Black Sheep Ale (Special) | Black Sheep Brewery PLC

362 Reviews
Black Sheep Ale (Special)Black Sheep Ale (Special)

Brewed by:
Black Sheep Brewery PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by purplehops on 07-13-2002

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Reviews: 362 | Ratings: 568
Photo of Shiloh
4.68/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very impressive...Pours a medium amber colour with a thick crown and extensive glass cling on consumption.
Carbonation is medium and the body is medium/heavy.
Aroma is crisp and ever so slightly nutty.
The taste is hop orientated...start-middle-finish with no linger.
A true hop head's delight to which I am one.
Got to get some more of these.

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Photo of slitherySOB
4.65/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a good beer. No, I'm lying. This is a great beer. Though it won't be my highest rated, nor perhaps my favourite(though it will be damn close), this will perhaps be my most respected. Pours a ruby orange colour, with a head that's not quite two fingers. Plenty of victorian lace sticks to the glass, giving the impression that doilies are stuck on the glass. Beautiful to look at. First smell. Oooh, pleasant. I have the feeling after I eventually finish this divine nectar, my nose will still be inside the glass, sniffing at what once was. Big, bold malts, yeast and butter that reminds me of a bakery. Light pears and green apples. Even toffee. Smell this beer and the mind wanders to an old England countryside, where bicycles still outnumber the automobile. The taste. Oh, the taste. Beautiful. Big malt profile upfront, mellowed by a diacetyl flavour and texture. Soon follows a light fruit presence. Pears, apples and even a bit of apple cider. Toffee on the tongue as well, accompanied by a dark friend. Is it coffee? Could it be dark chocolate? I can't quite tell, but I also don't care. It's enjoyable, that's all that matters. For simplicity, I'll say it's both. Smooth, full bodied and heavy mouthfeel that gives the illusion I'm not drinking beer, I'm drinking nectar given by God himself. Drinkable. Too damn drinkable and too damn good. I've got half a glass left, and I don't want to finish it, knowing that once it's finished, it's gone. And I can't get another bottle for quite some time. A terrific beer. I highly suggest seeking this out to anyone and everyone who likes a good, wholesome ale.

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Photo of Daredevil
4.62/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

blindfolded I might have mistaken this brew for a stout ... albeight an extra fruity one ... the bitterness is dominating, however there are hints of pink grapefruit, tangerines and cashew nuts in the palate as well .... a brew for the eclectic taste ...

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.58/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Comes in a cool bottle with a hop vine design at the bottom of the neck. I poured this into my mug fairly hard and the head didn't disappoint! It is thick, creamy, a tad off white and the retention is marvelous! The color is a mainly clear orange hued amber. The lacing is very sticky and clings very well to the side of my mug. One of the best looking beers that I've come across!

S- The aroma is a well balanced one. I can smell the sweet, smooth malts, followed by the typical fruit esters that should be found in an English Pale Ale and just a slight nuttiness. There is a fresh, leafy hop bitterness detectable on the finish as well.

T- Very nice flavors of malt, that are exceptionally smooth, with the floral/fruity notes give this a bit of a kick. There is some mild mineral astringency mixed in before the hops do their job on the sides of my palate.

M- The carbonation is very mild in this medium bodied brew. It is buttery smooth and gives my palate a very good coating, going from sweet to herbal to bitter. Very good!

D- This is my favorite category of beer and wish this is how our standard beers were made. I would love this one to be available on tap where I am. It's lower alcohol level makes this one easy to enjoy as a session beer and would go well with salty fried pub food! I will definitely buy this beer again! Just short of Fuller's London Pride but a strong second!

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Photo of jtierney89
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

having the word "black" in the name threw me off but it looks tasty. Gorgeous orange maber glow with a 2 finger sticky off white head and lots of active carbonation. Brilliant clarity. Toasted biscuits and flowery hops on the nose.

Talk about a morning beer. Body a little light then expected but with brisk carbonation. Thin malts on the tip of the tongue followed by rich toasted whole wheat breads that rolls into burnt toast crusts. Faint buttery notes reminds you of heavily toasted whole grain rolls on a sunday morning. Underling euro hop bitterness comes in to play on the bready flavors while the linger in your mouth.

A very bready and sessionable beer. This will be my new standard for breakfast drinking.

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Photo of harpus
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours pale orange/golden color with a white head that lingers and leaves some lacing on the glass as you drink it.

S - A little malty with some citrus notes

T - Same as the smell with a slight hop finish

M - This is the most memorable feature of the beer for me, it has a light creamy silky body

D - The taste combined with the mouth feel makes a very drink able beer. You know you are haveing a real ale, but yet you can drink more then one.

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Photo of dnrobert24
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The food: Shepherd's Pie. The drink: Black Sheep.

This was purchased for me by my in-laws while they were in England (shhh, don't tell them I can get it in Georgia) and brought back just for me. It poured a nice amber with a decent head that stuck with the beer as I drank it. It had less chunks that the Hen's Tooth I had from England (but chunks are okay). Perhaps this was because I gave this one more time to sit. Anyway, the cool thing about this beer is that I tasted and smelled flavors I've never tasted or smelled in beer before. The smell was like an English garden--lemongrass, cut grass, lemon thyme, orange blossom, and something floral like lavender, honeysuckle, or heather. The beer tasted great! It was well balanced between the carmelly and slightly buttery malts, the bitter and citrusy hops, and then, coming through toward the end of the glass, lemons, grapefruits, and tangerines. Also toward the end of the glass, a new garden smell came through--Mint. Really! My wife commented that it smelled more like clover, but I swear it was mint and could almost start to tast it. This beer started out so-so, but finished grand. All in all, it did very well with the somewhat greasy shepherd's pie that had cheddar cheese, onions, tabasco, and herbed mashed potatos. Nothing like pairing traditional English pub food with traditional English pub ale. High marks all around!

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Photo of kbnooshay
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This poured a clear orange amber color with a big white foamy head. It looks like a root beer float head due to the frothyness.

Smell: The aroma is lightly hoppy with some nice fruitiness.

Taste: Delicious. Id say the hops and malt flavor is fairly blended and even in balance. The fruit is nice but less apparent than it was in the nose. Nutty and sweet with just the right amount of bitterness. The more you drink the more the light floral hops kick in.

MF/d: This brew is smooth and tingly to the mouth but has an moderate feel. The 16.9 ounce size is PERFECT. It is very drinkable but that is plenty for me. After this one you will have quite the malt mouth.

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Photo of keethrax
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Orangish amber colored with a big head.

S: Caramel, malt, fruity esthers.

T: Lots of malt and yeasty goodness. Pear? Diacetyl butterry flavor. Hops are there, but buried.

M: Medium bodied and smooth. Finishes nicely.

This is really good, I may need to stock it in the cellar if I can find it again.

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Photo of malty
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an clear orange-honey color with a moderate and multi sized bubble cream colred head from a 16.9 oz. tapered neck bottle. Head disipates quickly if you fail to give it a forceful pour.

Scents of crabapples, followed by other fruity esters. Yeasty and crisp. Very fresh and clean.

Flavors of clean prickly hops with honey butter and (faint) ginger. Has a fresh herbal flavor with just enough malt balance to keep it balanced. Funny, but the green apple Jolly Rancher bite-sized hard candies come to mind...seriously.

Mouthfeel is delightful. Airy and kinetic with a good dose of playful carbonation. Light-medium bodied with a crisp semi-dry finish.

Drinkability is very generous. Quenching with a lot of interesting flavors that will keep curious drinkers coming back for more.

Overall a zesty and high quality ale. A perfect balance of sweet and dry with a crisp and slight tart component also. Complex but very approachable. A great year-round offering for beginners to veterans. A fine english ale indeed.

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Photo of Dhoff1109
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Amber colored with a big head.

S: Caramel, malt, fruity esthers.

T: Lots of malt and yeast - very good. Slight hop taste, but it is subdued

M: Very nice finish. Medium body and very smooth

Although I would not rate this beer as perfect, it is one of my favorites. Its a go to beer for me, and would recommend that you give it a try if you havent yet.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of WetCoaster
4.44/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Clear caramel with a dense, sticky white head. Very good retention and clings to glasswall. Languid carbonation. At least I think that's what I wrote.

Smell: Boy howdy, this is very fragrant for such a small beer. Sweet, floral, red apple, caramel malt, spicy, peppery hops. VERY nice.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Mild -- but I suppose that's the point. Chewy caramel malt, toffee, licorice with a metallic jolt from bittering hops and hard water. Mouthfeel is a bit chewy, but pretty smooth and light.

Dinkability: This is a textbook session beer; I could drink these all day. For a lightish beer, it puts a lot on the plate. Much to like. Thank GOD for an English beer in a brown bottle for once!

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Photo of vancurly
4.42/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an attractive burnt orange / apricot, with a heavy off white head that persists.

Aromas of toffee malts, slight soapiness initially, fresh apples, slight roasted noted, later apricots.

Similar flavours to aromas, but with a brambley hop note, which warms to strong hop resin. Some "copper coin" tang, but balanced with a floral hint. Very complex & intriguing. One of the better EPAs I've had in a while.

Light & creamy body, light-to-medium bitterness.

Excellent drop, even from a bottle that's travelled half way round the world.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.38/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orangey body is topped by a huge active fluffy, sticky head, leaving excellent lacing behind. Nose is hoppy, fruity and a pinch of British sulfur. Taste has fruits (apples?) vying with malt sweetness, wrapped up in a buttery blend, and a bit of hop bite in the end. A really sterling example of English Bitter.

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Photo of Reverand
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The story of this brewery is as great as this brew. Paul Thakston leaving the family business to start his own brewery. His wife telling him that he is now the black sheep of the family.
This beer is really good. Beautiful copper colored brew with nice lace head that follows the brew to the bottom. A nice balance between malt and hops that lead to crisp dry finish.

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Photo of nighthawk
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle with best before stamped on neck poured into imperial pint glass.

Body is copper, fairly clear, with a gargantuan white foamy head that has great retention and reads.

Nose is sweet and tea-like, with some buttery notes. Very pleasant.

Mildly sweet taste up front turns buttery and then a twang of bitterness on the finish. Some light tea notes, soft butterscotch and caramel, hops on the finish are floral and earthy. Some light apple sweetness throughout.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, very lightly carbonated. Medium bodied, but thins out a bit toward the finish. Not watery, though.

Flavourful, with a great feel to it. Should have picked up more bottles of this tasty stuff. All-around great english pale ale.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
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 Eramen
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Copper with a large tan head.

S - Biscuit, toffee, caramel, brown sugar - plenty from the malts indeed!

T - Freshly baked bread, toffee, biscuit and caramel malts, citrus tang.

MF - Medium body with ample carbonation.

O - Fantastic English pale, one of the best I've had recently.

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Photo of MAB
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Above average beer that has a label that you can trust: "Crisp, Dry, & Bittersweet", it reads.

My bottle was extra foamy-- so much so that it gushed out of the top. Not an auspicious start.
It smelled sort of yeast-y, but in a good way. Not much hop aroma so I was not expecting....
....great taste! Slight bitterness is surpassed a bit later by sweetness as the aftertaste. Tastes a bit yeast-y; again, in a good way. Very nice and a solid contender for a top-ranked special pale ale.
I'd buy it again and stop my wife from laying the bottle on its side in the fridge, which is what must have caused the foaming.

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Photo of wl0307
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this beer at home on 3 May 05, with the BBE date of Oct. 05.

Appearance: served in Fuller's ESB goblet, it pours dark-orange or dark amber colour, with a thin layer of milky-white beer head which lasts for quite a while, with beautifully fine bubbles...looks rather nice.
Smell: rich fruity hoppyness and candyish, nutty maltiness dominte the nose; suggesting a rich-bodied ale.
Taste and Aftertaste: quite gassy in contrast to how it looks! after managing to overcome the conflicting impression, there is profound, bittersweet maltiness flowing through, combined with rather flowery but dry (even crisp) hoppy palate; finished with the kind of lingering, but not OTT, bitterness which is both vertical and intensive (akin to that of the traditional Golding hops).
Drinkability: it is indeed a one-is-not-enough, balanced, robust premium bitter, whose body and structure definitely outweigh its alcoholic strength, and that's why I really enjoy it!

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very good bitter (pale ale, whatever). It has a nice copper color and starts off with a nice head. The taste has very good fruit flavor combined with a noticeable hoppiness. Some sips weren't as good as others, but I'm not sure why. In the middle of my beer, I got a slice of angel food cake with pineapple icing. Perfect. The pineapple-like fruit tastes in the beer complemented the cake perfectly. I would highly suggest doing something similar. The bitterness helps the food match as well.

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.33/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 16.9 oz brown bottle, with raised hop flowers along the shoulders. Simple, classy-looking label.

Appearance: A fluffy ivory head sits atop a beautiful, ever-so-slightly hazy golden amber beer with orange tints. The head recedes fairly quickly, but leaves a decent cap with great sticky lacing that lasts 'til the bitter end.

Smell: Rich, full, and malty. There are notes of cracker, biscuit, and a mild diacetyl presence as well. There's just a touch of earthy hop aroma in the background, but not much.

Taste: Rich and complex. There's plenty of sweet malt; caramel, bittersweet toffee, and biscuit flavors dominate, with decent hop bitterness and earthy hops in the background (more than is suggested in the aroma). The bottle advertises "crisp, dry, and bittersweet," and that's just what this ale is. The fowardness of the malty flavors is balanced perfectly by the hop level, and though initially sweet, the beer finishes dry, with a bittersweet, husky graininess.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light-medium weight, with a bit of crispness in the finish.

Drinkability: In this humble beer drinker's opinion: THE quintessential session beer. It's loaded with flavor and character, but it's light enough and low enough in alcohol to make this one to enjoy all night long. Which is just how the Brits drink their Pales and Bitters.

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Photo of bilyboy65
4.32/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16.9 oz bottle into a pilsner style glass. No BBD on bottle.

Not really a fan of pale ales, but this one is quite good.

A: Pours a cloudy dark amber color with a very active head. The head has good retention and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Actually leaves enough to mark the beer levels on the glass. Fairly heavy film left on the glass as well. Not a lot of carbonation to be seen.

S: Typical scents of a pale ale, only not as pungent per usual. Scents of bitter floral hops covers a faint honey scent when swirled a few times. The honey becomes more apparent as the beer warms.

T: Not really any complexities or surprises here. The taste mirrors the scent very well.

M: Light bodied beer with almost no carbonation to tingle those taste buds.

D: Would be easy to put a few of these away and I could imagine they would get better with each one. But then again what beer doesn't. :)

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Photo of ordybill
4.31/5  rDev +16.5%
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.

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Photo of jokelahoma
4.27/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a "new penny" copper, with a thin head that dissipates far too rapidly. It does lace, but there's little head to speak of. The head that does appear is nice and tight while it's there. Seeing as how this is bottled and not cask, I'm disappointed in the lack of staying power on the head.

Aroma is fruity, earthy, and a little bready. Not a lot of malt smell to this one, just hops and yeast.

Taste it a big mouthful of bitter hops. Delicious! Once the initial bitterness dies down, a lovely floral flavor takes over. Very little malt flavor sneaks in, but it doesn't stick around any longer than it takes to say "hi". Beer finishes very, very dry, with a lingering flowery hop bitterness that's quite prickly on the tongue. I can see how some may taste metal in this with that much thorny hoppiness, although I myself do not. The lasting effect in your mouth is that of just having sucked on a few flower petals. Quite nice, actually. It could stand to have a bit more malt character, but as beers like this are generally designed around the hops, it's likely just what the brewer set out to create.

Mouthfeel is deceptively light, more likely than not due to the bitterness and carbonation playing tricks with your tongue. It isn't watery, by any means, but it's dry enough that it seems to disappear from your mouth, rather than leaving an oily reminder of what you just drank. In my opinion, it's just what this beer should do.

The brew is really very drinkable. It's not heavy or filling, and the dryness lends to your feeling like taking another drink very soon after the last one. Not nearly as sweet or as bready as the Monty Python Ale by the same brewery. This one comes much closer to my idea of a great English ale. I'd give it a thumbs up, but then I'd drop my glass, and we can't have that, can we?

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Black Sheep Ale (Special) from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
3.7 out of 5 based on 568 ratings.
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