County Dark Ale - Wellington County Brewery

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County Dark AleCounty Dark Ale

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111 Ratings
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Ratings: 111
Reviews: 73
rAvg: 3.6
pDev: 14.44%
Wants: 3
Gots: 8 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Wellington County Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-22-2001

Wellington’s most decorated beer is a dark traditional ale with a rich bouquet, matured slowly to deliver exceptional smoothness and balance.
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Ratings: 111 | Reviews: 73
Reviews by cratez:
Photo of cratez
3.73/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the UWO Grad Club in London, Ontario.

A: dark amber body, thin off-white head, decent lacing.
S: light nut aroma, traces of oak, brown sugar, and maple syrup.
T: sweet malt, bread-like nuttiness, caramel, toffee, and grassy hops. The taste is milder than I prefer, but enjoyable nonetheless.
M: clean, smooth, fuller than medium, rich malty finish.
D: good approachable brown ale. The draught is infinitely better than the bottled and canned versions.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this one way down here in Noth Carolina,couldnt find it in Michigan or western NY.Mine was an old bottle but held up very well.Nice brown ruby color,decent head,very warm and appetizing looking.Could tell it was mellowed from sitting but still hade some nice qualities like the soft bitterness in the ending.Well made crafted brew.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.86/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draught at the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo.

Pours a dark brown, with a bit of ruby-orange around the edges. Left a one inch, creamy tan head that lasted through most of the sitting. Terrific, cascading lacing.

Nose wasn't terrific, but still decent. A bit of roasted malt, toffee and chocolate, but a bit of skunkiness I couldn't pin down.

The taste, fortunately, is solid all around. Malt, chocolate, bitterness and a bit of caramel at the finish. Yeast somewhere in the middle.

Mouthfeel is well-carbonated, a bit stingy, but still quite drinkable.

One of the better dark ales around these parts. Very drinkable, great for this pseudo-winter weather we're having right now. Worth a go!

Photo of biboergosum
3.15/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

473ml can, dubbed 'County Dark Ale' as of late, the eponymous duke's portrait still staring out prominently from the label.

This beer pours a clear, dark reddish-brown hue, with one finger of loosely foamy, somewhat creamy pale beige head, which leaves a few piddly arcs of skyward reaching lace around the glass as it swiftly settles.

It smells of sweet, toasty caramel malt, a bit of musty floral fruitiness, and some leafy, earthy hops. The taste is bready caramel malt, middling fleshy orchard fruit, some mild bittersweet chocolate, faint earthy tea leaves, and a subtle metallic edge.

The bubbles are quite restrained, the body medium-light in weight, bordering on thin, and generally smooth. It finishes with a sweet cereal maltiness, musty hops, and thankfully waning flinty edge.

An all right example of the style, it could use some extra heftiness to round things out; as it stands, it's just not all that memorable, very much in the way of Big Rock's Trad - a decent gateway offering, perhaps.

Photo of Sammy
3.77/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much better on-tap. More roasted aroma and flavour. Balanced, good with food. Bit of bitterness works, even some hops, bit of carbonation and head. SLightly dark colour. Creamy middle mouthfeel, smooth.I had it again on-tap 1.5 years later and my rating is based on that.
Had it again on cask a couple of years later and above average bitterness and cask ale.
A year later had it on cask again and was so-so.

Photo of CanuckRover
3.62/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from can a very dark auburn. Orange highlights, a thick, creamy looking head, two-fingers thick. Beautiful beer. First time I've ever seen a decent head on a Welli, must be the can.

Malty nose, sweet caramel/toffee and milk chocolate. Nice, but not particularly powerful aroma.

I got a little bit of a metallic taste of this, I'll blame in on the can, but I feel like I've often found this coppery taste off Wellington brews. Oddly enough, the taste seems to disappear after awhile. This is a malty session brew. Caramel and a chocolately sweetness. Diacetyl stands out giving a nice buttery silkiness to it. Certainly a bit of typical brown ale nuttiness.

Great mouthfeel, as is the case with all Wellington beers. These are great session ales.

A very drinkable beer. I think Wellingtons should really be had on tap, cask if possible, they lose something otherwise.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A clear russet body is topped by a full ivory head that holds well, drops to a thin creamy collar, and leaves some nice lace. The aroma expresses a rich caramel malt laced with chocolate and backed by fruitiness. Very nice! The body is medium; and coupled with its fine and gentle carbonation it gives an exceptionally creamy mouthfeel. The flavor is surprisingly full (although I don't know that I can actually call it rich), with a nutty, caramel, and chocolate-toffee character. A thread of earthy and grassy hops runs from start to finish, helping to keep the malt in line and adding to it's overall character. It finishes dry with some residual fruity malt and hop. An excellent session beer that maintains interest throughout several pints. Well done! Quite the English beer... brewed in Canada!

Photo of jbonapar
3.63/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle, wasn't expecting too much from a somewhat "typical" independent brewery in canada. However, is a nice beer surprisingly.

Appearance: Pours a dark coppper liquid with a thick head, if you pour fast, its very thick.

Smell: Malty caramel with a touch of hops. Some butterscotch under the hops.

Taste: Smooth and balanced, Not overpowering. Crisp and minerally. The Bitter hops balance the roasted malty sweetness. For an everyday beer, this is it. I used to swear by Clancy's In Nova Scotia, but over the last 10 years, they have been getting worse and worse. This is a beer for people who like a tasty beer, but want to have a few during the hockey game.

An excellent everyday brew that will satisfy a connoisseur but be easy enough for the hockey game.

Photo of eat
3.1/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My second sampling from the OCB Discovery Pack #3.

Transparent and amber in colour, this dark ale pours a head you can tell will not be there for long. Recedes to a ring around the glass and light covering of off-white head. No lacing.

Yeast, grain, citrus, malt. Smells like your average beer, nothing special here.

The taste is in line with what I've come to expect from Ontario 'craft' breweries. Their first goal seems to be making sure they won't be offending anyone. We certainly wouldn't want that, after all. Light everything: bits of hops, sweet generic malt, slightly nutty. That's about it.

The feel is perfect for this beer: average.

Sure, it's drinkable. But this beer's taste is the flavour equivalent of watching paint dry. No better than a Rickard's Red or whatever else. I won't be buying this again and it won't be long before I've forgotten I even drank it in the first place.

Photo of elricorico
3.57/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium brown colour, almost like the crayon, with two fingers of beige head. Head falls to about half a centimeter and holds there for some time.

Smell immediately brings to mind caramel, nuts and milk chocolate. Candy bar in a can? Nuttiness seems quite prominent.

Taste is pretty true to the smell. I don't get the chocolate, but the caramel is there up front and the nuttiness throughout. Just the slightest hint of funk in the very end of the taste.

Not quite light body and a fair amount of carbonation. I wouldn't mind a touch more body or a touch less carbonation here, to smooth things out.

Another decent English Brown, no big complaints, but nothing to rave about.

Photo of Goldorak
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Arrow and Loon, Ottawa.

Appearance: Very dark, copper red, with that perfect soapy head you only get from the cask, that dies down and forms a nice lace that clings forever on the sides of the pint glass.

Smell: Flowery, honey sweet hop smell.

Taste: The bitterness, light mouthfeel and low low carbonation kinda feels like you're drinking iced tea. Buttery and malty, I had no trouble downing this one.

Photo of Stocean1
3.53/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - poured a solid two finger head that slowly faded to a nice thick collar - decent patchy lacing - dark chestnut colour

S - dark malt and fruit

T - dark malt and fruit with chocolate notes, some biscuit, nicely balanced

M - light to medium bodied with good carbonation - bitter on the back end with some metallic notes

O - a solid brown ale that is sessionable and I will grab it again I am sure

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a very dark brown beer with a nice head with medium retention. Aroma is really pleasant with malt and roastiness. Taste is very refreshing with again lots of malts and a very nice finish of roastiness. Body is above average with OK carbonation. Overall, I was quite surprise by what I thought would be another classic English ale; it proved to had more character then expected and I’m starting to really like this brewery.

Photo of ZorPrime
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

473 ml can received from liamt07 in a recent trade. Cheers buddy!

Amber color, quite dark too. Nice white/beige head, but disappear fast. Aroma is caramel malts with some burnt notes. Similar on the taste side. I get no hops. Refreshing beer. Thin body. Well balanced and tasty enough for a day to day beer. Not a high end beer that will make your taste buds go nuts.

Photo of PEBKAC
2.33/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

My uncle brought a pack of this stuff & the Arkell Bitter back over the border. Would I have been happier with some suspect prescription drugs? Only time will tell.

Poured into a DFH rounded pint glass. An inch of milky, cream-colored froth develops over a filtered, orange hued, dark wood stained body. Really appetizing.

Smell is boring. Hard water, aluminum, hay, a touch of menthol-like hops & maybe anise, & some caramelized cereal.

Taste is dusty/dry malt, slightly burnt hulls, earthy carob, bland metallic hops, & a slight phenolic edge near the finish(a bit like stamp glue) before it goes numb.

Carbonation & overall feel is your only relief. Crisp & just barely sharp. Thin body(though it sometimes comes off as chalky), a dry finish, & minimal aftertaste.

These six packs are completely boxed, & the winter has been pretty cold, so I don't think the elements effected these much. No best by or bottled on date. The bottles are pretty beat up, so they probably traveled quite a bit before reaching their destination.

As far as the beer goes, it's just a semi-tolerable, ho-hum thirst quencher at best. Bland & inoffensive enough to be swallowed & forgotten while concentrating on those Doritos you're hoarding.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.13/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I received this one in an extra from a recent trade. The bottle looks encouraging to be honest, and I have never had anything from the brewery before so I was hoping for a little something good here in this one. We shall see how it turns out in the end though, hopefully all will be well. Poured my 12oz bottle into an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance - The pour was decent. A clear brown liquid appeared before me, with some light orange hints around the edges. Some carbonation streaking up toward the top, but that died down after a few minutes, and left behind nothing more then a token hint of bubbles on the side of the glass. A small amount of white lace formed on the top but quickly faded leaving just a thin crown on the top and a small amount of side glass lace for a few moments.

Smell - The aroma was very sweet with nice tones of caramel and bready malts coming off of it. No balance here though and after it warmed it seemed to really take a quick step back and the aroma faded into a musky, moldy, biscuit like smell with the sweetness evaporating.

Taste - The flavor was alright, but I have to admit there was nowhere near enough depth in it for me. Lots of bready and biscuit like flavors, dancing around with a caramel candy sweetness for a few moments. But the profile was thin and unbalanced. The finish tried its hand at having a bitter touch to it but was blown away by the ,alt characters and never really could get back off the ground.

Mouthfeel - The feel on this one came off thin on me now as well. The carbonation was lacking and there was a slick feeling to it, especially in the finish. Overall it felt thin and a touch watery. Not too impressive here.

Drinkability - It was ok, it was low in ABV , but really did not have much going for it in terms of carbonation, and flavor. I mean you could easily knock down a few of these, however I really would not want to.

Overall, it was just your average brown ale for me. Nothing really standing out or making a huge impact here. I wish it could have been different but unfortunate it was not. Maybe some of their other offerings are better, as this was sort of sub par for me at least.

Photo of IronDjinn
3.53/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice deep mahogany body on this one, off-white head that settles quickly to a spongy cap.

Toasted malt on the nose, a bit smoky, coffee notes, some crisp wafer.

Flavour is dry, wafer and toasted malt, espresso grounds, a nuttiness on the finish and dry coffee-like nutty aftertaste. Nice take on an English brown.

Mouthfeel is light and smooth, body picks up near finish, a little carbonation to push it over.

Decent English brown, on the fence with a mild, dry and malty as opposed to sweet, a good intro/stepping stone beer to check out browns in general for the uninitiated.

Photo of the42ndtourist
4.55/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

mmmm.... butter.

On cask at The Arrow & The Loon in Ottawa. A deep red and brown liquid, topped with a light tan head, which does actually last fairly well (as opposed to most english cask ales I've had).

Rich, full malt and diacetyl tones form the aroma. The taste profile follows the same chord: one of the most buttery ales I've had, and it sure doesn't disappoint. This sets the beer completely apart from the bottled version. The caramel malt body just seems to enhance the diacetyls, or maybe the diacetyls enhance the malt...

A symphony of rich flavours - like belgian cuisine - a beer that was born to be served from the cask.

Photo of Antilochus
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Alex P. Keaton in London, Ontario. Served in a pint glass. Good temp too.

Reddish brown body under a small tan/offwhite cap. Not too much lacing or retention.

Malty sweet notes. Caramel, bread, nuts. A bit alcoholic for the style.

Palate is nutty and fruity. I like this brew quite a bit, and was disappointed when my party chose to invest in a pitcher of PBR. Great balance on this one, touch of hops finish it off nicely. Too much abv to be truly great.

Photo of Derek69
3.69/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A well crafted dark ale, not too strong, not too sweet. Perfect amount of head that dissipates fairly quickly, not a lot of lacing. Thin body, easy drinkability. Flavourful yet unoffensive. Aroma is mostly roasted malts and toffees. Not bad at all, also not spectacular.

Photo of ritzkiss
3.18/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, poured into a plastic glass at Massey Hall - at least they had a few craft options. Pours a hazelnut brown, hints of amber, nice creamy head that maintains well.

Nose is light bready malts, definitely smells the part of an English brown. Light roast, hints of caramel.

Light brown malts, bread, hints of dark fruits, light nuttiness, pretty light flavor, little to no hop presence. Thin body, smooth carb.

This is drinkable I guess but I can't say when I would choose to drink it. Perhaps it is just too light for me but I can remember other equally light ales that I enjoyed more so maybe it's not that.

Photo of baiser
4.15/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cask version is creamier, fuller bodied, silky smooth. Dark, copper red, fluffy white head, great lacing. Sweet, floral, great roasted character. There's toffee, a bit of diacetyl, grain, caramel and some fruitiness. More like an english ale than anything. Great session beer from Wellington.

Photo of patre_tim
3.54/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown with an amber tinge when held to the light, filtered, little carbonation, 2 fingers of beige head. Some lacing.

S: Dark toasted malts, light earthy hopping, caramel, toffee, some coffee.

T: Dark toasted malts, some burnt caramel, a little coffee.

M: Medium body, medium low carbonation. Bready.

O: A nice English Brown Ale. Nothing to make it stand out but its fine.

Photo of headlessparrot
4.12/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After sampling three of Guelph's Wellington Brewery's offerings (their Special Pale Ale, and their outstanding Russian Imperial Stout and Strong Ale), not to mention their quite above average entries in the discount brand market (Trailhead and Beehive lagers), I'm coming around to the notion that they are the finest brewery in Ontario, which perhaps puts them high in the running for the best brewery in Canada - Wellington simply brews some spectacular ales - though admittedly their lineup of beers - though widely varying in style - shares a remarkably similar flavour profile. It is, however, a spectacular flavour profile.

Wellington Dark Ale is my fourth sample of a proper Wellington beer; my expectations are high, and Welly's interpretation of the English Brown Ale style does not dissapoint. It pours into my pint glass a deep brown, with significant ruby hints throughout, topped by a weak head that dissapates quickly (as with all of Wellington's ales), but which leaves a few faint rings and quite a bit of lacing. Dark ales have a remarkably appealing look to them, so it's difficult to mark this brew down.

Smell is excellent, not at all far removed from Wellington's Stout or Strong Ale. Dominated by malts, presenting a delicious chocolate aroma (bitter and milk), with a little cappucino backbone. Also some brown sugar and molasses, augmented by a nice maltiness and an ever so faint crisp (almost grassy) hoppiness. Quite sweet, with perhaps some faint fruit notes?

Taste is also exceptional. Not as good as the stout or strong ale, but this brew offers a wonderful bitter chocolate taste, augmented by a maltiness and ever so faint, crisp hopping hopping. Some molasses and sugarcane, with dried fruits and a woodiness, and a slightly dry (hints of vinegar?) and bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is excellent, like the other Wellington entries. Carbonation is subtle, not interfering with the rich flavour of this brew; the body itself is nice and substantial, faintly oily, but it really feels quite good as it sits in your mouth.

And drinkability is likewise high - a far more reasonable ABV than the Russian Imperial Stout and Strong Ale make this one a very sessionable brew. Though for a single drink, I would take either of Welly's "Iron Dukes," for a session, I would undoubtedly turn to this ale - miles ahead of any English Brown Ale I've sampled before (and a fair bit cheaper, too).

If you get the chance to sample any of Wellington's ales, jump at the opportunity. Welly offers an exceptional line-up, and their Dark Ale is no exception.

Photo of spinrsx
3.09/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

473ml Can

Appearance - The beer pours a light brown colour with a small fizzy beige coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some faint lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for maybe 2 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Chocolate, malts, roasted nuts, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste chocolate mixed with malts and and a bit of a smokiness. There are also some notes of dark fruits and a slight metallic taste. There were times where I could taste cola as well.. The beer finishes with a chocolatey malty aftertaste.

Overall – This beer just didn't do it for me. The taste wasn't great and it seemed thin and watery at times. I would not buy this beer again, there are way too many better beers in this style available to me.

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County Dark Ale from Wellington County Brewery
82 out of 100 based on 111 ratings.