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Dark Horse Amber Ale - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse Amber AleDark Horse Amber Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

328 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 328
Reviews: 186
rAvg: 3.46
pDev: 15.61%
Wants: 6
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Mitchster on 08-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 328 | Reviews: 186 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of becktone


3.98/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes 6-20-09

Eye: Unfortunately this one fails to form a head and what it does form it fails to retain. Color is a nice clear red copper. All in all it looks real nice but for the head. No lacing

Nose: Strong malty, fruity, clove-like aroma fills the room once poured. Belgian yeast is evident, spicy warm clove aromas easily come through. Nice caramel undertones, very nice malt character. Malt character is to that of the sweet mash during the brewing process, smells just great.

Tongue: Spiciness and other phenols and esters come from the yeast. The carrier said it right they take it to a whole different level. This one is pretty dry. The malt gives some balance but it doesn't seem to come through as much or as rich as it did in the aroma. The malt takes a back seat to the yeast. Still good though. Sure its good. Not great and not to be damned either.

Feel and Drinkability: Finish is medium dry and this beer has a medium body to it with carbonation that is in check, not interfering with what the interplay between the yeast and malt. There is a tradeoff between the two, especially as it warms, they play and interweave. This is one I'd drink again when in the mood. However, it doesn't make the list of beers that "wow" me. Its good no doubt, and I've enjoyed the first five and now finally on the last one I'm enjoying it too.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2009 20:54:11 | More by becktone
Photo of BARFLYB


3.38/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- Dark Horse Amber is a amber, bronze color with no head, I mean some bubbles break the surfavce but dont form a head, no lace.

S- Grains, malt, yeast and some faint hop aroma. This seems to have a small fruit element to it as well

T- See above, it really mimicks the smell with the fruit coming out even more. All the above smells are in taste and integrate into a decent amber.

M&D- Light bodied and kind of comes off a bit watery. Very low carbonation as well. Glad I bought a single of this because I was good after 12oz. The feel is the worst part of this, needs to be livlier.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2009 20:55:40 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of CPeterson


2.95/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A -- A deep amber copper color with almost no head that completely vanished after about ten seconds.

S -- Smells more like a Belgian than an amber, faint fruity aromas cling in my nostrils. A slight sourness is present.

T -- Definitely tastes more of a Belgian than a traditional amber. I can't really define the flavor affinity to the fruit I want to attribute it to, but there is something there, possibly from the yeast? Sweet and mild and not overpowering.

M -- Rather thin and fleeting, saying there was almost no carbonation would be gracious. There and gone with hardly a trace.

D -- I would drink this beer again, but I wouldn't pick it up if I was shopping for an Amber Ale. Good for a random purchase, but it didn't blow me away. Easily sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2009 02:27:29 | More by CPeterson
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

3.65/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not so much pumpkin as pumpkin pie filling; it isn't a pure orange-amber but is actually a toasty, rather murky tone made so by shades belonging to the likes of brown sugar and cinnamon. All these muddying hues turn its clarity clammy at best. Head is wholly non-existent, even its trim seems to have precipitated.

Dark Horse curiously lists this yeast as being an "almost" Belgian strain which implies not quite; I'll have to assume it isn't even though the spicy clove-like phenols and banana-fronted esters heavily imply that it is. If I didn't know any better the names "Chimay" and "Ommegang" would have instantly popped into mind.

Like its aroma, the beer's flavour is confident and forward... not entirely with good reason. Specifics include: a few shakes of cinnamon, a whole evergreen worth of clove, a dash of pepper, a splash of lemon juice and a slurry of decomposing apples and bananas. This is spicy and only adequately malty with virtually no trace of toffee, caramel or budding hop cones that is expected of most American-made amber ales.

Of course, it's obvious this isn't anything like most amber ales - which is something, in fairness, the brewery makes clear. And it's easy to see exactly what they were going for: an abbey-style Belgian ale. What isn't exactly clear to me is why they haven't tweaked the recipe some; the beer is overly aggressive with a considerably watery flavour. More malt is desperately needed, or at least something to scale back the that yeast.

It is intensely peppery and leaves you in the clutches of forceful zestiness, one that fervidly gnaws away at your palate. Halfway through the bottle my palate feels exhausted while my gullet yearns for more beer, albeit of a different variety. The aftertaste it leaves is ardently biting with an almost sour note. I need something else to drink now.

Yes, Belgian ales have characterful yeasts that brim with spice and nuance. They also, however, have poise and elegance and drink with a kind of refinement unmatched by the beers of other nations. I think Dark Horse missed that last point when formulating this beer. My personal opinion is this brewery should never mind imitating the tradition of others and stick to what they do best: making insolent, defiant ales the American way.

Serving type: bottle

10-05-2009 23:36:52 | More by biegaman
Photo of supercolter


3.85/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a pretty decent amber but there are boetter ones. Appearance is good, not a lot of head or lacing but nice color. Smell is a bit weak, some mildly sweet malt, very basic hop character. Malt is a bit sweeter in the mouth and there is some dryness on the backend. Hops are still simple. Mouthfeel is decent but not the best carbonated. Drinkability is good.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2009 17:32:13 | More by supercolter
Photo of sholland119


4.1/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a slightly hazy copper amber with LOTS of carbonation, leaving a thin white head but no lacing.

S-Sweet caramel malt and a whiff of citrus hops. Good for the style.

T-And so is the taste. Quite sweet throughout, maybe a bit too much so but I am grateful to have lots of taste. A bit of hoppy bitterness in the finish but not much of it.

M-Light bodied and crisp, despite the high carbonation.

D-Darn sessionable. Tasty and delicious. A big, pleasant surprise as this style is not a favorite.


Serving type: bottle

09-29-2009 22:41:52 | More by sholland119
Photo of Ricochet


3.4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My old friend the beads rolling at the top of the pour leads me to believe this will be a good beverage. The carbonation seems a little high, and there is a light brown appearance with a little head that disappeared and no sign of lace. Plus for the beads. Smell was a little cider like with little else. Mouth was thick, with only a little bitter at the back and a slight cereal aftertaste. Taste was an Octoberfest beer. It wasn't as malty and the punch from the alcohol made itself known. The toasted malt was subdued and there was a bit of the sour, cider-like apple that ended with hints of caramel. Hmmm.

This seems more like something else, but a drinkable fall beverage.

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2009 02:09:48 | More by Ricochet
Photo of BierFan


3.58/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Thin light tan head. Dark amber body with some reddish hues. Carbonation is a pretty low.

Smell: Flavor is very much of ripe bananas. I wonder if this was made with a hefeweizen yeast strain? Regardless, I like the unusual(for the style) smell.

Taste: This beer could almost pass as a dunkelweizen. More banana in the flavor. Minimal bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2009 02:04:05 | More by BierFan
Photo of yourefragile

District of Columbia

3.65/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle

Copperish color with a yeasty haze and a cream head that has decent retention before reducing a cap with some webs of lacing. Hmm, doesn't really smell like any other amber I've had, most noticeable elements are some fruitiness and Belgian like yeast, not much malt or hop presence. My first reaction to this beer is fairly unfavorable as this is very distinct from what I was expecting and isn't very enjoyable. Grainy, yeasty, very low malt profile or sweetness and not much hops in the finish. Medium body with high carbonation and a slightly fruity, yeasty aftertaste. As this warms up it becomes a little more enjoyable, but something still seems off. Not quite an amber, not quite a Belgian. Not bad, but I'll pass in the future.

Serving type: bottle

09-04-2009 03:06:13 | More by yourefragile
Photo of ChainGangGuy


2.83/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours up a clear, obliging amber body with a small-sized, bubbly, white head.

Smell: Initial whiff of steeped, steamy grains and tea leaves followed with background notes of banana peels tossed with cloves.

Taste: Lightly sweet pale malts in the fore and already there's a fruity taste of bananas trying to squeeze its way into the taste. Not too terribly much in the way of hops beyond some light floral, herbal traces like a splash of English Breakfast Tea. No more than a small amount of bitterness. Small tinge of cracked clove near the drying, banana-laden finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: This is one combination that just didn't work with me. Called the "red headed step child" of the Dark Horse beer line-up, which is fitting, as I was ready to openly beat this one when I was done. A bit disappointing, really, as I'm typically a fan of their work.

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2009 00:35:54 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of barnzy78


3.13/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. Pours a hazy copper-amber color with no transparency, but there is also a very thin head that dissipates to nothing in a matter of seconds and leaves no lacing on the glass. Aromas seem weak - some sweetness from the malts - maybe some toasted grains and some mild hop scents with a hint of some orange rind. Tastes are similar to the aroma - toasted grains, sweet, mild citric hops with the alcohol seemingly overbearing even though it has a relatively low ABV. Finishes bittersweet with some diacetyl hints. I thought this might have been oxidized somewhere along the lines, but reading others' reviews this seems to be the product distributed, and unfortunately it falls short for the style.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2009 20:25:41 | More by barnzy78
Photo of stevenseg


3.9/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark Horse braved all Hatian and crossed the state line traveling from Marshall, Michigan to Columbus, Ohio to present several beers for tasting at Barley's Smokehouse and Prewpub Alehouse No. 2. On tap were the Dark Horse Amber, Crooked Tree, Special Dark Bier and Sapient Trip. First up for tasting was the Amber...the mellowest in color.

Served in from a tasting table in a pitcher, the Amber poured a foggy pale amber color...almost like a pressed cider color. Even from a poured pitcher, the 5 oz. Amber maintained a small head. The 5 oz. didn't stick around long, so I can't comment on the staying power from the head.

The sweet smell of the malt comes through, but barely a hint of hops. But overall, the aroma is very week. It definitely smells noninvasive.

The hop taste is very underwhelming. The very slightly roasted malts gives a slightly sweet taste, but with very little hint of the roast. The yeast gives a bit of a sour feel...almost like a Belgian.

The feel of the Amber is very smooth...a trait of all Dark Horse beers. The carbonation doesn't jump out at you, but rather coaxes itself to the back of the palate. Carbonation = filling, and the Dark Horse Amber is smooth enough to increase drinkability.

I could drink the Dark Horse Amber all night. At 6% ABV, it's not strong enough to overwhelm the flavor. This is a great strong ale. The sour might be a bit overwhelming...just a bit...but the minimal hops decreases the richness.

There have been a lot of claims of the Dark Horse Amber resembles a Belgian of sorts. I agree to a degree, but all in all, it's clear that the Amber is brewed with top malts, American yeast and a flare of hops. Definitely give it a shot.

Serving type: on-tap

08-08-2009 03:41:58 | More by stevenseg
Photo of bruachan

District of Columbia

2.93/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(hmmm...how free of soap residue was that glass?)

copper in color, with a weak head that fizzled fairly quickly (see soap ponderance above. i'll judge according to lacing). ringlets at the surface

very sweet and fruity aroma. i suspect the fermentation temperature was on the higher side, and this lends a nearly belgian inclination to the drink. almost no sign of hop (a touch of floral) and the malt lends little roasty or bready elements. one dimensional, actually

warm on the tongue, and thick. very fruity and not so well hopped. i get a touch of cough syrup in here that could well be a function of alcohol mixed with a dried cherry element. there's a bitterness that rounds out the whole experience, but it is quite alienated from the rest of the beer. despite the initial sense of viscosity the beer comes off as a bit anemic at the finish...not watery, just lame

honestly, this tastes quite belgian. the same grain bill would make a nice belgian amber drink

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2009 19:17:19 | More by bruachan
Photo of david131


3.93/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A murky amber/ orange liquid with some yellow highlights at the edges. The white head is splotchy and thin. This looks like it means business.

S- Flaked oats and some caramel with just the slightest hint of orange rind. Pretty simple, but not too bad.

T- Flaked oats, caramel, milk chocolate, orange rind and just a hint of flowers. Pretty nice and not as earthy as I was expecting based upon the aroma.

M- Pretty creamy with a nice carbonation bite that keeps things pretty dry.

D- An enjoyable take on the style that differentiates itself from the pack. If I'm in the mood for an amber ale at some point, I could see myself going for this one.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2009 02:46:13 | More by david131
Photo of bassmantin


3.98/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Andrew for giving me one from his six pack.

Pours a deep orange with minimal head. I really like the malts in this one. They are almost Belgian in their sweetness, and they are strongly apparent in the aftertaste. Minimal hop taste, but for what this is, it is very enjoyable. This is one of the better of the amber style I have had. Generally these turn out fairly bland, but the richness of these malts is impressive.

My only concern is that it is a bit too sweet and I could get tired of it as the sugars build up on my tongue. I'll come back and edit my review if that happens.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2009 00:24:31 | More by bassmantin
Photo of beachbum1975


2.45/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 ounce brown bottle with no freshness date on label.

Poured cold from the fridge a cloudy amber with small chunks on the bottom. Uh oh, I'm afraid this one sat too long on the shelf. Having not seen comparable reviews on BA, I am going to review it like I see it. Head rentenion is brief and the small head that appeared shortly was chunky and tan with mixed bubble sizes.

Smell is a bit musty and almost sour, like grapes or other vined fruits. I do get faint hints of sweet malts in the mix, as well.

Amber? This almost tastes like a sour-style beer to me. I get a wide range of odd flavors with a strange, belgium candied sweets essence on the forefront. I get a mix of sweet malts and lightly sour grapes, as well.

The mouthfeel is of low carbonation and slick. The beer is medium bodied with medium flavor.

I didn't care for this one.

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2009 02:27:21 | More by beachbum1975
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber color with a one finger head that retains nicely and leaves dots of lace

Smell: Tart apples and caramel; rather yeasty

Taste: Tart fermenting apple flavor, with hints of caramel underneath; perhaps some apple pie spice (cinnamon and clove) in there as well; not much flavor progression, however

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; a bit chewy

Drinkability: When I first tasted this beer, I thought something had gone wrong; as I realized this was a different take on the style, I started to enjoy it more and more; perhaps a different name would have been a good idea as this certainly doesn't fit one's expectation of an Amber

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2009 22:46:40 | More by brentk56
Photo of tempest


3.65/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single from Princeton Liquors in Maple Grove, MN. I was a little worried I'd picked up another boring amber, but Dark Horse has made something different - thank God. The aroma is a little husky and the flavor is a bit dusty, but there's also a big cocoa taste with caramel candy. Looking at the beer, it's a bit darker than a normal amber, a clear light brown. Come to think of it, this beer is a little more like a brown ale, but I'll take it. This beer is worth checking out.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2009 03:18:10 | More by tempest
Photo of champ103


4.05/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big thanks to HardTarget for the extra.

A: Pours a very dark and murky reddish/brown color. At first a two finger beige head forms, but recedes in a minute. A small ring of foam stays, and leaves some patchy lace.
S: This is really interesting. At first lots of fruit that are slightly sour. Apples and pears jump out at me. As the aroma lingers some toasted caramel malt that balances everything out.
T: Sour fruits of apples and pears again. Even some darker fruits like plums. Sweet caramel, toffee, and toasted malt.
M/D: A medium body, but a little to much prickly carbonation. Easy and smooth to drink though. Something I can session.

This is a great malty treat. Something I really enjoyed, and would recommend.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2009 19:05:44 | More by champ103
Photo of barleywinefiend


2.3/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured a thick orange brown color. Nose is fruity and sweet but soured. Taste is medium bodied, fuity, astringent and sour. Mouthfeel is full but harsh. Nothing about this is drinkable in my eyes.Maybe I got a bad batch or a bad bottle. Who knows. I would try another one.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2009 04:14:17 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of OldSchoolGamer


3.18/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a single bottle of this brew today. Looked interesting. Dark Horse has been pretty solid so far from what I have had. Heres my review:

A: Pours a very cloudy amber color. Bubbly head shinks to just a thin film over the beer.

S: Okay, this does not smell like an amber at all. I get alot of spice. Apple spice, bubble gum, yeast. Interesting...

T: Alright, this doesn't taste like an amber at all. Tastes like a weird Belgian-Amber Hybrid or something. I get alot of apple and spice. Hints of yeast and a touch of banana. It is also a very tart beer. Not as sour as say Festina Peche, but pretty sour nonetheless. No hint of hops or caramel malt that usually show up in Amber Ales. Very unique taste.

M: Very carbonated and bubbly. Medium bodied. Finishes very sour with some crispness.

D: Well...the sourness and high carbonation hurt the drinkablility. Definetly going down slow. The flavor is unique and makes you go back for another sip. Okay overall though.

This is one of the more unique beers I have tried lately. This beer actually reminds of Autumn as the apple flavor comes though strongly. I personally don't care for the flavor, but I applaud its originality. Worth a try, but the six pack may last a while as this isn't really a slamming beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2009 17:21:47 | More by OldSchoolGamer
Photo of jsh420


4.22/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours amber orange with a 1 finger head that leaves spotted lacing

smells like a belgian????

taste - again what type of beer is this - not an amber - its a belgian with carmel malts hints of bubble gum - its good though

mouthfeel is smooth with just the right amount of carbonation that tickles the tongue

drinkability is good as well - low abv and nice full flavored beer that is light /medium body - a good beer to drink in the fall

overall - maybe not a true amber and but hey i like belgians more then ambers so this amber rocks!!

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2009 05:12:08 | More by jsh420
Photo of gatornation


3.98/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ill start by saying this is a unique amber..it pours a dark orange/tan color with a small head and a little lacing .. it gets better the smell is of clove and belgian yeast i smell apples and melons and pears lots of fruits in this one.... in an american amber? the taste is great its a clove cinnamon and spice forward amber followed by friutfull tastes then some hops citrus and malt all nicely balanced.. the mouthful is to me a belgiian ale.. but one i like.. i can drink this amber all summer and will purchase again.. recommend this amber.. but be warned it is of a different style

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2009 22:26:58 | More by gatornation
Photo of jkrich


3.98/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle with no freshness date.

This ale poured a slightly murky, reddish amber with no head or lacing.

The aroma was largely sweet, biscuity malts. The carton stated that a belgian yeast was used and you can certainly infer that from the distinct odor that carries over to the taste.

The initial taste is a fruity, malty sweetness which is quick similar to a belgian ale. While the thick sweetness coats the tongue, it never becomes cloying; very interesting take on an "amber" style ale. The flavor remains consistent as it warms in the pint glass.

Moderately carbonated and medium bodied with full, satisfying unique malty flavor that somehow remains refreshing.

This was a pleasant surprise. When I read the carton stating that a belgian yeast was employed, I thought this one would be a mess. This one is very quaffable and would be great for the coming warm weather.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2009 22:46:57 | More by jkrich
Photo of WVbeergeek

West Virginia

2.6/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appears a semi clouded caramel amber hue with a light cream colored head dwindles rather quickly leaving a thin collar of lacing with minimal patches sticking to the sides of my glassware. Aromatics are tame with dominant caramel malts and a touch of lingering metallic natured elements, carbonation prickles the nose but really doesn't give off an actual aroma. Flavors jump out with some cloyingly sweet sensations of apple juice with a touch of unwelcomed acidity. Way too one dimensional and malt driven I can't really even mention hops it tastes sort of like unfermented wort, with pineapple juice and some other tropical nectars adding to the sugar content. Mouthfeel is a touch sticky with residuals, pass me another version definitely a trainwreck on the palate. Carbonation is overly fizzy and seems un natural for me. Drinkability overall wasn't offended it just was way too sweet for me, kick up the hops just a tad and I could see this working. I will try another bottle to make sure it wasn't a carbonation issue.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2009 04:14:26 | More by WVbeergeek
Dark Horse Amber Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
79 out of 100 based on 328 ratings.