Hockley Dark | Hockley Valley Brewing Co.

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Hockley DarkHockley Dark
151 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 151 |  Reviews: 92
Photo of Sammy
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After so many walk-pasts in a previous life at the LCBO, this 473ml can with strong Team Canada tendencies arrives on the shelves of my local Alberta booze emporium.

This beer pours a clear dark reddish brown hue, with two fingers of thinly creamy off-white head, which leaves a low wall of ebbing shoreline lace around the glass as it gradually melts away.

It smells of biscuity, semi-sweet bready malt, a touch of bitter citrus, and floral, earthy hops. The taste is more sturdy biscuity caramel malt, softly sweet nutty notes, an understated chocolate nuttiness, and earthy, somewhat leafy hops.

The carbonation is rather moderate, but not out of it altogether, the body medium weight and agreeably smooth. It finishes on the sweet side, the nutty and chocolate notes persisting over the kind of languishing hop character.

A pretty decent brown ale, well balanced between the sweet, savoury and crisp British bitter notes. A prime candidate for sessioning, no matter where you are in this broadly spanning country of ours.

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Photo of emerge077
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Jay for sharing this beer. Served from a tall black & tan colored can, into a tulip glass. Reviewed from quick notes.

Overall impression was something of a Dark English Mild, mellow but with full bodied roast/coffee flavors. Aroma was soft and mild but carried some notes of dark roast and mild coffee. Dark in the glass but a light brown when poured from the can. Flavors were full and lightly roasty with some coffee and cocoa impressions. A light bitterness in the aftertaste from the roast, overall smooth and malty. A good beer i'd seek out while in Ontario, hopefully on cask or draft.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a clear dark color ale with nice foamy dark brown head with good retention. Aroma of English malt with floral undertone is easily distinguishable. Taste is very refreshing wit a good roasted malt presence and a bitter finish with a good balance of what seems like English hops. Body is a bit thin but overall this is a very enjoyable drink.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.71/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from biegaman, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 473ml can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark reddish brown color with a short, foamy, off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of maple and caramel but has a heavy metallic element to it.

T: The taste is malty and sweet with flavors of maple, honey, nuts and caramel. A slight touch of hops and some smokiness come in next to provide a little bit of balance. The after-taste is sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, very good representation of style, this is a good beer to sit down with as long as you’re all right with the sweetness of it. I’ve had better in the style but it’s still a very good beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you to BigBry for another CAN in another rolling CANTrade. There are a core group of us that will score CANs, save them up and send them on to others on a routine basis. It is pretty free-form and nobody is keeping track (hopefully), but CANned beer comes and goes pretty routinely. I find it highly ironic, however, that a beer that has primarily been reviewed from a CAN had a picture of a swing-top growler!

From the CAN: "At Hockley Valley Brewing Company we take our time brewing our beer. In fact each step of the brewing process is done by hand in small batches. This 'hands on' approach to our craft ensures 'The Perfect Balance'".

The Crack & Glug went according to plan, resulting in a finger-plus of mocha-tan head with good retention. Color was a ruby-red with NE-quality clarity. Nose smelled redolently of cocoa. Mouthfeel was medium with an immediate taste of chocolate on the tongue. Finish was very chocolaty, but of milk chocolate, as opposed to dark chocolate, which is the standard. Dang! I could drink this as a regular thing. I really found this to be enjoyable on a slow afternoon in mid-Autumn. It might be too sweet for a day at the beach, but today? Beautiful!

Also from the CAN: "mild, light body, full flavour" and "Proudly Craft Brewed in Ontario, CANada". CANadian CANned beer, CAN you dig it?

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark tree bark brown with tangerine accents... that becomes bright bloody crimson when backlit with brilliant sunshine. The khaki colored crown is creamy and is a good color match for the beer on which it sits. Thin sheets of moth-eaten lace decorate the glass in fine fashion.

The nose is a wonderful surprise. English brown ales don't often impress on the sniff test, but this one passes with flying colors. It smells like an exotic caramel-toffee-vanilla-cocoa drink. Sort of like milk-based chai... except different.

It's too bad that Hockley Valley Dark is so light because it could have been a contender. The flavor, while good right out of the chute, doesn't have enough time to develop, to show off potential complexities, before all is washed away. This is a beer that needs to linger a little.

The flavor profile consists of cocoa, caramel-toffee, dried figs, toasted walnuts and maybe even a hint of licorice. A lack of malt sugars keeps it from being sweet and an understated hoppiness keeps it from being bitter. Let's call it balanced, in an 'empty scales' kind of way. With more malt, this could be a killer English brown.

The brewery actually "tweaked the body slightly to give it a lighter, more North American appeal". Who the hell said that North Americans want light-bodied beer? We don't all drink Bud Light, you know. Good job on the gentle carbonation, but there simply aren't enough malty guts.

Hockley Valley Dark is an opportunity lost for HVB & MC. Well, maybe not quite lost, but unsure how to get home and too proud to ask for directions. There's definitely some potential here.

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Photo of imbibehour
4.38/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into a Becker Pint glass.

A real nice looking beer. Deep chestnut red and brown, clear if very dark. Thick fluffy light tan brown head and fluffy with lots of staying power. The body color is incredibly impressive with a dark ruby red color.

Nice nose with a mild chocolate sense, and light roast character. A bit of one hit wonder but not exclusively buy very solid.

Wonderful palate and mouthfeel. Great mix of chocolate and roast. Wonderful creamy body with silky texture and light coating. Nice toasty brown like flavors on the finish with matching chocolate and virtually no bitterness. Tight moderate carbonation with thick malt backbone and roast crackling pop feel.

Extremely impressed by this for its large flavor and creamy body. Some cross off crazy porter brown ale with light mild character. Fantastic stuff.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml Can

Appearance - The beer pours a dark reddish-brown colour with a very large size rocky and creamy beige head. I can't see much carbonation and there is some really fantastic lacing all over the sides of the glass. The head lasted for a very long time before it began to dissipate.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, cookies, toffee

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation on the tongue and the beer feels a little watery but also very smooth. I can taste lots of malts, coffee, chocolate and a cookie flavour. The beer finishes with a pleasing malty aftertatste.

Drink - The beer really does have a nice appearance, and it is a really easy drinking beer. I could definitely session this one and I'm happy I tried it.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tall can from the LCBO, poured in to Guinness pint glass.

A - Very dark, just slightly translucent amber colour with one finger of bubbly, thin khaki coloured head.

S - Toasted caramel grains, sweet caramel malts and a slight hop bitterness. Some light toffee notes too.

T - Sweet caramel, biscuit, toasted cereal grains, light toffee. Not much hop presence at all.

M - Medium body with moderate carbonation.

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Photo of Derek
4.27/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown, with a little tan head that receeded before any lacing could be found.

Roasty, fruity odours.

Has a wonderful roasty taste, without any burnt, highly-bitter flavour. Well-rounded caramel flavour. A hint of grassy hops, which isn't common with the English style, but adds some interesting depth.

Mouthfeel was light to moderate.

Very drinkable.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

473ml can poured into pint glass oct5 2009

A clear deep maroon with a booming head that was hard to fit in my glass. it settled down and formed an off white head with decent retention but no lace

S lots of sweet caramel and malt with some mild coffee

T as it smells but much sweeter then I expected

M creamy with small bubbles

D no real problems and its going to be cheap from what I understand

I will drink this again for the price its a pretty good value

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Photo of biegaman
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark red with a fizzy light brown head. Bright with strong carbonation. Half finger of retention. No lace.

S - Caramel, nuttiness, toffee, sugar, molasses.

T - Ohhhh. Nice combo of sugar, nuttiness, caramel, bread, dark fruits, caramel. Good stuff.

M - Good carbonation, light to medium body with a nutty/sugary date kinda finish.

O/D - Hockley seems to make some quality classic styles. Easy drinking, flavourful, and interesting. The rich malt character is appropriate for the cooler weather these days. I like it.

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Photo of barnzy78
3/5  rDev -17.4%

Photo of DrJay
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear, dark brown or chestnut colour topped by a long-lasting tan head. Dark and roasted malts come through in the aroma. There's quite a lot going on here, with coffee, some graininess, and a light grassy hoppiness sitting behind the malt and chocolate character. It starts with light bitterness and some caramel sweetness. At the finish, the sweet character is stronger and contributes the most to the aftertaste, with the hop bitterness becoming more muted. Overall, the flavour is mostly from dark malts, with some sweetness provided by crystal malts and a little nuttiness present. There's a nice roasted flavour that's not as strong as in the aroma and a well-balanced hop bitterness. It has a medium/light body, very smooth mouthfeel. Definitely a pleasant surprise from a relatively new brewery (at least to me).

1 L brown swing top bottle, no freshness date.

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Photo of Viggo
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

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Photo of papat444
3.29/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

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Photo of ZachT
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of kwjd
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of Molson2000
4/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of peensteen
3.35/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.81/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - a clear dark amber red, mountain of off white head that retains well and nice lacing
S - roasty and sweet caramel malts, hints of piney hops, gentle coffee hints
T - rich nuttiness blends well with the molasses malt flavour, some roasted coffee and cocoa, and subtle piney hops
M - smooth and relatively light, some dryness but mostly filling the mouth with a rich feel
D - a little thinner than I expected but not in a bad way, the flavours are balanced well, could probably enjoy a few of these but not a full session

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tallboy can from the LCBO; packaged April 2012. The last time I tried this was in April 2008, as one of my first BA reviews (which I am replacing with this updated one). I rather liked it then and have decided to give it another go.

Pours a deep crimson-and-copper colour; fairly dark but still translucent enough to see through when held up to the light. Atop the liquid is seated one-finger of dense, silky, light-beige coloured head, which leaves behind smears of lacing on the glass as it slowly seeps away. Pretty good retention. Pleasing aroma, with the most noticeable trait being the toasted malts and caramel, alongside notes of sweet chocolate and dark fruit. Just a hint of bitter coffee grounds on the nose.

I still enjoy the flavour of this stuff, though I am perhaps less enamored with it than I was during my original sampling. Roasted malts and caramel sweetness remain dominant, with a bit of a nutty feel to the malts. This is accompanied by milk chocolate, as well as some fruity notes that remind me of raisins or dates. Dry, roasty aftertaste that encourages further sips. On the light side of medium-bodied, with relatively low carbonation for an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel.

I still think this is one of the better OCB brown ales, and certainly one of the better commonly-available ones. Rich, malty flavours combined with an excellent balance between sweetness and dryness make this an extremely drinkable ale. A decent-to-solid brown ale, one that fans of the style should consider worth a try.

[Updated Oct. 18 2013]

Picked up another can of this (in a sampler pack), and I figured I'd give it another brief look. This is a well-made dark ale, though I fear my palate has moved on over the years as nothing about this strikes me as very interesting. Good balance, and not too saccharine. It's difficult to find a better mild, at least at this price point, so fans of the style might want to give this one a look if you're in the market for something straightforward and session-worthy.

Final Grade: 3.62, a B.

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Photo of byronic
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

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Hockley Dark from Hockley Valley Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.63 out of 5 with 151 ratings