Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Bad King John - Ridgeway Brewing

Not Rated.
Bad King JohnBad King John

Educational use only; do not reuse.

54 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 54
Hads: 112
Avg: 3.69
pDev: 15.72%
Wants: 6
Gots: 16 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Stout |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Suds on 06-02-2008

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (29) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 54 | Hads: 112
Photo of nick76
2.66/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

The aroma is like burnt malt with cream and coffee. The appearance is black with an average head. The flavor is like the aroma. The palate is too thin for a stout. I am not very fond of this one. I can't really say that there is any one fault with this one. Overall it's just not that good.

 290 characters

Photo of levifunk
2.93/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

a - black liquid, but partially see through. light tan head.

s - smells like a light stout. mostly smoked malts.

t - smoked malts. a very faint prune flavor. can taste the alcohol and it tastes like cough syrup. there is a rye dryness.

m - medium body. decent carbonation.

overall - not really that great of a beer. wouldn't recommend this one.

 348 characters

Photo of Hoppsbabo
3/5  rDev -18.7%

A: Pours out like Coca Cola. Fizzy but leaves absolutely no head whatsoever. Looks just like Coke.
S: Just a generic porter smell and ... tinsel?!!!
T: A generic smokey porter profile with a horrible corn snacks flavour. The aftertaste is actually very nice – fudge and caramel – but the initial wash is so bad that I'm questioning the quality of my bottle. It's very fizzy, albeit the bubbles are fine. Not like pop.
O: Hmm, could I have bought an infected bottle? Not sure I want to pay £2 for another bottle to find out. If this is Bad King John in its normal state then it's one of the worst stouts I've had.

 617 characters

Photo of interzen
3.01/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

500ml bottle poured into a nonic pint glass

Look: Flat cola. Seriously. Starts out fairly promising with a very dark pour (some ruby highlights if you hold it up to the light) with a head that had pretty much gone by the time I'd finished pouring. The net result looks like a pint of Coke. Not a good start.

Smell: Quite an earthy smell - lots of roasted malt and biscuity smells in evidence. Some dark fruitiness on agitation but the roasted smell dominate.

Taste: Again, quite earthy - roasted malts are very much to the forefront. Not a lot to distinguish it from other porters, let alone stouts.

Feel: Consider this as a porter and it's not too bad - fairly easy drinking with a medium/full body. Taken as a stout it's an epic fail for much the same reasons, in which case it's positively anaemic.

Overall: Is it a stout? Is it a porter? This is a beer with an identity crisis in more ways than one. It's not that it tastes bad; I like my beers malty and this one isn't too bad albeit a little one-dimensional. I think it's trying to be two things at once and doesn't really hit the spot on either count. Compared to something like Sam Smiths Oatmeal Stout, Bad King John is looking pretty woeful. Not a drain pour because I enjoyed the taste, but I can't see me seeking this out again.

 1,295 characters

Photo of champ103
3.21/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark brown color. A one finger beige head forms and leaves some sticky lace.
S: Not very aromatic. Some nondescript roasted malt. Some lactic milk/cream. Nothing else really.
T: There is a little more flavor. Some roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and sweet caramel.
M/D: A light body that is thin and watery. Very under carbonated. Not hard to drink. I am having no problems finishing the bottle, but nothing I would want to drink again.

This does not do it for me. Just kind of bland. Nothing bad, but there are much better stouts out there.

 553 characters

Photo of MichialTanner1
3.22/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An impulse purchase, due to the label and my interest in English history. There is no way this beer could be as bad as King John himself, who was allegedly poisoned with a toxic ale.

Poured into a Spaten klug, this is almost an opaque black with a beige head that dissolved into nothing within about a minute. This would be hilarious if King John had been beheaded. However, there's really no lack of carbonation to the bottom.

If given a taste test, I would have thought this to be an English Porter. It isn't heavy or bitter. It's good, but not great--and opposed to the description on the label, it is actually "subtle". This would be a good pub pour and I really like the kind of sour, Worcester style smell to it rolling out of the mug.

So, I would say that this is at least as good as Henry III, maybe even Henry II. If they make a King Edward I, it had better be a Wee Heavy...

 894 characters

Photo of 18tony
3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

like my last girl this beer gave me no head, no matter how hard i tried.

the ups on this beer is it's abv.

the down on it is an average taste. i mean it wasn't bad by any means but it did not aspire to do more then that.

behind the alcohol nose, there is a slight carmel end as you would expect from a stout.

would i have another one? absolutely, if you're buying.

 372 characters

Photo of ramseye4
3.31/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've never heard of this beer before, but picked it up while deciding to try something new, plus the bottle has a great label. Dark brown wood colored body, big fluffy head that holds for a few minutes before gradually fading away. Great looking beer. Smells a bit weak, mostly malt in the aroma, unimpressive. Roasted malt comes up first in the taste, a faint metallic presence is there as well. faint bitterness, a bit of cocoa is present in the finish. Very, very average. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, a tad over carbonated. Drinkability is good, the simple taste and medium body help it out.

Not bad, not great. I wouldn't mind having this periodically, but I'm not disappointed that this isn't readily available where I live.

 728 characters

Photo of thepeter
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a brownish red with minimal head turning to film and decent lacing. Smells of rich sweet roasted malt some dark fruits and maybe some plum. Tastes like a sweet or a milk stout not enough hop presence or any complexity really. Not bad but nothing special. Feel is a bit too carbonated at first, again nothing special here. Not a bad beer but nothing I would buy again.

 373 characters

Photo of omnigrits
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a perfect pint glass.

Nice dark colour with ruby highlights around the edges, but little in the way of head or lace.

There's some coffee and chocolate in the aroma, but already I can tell that this one's a bit thin.

The taste backs up my suspicions. What's there is good but there's not much of it. Distinctly underwhelming. There's a nice roasted malt flavour with more coffee and chocolate, and a decent bitter finish to it. Not much sweetness, which is to my taste because I prefer a drier stout.

The body is seriously lacking.

Despite all the faults it's a fairly decent and quite drinkable session stout if you're not looking to wreck your palate with a roasted malt bomb or get hammered with a 10% RIS.

 741 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.41/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nothing like an awesome name for a big, bad, bold stout. Let's see if this stout is....well, stout.

Pours a very dark brown. Almost black. Ruby tints around the walls betrays the blackness. Nice, thick and somewhat creamy head. Looks lush.

Aroma isn't wonderful, but not bad. Not as strong as I thought it would be. Cola and roasted malt dominate. Semi sweet but sharp at the same time. A bit weak, though.

Taste is better. Roasty. The cola supplies some sweetness and an odd background taste...not quite plum. Light on the chocolate and coffee. Earthy and some anise on the end. Not quite sold on this beer.

It's not bad. Easy drinking. Would drink again

 659 characters

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.42/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Dec 2012. The last of my Sainsbury's Beer Hunt brews - from 2011! I've been sitting on this for a while; hope it's still OK. The label is edged by a quotation from Scott's novel Ivanhoe, and the name of the beer is presumably also taken from the book.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. Bottle conditioned. Appears black, though it is revealed as a dark reddish-brown when held to the light. Yields a decent head of creamy off-white foam that lasts for a minute or so before settling and disappearing. Aroma of dark roasted malt with hints of chocolate, caramel/molasses, grain, nuttiness, mild dried fruit, faint coffee and earthy yeast. Slightly sweet. A subtle but nicely rounded character.

Tastes of roasted malt with a dry, bitter finish. Notes of burnt grain, ash, liquorice, hints of coffee, chocolate, caramel/molasses, faint prunes, earthy yeast and stewed hops. An acrid quality pervades the flavour, along with a mild sourness. A strident, malt-driven bitterness upon swallowing, along with a touch of alcohol in the background. Mouthfeel is smooth, dry and tingly, with a slight spiciness and decent body. Somewhat astringent, with an aftertaste of bitter roasted malt and stewed hops.

An OK brew - more of a strong dark ale than a stout (not roasty enough in my opinion). The smell is nice, with balanced complexity. The taste is less pleasing - a touch too much roasted malt and burnt grain crowd out the other flavours, resulting in an excessively dry bitterness. Body could be a tad more meaty. Drinkable but nothing too special. Worth trying, but no need to seek it out.

 1,615 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from 1/2010 notes. Poured into a Caracole small snifter. Pours a dark brown amber, light tan head and light lacing. Mild roasted and sweet malt aroma. Light flavor of dark caramel malt, slight hops. Flavors nice but very subdued. Like most of the beer from this brewery, the flavors are OK, but too bland and low key. Light to medium bodied. This tastes more like a dark ale than a stout.

 395 characters

Photo of dedrinker
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Darkest wood veneer with a thin white-ish head.

Faint aroma of roasted malts and some hints of dark fruit.

The flavor was a light roasty malt with some bitterness. I would say that if it was a little dark chocolate and black coffee I perceived, then it was an inferior brand of chocolate and coffee - Hershey's and Maxwell House instant.

Not bad though overall, just a lot less than I was being lead to expect.

Medium/full body with a dry, lightly burnt malt bitterness on the finish.

 488 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.46/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a cloudy texture. There was an inch of creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A very, very muted aroma of malt, coffee, and a little hops.

T: Tasted of light coffee notes, a good shot of malt, mild hops and a burnt quality. The flavor here is decent enough, but is certainly on the mild side.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a super dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Not necessarily a bad beer, but not particularly memorable either.

 517 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.47/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at a Shelton Bros event during Phila Beer Week. Thought it was from cask the way it was presented - filled to the brim of the glass, flat and still. Sipped it down slowly - very clean and thin in body and taste. Lightly sour/acidic coffee roast flavor, no chocolaty undertones, no hops, little discernible malt flavor. Every so often, I gave it a swirl - absolutely no carbonation. Not sure if that's the norm with this, but it certainly affected the feel, smell (which was super weak, coffee/malt-syrup sweet), and possibly flavor.

It's a decent stout, arguably a porter. It was black, showing rusty red with a half sip left. I'd give it another shot at some point, but I'd consider it a semi-bland table beer.

 728 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Bad King John is black... bitter... intense... like the ruthless man it honours. Do not come here looking for subtlety!"


Bad King John must be a badass since the above quote is next to a drawing of a black haired woman in a white dress who is hanging from a noose. Has any 6.0% English ale ever been intense? Compared to what? Let's find out whether Ridgeway's boasting holds any water.

Pecan brown with generous orange and amber highlights (on the coaster)... dusky cranberry (when backlit). Since the brewery calls BKJ a 'black ale', might they mean schwarzbier rather than stout? A lack of opacity makes the question a valid one. The sand colored crown is a mass of sticky bubbles that does a pretty good job of glass decoration.

The nose is... subtle (honest, I didn't come here looking for it). Roasted barley leads the way, followed by a hint of herbal hoppiness. Bitter should trump sweet, although I have no illusions that the bitterness will be *intense*. King John better start channeling his inner badness on the palate.

Label hyperbole aside, this is better than average beer that's more bitter than average (given its country of origin), but it's far from special. Even though English stouts are fully capable of being this light, I'm thinking that schwarzbier is a more appropriate style choice.

Flavors include bitter dark chocolate shavings mixed with a generous handful of hop cones and black tea leaves. The relative shortage of malt means that depth, complexity and flavor linger are in short supply. The finish is impressively dry and could almost be considered crisp.

Regarding the body/mouthfeel... as an American stout it would be a 2.5. As an English stout it would be a 3.0. As a schwarzbier (which is what I've settled on) it's a 3.5. Short version: light, no creaminess, acceptable carbonation.

Ridgeway Bad King John isn't bad (in a good way) and it isn't bad (in a bad way). It's a slightly better than average black beer that is more bitter than most. That's probably the only reason why this hophead is giving it above average scores. No how, no way is it worth $6.09.

 2,116 characters

Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Tap and Table. Appeared just barely black with red highlights. This stout was drinkable and true to style, but uninspiring. The character is flat and lacks depth. There's just a roasted barley taste with a touch of dark chocolate. Yes, it nice. Yes, I'm a little tough on this beer. But there's a lot of potential for this style.

 339 characters

Photo of tvv375ia
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 500ml bottle into imperial pint glass

A-more of a dark ruby color with about a finger of head that faded wuickly with a little lacing

S- a little coffee and some roasted malt smell

T-some coffee and dark fruits with a finish of some carmel

M-a little on the thin side for a stout, I like mine a little creamier

O-A lot of potential but not quite there maybe a stout light

 389 characters

Photo of jopper
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Has a nice look, ours almost black with thin quickly receding head even with a strong pour

Smell - a distant dark malt

Taste - A nice clean slightly bitter with a dry finish

Mouthfeel - a nice wieght with the right amount carbonation

Drinkability - no problems finishing this one... could have cracked a few a more.

 333 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a thin looking deep brown color with just a bit of fan head across the top. The lacing was nonexistent. The smell of the beer had some nice roasted malt aromas but they weren't overly strong. The taste was pleasantly light and had some flavors in it that I was having trouble pinpointing. The mouthfeel was thin but I didn't mind for some reason. Overall I thought it was a pretty good stout but still just about average in my opinion.

 449 characters

Photo of morebeergood
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Deep Ellum this past weekend. Served in a standard pint glass. Dark brown color to the body. Decent sized head. Not a lot of aroma noticed. Roasted barley flavor was there, but not a lot else. Pretty smooth beer so I found quite easy to drink. But honestly, this beer did nothing for me and seemed run of the mill. Didn't stand out in any which way.

 359 characters

Photo of Malt_Man
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at cellar temperature from 500ml bottle into straight pint glass.

A) Very dark ruby-black. Opaque; can just see through it when held to light. Absolutely no head; no carbonation visible. Hm.

S) Very little, despite being unrefrigerated. Warm malts, but very faint.

T) Very dark mild malt flavour, slight hint of roasting at the back of the mouth. What hops there are, are muted. A subtle and well thought-out taste profile. A bit weird for a 6% beer, the flavours become apparent in the mouth well after the swallow.

M) Creamy mouthfeel, almost no carbonation. Subtle bitterness in the aftertaste. As above, this is a subtle and well structured beer.

O) A nicely done ale; not even close to being a stout, and it doesn't claim to be one on the bottle, so the BA type is wrong. This is a beer to drink slowly and appreciate.

 850 characters

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I picked this beer up the other day at the downtown Spec's. From reading the bottle I am expecting something like Arrogant Bastard, but I don't know that an English beer can be that aggressive. Let's see...

Appearance: Pours a very dark color that looks like it would be pretty clear if you held a bright enough light up to it. There was a small head of tan bubbles after a pretty aggressive pour. After a minute or so, there was still a pretty solid ring of cream around the top of the beer at the glass. there is a pretty decent amount of lace left on the glass after drinking, so it is a pretty good looking beer overall.

Aroma: My initial impression was of a toffee drink with a shot of vodka in it. Man, that can't be good. Going back in, I don't get that like I did right after the pour. Now there is some earthy British hops starting to come out to mix with the sweet malt that is still dominating. As the beer is starting to warm, I am getting roasted pecans. Interesting.

Taste: The beer overall is pretty thin bodied and this is one of the first things you notice about the sip. There are dark caramel malts giving a bit of a toffee impression, but the malts have a bit darker edge to them than the aroma alluded to so they are a bit acidic when mixing with the hops in the finish. There is a little contribution from the alcohol and it really just adds some heat and dryness to the finish that it didn't really need because of the attenuation and the hops.

Opinion: This is an OK beer and probably one of the best that I have had from this brewery yet. I don't know what that is saying, but there you have it. The beer itself is a bit harsh on the finish, but it has a decent amount of flavor. Would I drink it again?...probably. Would I seek it out? No, the Bastard is much better.

 1,797 characters

Photo of beer2day
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark, near black with some reddish tint coming through. Nice, fluffy 2-finger head atop my impy pint glass. Decent retention, too, lasting all the way through to the bottom of the pint.

Sweet malt and roast malt dominate the nose. Getting anise and caramel underneath. Slightly sour milk rounds things out.

Taste is a little milder than expected, but grows on you. Slight sweetness in the hit, but goes a little bitter mid tongue and finishes with a nice dry coffee bitterness.

Body is also a little thinner than expected, but that makes for a very drinkable stout. While the flavor profile would definitely satisfy on a cold night, the body makes this light enough to drink on a warmer early spring day.

If you like English dry stout, this is worth checking out. Can be a little pricey for a bottle, though.

 825 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewing
83 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.