Hockley Dark | Hockley Valley Brewing Co.

92 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Hockley DarkHockley Dark

Brewed by:
Hockley Valley Brewing Co.
Ontario, Canada

Style: English Dark Mild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 08-12-2004

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 92 | Ratings: 151
Photo of TerryW
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Handsome red chestnut colour, but only a wee bit of a head, some spotty lace.

Slightly sharp on the nose, some sweet caramel, but not much else.

Sweet up front with a bit of a bite that fades nicely to a gentle, lingering bitterness.

Comfortable to drink, but not especially exciting. Nothing really to make me want to go out and buy this one again, I'm afraid.

 370 characters

Photo of Mit
2.93/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

a- Pours a dark amber colour with a respectable head.

s-kinda thin smelling. Slight maltiness to the beer.

t-again kinda thin....bready notes very slight coffee flavors coming through.

m-thin..feels like a 4% beer.

d-pretty drinkable...not much to it IMO.

 259 characters

Photo of TheHammer
2.97/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Very dark, almost stout dark to be honest, although dark red and brown can be seen when held up to the light. Started with a solid finger and a half of head, and stuck around for a while, but produced no lace.

Smell: Well roasted malt dominates the nose, with well roasted smoke and charcoal elements. However the is the underpinning scent of black licorice that throws me a bit off. Warming helped it out, but it did decent cold too.

Taste: Well it starts with fairly mild but well roasted malt, but as it goes down, something kicks in to give it a dark chocolate and black licorice taste that I find to be an unappealing mix. Light earthy and fruity hops come and try to save they day, but sadly is just not strong enough to override the mix.

Mouthfeel: I dunno, the carbonation seems to help the whole beer out, which is good but a beer this strong you would think would be thicker and creamier. It shifts between states well, and while I don't like the taste the aftertaste makes a quiet case for itself before leaving, which is nice.

Drinkability: It's somewhere between light and medium bodied, so you could probably put a few back, but it's the taste that is really hamstringing this one. It's just...odd. I mean it just seems to be too thin for something this dark.

Final Thoughts: I really don't think this ale is served well as an English Brown, as it is listed here the malt character just isn't there. It really comes more across as a darker ale to me. After checking the website, this seems to have been what they were going for, a cross between and English Brown and a Mild Dark. I like my browns, and I usually prefer them with sweeter malt then dark and nutty, so black licorice is not what I'm looking for in this style, or frankly any beer.

Edit: Crap, I got it in a can, not a bottle.

 1,821 characters

Photo of Cramshawbar
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A harmless beverage, really. A type I might have enjoyed years ago, prior to getting to know the discriminating brews from around the world. Alas, this was my first and last try.

 178 characters

Photo of NV9
3.02/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tall can poured into a pint glass.

Not much head at all to this one and dissipated very quickly with only a little lacing. Very deep red colour.

Some hops evident in the smell, some chocolate aroma too and overall a roasty feel to the smell.

Smooth flavour, roasted feeling in the taste as well, with a slightly bitter finish.

A bit lighter than I expected, easily drinkable, and a solid dark ale.

 401 characters

Photo of decimator
3.04/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

473ml can poured into a point glass. ABV 5%.

A - Poured a clear cola reddish brown, thin white head, lively carbonation, good lacing.

S - Toffee, toast, some caramel, some nuttiness.

T - Toffee, nutty, some toast, some sour notes, mild bitter finish. Overall the flavour is rather thin.

M - Medium carbonation, medium-light body, some creaminess, a bit watery, mostly dry finish.

O - Drinkable but in part because it's a on the light side.

 444 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one's courtesy of Viggo from the CanBIF #3 this year.

Pours out a deep, deep opaque brown, a splash of beige head that settles indefinitely into a thick creamy cap.

The aroma is somewhat vinuous, licorice and blackstrap molasses with a good dose of brown sugar in the picture.

These characteristics thin out in the flavour profile, and for the most part are displaced by a woody roasted malt and a cafe au lait finish.

The mouthfeel is on the thin side, yet the texture redeems it with a smooth, creamy presentation for the most part.

More remeniscent of a dark ale than a brown, yet either way the malts still rule the roost on this one.

 648 characters

Photo of mrmanning
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown body with a thin beige head. Lots of carbonation going on here in the body though. Looks like cola. Aromas are faint malt, coffee, smokey, and caramel. Tastes like coffee, balanced with some sweet malt and some mild nut flavours. FInish is smooth, leaving a nice malt aftertaste. Well done! A lot more enjoyable than the organic lager!

 354 characters

Photo of Viggo
3.26/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Just picked this one up at the LCBO, quite an attractive bottle. Poured out of 1L growler, beer was a rich dark reddish brown, with lots of whitish head. I have a cold so it didn't really smell like much, as little hoppy and metallic though. The taste was a little too light as well, but a bitter nutty flavour and a little chocolate were present. However the taste did get better with every sip. The mouthfeel was too light for me, seemed watered down. Altogether an average beer, I thought it has high drinkability but is pretty pricey to buy on a regular basis. Worth a try though, I thought it was pretty decent.

 616 characters

Photo of papat444
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 473ml. can, canned 280312.

Appearance: A vigorous pour yields less than 2 fingers of foam before disappearing. Body is better with a murky brown-red.

Smell: Caramel malt is strong with toasted grains, a bit of wheat and a dry fruit aroma.

Taste: Chewy caramel, dried fruits. Flavor is nice but wanting.

Mouthfeel: Better than the taste. Very creamy with low carbonation makes it a tad more pleasing.

Overall: Alright is the only word that comes to mind.

 472 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

For a beer entitled 'Dark' this has some awfully glaring highlights. I don't even need an inspection to affirm its lustrous auburn and glinty amber colouring. Its clarity is as pristine and its tone sparkling; despite the dimmed (hardly dark) shading one's finger is crystal clear on the other side. Its head evaporated in a fireworks-like performance that saw bubbles balloon up and at their peak burst open, all to a soundtrack of crackles and sizzles.

There's a few nice smelling scents in this beer. Problem is they aren't all that confident. Warming definitely instills a bit of courage but the faint aura of roasted nuts, plums and caramel will likely never become anything more than subtle. One might consider them understated but I'd probably lean more towards just flat out thin.

Dido for the taste. I'm catching wind of all kinds of delicious flavours - plums, raisins and dark cherries, dark caramel and soft toffee, a smidgen of chocolate, oven roasted almonds and fire roasted hazelnut - but none really ever amount to anything. I chase each sip with another hoping to again taste those flavours that vanished off my tongue before I could ever really enjoy them. They are fleeting flavours.

And you won't catch up to them. I'm practically done the pint and have simply come to terms with the fact that I won't find those sweet, nutty, lightly roasted flavours this beer was alluding to. This is just far too watered down. It has no texture and offers the tongue nothing more than a brief perception of flat, damp liquid.

This was too meek in every aspect. The brewery does not apologize this, believing that their original recipe had to be "tweaked" to give it a "lighter" appeal. No. Bad idea Hockley Valley. I think you might have gotten things backwards - this needs to be heavier. If it were just that little bit more malty and just that little bit less plain, it might just be an outstanding beer. As it is, I'm tweaking my scores to reflect a lighter amusement.

 1,986 characters

Photo of peensteen
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown with ruby highlights, minimal white head around the edges. Smell is dark fruit and raisin with roasted malt, though the roasted character is quite minimal and IMO not as upfront as it should be, faint notes of alcohol come and go. Roasted malt, light astringent notes, chocolate and coffee take shape and battle it out and is really apparent in the finish and aftertaste along with a roasty smoke. Carbonation is a touch high here, light feel but medium body. Not bad overall finishes stronger than how it starts.

 524 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A decent microbrew, somewhat of an experiment to juice up an ordinary dark beer that works. Carbonation was cheap and on less pleasant and less drinkable side, bit novice beer drinkers I shared this large minimum magnum with went with the cocoa and carmel sweetness. Long aftertaste.

 283 characters

Photo of maclean25
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The second in my ($8) 3-pack of cans.

It pours with a light beige, creamy head which reduces with lacing. The body is dark brown and appears clear but it's nearly opaque. The aroma is mostly rootbeer and licorice. It tastes sweet. It has no strong flavour but has hints of old coffee, dates, and roasted nuts. It has a light body and medium carbonation
Overall, another good beer from Hockley. I find it shares similar characteristics to their Black & Tan (this dark ale may have been used in that). This beer isn't spectacular but definitely above average.

 558 characters

Photo of bryehn
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark cherry and brown cola-looking colour with a moderate frothy tan-coloured head that gets retained as a collar.

Smells like bitter dark chocolate, dark toffee and ripened dark fruit like cherries or blackberries. Wood notes as well as a sort of root beer one.

Tastes again like bitter dark chocolate at first. Buttery toffee comes through on the tongue before a solid crispness finishes. Fairly mild.

Rather light on the tongue, leaves a smokey, woody aftertaste. Smooth enough, but not something I'd want more than 1-2 of.

Not bad, but not enough body to back up the pungent smell. Pretty easy drinking and would make a good steak and potatoes accent.

 668 characters

Photo of Shadman
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Traditional English Ale brewed in Ontario...it could happen I guess.

Has nice brown ale look...rich chestnut brown, clear, with a decent head from an agressive pour...receeds quick, but stays a nice tan cap throughout.

Nice rich roasted malt aroma with an equally rich nuttiness to it.

This can was marked mid oct '09 so...
Decent, but something is put of kilter to my palate. Might be malt...it just tasted off to me...I hate to say it but it has that Canadian Midro Brew malt...woody as Iron Djinn would call it. Hint of hazelnut as well.

my palate says watery and somewhat average.

maybe Hockely ships the 'whoops the brewmaster slept in' brew in cans to Alberta ( the land of Bud light, etc)

 702 characters

Photo of bobsy
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This past Friday night I did a blind tasting of brown ales with my wife, because I figured it was time for me to re-evaluate a style I don't think much of. We each poured samples for the other, noted what was what and then brought out the beers, so while we couldn't taste the same beer at the same time, we were both able to taste without bringing any bias to the table.

Hockley Dark turned out to be the surprise overall winner. While I found it to be only okay, my wife really dug the smooth chocolate flavours that were going on, and also gave it top marks for its aroma.

Chestnut brown pour, with a foamy white head that gave some good lace. The aroma had hints of diacetyl and caramel, but at good levels. Both of these elements are present in the flavour, but what really strikes me is a large milk chocolate presence. This is clearly a very different beast to the other samples, and feels more like an English Dark mild in its flavour profile. We both thought that the body was fairly good - its nice and smooth, and certainly compliments the milk chocolate notes well.

The official website describes it as follows: "It is a cross between a Northern Brown ale with its caramel, nut and soft toffee notes and a Midlands Mild with its subtle chocolate, licorice and dark fruit undertones." This actually makes a lot of sense to me, though I think the balance is heavily weighted to a mild, due to the high presence of smooth chocolatey notes.

This was a decent beer... by no means my favourite, but I can see why it was the overall winner. I vastly preferred the corporal's bitter brown, but the high hopping of that brew made for a love/hate experience. The Hockley, on the other hand, had a pleasant balance of flavours that made for excellent sessionability. It surprised me, and I guess that's a good thing!

 1,821 characters

Photo of bartle
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very rich dark copper, sunburst even. Creamy white head. Decent retention.

Aroma of mixed nuts, toffee, vanilla, lots of malt sweetness. Caramelized sugars and a slight earthy finish. Mildly sulphur sensations.

Caramel sweetness from the roasted malt, slightly nutty, vanilla, presented by the nose, dry earthy finish. Fresh baked sourdough bread.

It holds moderate carbonation, slightly dry, salty even. Palatable, very nice lingering sugars that lay softly on the tongue. No real off sensations.

A very pleasant beer to drink.

 541 characters

Photo of Brondeau
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Had a pub can of this stuff at the Rogers Centre while watching Blue Jays and Marlins on June 8th, 2015. Pretty good. Better than your average baseball game fare. Would drink more if it weren't C$11.50 for a can.

 215 characters

Photo of JamesMN
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark brown/caramel color that's translucent. Small film of off-white head. Not quite as dark as I expected given the name on the can, but I like a beer with good clarity none the less.

Aroma: Big toffee note and an overall sweetness to the aroma. Smells like a Scottish Ale. Nice caramel apple type scent. However, the smell isn't as robust as I'd like it to be.

Taste: Much less sweet than the aroma hinted at (which works in its favor). There are some interesting malts being used in this brew. That nice toffee aroma comes through in the flavor, but in a much more subdued way. It reins in the sweetness and just gives you the toffee flavor with a nice roasty bitterness to hold it all together. I'm tempted to call this one a tad watery, but at only 5% abv it's giving a lot of bang for the buck. Slightly dry aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation and between medium and light in body. Easy drinking but the aftertaste becomes a little cloying about halfway through.

Final Thoughts: When I think of English Brown Ales, New Castle comes to mind. While Hockley Dark is in that same grain, it offers slightly less sweetness and a little more roughness on the palate. Overall, an interesting beer but not one that I would seek out again.

 1,255 characters

Photo of kwjd
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an amber-brown colour that starts off with thick white head. Head dissipates and leaves a small ring, with a tiny bit of lacing. Smells of grain and bready malts, with some sweet fruit. Taste is very sweet and malty. Carbonation level is good, with smooth mouthfeel, though maybe a little bit thin body. An ok beer for the style.

 335 characters

Photo of Beersignal
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep mahogany with crimson hues near the stem of my glass, a limpid liquid releases a fine stream of bubbles in a futile attempt to replenish a rapidly fading cap of off-white foam. No sign of lacing, no staying power. Stunning liquid, with less than average garnish.

Aromas are straightforward brown ale maltiness wrapped in a subtle hop signature. Mild notes of caramel come through with faint nuances of orchard fruit. Nearly imperceptible is a touch of smokiness in the finish just behind the caramel, but it dissipates quickly leaving the taster wondering if he really detected this... but it is there in subsequent whiffs.

Mild fruitiness with mineral notes around a gentle malt signature. Somewhat thin but not watery the hints of smoke which were barely present in the aromas surface a little stronger in the flavours. A mild residual sweetness runs parallel to the smokiness. I was expecting a little more out of this in the flavours and mouthfeel... not enough volume IMO. EDIT: After some warming the volume that was lacking has materialized. The malts and fruit flavours are now more present and a mild bitterness balances the whole along with the same residual sweetness. The mouthfeel is slightly more present and brings a more rounded aspect to the brew.

This is surely drinkable as it presents a very tame profile. It's easy to get into and forget about while you're drinking it. Not bad but not great.

Thanks to Popsinc for the sample... yours are on their way


 1,499 characters

Photo of headlessparrot
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was at the LCBO recently picking up a few different singles to try when I found a display pushing Hockley Valley Dark - one of Ontario's "great craft brews" according to the display. So I grabbed one to go along with my other purchases.

I've never heard of Hockley Valley Brewing Company, nor of the town in which it is brewed. Regardless, I decided to go in with an open mind. The 500mL can (with what I assume is a brewed-on date on a sticker attached to the bottom) poured into my pint glass a beautiful reddish-black colour (like a nice stout) with a substantial cap of very foamy, off-white head that fades rather quickly down to about a quarter-inch, but maintains at that level, and with quite a bit of lacing.

Smell is absolutely amazing - not unlike St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, I got roasted malts, coffee notes, espresso, cocoa (milk chocolate, almost?) and a detectable creaminess. Perhaps also some subtle floral notes? Very impressive.

Taste is, oddly enough, also remarkably similar to St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, only without the Oatmeal to lend the brew a silky-smooth mouthfeel. Tastes of nuts, coffee beans/espresso, a hint of chocolate. Initially creamy and sweet, but finishes with a substantial bitterness that doesn't particularly appeal to me. Still, very tasty, and an excellent marker for the style. Very full flavour - I must agree with the label, here.

Mouthfeel is good - a slight overcarbonation to the brew, but a substantial body that I rather enjoy drinking. It lacks the smoothness of an oatmeal stout (though I only say that because it's my only comparison as a young beer advocate), but still very good. I don't know about drinkability; I doubt I could have more than one or two of these without feeling a little... icky (for lack of a better word), but as an occasional thing, I must say that Hockley Valley Dark is a pleasant surprise and a winner.

 1,899 characters

Photo of ecoastman
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A good tasting beer.. It will be more drinkable if they can improve on the mouthfeel. Maybe it's better on tap or from a bottle.

A - Dark copper brown with a head that recedes quickley with no lacing. Flat after about 5-10 minutes.

S - Quite nice - light malty caramel, chocolate, coffee.

T - Good like the smell. A bit of a cream soda like taste in the background.

M - This is what hurts this good tasting beer. It's thin like a watery syrup once it goes flat. I hope future batches are better.

 499 characters

Photo of imntense
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into my favourite frosted mug! Colour reminded me of mahogany with a very fine head that quickly left behind decent lacing!

Aroma at first reminds me of a wood pile (those with a wood fireplace will understand), followed by coffee and toffee.

Coffee flavours with a slight caramel, followed by a very light flavouring and a very strong carbonation reminding me of 7up with a slightly bitter aftertaste! Doubt I would buy this one again, but can't say it was bad enough that I didn't finish it!

 515 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Hockley Dark from Hockley Valley Brewing Co.
3.66 out of 5 based on 151 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.