Black Bear Ale - Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant
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Ratings: 78 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
2.98/5 rDev -7.5%
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.
06-14-2013 05:22:35 | More by BEERchitect
2.35/5 rDev -27%
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 shouldnt be in this beer.
10-10-2006 20:07:31 | More by Phyl21ca
4/5 rDev +24.2%
Appearance: Disembarks the bottle a clear, light brown body capped with a modestly-sized, bubbly, off-white head.
Smell: Sweetish, malty nose smelling of deeply toasted bread, really focusing on those crunchy, crusty accents, as well as notes of pecans and dark caramel.
Taste: Deep toastiness along with caramel, molasses, and a nibble of pecan pie. Minimal roastiness. Medium-light sweetness. Very light-handed dose of hops and bitterness. Ever more maltiness on the finish with a light, lingering sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.
Drinkability: BBA is simply a good, smooth, serviceable brown ale.
05-16-2010 15:53:22 | More by ChainGangGuy
3.4/5 rDev +5.6%
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.
07-14-2010 14:28:06 | More by zeff80
1.43/5 rDev -55.6%
(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.
12-09-2002 08:51:41 | More by Dogbrick
3.58/5 rDev +11.2%
A: Pours a clear brownish amber with a creamy, thick khaki head.
S: Malty aromas of praline, nougat, chestnut, pecans, leather, caramel, toffee, and heavy cream dominate the nose, though closer inspection reveals subtle traces of earthy hops.
T: Notes of caramel, toffee, nougat, praline, leather, chestnut, pecan, heavy cream, grass, herbs, and lemon distinguish themselves in the mouth. The finish is earthy and rather nutty with pronounced notes of praline, toffee, pecan, herbs, and grass.
M: On the lighter side of medium, slick, and oily. Carbonation is very delicate. It goes down smoothly, but it is slight and flabby for the style.
O: Not bad at all. I think some reviewers may have been expecting too much. While this is not exactly like many commercial English brown ales, it still ticks most of the boxes one would expect for a beer of this style.
03-06-2014 13:47:14 | More by mrfrancis
3.43/5 rDev +6.5%
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.
10-14-2002 08:48:52 | More by Brent
3.23/5 rDev +0.3%
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.
05-02-2005 16:41:41 | More by brewdlyhooked13
3.23/5 rDev +0.3%
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".
01-01-2004 23:56:48 | More by GCBrewingCo
3.3/5 rDev +2.5%
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.
05-10-2009 01:12:09 | More by atsprings
3.05/5 rDev -5.3%
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.
12-27-2003 04:19:02 | More by CRJMellor
3.35/5 rDev +4%
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.
11-11-2012 22:12:44 | More by Tucquan
3.55/5 rDev +10.2%
Arrives at the table a dark copper color with a small head. Head drops fast. No lace.
Smell is roasted malt,hops, a faint dark fruit note (upon warming).
Taste is more involved, malt, hops, a slight metallic/celery note.
Smooth with a light/medium effervescence and a fullish body. Mildly creamy, esppecially through the aftertaste. A very good brew, especially when sipped to allow the taste to linger longer.
11-04-2008 14:00:32 | More by PorterLambic
2.83/5 rDev -12.1%
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.
12-08-2008 22:20:54 | More by SaCkErZ9
3/5 rDev -6.8%
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.
02-16-2005 22:26:07 | More by mntlover
3.38/5 rDev +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.
06-02-2005 02:26:38 | More by SixpointJMH
Black Bear Ale from Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant
75 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.