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Dark Horse Amber Ale - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse Amber AleDark Horse Amber Ale

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385 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 385
Reviews: 192
rAvg: 3.45
pDev: 15.94%
Wants: 7
Gots: 35 | 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:
Beer added by: Mitchster on 08-10-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 385 | Reviews: 192
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
3.51/5  rDev +1.7%
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
3.7/5  rDev +7.2%
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
3.11/5  rDev -9.9%
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
4.23/5  rDev +22.6%
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
3.99/5  rDev +15.7%
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
3.35/5  rDev -2.9%
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
3.62/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Photo of supercolter
3.83/5  rDev +11%
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.

Photo of sholland119
4.1/5  rDev +18.8%
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.


Photo of Ricochet
3.38/5  rDev -2%
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.

Photo of BierFan
3.57/5  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.

Photo of yourefragile
3.65/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.86/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

Photo of barnzy78
3.12/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Photo of stevenseg
3.88/5  rDev +12.5%
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.

Photo of bruachan
2.91/5  rDev -15.7%
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

Photo of david131
3.91/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

Photo of bassmantin
3.98/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

Photo of beachbum1975
2.46/5  rDev -28.7%
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.

Photo of brentk56
3.95/5  rDev +14.5%
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

Photo of tempest
3.65/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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Dark Horse Amber Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
79 out of 100 based on 385 ratings.