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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
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Reviews: 54 | Hads: 112
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Premiere Gourmet. Good example of English sublety, nothing too bold just the balance of a little roast, a little Shwartzbier black, a bit above mouthfeel, a bit of licorice as in a porter. Pours black, nothing harsh, delightful with a meal. Really a shwartbier.

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Photo of metter98
3.82/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear dark amber in color and has a thin layer of beige bubbles on the surface.
S: Aromas of dark fruits stand out in the nose.
T: The taste is dominated by flavors of roasted barley while the finish is rather fruity with notes of cherries.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and is very smooth.
D: I could easily drink a few of these in one sitting.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of oberon
3.73/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I have to say the label has caught my eye in the past but I never pulled the trigger until today,BBC magazine called him the worst Briton of the 13th century,now thats sayin something.Poured more of a cola color than black,alot of reddish tint,a thinner but well retained slight off white head atop.Fruity malt,iron,and light bitter chocolate in the nose,its full on English malt.A little thin in the mouth,but it goes down real easy.Flavors are not intense,at least not for the American craft palate,but its got decent complexity.Some bitter chocolate and fruity flavors meld into a pretty good earthy finish,intense finish maybe for the Brits.I actually think its decent,not intense,not great.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic pint glass at ChurchKey.

Yeah, let's live pessimistically in the past, Ridgeway...let's keep dredging up John and dragging his name in the mud. Real mature. This brew pours a very dark brown topped by a sad excuse for a bubbly head (it's not its fault, though...the cask affects performance). The nose comprises figs, black grapes, light maple syrup, and some light strawberries. The taste holds notes of chocolate powder, light maple syrup, figs, dates, red grapes, and a hint of oak. Wow, didn't see all o' that comin'. The body is a solid medium, with no real carbonation and a very smooth feel. Overall, a better time is had with this beer than was had under the watchful eye of the eponymous ruler. Word.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.28/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

"Bad King John is black...bitter...intense...like the ruthless man it honours. Do not come here looking for subtlety!"
So the label says...it says other things, too...forget about that, I'm gonna drink it!

Dark brown body, slightly crimson at the edges...lush cocoa head atop
Beautiful aroma, nice and roasty-toasty...just bitter enough, yet creamyand inviting. Nice balance of hops and malt here.

Drink it!
Dark and rich, deep and malty...black,cocoa flavors,some espresso tinges, dark essences dwell beneath...darkness always licks up from below...Full bodied, long,malty, rich and tasty finish...really well-balanced, everything is in order here.

A beer fit for a bad king, that's for sure. I'd have more if it weren't so damned expensive.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11/9/08- Purchased at Bottle Barn, in Santa Rosa, CA. $5.49 price tag.

Presentation- 500ml bottle, did not check for freshness info. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Black, but not as black as I have seen in a stout. Beyond full one in plus some head. Good 1/2 inch remains for the duration. Leaves some small chunks and some pacthwork of lace.

Smell- Beyond roasted malts. Deep burnt chocolate, frangrant bitter hops and a charcoal-campfire smokey nose.

Taste- First few sips reveal a light metallic note. Quickly fades though. Nice bitter and lasting hoppy flavor with added burnt smores campfire like dark chocolate.
Melds together nicely, but the hops play the main role.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth with a medium to lighter carbonation. Long lasting bitter lashing. Lightly creamy.

Drinkability- Very nice english stout. Do away with that metallic beginning and lower the carbonation a touch lower and you have almost world class. Very drinkable as is though.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a khaki head. The aroma is pretty subtle with roasted malts and a little smoke. The flavor is more of the same with roasted malt being the most predominant flavor component. The hops may add a tad bit of bitterness but if they do, it is not much. Not very complex but it is enjoyable. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation.

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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

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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.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle (bottle conditioned): best before 17 Feb 2013, poured into my Abbot Ale glass tankard 9 Apr 2012.

Looks good: tan head on an exceedingly dark body.

The nose and taste are a great blend of dark chocolate, liquorice, bitter coffee and burnt prunes.

Not rich in body but flavoursome and interesting: a fine brew.

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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.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A dark cola pour comes off deep black in my duvel tulip. The head is a bit wispy and washy, parchment in color and weak on the hold. Lacing is moderate, a thin intricate spiderweb design covering the inside with a fair amount of coverage. Effervesce can be seen rising steadily along the glass edges of single file micro-bubbles rising at a moderate pace.

S: Medium sense of roast and dried dark chocolate appear on the opening scent. Aroma is simple, typical English pub fare, wont knock you off your feet or tickle your nostrils but is suited well enough within the style parameters.

T: Dark roasty nature brings a good sense of bitterness of dark fruit. Rich chocolate malts accompanied by some anise provide a smooth and easy flavor highlighted with a burnt caramel sweetness. Big on flavor on the open while it finishes out with a light and playful roast that is easy on the close.

M: Light to medium body, smooth coffee roast turns fuller as it sits. Good deal of carbonation tickling the tongue along with a fade and grace of dark fruit and roast of medium proportions.

D: Roasty yet incredibly smooth for flavor making for a solid good drinkability factor. The alcohol is very well hidden making you feel like you are drinking a session style pub at 5% rather then a tick above at 6%. Yeah I could easily enjoy a few of these in a nice typical English pub setting.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Bung
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very tansluscent black pour. Sufficient off white head creating a nice contrast. Aroma is a bit mild. Subtle roast malt, nut and peat. Flavor is a bit stronger, roast malt and smoked nut again. Bitter tobacco, coffee a little piney hops. Body is a little tinner, but still medium and gets creamier as it warms. Finish is just a little coffee and anise. A good drinking dark brew.
I would have considered this something else other than a stout, maybe a dark mild but it is not real mild or just and English strong ale. Still a very good English ale.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.67/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Russet-tinged black with steady beige head that leaves few trailers. Blackberry and ash on the nose with a bit of Band-aid.
Dark roast coffee, melted brown sugar, dates, hints of dark chocolate and cola-type caramel, then an assertively bitter hop ending made mostly of branch and autumn leaf.
Sweet comeback, dry linger. Medium, oily, chewy, slick, no burn.

Maybe a bit sugary and simple; not huge depth here. But good roasty notes; more oily than most. Oil and sugar do contrive to be a cloyingly bittersweet after a while, but at this strength you're not sessioning it anyway.

I'd been ready to write off Ridgeway based on rep and some very average beers, this earns them a stay of execution.

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Photo of Suds
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 500 ml bottle, this beer pours as a nearly solid black color (with brown highlights in the shallows if held to the light). It presents a tightly packed brownish-tan head, and makes for an impressive beer. The brew has a nice roasted malt aroma...chocolate, biscuit, and grain in front of a backdrop of English hops. The malt is front and center in this beer. There's also a notable yeast flavor and aroma in the brew. Occasional fruity qualities appear and fade, particularly raisin and plum-like. Fairly clean, moderately light in body, with a bitterness that comes in in the mid-taste. Fairly sweet as well, more than expected. This is a satisfying and very enjoyable brew.

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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.

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Photo of Pegasus
3.69/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque dark brown body, crowned by a moderate, dense, dark tan head, which retains fairly well. The lacing is utterly glass-coating, and quite superb.

Aroma: Lots of roasted barley up front, followed by a fairly strong dark fruit presence, possibly dark plums, or figs.

Taste: Opens with bitter cocoa, and a sharp infusion of earthy hops. As the taste progresses, the hops reach ascendency, while the bitter cocoa is drawn out to a strong and lingering presence. Finishes with a lingering,earthy and bitter hop presence.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and very pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: Would have benefit ted from a more moderate hop selection, the hops were simply too earthy.

Presentation: packaged in a custom 19.9 ounce (500 ml) brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium brewing chalice.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pored in one swift fluid motion into a tulip pint glass to avoid any sediment.

Black bodied with thick big bubbled beige head that quickly dispersed.

Rich coffee aroma with a fruity hint, maybe raspberry dunked in dark chocolate.

A nice spritely spicy taste, peppery with bitter notes the roast comes through nicely in coal tasting smack to round it off.

surprisingly sup'able probably due to the great carbonation making it an easy drinking experience.

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Photo of Offa
4.52/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is deep, dark red-brown, almost black, a little bubbly in the body, with a big, rich tan head that slwoly shrinks to a foamy ring and leaves some decent lace.

The aroma is very nice, fairly strong but smooth and pleasant. It has toasted brown bread, stewed prunes, hay, and hints of chocolate and port.

The taste is quite interesting, flavourful, and complex. Up front it starts smoothly with sweet fruit, especially prunes, toasted brown bread, a hint of fruitcake. This gradually transforms into a drier, toastier character with gradually increasing bitterness including pepper and spice (licorice, perhaps), and light hints of bitter chocolate and unsweetened coffee. The change is smooth and gradual, to a lightly bitter, dry finish containing the pepper, etc. The bitterness lingers, slowly getting a little stronger to fill the mouth before fading. Hwoever, nothing is sharp or burn tasting, the bitterness is not clinging or unpleasant (it stops just short of getting unpleasant), and it has a nice spicey-coffee character. The whole experience is enjoyable, engaging, interesting, very flavourful from start to finish, and the beer is quite drinkable.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.18/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown in color bordering on black. Minor tan colored head on top. Low aroma-some minor nutty notes as well as a tinge of cocoa. Killer malty and mildly roasted flavor. Slight graininess that brings out the roasted quality even more. Slight chocolate and espresso flavors. Mild hop presence. Very well balanced flavor wise. Good mouthfeel. Nice lingering dry taste. Very very drinkable. I love the whole package.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.81/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark brown with a little transparency. Skim creamy tan head what leaves some really decent clingy skim-like lace.

Mild charred malt and creamy coffee notes. A whiff of chocolate.

Assertive charred malt that leads to a bit of creaminess in the mouth. Bitter coffee notes, chicory, carbon. But with all of those harsh edges, this one is…smooth. Finish is bitter and svn a little medicinal.

Medium to medium full. A little loose for a stout.

Very very decent brew. A bitter-focused English stout, with still a bit of smoothness. Worth a try.

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Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewing
83 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.