Hockley Dark | Hockley Valley Brewing Co.

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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

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Ratings: 151 |  Reviews: 92
Photo of elricorico
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown, but not dark enough to block light, medium brown on the edges. Two fingers of tan head off the pour, but it falls to a thin cap after a couple of minutes. A bit of lacing here and there as I drink.

Nutty and slightly chocolatey in the the aroma. A pretty standard aroma for an English Brown, but nice just the same.

Smooth nutty flavour that is very quaffable. Nothing here that is especially stand-out, but also nothing that I can say I don't like about it. Medium bodied with average carbonation.

All together just a well made English Brown. Doesn't stray from the style, and doesn't come up short either.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

While very dark in the glass, when held up to the light it's surprisingly translucent, clear, golden and some nice orange hues are revealed. This is topped by a dense, creamy head that dies down very, very slowly. In the end it fades to a collar but with every sip it gains new life.

The aroma invokes memories of a childhood spend scarfing down Kraft Caramels---rich, sweet, creamy and caramelly. Wow. That takes me back. I used to live off those things. There's some really appealing roasted notes as well.

Alas, the taste doesn't quite deliver the sweet, creamy caramel that the aroma promises, but it ain't bad. Sweet...almost reminiscent of another confectionery favorite from the past, this time from my teens: Twix. Sweet caramel and cookies covered in milk chocolate. All with a dry, bitter, nutty, roasty finish.

Unfortunately the thin body lets this beer down. It's decently carbonated but the thin mouthfeel seems to make it harder for the malty sweetness to really engage the palate.

According to the website: "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." Yeah. That works for me. I don't think I would have pegged this strictly as a English Brown Ale as it's listed here. Anyway, I don't get a lot of dark fruit, if any, but now that I have read that, there is a slight licorice note lingering in the finish all right.

Sadly right after that they add: "We've tweaked the body slightly to give it a lighter, more North American appeal." Bugger. I can't imagine that helped things any.

ETA: I'm just noticing that the lowest grade for this beer is a B- and the highest is a B+. I guess the next step is to work out if being consistently above average and just below excellence right across the board is necessarily something to be proud of? Whatever the case, it seems at least somewhat remarkable to have this much of a consensus with not a single champion or detractor in the midst.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After being disappointed with their stout, I thought I'd give their dark a chance. I've had this one before a while back and liked it - hopefully my tastes haven't changed.

This one was in the fridge for a few days, so I let it warm up for ten minutes or so. Pours a deep auburn hue. For some reason, this can produced no head. None. No ring or anything. I remember my last sampling did have a ring, so I'll chock this one up to being my bad.

The nose is nice, typical for a dark ale, but a bit muted. Coffee, chocolate and dark fruits.

The taste is actually quite good. Mostly chocolate and dark coffee up front, nuttiness in the middles, fruity bitterness in the finish. A tasty dark.

Mouthfeel is about right - well carbonated (a bit stinky, truth be told). Could be a bit more robust.

A very drinkable Ontario dark, one of the better ones available on the market. The taste could have been a bit fuller, and I'm confused about the lack of head, but still, I'll get this one again.

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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)

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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.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
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 NightINgale
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown body with a fluffy light brown head. Not much carbonation is visible. Head retention is a bit weak and the lacing isn't that noticeable (probably because I've had this can for a while).

S - A very roasty malt aroma. Hints of caramel, together with a pronounced roasted coffee beans smell. Some faint floral hoppiness.

T - Loads of roasted coffee notes, as well as some dark chocolate, and a little bit of caramel. Some dark fruit undertones are also there (plum, raisin). Overall, the sweetness is a bit too modest for a brown ale. The finish also has that roastiness and is somewhat dry and bready.

M - Light-to-medium body to it. The carbonation is very pleasant, and it adds a little to the beer's thickness. Smooth, though a bit bitter.

D - Quite good, as long as it does not warm up too much or becomes flat. Obviously, this is more of a session beer than a beer to be savoured for too long.

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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.

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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!

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Photo of seand
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark translucent brown, with a small tan head. The head disappears pretty quickly, but leaves a ring around the edge of the glass leaving pretty good lacing.

S: Caramel, raisins, malty.

T: Sweet, fruit and light yeast with a little bit of a bitter finish.

M: Medium to light body, medium carbonation, almost cola-like. A tiny bit of astringency.

D: Quite easy to drink.

A pretty good brown/dark ale, I'd consider buying it again if I wanted something in the style.

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Photo of merlin48
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

473 ml can courtesy of a Canadian friend, pours a clear mahogany body with a medium sized beige head. Scattered lacing.

Aroma is hoppy for a brown ale, with some herbal hops backed by hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel is light and thin, but nicely carbonated.

Taste has a dominant caramel and nutty maltiness. Hints of dark fruits, chocolate, and mild coffee play off a significant herbal hops presence. Finishes clean and even.

A very sessionable brown ale.

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Photo of BigBry
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

473 ml can, compliments of my Toronto trading partners, proudly craft brewed in Ontario Canada.
Dark brown liquid with a solid tan head that left some good lace. The aroma had some sweet chocolate to it, along with some dark fruit. Caramel and some nutty flavors. Slightly fruity hop finish. Not quite the bold flavor I was expecting from a brown ale, closer to a dark mild. Body was good, smooth, quite drinkable.
Good balance of flavor, another nice suprise from a can.

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Photo of ludachris
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just picked this one up on my latest LCBO beer run. Haven't seen it there before. Pours a really nice deep honey brown with a one finger off white head after an aggressive pour that has less than average retention. Minimal lacing. Smell of sweet chewy milky malt and roasted nuts. Milk chocolate right up front in the taste followed by a roasted nut finish. Staying true to the style, hops are virtually indetectable making this a smoooth, easy session beer.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty decent brew. Very well balanced and not too sweet. Mild, yes; light bodied; yes, full flavoured; not so much. The only downside to this beer was that it seemed too watered down. There is plenty of room to pack some more malt and chocolate into the taste. Nicer head retention would have been nice too. Nonetheless, I wouldn't refuse another if offered.

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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!

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Photo of vikingmike
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: A very dark, crimson-brown colour. Almost no head.

S: Something really unique here that I can't pinpoint. Yeasty, almost like something being baked.

T: Very mild peat flavour with a toffee aftertaste

M: Thin and watery

D: Overall this is a good beer. Nothing that I'd actively seek out but much better than many offerings at the LCBO.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
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 GodOfBeer
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Comes in a fancy-pantsy 1 litre flip top bottle.

Pours a very dark almost black red, with a thin white head that doesn't last.

Roasted/burnt malts, chocolate and nutty aroma.

Tastes of toffee/caramel, some coffee, nice and malty, some spiciness like jagermeister, but it's lacking something.

This beer has a smooth but thin mouthfeel, overall this it lacks carbonation, more complex flavour and body.

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Photo of terryeckmeier
4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had tried the stout before and felt like trying the dark. It very good, much better than expected. Nice dark brown with some reds coming off it when held close to the light. Nice head but disapates quickly. Nice rich flavours I didn't get the coffe but I did smell and taste the sweet malty flavours. Great chocolate flavour would be a great beer to have with a good piece of cake.

Will buy again.

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Photo of cyrenaica
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

473ml can
5.0% ABV

I tried this beer on June 7, 2008 after purchasing from one of my local LCBO outlets. The beer poured a very dark translucent brown, with some reddish hints. The head was tan coloured, and lasted. The aroma was roasted malt, chocolate, and toffee. The mouthfeel was medium bodied, creamy, with a sour hint. The flavour was roasted malt, dry cocoa, and a little bit of sourness and bitterness covering the tongue.

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Photo of Antilochus
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased in a 471mL can from a London, Ontario LCBO.

Poured into a becker pint glass. Appearance is deep mahogany with copper red accents. Small off white head and dissipates quickly.

Roasted malt sweet aromas. Notes of liquorice, milk chocolate, blackberries, roasted coffee, burnt sugar. Something distinctly fruity... pears. Low hop bitterness. Earthy bready maltiness vs graininess.

Palate is light to medium bodied, pretty sweet and a little syrupy. Low-medium carbonation. Leaves the mouth a little on the bitter side... like chewing coffee beans. Flavour notes are pears, coffee beans, chocolate.

Definitely drinkable and a nice brew.

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Photo of atomicbolt
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

473 mL can, figured I'd give it a shot.

Looks very nice in my mug - near-black with a reddish-brown tinge. Creamy beige cap that laces its way down. Smells like molasses and roasted coffee, quite sweet smelling. The body's nice and mild with a good amount of roasty sweet malt, maybe a bit too carbonated on the tongue. Nice creamy texture overall, though. Has the full flavour of a stout without the thick texture, and goes down real smooth with a definite aftertaste of roasted coffee. Quite drinkable, too.

Overall I really liked this beer. I haven't had enough English dark ales to compare it with (although I quite like Newcastle) but I've been inspired to try and find more.

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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.

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Photo of CanuckRover
3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from can into a pint glass. Very nice looking reddish brown, very dark but lights right up in the sun.

Toasted raisin bread on the nose with plenty of dark berries to back it up. Very sweet aroma.

Mouth feel is a little thin at first with too much carbonation for an English style brown. However, after a little bit of swishing the beer got quite a bit chewier, I almost think it's better flat! Coffee, damp earth, blackcurrants and toasted malt in the mouth. Sweet but not as sweet as the aroma would suggest. Nice after taste with a long lasting blackcurrent with coffee bitterness.

Good dark ale with plenty of drinkability for the style and alcohol.

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Photo of slitherySOB
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At first glance, this is a frightening beer. It's the colour of prune juice, but with foam on top!!!! I don't know why that's the image I got, other than talking to my grandmother before trying this. She loves prunes. Fortunately, it improves from there. Smells of burnt whole grain toast, milk chocolate(not dark), coffee, toffee, grass and a bit of I believe brown sugar. Tastes great. Roasted malts and coffee dominate, blending with some sweetened chocolate, caramel, plums, figs and raw earth. Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth and crisp, with a medium body. Definitely a good beer. I shall buy it again and give it a proper review. Hopefully, the second time, I can find a better appearance description than prune juice.

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a can dark, cola but in a brighter light, a dark grape juice with a flash of crimson or purple. Light brown head, half finger and less, with slow, steady stream of fine bubbles, although it later went flat at mid-tasting. Smells of chocolate ice cream, chicory, butterscotch ...hmm, promising! Bitter chocolate taste with coffee beans, cocoa, a touch of hops. Gentle, smooth mouthfeel and a dry lingering finish, walnuts. Delightfully light despite all that going on, I would recommend this and love to try it out of a keg or on draft sometime, or even out of a bottle to compare.


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Hockley Dark from Hockley Valley Brewing Co.
3.66 out of 5 based on 151 ratings.
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