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Ale | Black Sheep Brewery PLC

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582 Ratings

Brewed by:
Black Sheep Brewery PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 582 |  Reviews: 366
Reviews by Kemmerlin:
Photo of Kemmerlin
4.09/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: 1 finger width head that dissipated to leave a light lacing. It sported an unfiltered caramel color that looked very delicious.

S: An interesting fruity red wine aroma in the front, a floral hoppy smell in the middle and a damp wood smell in the back very complex very exciting.

T: How disappointing the taste was after that great smell. It had a light taste of sweet spices, light malts, and medium amount of yeast. It all blended well but didn't taste anything like it smelled.

M/D: Easy to drink and really light in the mouth. Slightly bitter and not really sweet.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An outstanding English pale Ale. Lots of bread, peaches, and pears in the nose and flavor. Hopped for balance, while adding a mellow spiciness over the firm malt base. Lightly grainy in flavor, but not to deter. Round, yet smooth feel. Thins a bit into the finish for easy drinking. A good beer for any occasion.

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Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice deep golden color with a much larger head than was expected,very nice lacing.Great fruity aroma of oranges with a real light hop presence.Taste is a little subdued but nice,fruity from the yeast I presume with a light hop backbone I also get dry malt in the finish.Could this beer get easier to drink?hey I really like this beer and glad I have a case.

 365 characters

Photo of RoyalT
3.71/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a beautiful ale. The color is a slightly hazy deep orange and the head was one of those not-too-foamy but pitting types with globs of lacing.

Smell – There’s that creamy malt and citrus hop aroma that I have enjoyed so much from other English ales. The touch of peppery spicing livens things up a bit, but this one is all about being mellow.

Taste – The malts lead the way here followed by the light hops and a smidgen of nut. All the ingredients work very well together.

Mouthfeel – Exceptionally smooth in between the cheeks. This ale is a little bigger than light-bodied with a very creamy texture.

Drinkability – A terrific easy-drinking English Pale Ale.

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Photo of t2grogan
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of tbryan5
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of FadetoBock
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of generallee
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 500ml bottle into an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The body has an orange amber color with a two finger head of light off white foam. The head is slow fading with a wispy thin layer just hanging on. Lacing is spotty and slick.

Smell: It has a very light aroma. All I really get is very light bready malt with very mild fruitiness.

Taste/Palate: Like the nose it has a light bready malt base with thin fruit notes. This is backed up and balanced by mild citrus and herbal hop bitterness. The light body has soft and mild carbonation and a somewhat thin and almost watery feel.

Notes: Overall it goes down easy but the thin feel and flavor are a bit of a let down. I do like what is there but I just want a little more of it.

 775 characters

Photo of Jason
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 16.9 oz brown bottle with no freshness date. Raised glass of a hop vine around the base of the neck is a bit showy.

Appearance: The head is quite spectacular, it is just a big stick foam messy. Nearly clear with a dark orange amber hue.

Smell: Lightly buttery and fruity, faint esters and some earthy herbal hop makeup the aroma.

Taste: Lightly smooth with a slim carbonation. Juicy and bursting palate of malt hops and yeasty by-products. Juicy fruit with some cracker-like maltiness, fruitiness is more of faint apple and pear. Hops are through with a sufficient bitterness and arousing flavour. Some mild ester and buttery diacetyl within the nuttiness of the yeast adds much complexity. The diacetyl almost doubles in the finish as the hops come back with a leafy finish add to the flavourful after taste.

Notes: I am quite pleased with this brew, flavours and aromas bouncing all over with an impressive head. All of this is the big picture for what an English ale is supposed to be.

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Photo of merlin48
3.24/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1pint.9oz brown bottle pours out a mostly clear, amber gold colour. The head is an offwhite, enormous froth of thick and sudsy foam which leaves massive lacing of all kinds. Odd aroma for an English ale, with nectarines, and what seems to be a tart apple note dominating the nose over the usual malts. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and even. Taste is slightly bitter, with some funky hops going on. Malt profile is some very faint caramel. Earthy yeastiness, and some wild fruitiness provide most of the flavors. The hoppiness seems more herbal than fruity or floral in the taste. Spearmint comes to mind. It's light and refreshing and finishes with a herbal bitterness. This is, indeed, a Black Sheep, and would take me some time to grow accustomed to.

 759 characters

Photo of Weizenmensch
4.08/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has built a massive reputation in Britain in the fifteen years since its creation, and for good reason. It's quite unusual, for a Pale Ale - somehow I remember it being darker and creamier in Harrogate and Masham, North Yorkshire. It looks good for the type, slightly redder than usual, but with a nice head at the start. Retention lessens as the glass is emptied. As others have said, it has more effervescence than is ordinary, prompting more burps than the usual English cask ale. It's a nice beer, lots of different tastes, quite distinct hops, surprisingly warming, a good one to have drink at the Old Bell Tavern on a cold night in the Yorkshire winter. Carbonation does not spoil the mouthfeel but it is unusual. Overall, this is a true real ale that some Northerners would die for, and for good reason. I would drink this all the time if it were ever on cask here in Australia.

 895 characters

Photo of henryclay_
4/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of tigg924
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: minimal head, clear, orange/brown in color

Smell: toasted malt and tea

Taste: toasted malt, tea, dash of caramel, and small hops at the end

Mouthfeel: light bodied, low carbonation, dry

Drinkability: To me this one met the style guidelines. The tea taste is the dominate flavor. I was not overly fond of it and have had better in the style. I will pass on this in the future.

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Photo of kaneel
3/5  rDev -18.7%

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.41/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale copper, leaving a thin level of white head.

The aroma was off-putting initially, but it eventually grew on me. Nose is caramel, malt, tea leaves, a touch of hops. The hops initially smelled off, but it passed once it warmed up.

Taste is bitter, malty, fairly decent. Typical for the style, with a lingering bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is about right for an EPA, about all I can say.

A decent English pale, but at the price point it's not one I'll regularly pick up. Bitter and full, but not memorable.

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Photo of GerryPendry
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

 716 characters

Photo of ant1
2.75/5  rDev -25.5%

Photo of Marius
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of innominat
2/5  rDev -45.8%

Photo of wattoclone
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of Swedes21
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml poured in a chilled pint glass...

Appearance - beer pours a gorgeous amber colour with a fluffy tanned head. Head is about 1-2 inches and has a lot of carbonation in it. Carbonation seems middle in the beer and lacing is decent.

Smell - I can smell a fruity presents with a hint of sweetness. A mild smell of hops as well, the beer smells really fresh.

Taste - very decent tasting beer, some minor aftertaste but it does not take away from the flavour. Found the fruity taste comes forward during the tasting as well. Not a dominant tasting beer,

Mouthfeel - light beer in the mouthfeel with a slight base of creaminess. The carbonation levels do increase, but nothing over dramatic.

Drinkability - An enjoyable beer, nothing i would hunt down but would drink if offered. Overall, i found the beer lacked a "punch" taste in the end, there was no quality that separates it from the rest in its field.

 912 characters

Photo of fionn13
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of stephenlee
3.92/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Magnus-Robot-Hunter
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%

Good Head, little bit of a yeast or faint sour tast, but smooth to drink.

73 characters

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.43/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of March 2012. I can't believe this is the first Black Sheep beer I'm reviewing - the brewery is a classic.

Poured into a straight pint glass. A faintly hazy orange-amber colour with low carbonation. Forms a decent head of frothy white foam that lasts for a minute or so before dissipating. Aroma of slightly sweet caramel malt with hints of yeast esters, toffee, stewed hops and butter.

Tastes of caramel malt with a mild bitter finish. Notes of fruity yeast esters, caramel/toffee, stewed hops and a hint of diacetyl in the background. Quite dry, with a subtle sweetness. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly with some astringency. Aftertaste of fruity yeast and caramel malt.

A decent ale. A restrained flavour and good body make for easy drinking. Dry but fruity. Well-crafted and worth sampling.

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Ale from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
Beer rating: 3.69 out of 5 with 582 ratings