPseja
EPseja

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%

Rated on a vacation in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Served from a 12oz bottle in a pint glass at cellar temperature.

Hmm... says "Reserve Special" on the bottle instead of "Special Reserve". I think the original poster missed that in the title.

A - Motor oil black pour - reminds me a bit of Dark Lord, but without the reverse cascade. The beer is a super dark mahogany brown color; almost opaque. And...starting from almost nothing, the head amazingly rises to a full three fingers like rising yeast bread - thick, frothy creamy cocoa brown in color. Sticky and statuesque. Lacing is very nice. Awesome, but just short of perfection.

S - Huge toasty malts. Dry chocolate cake and unsweetened baking chocolate. Light notes of vanillin and dark fruits (is this oak aged perhaps?). Raisins. Wisps of maraschino cherries. My mouth is watering.

T - Big, dark roasted malts with nice subtle sweetness up front that releases its hold in the middle. The finish brings a snappy hop bitterness that works very nicely in contrast with the heaviness of the rest of the taste. Almost a slight burnt coffee aftertaste, but not in a bad way. More like the dregs of a demitasse of espresso. Well developed and engaging.

M - Creamy and mouthfilling without being overcarbonated -- compliments the big character of the taste. Swallow is smooth and washes down very easily.

D - This is a wonderfully delicious beer for the style and the best new find of my Michigan trip. I wish it were more readily available on the east coast.

05-20-2006 01:07:34 | More by EPseja
Photo of geexploitation
geexploitation

Indiana

4.18/5  rDev +5.8%

This one pours beautifully, with a thick but not sludgy body and a brilliant dark brown head. The aroma is primarily of roasted malts -- lots of burny smells. The taste is bitter, bitter, bitter -- tons of roasted malt bitterness and a touch of something sour at the end. There's also a bit of egg cream and cookie spices. Mouthfeel is pretty thick, but not nearly as thick as a lot of Imperial and Double Stouts out there -- this enhances the drinkability considerably, as it makes Dark Horse a substantial, but not a huge, beer. High marks overall. Not terribly complex, but very good at what it does have.

05-12-2006 02:09:26 | More by geexploitation
Photo of goodbyeohio
goodbyeohio

Oregon

4.18/5  rDev +5.8%

thanks to patyoda for the sample

pours a slick black color with creamy patterns of dense, thin foam on top. lacing survives the longest tilt in glassware history. aroma is young, yeasty, and dusted with rich cocoa powder. slightest nasal note of charred molasses crystals and black berry fruit.

light and creamy mouthfeel is stellar, increasing drinkability. flavor bears a bright berry ester produced by extremely burnt, carbon-caked coffee bean and chocolate malt. bitter in a quick jab fashion- not waxy or palate busting.. the roastiness blasts you into next week but leaves the palate somewhat clean and begging for more. slight hop greenery is detectable in the end as well as lingering coffee syrup. a unique contrast between fresh botanical tartness and stouty wham exist here.. and it's rather pleasing to the mouth.

doesn't strike me as 8%, another plus. strangely refreshing without sacrificing body. that's a strange bird, alright. recommended.

05-09-2006 22:50:11 | More by goodbyeohio
Photo of aforbes10
aforbes10

Iowa

4.18/5  rDev +5.8%

black, with a small burnt unber head. opaque and very think and sludgy looking. roasted malt odor, pretty standard for the type. burnt taste is predominant. some creaminess. some hops on finish giving it a good bitterness. hops keep it interesting beyond the burnt roastiness. very toasty. overall pretty satisfying. going to have to visit dark horse up in MI sometime soon to drink from their taps.

05-05-2006 18:35:37 | More by aforbes10
Photo of kmpitz2
kmpitz2

Tennessee

4.18/5  rDev +5.8%

12 oz botle. Pours as black as can be, with a light head that falls to a patchy film over top. Light does not penetrate this one at all. Nose is very roasty, almost ashy, with a solid dark fruity sweetness, and coffee undertones. It seems a little distant. I'd really like it to be stronger in the aroma. Flavor is anything from distant. Initially, I'm hit with flavors of deep roast and dark fruit, that fades quickly into a coffee bitterness that is accentuated by a very nice and clean bitterness from the hopping. The hop bitterness really hangs well into the finish as well. I like the interplay of roast and hop. Feel is thick, with a light carbonation. Its not syrupy at all, really making this one work well on my tongue. This is a very easy drinking big stout. I like that the flavors come together to a nice combination of sweet and malty and roasty and hoppy. Alcohol is not obtrusive. This one is deceptively drinkable and would get me in trouble if it were on the shelves around me. Very excellent beer.

05-02-2006 02:42:07 | More by kmpitz2
Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 991 ratings.