Black Sheep Brewery PLC

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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #111
Ranked #36,918
3.72 | pDev: 13.17%
Black Sheep Brewery PLC
England, United Kingdom
Notes: Black Sheep Ale is a full flavoured premium bitter with a rich, fruity aroma. Brewed using generous handfuls of choice Golding hops, it has a perfectly balanced bittersweet, malty taste with a long, dry and bitter finish.
Reviews: 369 | Ratings: 585 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of MarkCairns99
MarkCairns99 from Northern Ireland

4.4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A wonderful deep golden colour, treacle and liquorice taste though not overly sweet. This beer also has a slight malt taste though not overpowering. A very good beer which I certainly would buy again.

Apr 30, 2020
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James94 from England

4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: Clear dark orange golden in its colour, initial two fingers of head, lasting lacing
S: Spices, dough, orange, toffee, ripe banana
T: Biscuit, bread, grapes, pear, butteriness
F: Decent, but a little sharp at the end

O: 4

Feb 03, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

3.42/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

L- Mid chestnut, pours with 3mm white head reducing very slowly and leaving lacing.
S- Quite woody/leathery.
T- They lable it as a 'premium ale' but to me it's more a typical trad bitter profile, that goes into quite a dry/hoppy finish.
F- Zingy, slightly bitter, refreshing.
O- Very nice, quite trad to me, whilst leaning towards to dry/hoppy side favoured by younger folk.
A surprise find (a new beer to me!) in Waitrose, London this afternoon. BB: printed on neck 18/Mar/2020.

ps. The lable has been redesigned in matt cream/black/copper etc., centred on a large rams head, and is now waaay more striking...

Apr 23, 2019
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep amber, coppery coloration with a small, fizzy head. Smells of biscuity, slightly grainy malt and grassy, slighty floral hops. Taste follows the nose, with a good balance of biscuity, slightly grainy and toasted malt and grassy/floral hops, with just a hint of toffee and peppery spice coming through as well. Finishes quite crisp, with a medium bitterness and some grainy malts and grassy hops lingering in the aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel with a medium body and carbonation.

Nothing spectacular, but a rather pleasant and very nicely balanced Pale Ale that is quaffable and satisfying.

Mar 14, 2019
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digboy from New Hampshire

3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark copper color, clear with a thin film of a head.

The aroma has strong caramel malt notes, a nice mellow sweetness.

The taste follows the smell with a mellow, sweet caramel malt base. It finishes with a solid tart bitterness ans a lingering sweetness.

The feel is crisp and clean. Very nice.

A classic British pale ale done very well.

Jan 27, 2018
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The_Kriek_Freak from Pennsylvania

4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours copper with a small head but great lacing. Thea aroma is malty and very "british" in some ways. The flavor is definitely more bitter than sweet but without throwing off the balance too much. Not very carbonated.

Jul 12, 2017
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.82/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

(16.9 oz bottle, code LB6069... poured (and fit perfectly) into a nonic)

L: dull, mildly hazy, medium amber-colored liquid... lovely, cottony, rocky-sudsy foam that jiggles and stays put - oooh yeah!

S: fairly standard stewed apple and pear-like esters, maybe a touch of grassy, lightly-flowery hops still lingering... hints of lightly-toasted, biscuity grain and light caramel... nothing really distinct about the overall aromas, but they're moderately potent and suggest a bit of depth

T: dense, dry, crackery/crusty malt, with a subtle flash of dried fruit and caramel in the finish, and a latent wave of earthy dried grass and a mildly woody, tannic bitterness that swells in intensity and boldness, and a tiny touch of black pepper in the aftertaste... not as sweet as some other BPAs available, decent balance

F: marginal roundness to the body up front but, while a relatively dense but languidly viscous thread of malt body courses through, it drinks fairly light and quite dry on the back end... subtle sudsy sizzle tickles the back of the palate in the aftertaste...

O: not bad, nothing unique, but probably a good bit past its prime... would definitely get again considering it scratches and itch and is one of the relatively few bottled British pale ales readily available to me that actually perfectly fill the large nonic that normally dwarfs the usual 12oz'ers I pour in

Jun 15, 2017
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Ant777uk from England

2.88/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

Malty and choclatey...

Quite refreshing and light for a dark beer/ale, though does not really have a strong and deep depth of flavour...

Well balanced though

Nov 10, 2016
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Spike from England

3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From a 500ml bottle.
L: Dark amber with an orange hue when held to the light. Clear, with a few streams of bubbles. One-finger, off-white head leaves a wall of lace.
S: Very understated malt.
T: Sweet malt and leafy, woody, gently spicy, English hops.
F: Medium/light body with light carbonation. Subtle bitterness that becomes increasingly dry over time and eventually leaves a furry layer on the tongue.
O: Good looking beer with a distinct hop character but, ultimately, a run-of-the-mill English bitter.

Nov 05, 2016
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ArchimedesSox from Georgia

3.11/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A: Light copper color, pillowy off white head, dissipates rather quickly, really good lacing

S: Malty, yeast, get an alcohol fragrance, light hop

T: Malty sweetness, cracker, bitterness

M: Light to medium, a little watery

O: Good beer, I wanted to try some English brews and I picked this one up along with a few others. Not bad but definitely not setting any records.

Oct 06, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This ale is near the top of its style. To be specific, probably in the top handful.
Not only does it look nice with a full head (despite its travels across the pond), but its aromas of yeastiness and maltiness only gets stronger as the ale warms.
Its Taste and after-taste are balanced, no effort from the hops trying to keep down the malts. Round and finishes smooth.
Overall... Is it those Yorkshire Squares (like the ones Samuel Smith uses) that meld all this together ?

Apr 28, 2016
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PlutonowyManiek from Belgium

3.25/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

The color of tea, clear beer from the top is closed with a sizable, beige head.
Aroma: hoppy, with a hint of caramel crust of bread.
The taste of caramel maltiness, reflected light, peppery.
Gentian: dry, herbal, quite long.
Saturation average, adequate.

Jan 22, 2016
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stevoj from Idaho

2.85/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Amber color with thin beige head, taste initially is caramel and hops. Aroma is musty, leather, wet grass, some dried fruit. Finish is dry with some lingering bitterness on the palate. Slightly oily mouthfeel. I can’t place it, but something seems to be missing....

Jan 13, 2016
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DrMullet from Florida

3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber. The smell is slightly sweet with faint caramel. Taste is a mixture of malt flavors and a bit metallic initially. Roasty, bitter, not bad.

Dec 27, 2015
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.23/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Superb beaming, crystal clear body. A dark chestnut amber with a bronze and shimmering gold like darkness. Head manages creamy faint tan, two fingers, and gives a good bowled lace and puck. Very nice looking brew particularly in this nonic here.

Classic biscuit and cookie notes, with just a touch of graham cracker like sweetness on the nose. Excellent floral hop angle that really manages to sneak in as well with a bit of dry tea, even some clove spice but much more muted. A bit of a nutty sense to this as well and a bit dry to match. Inviting aroma quite impressive and even slightly complex.

Palate manages to deliver just solidly. Tea like light bodied aromas but with a malt punch. Almost German altbier like dryness with earth and nutty tannic qualities. Interesting pepper and spice like finish in the aftertaste, lingers long and almost has an oily hot pepper quality. Muted caramel, sharp biscuit with this great spicy quality and flavors to match. Small sweetness, great spicy character, easy drinking.

A real solid fun pale drinker and session light to match. Does real nicely and is real memorable too.

Dec 19, 2015
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Fredex8 from England

1.78/5  rDev -52.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I don't know if I just got a bad batch or something but this beer actually smells of sick. Taste is not much better. In order to finish the bottle I actually had to hold my nose and just down it. Genuinely dreadful.

Dec 03, 2015
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opalchemist from United Arab Emirates

3.6/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

That is not a bad beer - though not necessary one for my top 10.

Glass: Craft Beer Flute
Color: dark amber - quite translucent though.
Look: created a beautiful off-white head!
Smell: lots of dark roasted malts, cocoa, a bit coffee...
Taste: The dark malt aromas are dominating the brew, with loads of cocoa and coffee bitterness, caramel, and loads of malt.
Strangely unbalance, but still more than drinkable.

Overall: I like it, even though I don't love it. It could have slightly more body, which would make it more enjoyable.

Dec 02, 2015
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Dentist666 from Russian Federation

3.43/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint.
Pours clear copper/amber beer with nice beige head, good retention.
Smell - a bit strange and unpleasant twang at first, biscuity and fruity then.
Taste - metallic, malts, caramel, good hops in the finish.
Light body, low carbonation.
Unbalanced bitter, especially concerning smell and flavour.

Nov 12, 2015
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GerryPendry from Louisiana

4.12/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Nice looking beer, clear amber with a bone-white head that shrunk to a persistent foamy layer and a lot of Belgian lace. I got a weird aroma at first, kind of vegetal. Once it opened up I got English hops, a little malt, sweet citrus, tea maybe...? Interesting. Malty flavor, a little thin, nicely balanced floral hops. This was the second beer I've tried from a brewery that uses Yorkshire stones, the other being Sam Smith's. For that reason I was expecting some of that trademark Sam Smith's diacetyl flavor, but I couldn't detect it. Nice hoppy finish without being very bitter. A little thin bodied but perfectly carbonated, making it very drinkable. Nothing earth-shattering here, but a nice solid English ale.

Aug 21, 2015
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Malt_Man from England

3.46/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Served cool from 500ml bottle into straight pint glass.

L) Deep amber colour, slight haze, a few big bubbles rising. Thin white bubbly film.

S) Liquorice-tinged malt and English hops.

T) Warmish malt flavours and slightly astringent hop bitterness.

F) Light body with a good fizz. The hop bitterness dries the mouth at the end of the gulp, which I don't like.

O) Middle-of-the-road English ale.

Jul 18, 2015
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Andrewharemza from Australia

3.08/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours gold amber with a small white head. Aroma is caramel, light toffee, orange peel, fruity. Body is light medium, texture is creamy. Finish is long and bitter.

Jul 15, 2015
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ordybill from Georgia

4.31/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 500 ML bottle into a pint glass at the World of Beer in Pooler, GA.
This beer has a nice golden bronze color with a large white head. This ale has a smell and flavor of bread, malt and some fruit. The beer is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. I thought this beer was much better than what I anticipated.

Jul 10, 2015
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BeerWithMike from Nebraska

3.46/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampling right now on 5/5/15. Comes in a 1 pint, 0.9 ounce (350ml) single bottle. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a handled-glass stein.

Brew pours a hazy amber in color with about a half-finger+ foamy off-white head that settles down to a thin layer on top and sides. Sheets of sticky lacing is seen when sipped. The aroma is mostly of malts with a slight hint of fruit. The taste is that and more with a crisp 'hoppy' dry finish. Tasted better when warmed up some.Medium-bodied with perfect carbonation. Overall, it was OK as I am not a big fan of 'Pale Ales' for the most part.

May 05, 2015
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CStang67 from England

3.67/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500ml bottle pours nice deep bronze color with bright white head that slowly settled to a lasting thin 1/2 pencil head. The aroma was malty with a hint of fruit hut all in all the aroma is low with a very little citrusy hop presence. Taste is malt forward rich bread and caramel notes throughout the palate. Bitterness is strong which leaves a nice dry finish. A very refreshing sessionable beer that is one on my favorite English bitters I had while in the UK.

Feb 21, 2015
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Brabander from Netherlands

3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Not really my beer but drinkable. I expected a black beer but this one is goldenyellow with a fairly decent head. Nice lacing in the glass. Bitter taste and the funny part is that you do not really notice that this beer is low on alcohol.

Jan 25, 2015
Ale from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 585 ratings