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Black Bear Ale - Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

Not Rated.
Black Bear AleBlack Bear Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

38 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 38
Hads: 85
Avg: 3.22
pDev: 24.22%
Wants: 1
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant visit their website
Tennessee, United States

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 38 | Hads: 85
Photo of Dogbrick
1.42/5  rDev -55.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

(3-31-03): Got a new bottle thanks to johnrobe, and unfortunately it was just as bad. This brewery either has ongoing issues or the beer is really supposed to taste this way. I am guessing it is the former.

(12-09-02): Acquired via trade. This may be a good beer and I may have gotten a bad bottle but the vinegar aroma ruined this beer. I was given pause before I even had a chance to take a sip because the vinegar aroma is so potent. Plugging my nose and drinking did not help much as the vinegar was prevalent in the flavor as well. I will give this one another shot down the road but I had to pour this one out.

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Photo of beveritt
1.45/5  rDev -55%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Presentation: Thanks go out to my sister and brother in law for bringing this back from a recent trip down to TN. Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label is simple; predominantly black with a red banner and some gold lettering. It depicts a bear with a fish in its mouth standing in front of a mountain range. No freshness date to be found.

Appearance: Pours with a light tan head that just barely provides completely coverage. Settles so quickly, I hardly eve have a chance to look at it. Leaves no lacing or trace of foam. The beer itself is amber with a slight chill haze. Some sediment remains in the bottle.

Smell: Strong vegetal aroma with hints of band aid phenols.

Taste: Wow, this is bad. A horrific mix of off flavors with slightly sour sweet undertones make this incredibly difficult to even choke down a sip. Grass and asparagus with lemon zest. Lingering mild bitterness, but not that typically associated with hops.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is very high; spritzy and big bubbled, indicative of force carbonating. Body is thin.

Drinkability: Nothing good hear, except maybe the label. It is kind of cool in a classic way. This beer is just bad all around.

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Photo of jjs581
2.21/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 1.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

This beer was very disappointing. I was not sure if the waitress had even given me the correct beer upon its arrival. Instead of looking like a typical "English Brown Ale" as the menu stated, this reminded me of an English pale ale. The taste was very sweet and malty but with little flavor from anything roasted or dark malt. It also had almost no hop flavor at all. I would not recommend this beer to anyone expecting a true brown ale.

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Photo of GreatLaura
2.25/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I have had the beer on tap in Gatlinburg location several times and keep coming up with the same verdict. Very flat, and almost a soured taste. Hints of roasted carmel taste but leaves the mouth almost immediatley. No head present, even when just poured.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.33/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of Brentfeesh: Poured a dark brown color ale with a medium foamy head with average retention. Aroma of roasted caramel malt with a hint of sourness, which was not too pleasant. Taste of sweet caramel malt with some subtle hops. I think this beer had a small infection since I could pick-up some sourness, which shouldn’t be in this beer.

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Photo of GreenWBush
2.57/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Reddish mahogany. Peculiar, low-carbonation head found endemically in almost all of the SM beers. Nil lace.

Nose is leathery, unsweetened brownie mix, toasted then moistened pumpernickle bread, slight suggestion of hazelnut.

Taste has an vegetal DMS thing going (celery), nut-meat, underattenuated tea leaves. Watery fudge. Fishiness on outro.

Thin, caustic, a drain-pour.

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Photo of Swill5786
2.67/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark orange-brown with scant head. Sweet caramel malt in the nose with elusive aroma of piney hops. The taste is rather sweet, almost fruity. The pine shows up in a grapefruit-like mid-palate experience. Crisp mouthfeel thanks to mild carbonation. Drinkability is low due to the unimpressive nature of the brew.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.81/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Thanks to lithy for this one.

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Emerges a rather light color for a brown ale; not really brown, more like an amber color. Soda like consistency white head. No lacing.

Aroma was fruity and slightly sour. A touch of green apple in the nose. Some decent caramel but mostly sour fruit.

A large biscuity presence with some caramel sweetness as well. Not bad I guess. But the mouthfeel and green apple taste make this a difficult one to gauge. Too carbonated and too fruity for a brown ale. I do like the biscuit and bread in the flavor.

I would say this is a subpar brown ale. Thin on the mouthfeel and the carbonation is way too high on this one making the thinnes hard to handle. Glad I got to try this one so thanks lithy.

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Photo of johnrobe
2.98/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a light brown with a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it white head. Aroma is very scant. In the taste I thought I could pick out the nice toasted malt flavors of Munich malt more than anything else. It's not as sweet as other brown ales I've tried and the hops, while appropriate for a brown ale, seem light for an "American" brown ale. There's a touch of sourness in the finish that's off-putting, but it dissipated as the brew warmed up. It's a bit light in the mouthfeel department as well. With all that said, it is, imo, pretty easy to drink.

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Photo of BEERchitect
2.98/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

The taste of "Brown" makes its way across the pond and into the Appalachian Mountains. Inspired by British origins, this rendition tastes as much of a Mild Ale as it does an English Brown Ale.

Pouring more of a copper or bronze color, the notion of "brown" doesn't exactly ring true to the sight. A fairly turbulent pour yields a dainty skirt of foam on the surface; even a strong swirl of the glass reluctantly gives up any foam- the ale is nearly still. Mild lacing creeps up the glass, but does so in timid fashion. Its nearly obvious that the Smoky Mountain Brewery is trying to capture that cask ale-like calmness.

Caramel and apples rise to greet the nose instead of the expected chocolate, toast, or toffee. Bruised fruit and grain top off the aromatics while a shift to caramel and toasted barley take shape in taste. Here, a very mild chocolate tone blends with bread crust, nutty coffee grounds, and cola nuts. A tinge of fruitiness in the middle is a little of white grape and wine tannin. Its late profile is unsettled grainy and lacking the malt profile for Brown but settling nicely in the Mild Ale world.

Light in body, the ales inspiration may be Newcastle but with more sweetness. Still, its grain character overshadows malt richness and allows the beer to become thin and exposed late. Finishing mildly astringent- the ale seems to have an Olde Ale staleness that may or may note be intended.

Black Bear needs a hug- unlike several of the beers in its six-pack melange, this ale doesn't know which direction he wants to take. But billed as a Northern English Brown, on par with Newcastle just doesn't cut it. It needs more brown.

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Photo of mntlover
3/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear brwon with redish highlights small tan head falls to tiny ring of foam.
Aroma is light malt slightly chocolately in nature some euro hop skunkiness that adds nothing to be desired.
Taste is slightly chocolate some light maltiness and hints of hops in finish maybe a little grain and touch of very light spiciness. Overall a very average brown ale taste like something the king of beers would make.
Mouthfeel is to thin for a brown carbonation is a little too much and drinkability is very average not a much better choice then an amber bock.

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Photo of Tuey13
3/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at the Pigeon Forge location. Has a dark brown caramel color with a moderate light tan head. The aroma is a caramel with some hints of chocolate. Has a sweet taste with a strong caramel flavor, although it is a bit thin for a brown ale. I think this is almost a beer I could session or one that will go great with some barbecue.

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Photo of Enola
3.03/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is a darker brown. There was very little head. The smell is semi-sweet and candy like. The taste is bitter at first but there is a lasting caramel aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fair. A little bit of undesirable bitterness in the finish. The drinkability is average. This is mid range for the style. Drinkable but not a beer I would want to session.

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.05/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very dark brown, in fact I had to get up and find light to make sure it wasn't black. Faint aroma of roasted toffee and chocolate malt and some aroma hops but nothing stands out. taste is incredibly mild. In fact, I would almost classify this as a dark mild if it had some more malty character. Very light in the mouth and soemwhat vacant on the finish. Doesn't have the some the more interesting nutty characteristics that many brown ales take on. Again, very basic beer and alomst as they tried to malt up a very basic beer to appeal to the tourist trade.

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Photo of barleyroad
3.06/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber/brown in appearance. Smell is some what wheaty and malty in aroma. Mouthfeel is very delightful and inviting. This brew leaves the tongue nicely. The taste is lackin from those quality brown style beers. However it is a good tasting beer. Over all this beer is acceptable but does lack in the wow factor.

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Photo of BeerBrose
3.07/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a miniature tasting snifter.

Look: Light copper/amber by no means brown. minimal head and lacing.

Smell: Malty and oh no! Tart! I bet this bottle is infected? But at least I am stating that in the review.

Taste: Light tart sourness, malty, biscuit, very little toffee/caramel flavor. Too light for a brown but my god is the slight tart very pleasing. Again, maybe its a bad bottle but the taste is nice :)

Feel: Finishes nicely and the medium carbonation helps its presence on my tongue.

Overall: I bet this beer is super crushable when not infected but even with the slight tart flavor I would love to throw it back. Though, its hardly a brown ale.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.16/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - a dark iced tea color. Vigorously poured to get a 2 finger head, it drops rapidly with no lacing to a thin cover with a creamy, soapy head.

Aroma - grainy malt with just the lightest influence of coffee. Fades to just about nil after the initial vapors disperse.

Taste - a sweet tasting beer, it has a caramel, almost raisiny or honeyed taste to it. Aftertaste is also sweet and at first it appears that not much is developing with this beer. As it warms up, however, it makes some impressive improvements. Some tasty chocolate and nutty flavors emerge, really picking things up.

Mouthfeel - soft feeling, low carbonation levels give it a smooth feel.

Drinkability - if you have this at the restaurant it will likely be served far too cold for the ideal flavors to come through and the taste will be simplified and plain. A pleasant blend of flavors awaits those patient enough to let it warm up to 55 degrees or so.

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Photo of myelo
3.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

On tap at Calhoun's restaurant.

Clear, light brown, mahogany color with medium beige head that settles quickly. Tiny bubbles.

Medium light aroma of malt with some nut and toffee. Low hops.

Flavor is medium-high malt up front with sweetness dominating. Very low hops in background.

Mouthfeel is medium body with moderate carbonation. Very smooth with no astringency or heat.

Overall very clean and drinkable. The sweetness dominates and with not enough bitterness to balance.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.23/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy medium brown. The white head falls quickly, but persists as the outer rim of the surface.

The aroma is sweet malty chocolate. There is no hop aroma.

The flavor is nice and crisp with good bitterness to balance the malt. The flavors are chocolate with just a slight bitterness, but no hop flavor.

The body is medium light. The finish is dry chocolate with no long lasting aftertastes. A very drinkable beer.

12 ounce bottle. Label says "An American Brown Ale".

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Photo of atsprings
3.27/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a La Fin Du Monde tulip pours a crisp dark orange with a thin eggshell head that diminished to barely a ring, this is supposed to be a brown ale? Aroma is a slight hint of brown malt, but not much there. The taste is a nice amount of burnt caramel malt with a decent backbone of subdued hops. The beer is medium bodied, not quite as light as you'd expect from a 5.4% beer. This one certainly better than their pale, but even still, nothing special.

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Photo of Tucquan
3.33/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on 2012-11-11 in Danville, KY

A - Fairly clear, brown with an orange tinge, 1-finger tan head that fades in half pretty quickly, leaving mild lace.

S - Floral, chocolate. Mild.

T - Vegetal/mossy, mild roast, light sweet chocolate, cherry. Some bitterness in the dry aftertaste.

M - Thin body and light-medium carbonation.

O - Serviceable. Sessionable and thirst quenching, which is appropriate for this style.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.35/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one wasn't bad, but wasn't great. It pours a Sam Adams-looking brownish amber colour and leaves a fair amount of residue on the glass.

The smell is sweer and a bit hoppy, but there's not much else going on with this one.

The flavour is a nice mix of malt and hops, though the malty earth flavour, while mild is dominant here. Caramel is clearly present throughout as well to account for the sweetness as well.

Overall, everything is pretty basic with this one. It's drinkable, but nothing special.

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Photo of zeff80
3.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a clear, copper color with very light brown highlights. It had a tiny white head of bubbles that left minimal lacing.

S - It smelled fairly nutty and of sweet caramel. Good but nothing amazing.

T - Sweet caramel maltiness with a nutty flavor. There is a mild bitterness/hop presence.

M - It was fairly crisp and sharp. A light bodied ale that is quite sessionable.

D - This is another passable beer from Smoky Mountain Brewery. Not adventurous nor that flavorful.

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Photo of Douglas88
3.42/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle thanks to Joe. Pours a clear amber color with a small white head. The aroma is very interesting; lots of sweet fruity notes, some malt and light nutty aromas. A fairly sweet and very fruity mix, honey and earthy caramel malts also. The finish is very interesting; some fruit and maybe some smoke. Very nice. Almost like a baby Barley Wine.

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Photo of Brent
3.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Without a doubt, the mildest brown ale I've come across. Low carbonation, no head and the barest ring of lace around the edge of the glass. Aroma was distinct chocolate malt, and this was the primary flavor as well, with little hops in mix. No question that this was intended to be malt-based in flavor. As a stand-alone beverage, this really doesn't have enough depth to carry it. However, it went very well with BBQ ribs and the chocolate malt and tangy BBQ sauce were a nice combination. This is one of those beers that seems crafted to accompany a meal, rather than serve as a session brew.

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Black Bear Ale from Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant
76 out of 100 based on 38 ratings.