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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.

374 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 374
Reviews: 189
rAvg: 3.45
pDev: 15.94%
Wants: 7
Gots: 24 | 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: 374 | Reviews: 189 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Parrotbeak
3.45/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy amber-orange with some swirls of cascading yeast running from top to bottom. No head, save for a few white patches and a ring around the perimeter. No lacing.
Smell is bready malts with a Belgian yeast aroma. A hint of sour dough, as well as some dark fruits.
Taste is more bready malts with a definite Belgian yeast flavor. White pepper. More fruits, including cherry, red grape, melon, and fig. Finish has a touch of sour and bitterness to it.
Mouthfeel is smooth and fairly flat. crisp yet slightly sticky on the finish. Light-to-medium body.
Drinkability is decent. Seems a bit muddled and unbalanced. Smacks more of a typical Belgian ale to me.

Photo of feloniousmonk
2.98/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark Horse Amber Ale

Very clouded look on this guy, beyond that a sold amber, big surprise, slim, soon-gone head.

Sweet, creamy aromatics. Notes of vanilla,

Taste: some bitter hop presence, and a thinner malt body than I expected. Far too bitter and astringent for an amber ale. Slightly sour. I went in with certain expectations, and while I am always prepared to have those challenged, this one went in quite a different direction.

Not liking this at all.

...actually, I'm disliking this less as it goes down, it becomes somewhat more palatable...but not by enough.

Yeah, I can toss it back, but not with much pleasure. One of the few Dark Horse brews I've disliked. Can't win 'em all.

Photo of drpimento
3/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Meh. Middle a the road amber ale. Just like their description. Poured with a smallish, off white head and a little lace. Color is a clear medium amber. Aroma is malty and a bit fruity. Flavor is like aroma. Body is ok and so is carbonation. Finsih is like flavor. Forgettable.

Photo of bsp77
2.65/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into tall glass.

Appearance: Dark cloudy brownish-orange with no head or lacing. Just looks kind of stagnant. Hopefully, it will get better from here.

Smell: Sweet toasted malty bread, light Belgian aroma with slight banana.

Taste: Heavily toasted malts, with dark fruit and cherry. The Belgian aroma I detected doesn't make itself known in the taste besides for maybe some light clove. Very medicinal and metallic at the end.

Feel: Seems kind of flat and spritzy at the same time. Light body with off-dry finish.

Drinkability: Just a strange beer overall. Not a fan, especially with that atrocious medicinal aftertaste. Seems like I may have gotten a bad bottle, but many others comment on the murky look with no head.

Photo of nrbw23
3.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Pours a murky reddish amber color with just a thin layer of bubbles for a head. Pretty much no head here at all and a very odd looking brew. I'm not sure if I got the bottom of the keg or what is going on here.

S- Smells of strong caramel, fruity, and a faint piney bite. Not a terrible lot going on here.

T- Roasted malts, caramel, doughy,bread, and a bit of chocolate. Fruits are cherries, pears, pineapple, and mainly tropical fruits. Again not terrible but I'm not really digging this one.

M- Lighter side of medium in body and rather low in carbonation.

D- Nothing really super awesome going on here. Ok to drink, but I think I'd rather have something else.

Photo of Natural510
2.68/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle, no discernible dating.

Pours a medium-dark, um, amber, with a quick fizz of head and a light wisp of soapy lacing on the edge of the glass which eventually goes completely flat.

Sweet but moreso tangy malt to the nose. Fruit-like yeasty aroma.

Very tart and tangy in flavor as well. Fruit & clove notes meet a heavy yeast presence and hop bite. Far too much yeast...is this a bad batch, or poor attempt to "Belgianize" an amber?

A bit flaccid in the mouth; fairly heavy in body but the lack of carbonation becomes more apparent the longer it is drunken.

I hate to slam a beer but I don't know where they are going with this. It's difficult to create an original amber ale when the market is flooded with them, so points for the attempt, but that doesn't make it any more drinkable.

Photo of DrewHodges
3.2/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Notes from 5/10/10 tasting; bottle poured to pint glass.

A--clear amber-reddish, slight bit of froth, but little carbonation or fizzing, almost looked flat;

S--clove, straw, almost vodka-like, some peach..smell was most interesting thing about the beer;

T--decent flavor, but odd and unexpected for an Amber..tasted Belgian yeast, nice sweetness;

M--medium body but low carbonation, almost flat, maybe the bottle is a bit old;

D--not my favorite by far, especially from Dark Horse

Photo of silentjay
3.4/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a hazy amberish brown with an average head that doesnt retain or lace too well.

aroma is kind of fruity and malty. not much to talk about here.

taste is definitely fruity and candy-like sweetness. is almost belgian-like in flavor. maybe they used a belgian yeast? some pepper, banana, clove flavors that typically come from belgian yeasts. a bit of malt is toasty and caramelly. some floral hops fight for attention too. makes for a fruit-juice type flavor, some apple, grape or something of that sort.

medium to thin-bodied with a minimal amount of carbonation.

not unpleasing, but not something I'd like to have more than one of. unique, I guess.

Photo of billab914
2.65/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish shaped pint glass. Poured a cloudy amber color with a thin bubbly white head. Very little retention to the head and also didn't leave any lacing on the glass as I drank it.

The aroma has a lot of spicy and yeasty tones to it. It has a bit of banana to it with some cloves coming through. It almost smells like a Belgian beer. It does have some toasted and caramel malt coming through helping it to fit with the style I was expecting a little.

The taste is like the nose in that the spicy, fruity, yeastiness seems to dominate. I'm getting a lot of cloves coming through in the taste along with some apple cider characteristics. A bit of the malt I expected comes through but it's really hidden behind all the yeasty flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinkability isn't good, it wasn't anything I expect from an amber ale. It tasted almost like a Belgian cider if such a thing existed. Some of the toasty and caramely malt comes through but not enough in my opinion for the style.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, cloudy, red/brown in color

Smell: cherry and toasted malt

Taste: cherry, toasted malt, Belgian spices

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, high carbonation, sweet

Drinkability: One of my favorite beers by this brewery. I could have several. A different take on the style and one I will get again.

Photo of ZAP
3.35/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Muddied copper color..flatish looking

S-Very spicy and yeasty...some candied maltiness

T-Spicy...Big on the Black Pepper...malt is mildy sweet...

M-Medium bodied...not much for carbonation

D-Interesting take on an amber ale...big Belgian influences...almost saison like in some aspects..

Photo of dougofthefuture
3.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Plain old Amber is a tough style to get excited about, but I do find things to like in this beer.

A - Not much going on here - nice cloudy red color, but the head fades quickly and leaves very little lacing.

S - You have to try hard, but there is a malty body here with a bit of a tart finish.

T&M - The good in here is world class, but the bad makes it average. On first impression, there is a great crisp sweetness that reminds me of Belgian candi sugar. It is really refreshing, and just seems right with the slightly roasted malts. However, the finish is tart, bordering on sour. That flavor has no place, and leaves me disappointed.

D - If only... I always love this at first, and then get a bit sick of it by the end of the bottle. So close! Worth a shot though.

Photo of tpd975
3.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a hazy amber hue with a tall off white head. Very good retention with some spotty lace.

S: Aromas of sweet candy malts. Lots of caramel with hints of summer fruit.

T: Loads of apple juice... meh, with hints of caramel and brown sugar. A bit grainy with mostly sweet cereal type grains.

M: Medium in body, good carbonation, very sweet from start to finish.

D: Not so much. Considering this is Dark Horse I am a bit let down.

Photo of semibaked
2.33/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a hazy amber color with very little head and carbonation.

S - I get hops, pepper and spices, I don't get much malts at all. Smells very different than any Amber I have had but still smells good.

T - I get some of the spices and hops but tastes very watered down, really disappointing.

M - Straight Water!

D - This is just bad beer, I have been disappointed with most of the Dark Horse beers I've had and this is no exception. This might be the worst of the bunch.

Photo of Mora2000
3.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to bu11zeye for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours an orangish-amber color with a white head. The aroma is malty with some fruit. The flavor is caramel malt with some fruit notes, but something is a little off. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of WesWes
3.58/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a nice amber color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry pale and crystal malt scent that's a bit fruity with a touch of caramel sweetness. The taste is decent as well. It has an overly sweet caramel flavor that goes down easy with a dry, fruity yeast finish. The hop flavor is low. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an above average beer, but nothing I'll buy again. It's too sweet and lacking hop character.

Photo of treehugger02010
3.48/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I got a bottle of this beer out of a Dark Horse Brewing Company variety case. I poured it into a pint glass.
Appearance: The body is a relatively clear deep amber color. The head is a finger tall, thin, poor retention and poor lacing.
Smell: The aromas are hints of coffee bean, some cinnamon and bits of ginger.
Taste: The flavors are ginger, coffee and toffee.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is crisp, but the body is thin.
Drinkability: This beer isn't that bad.
Don't drink and review.

Photo of mikereaser
3.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle on 12/2/09

A - Pours a dark rusty orange with 1/4 inch of foam that quickly disappeared

S - sweet malt & hints of citrus, brown sugar

T - malty, brown sugar, lemon and orange, a mix of all kinds of flavors, dark cherries

M - slightly carbonated, smooth, very nice mouthfeel

D - i could drink alot of this, nicely balanced beer

Photo of cpetrone84
3.13/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-deep reddish copper color (nice looking) but the rest doesn't do it right. Aggressive pour that left almost none of a white head that dissapears immediately and leaves no lacing on the glass

S-huge nose of clove and a hint of banana (is this a belgian wheat?)

T-again a big taste of clove and hint of banana, however the taste does fight back with a light caramel malt and some bitter hops towards the finish (light though)

M-very smooth and a light to medium body with a decent amount of carbonation which is actually blended nicely with the smooth texture

D-the mouthfeel is the saving grace here, it makes it go down nicely; but not a fan of the taste especially for an amber. I just feel the style was missed here, if it was a wheat beer i would have rated it differently.

Photo of jt31914
1.4/5  rDev -59.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

A: 1 finger of head with a dark amber color; the foam clings to the glass and it has good head retention.

S: Smells clovy with a sort of tart cider aroma - reminds me of a draft cider.

T: Cider taste with little to no hops; this beer tastes artificial on the finish and is very mild. Pear-like taste of a witbier is also unfortunately pleasant. This mixture doesn't work well and tastes bad.

M: Semi-smooth, but not great.

D: Hard to drink.

This is the only Dark Horse beer I've had that I didn't like; it is the worst amber ale I've had unfortunately. Just buy Lucky 13 from Lagunitas instead.

Photo of adamette
4.3/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review from notes taken 10 15 09, poured from tap at the brewery.

A Basic amber look except that there is a nice, creamy head. 3.5

S Distant smell, maybe some medium malt. 3.0

T Belgian yeast and malty sweetness that I did not expect. I had to ask if this indeed was the Sapient Trip Ale due to this but our server Gina assured us that it was not. Anyway, I welcomed this very nice sweetness with some medium malt amber tastes as well. 4.5

M Smooth, big feel. Just great. Cannot be improved. 5.0

D Absolutely fabulous. I drank my beer without hesitation. 5.0

Notes: Maybe the best amber that I have ever had (but I am a sucker for Belgian yeast in my beer).

Photo of becktone
3.98/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

Photo of BARFLYB
3.38/5  rDev -2%
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.

Photo of CPeterson
2.95/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

Photo of biegaman
3.65/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

Dark Horse Amber Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
79 out of 100 based on 374 ratings.