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Widow Maker Black Ale - Keweenaw Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Widow Maker Black AleWidow Maker Black Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

72 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 72
Hads: 270
Avg: 3.41
pDev: 31.09%
Wants: 9
Gots: 51 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Keweenaw Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: association330 on 06-13-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 72 | Hads: 270
Photo of KickInTheChalice
2.69/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served on tap in a pint glass at Lockhart's BBQ.

Appearance: The beer is a dark brown color with a ruby tint in the edges. A small off-white film is all that exists for a head.

Smell: Light roasted malts, slightly bitter with some caramel sweetness. The aroma is very light.

Taste: The flavor is mellow roasted malt with some milky sweet chocolate. Metallic and a bit of citrus toward the end. Fairly flat flavor with not much hop presence at the end.

Mouthfeel: This has crisp carbonation but a mild flavor, resulting in a watery sensation. The body is on the light side.

Overall: I ordered this because I am a fan of American Black Ales, but this barely qualifies for the category. It tastes like a boring over-carbonated porter or something.

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Photo of lurpy1
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ah, the power of marketing. I've seen Keweenaw cans in Michigan stores a kajillion times and never bought one. I've had good canned beer (Surly, Tallgrass), but the Keweenaw cans just look old and unappealing...they look like they could contain Schmidt or some defunct malt liquor. But on tap, where Keweenaw doesn't compete with those sleek bottles, they are in even ground. The venue: Reno's West. The battle: Man vs. Widow Maker Black Ale.

The pour is dark, dark, dark, with little sheen, like a matte paint. Not bad, not a ton of head.

The smell, if anything, is relentlessly balanced. I pick up some hop profile, not a ton, balanced by some roast and malt, again, not a ton. This is all crosscut by a bit of a yeast/barley aroma.

The taste is a combination of all of the above. Refreshing, tasty, but not horribly distinct, and clearly not a big beer.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, with good carbonation. Alcohol is not real present....at all.

Widow Maker is not an apt name. This beer will kill no one, it's just not a big, knock you on keister drink. But that doesn't not mean it's not a very good beer worth trying. Keweenaw may not be my first choice, but I will definitely return to them...just not in those damned rusty looking cans.

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Photo of bigbeerbrett
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured well into a standard pint glass. Dark brown-red looked interesting. Roasted malty smell with just a touch of hops. The mouthfeel matched the style, but the first taste didn't match the appearance or aroma. It felt like the basics were there, but not much wow. The flavor quickly left the tongue and had me longing for more sips to get something more which never appeared. This is more like a session type beer with not a lot of substance. The 10$ price tag for a sixes seems high. Perhaps they should market these as 12 packs.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Keweenaw widowmaker

Pours a dark blackish brown color. Aroma is of roasted malts. In the taste, a solid roasted flavor, mild coffee with a little tang. Pretty one dimensional, but not bad. Little bitterness, more roast flavor, then a clean finish. Medium bodied, and somewhat smooth. Overall, not a bad dark beer in a can.

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Photo of whatthehull
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5


A - Opaque black/brown, one finger tan head and

S - Lots of toasted maltiness, a bit sweet, lots of earth, a sour note, slight hops and a very crisp German/Belgian lager yeast smell

T - Yeast, sweet, earth, tons of grains, wheat, barley, lots of malts, slight sour, slight hops and toastiness

M - Medium plus body, low acidity, medium balance, nice complexity and medium plus finish

D - Drinks like a dark lager and a light stout. Flavor, not much bitterness and goes down silky smooth

Final thought - This one isn't as good as the lift bridge, but I am still a fan

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Photo of ribby
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Review edited. I have had three more cans since the one I reviewed. None tasted like the first, the overwhelming bitterness was gone. The taste of these was mild and on the malty side, but not a lot of hoppiness. ]

The color is very good, a nearly opaque deep red. Unfortunately, the appearance is undermined by a small half inch head.

The smell is rather bland.

The biggest problem with this beer is the taste. It is just too bitter. It's not that I don't like bitter, but this is the wrong bitter, too much overcharred malt. It needs either some sweeter dark malt or a better type of bitter from the hops, probably both. I really hate to criticize beers like this, because they are difficult to make and I want to encourage brewers to be ambitious and try these kinds of beers.

The small head is accompanied by low carbonation, thus a rather unexciting mouthfeel. Overall, I call this average for the excellent appearance and the ambition to go for this style. I think this would be best accompanied by cheese
or bourbon.

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Photo of weizenbob
2.54/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce can Purchased at Tom's in Acme (6.99/6-pack). Canned June 27, 2011. Poured into a nonic pint glass. The pour yields half a finger of tan head that disappears in a flash of bubbles. Lacing? Forget about it. What's left is a glass of beer that is not black, but cola colored. It is nothing for the eyes to behold.

The aroma is sweet with strong licorice notes and roasted maltiness that is somewhat akin to espresso. It smells a little thin but the aromatics that are there are mostly pleasant.

The flavor is really something to behold. Wet cardboard? Check. Cooked vegetables? Check. Still, there is some subtle but pleasant roasted malt action going on in the background. As far as balance, the brew leans sweet and malty with strong implications of vanilla. It seems they skipped the hops for this one. My mouth is a little confused, but I can roll with it.

The mouthfeel is thin. The body is light. The carbonation is a bit stinging. On the positive, the alcohol is completely hidden.

What a train wreck of a beer this is. It has the look and feel of a cola with a deliberately sweet flavor to boot. Keweenaw's cans all boast the goal of "turning beer drinkers into craft beer lovers," and I see what they're trying to do with Widow Maker. But that doesn't atone for the fact that this is just excruciatingly bad beer. Recently the price point of Keweenaw's canned beers has fallen drastically, to the point that they are a pretty decent value now. Still, I can recommend Widow Maker to neither the initiated nor the uninitiated. Blah.


The Two-Schlitz Scale: (reference my profile for an explanation)
I do not give a Schlitz for Widow Maker Black Ale. In fact, after this, I feel the need to wash my mouth out with an ice cold Schlitz Tallboy.

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Photo of brdc
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From notes. Poured from a can into a pint glass.
Name is obviously black ale, style here states brown. The beer is definitely brown in color, if dark. Minimal head like everything else I had from Keweenaw. No lacing.
Aroma is malty as well, with some roasted notes, coffee.
Thin on the palate, with malty flavors that are quite delicate, and at times even hard to notice. Looking closely, you will find roasted notes, coffee, some caramel. Passable.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review from notes. Thanks to Marc for this one!

A: Poured a dark brown with a slight reddish hue. A small tan head formed on top with decent retention and minimal lacing.

S: Very roasty with a hint of smoke.There was also a bit of coffee and a slight metallic note.

T: Extremely roasty. There is a little bit of caramel and coffee, but the roasted malt flavor dominates everything here.

M: Light to medium bodied, seemed a touch thin to me. Carbonation was a little more active than I am used to for style.

O: Not bad, the name confused me, as I thought it was going to be a black ipa, and the flavor profile reminds me more of a porter than a brown.

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Photo of THECPJ
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark brown with a reddish hue and 1 finger off white head.

smell: roast, patent, coffee, malts,

taste: roasted malts,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, thin to medium body,

overall: a nice brown ale almost porter like with the roast characteristics. glad I got to try it.


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Photo of tone77
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to woodychandler who continues to unearth more canned beers. Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a black color with 1.5 inches of head and considerable lacing. Smell is of roasted malts. Taste has roasted malts, up front, then a bit of sourness I can not quite describe, sour fruit and a touch of metallic flavor. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a decent beer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

caramel color brown with just enough light getting through to give it a sort of off reddish tint. The smallish tan head quickly faded and left behind only traces of itself. The aroma itself was lightly smoked almost, full of roasted malts and a touch of caramel. The flavor was light bodied but nicely roasted with a touch of a bittering finish and a flavor full of earthy grain like tones. A nice subtle bread like base was quaintly masked underneath.

Overall this was a decent brown ale. It was nothing spectacular, but I do not think it was designed to be, but rather it was a very nice interpretation of the style. I could see myself drinking this on a session basis as it was very nice and very full of flavor without being too heavy or filling. A quality sessionable brown ale is what it should be and it definitely succeeds at that.

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Photo of beerprovedwright
3.95/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My sister from Marquette, MI brought me this beer. Four plus finger head of light brown foam, the thick clinging lace. Color is black, tar black, a 38 on the SRM beer color chart. Smell is thick smoke, caramel, black cherry, malt, and pepper. Taste is intense, with flavors of dark cherry, caramel, coco, grapefruit peel, and pine. The flavor is bold and full, and tart. There are tastes of coco, black cherry, caramel, grapefruit, smoke, and hops. Mouthfeel is full and rich, but sort of sticky and has a drying effect on my upper palate. Not a beer I can get around here, but when I travel to Michigan again, I will look this beer up.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.41/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Keweenaw Black Widow pours a porter like dark brown with a frothy light tan head that has great lacing. The beer seems to have a bit of a murky pond water sort of quality to it, but luckily the fact that it is more black than brown makes the murkiness not such a big deal.

The aroma is quite malty with definite sweet bread sort of character. It has an interesting slightly tart cherry sort of acidity that melds with astringent roasted malts.

The flavor is quite interesting with more of the acidic tart cherry character. This mingles with the sweet malt, chocolate, tea and some very roasty malt flavors that seem downright smoky.

The mouthfeel is in the light side of medium with a bit of a watery feel to it. It has a nice smoothness though and the finish is fairly neutral leaving just a bit of roasty character on my palate.

Overall this was quite drinkable and a very unique beer. For some reason I liked it more when I had a sample at the TC winter brewfest, but I thought this is still a fairly serviceable and sessionable ale. My friend tells me that the beers they have on tap up in the U.P. are way better than what they can. Someday I will have to check it out myself.

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Photo of EgadBananas
2.36/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2007 vintage.

Dark brown, nearly black pour, 2 fingers of head that stuck around with bubbles streaming.

Aroma was ok, though faint. Some roasted malts and a hint of sweetness and chocolate. It all went south from here...

Taste slightly malty, and then lime. Finish was lime.

Light, and carbonation was kicking too much. The feel was sharp.

Age has not done this one well. Not an easy one to put away in the end.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour - dark, dark brown with a big fluffy tan head. The head on this actually fades fairly quickly but the dark, dark color of this beer isn't going anywhere.

Aroma - dark roast coffee grounds, bitter chocolate, molasses, some dark fruits as well some faint hints of earthy hops.

Taste - roasty and tangy. There are a lot of the bold flavors that come with the dark malt but also a tangy zip of a finish that is dry and reminds me a bit of red wine. Its a nice balance between the roasty coffee ground and caramel flavors and this sort of vinous, earthy flavors. Very drinkable and certainly a nice beer to have with a meal or with dessert.

Overall - solid, dark yet light-bodied beer. What is a black ale anyways? What we've been calling a Black IPA is technically now called an American Black Ale yet this one is classified as a American Brown Ale. Anyways, regardless of what its called and what color it is, this is worthy of your glass.

Would I buy more of it? - sure thing. Do they do a mixed pack

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Photo of SickGnar
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark, dark brown - pretty much opaque - with warm garnet highlights. Short off-white head that keeps a ring, but does not leave much lacing.

S: A mix of sweet/tart dark fruits and slightly burnt molasses with a whiff of cocoa and roasted malts underlying it all. Reasonably interesting and pungent.

T: Sweet/tart dark fruits with a metallic / acidic edge. Makes me think something is working on souring this beer. Probably not intended, especially as the brewer wants to "turn beer drinkers into craft-beer lovers." Molasses sweetness with dark roasted malts make up the backbone of this one with cocoa and almost burnt toffee showing up mostly in the finish. Hops are minimal, but come across as leafy/herbal with a bit of citrus character as well.

M: Just under medium body with just over average carbonation. Soft yet tongue caressing. Edging towards drying. Could stand to be a bit heftier.

D: Another single can from a small UP store that appears to be souring in the can. At the level present, it actually added a bit to the complexity of the beer. And it is a nice beer underneath. But more would be maybe not so nice, and I have to think it was not intended - which makes it a flaw and harder to rate this beer. As it was in the sample I tried this is still okay drinkable stuff. Even fine as a gateway brew. Without the souring thingy going on, it would be even more so.

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Photo of kzoobrew
2.97/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Cherry cola like body. I suppose in a dimly lit room or away from any direct light this may appear black. When light is brought into the equation it is apparent this is not black. Crimson brown color with a fizzy khaki colored head. The head dissipates in short order leaving scattered splotches of lacing. The style which is list is an American Brown Ale, I do not believe it was the brewers intention to make a brown ale. I have to rate this to they style the brewer intended and not the style listed.

Light roastiness on the nose set in front of a complimentary caramel aroma. Slight and subtle molasses and smokiness. The aromas are largely subdued and predominately malt. Very little hop presence enters the equation.

To be honest, at first sip the cola reference became a little too accurate. A healthy does of caramel sweetness overwhelms the palate. The darker malts work their way into the picture but do not manage to fight off the overall sweetness.

The body is light with a prickly carbonation. This beer comes of a little to watered down. Medium finish.

Sure, this beer is certainly drinkable. The real question is how enjoyable is it. I can safely say I would chose this over a BMC product all day long but would struggle to pick this up at the store again. Rather unimpressive offering, not offensive but just not great.

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Photo of beerhan
2.33/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I think black ale I expect the beer to be black. This is a brown beer that shoulda just be called bud light dark. It tastes like would chips soaked in mollases. The smell is metalic sugar. Overall a real undrinkable disappointment. Drinking it fast does make it taste much better though.

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Photo of jampics2
2.83/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz can into a snifter. Thanks to Paul for grabbing this at the brewery on a trip to the UP. 

Into the snifter this black ale goes.  Guess what?  It's black!  The dark liquid has brown edges. It features poor head retention as it quickly becomes a small film and ring. Spotty lace is left behind. Still looks appealing although flawed.   

The beer smells of caramel, a touch of roast and some sourness or acidity. The sourness is similar to what I encountered in the Lift Bridge brown ale, and it may be a sign of infection or just a house character.  It reminds me of the tartness typically encountered in a Belgian Witbier. This review is fair game since the cans were purchased at the brewery earlier this week.    

The beer has a disappointing taste - not so much to be undrinkable, but just not good.  Notes of dark fruit, cherry, mildly roasted malt, black patent malt, caramel and a sour/metallic tinge at the end.  Just not getting much in the way of a well crafted black ale, even without the major flaw.   

Some sparkly carbonation and medium to light body make this beer just very plain Jane in terms of mouthfeel.  Not a beer I'd want to try again unless it was on tap at the brewery. Too bad since Michigan is home to the fantastic Dark Horse Black Bier, which I highly recommend over this mediocre offering.      

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Deep brown, blackish, crimson depending how the light is reflecting off it. This tan head the disappears quickly.

S - Light aroma, sweet malts, lightly roasted grain and a touch nutty.

T - Sweet malt, fresh baked bread, hint of chocolate and nuttiness.

M - Light body with a bit of prickly carbonation. Slightly watery.

D - A great gateway beer. Just enough flavors to satisfy but lacking any real character.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Before the review, a quick story. I had this in a can at a place called the Hardwood near Sidnaw in the UP. I ordered a 7&7 right when I got there when I saw Busch Light and Miller Light as the only tap handles. A waiter came up to the bar and asked the bartender Michelle (Mee-shell, my bell ...) if they had any Bells beer. She said, "oh no, not another one of those 'what kind of microbrews do you have' guys. NONE." Like it was some awful thing. But then we're pretty far from any big town, so whatever. But then I saw a Keweenaw Brewing sign on the wall, $3 a can, so I asked if they had any. She gave me a can, asked if I wanted a glass. Then I: "thanks. It's cool that each area is getting back to having its own brewery like before Prohibition." She: "yeah, that is kind of nice." Long story longer: some craft beer people are obnoxious about it. But if you put it in a way that's more about the local guys vs. the big guys, I think anyone can understand the appeal.

It pours a dark brown, maybe black. Good head, slight lacing. A nice looking beer. I really like the cans instead of bottles, too. It smells a little roasty, but it's a bit thin on the nose. On the tongue it's dry, nutty, slightly roasted, but in the mouth it's a bit too thin. It's a beer that one could drink several of and not get tired of, and the price was right at the bar, too. I was shocked that there was a beer this good at a place that out of the way. A decent beer.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.73/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Bobby for sharing this one.

A: The pour is a dark brown color with a short lived tan head.

S: Not a very appealing nose on this beer. Burnt malts and a definite acidity, presumably from the dark grains. A bit of a butter aroma, too.

T: A mild, mellow roast flavor along with some almost pleasant notes of creamy milk chocolate. Unfortunately, a fair amount of acidity and some metallic notes, especially on the finish.

M: The body is light to medium with a fairly light carbonation.

D: Nothing about this beer really did it for me. The nose was certainly not appealing and the flavor wasn't really any better.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.06/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkest of crimson red with an overall deep black cast. Hefty and thick tan cap of foam sits loftly with might and sticks a musty thick skim always present. Droppy globs of lacing graze the glass in medium amounts.

Soft tangy aroma of dark cherry, cocoa, molasses, black tea, and a touch of smoke.

Taste is tad more sweet and dark, from the aroma the flavors insist with a milding of cocoa and molasses dusted dark cherryness. A bit of vanilla in there as well. Herbal black tea highlights and a light puff of smokey bacon.

Nice frothy medium texture and body with an overll tame and mild sweetness thats well handled and easy going.

A nice little surprise of an ale from Keweenaw.

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Photo of number1bum
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerTruth for this 12oz can.

Pours very dark brown, but not quite black, with a fizzy inch of beige head. Lacing is minimal, with a rimjob around the edge and only a patchy lace other than that.

Smell is pretty bland, with some caramel and a very feint roasted malt ntoe. Slightly earthy too, but overall the nose is pretty weak and what's there is not all that enticing.

There is more robustness to the flavor than there was the aroma, but barely. Caramel is the dominant flavor, with a buttery, toffee like flavor toward the finish. Subtle roasted and chocolate notes as well.

Mouthfeel is pretty fizzy, moreso than I'd like. Carbonation is a bit too active in my opinion. It's also a tad too thin, leaving it feeling a bit sprtizy and watery. I know they were going for light body here but a touch more would be nice.

This beer is not bad, but it's not particularly good either. It's pretty boring frankly. Not much to it really. Not particularly memorable.

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Widow Maker Black Ale from Keweenaw Brewing Company
79 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.