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Black Sheep Ale (Special) | Black Sheep Brewery PLC

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361 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 361 | Ratings: 563
Photo of Sammy
3.45/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A standard English pale. Very decent hoppy and barley aroma. A bit light on taste but goes down well with food. Satisfying but nothing extraordinary. Understated bitterness and a great big head. Light body colour and mouthfeel. Dry and somewhat bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of Knapp85
3/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Black Sheep Ale is much like most of the ESB's on the market out there. The color is amber or copper. The head is white and soapy. The lacing isn't too bad here. The smell is mostly malts and a little bitterness going on. The flavors are of dry malts with a little sweetness in the background. The the mouthfeel is smooth and for the most part really drinkable.

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Photo of metter98
3.87/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours clear amber with a two finger white head that dies down quickly and settles into a thin ring of bubbles around the surface. The level of carbonation is light to moderate.
S: There's a lot of malty sweetness in the aroma along with notes of hops. The sweetness in the smell is rather intriguing.
T: Dry and sweet malty flavors dominate the taste, and there are hints of hops and spices, particularly in the finish, which is a little bitter. The flavor is interesting because it starts out sweet yet finishes bitter.
M: The mouthfeel is medium bodied and it feels smooth and crisp on the palate.
D: Drinking this was a breeze - I would definitely have another one of these given the unique contrasting flavors.

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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 biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. A whole lot of unstated English-ness just seems to wash over me when I look at this.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, medium orange-brick amber hue, with two fingers of tightly foamy, and somewhat chunky off-white head, which leaves some random, scattered streaky lace around the glass as it gently falls away.

It smells of toasted, kind of sweet biscuity, bready pale malt, a touch of hollow caramel, a thin raisin and muted orchard drupe fruitiness, black tea, and floral, earthy hops. The taste is lightly charred biscuity pale malt, bready, buttery caramel, apple skins, over-steeped tannic tea, and an herbal, wet grass, and weirdly tincture-like hoppiness.

The carbonation is moderately understated, the body an adequate medium weight, and duly smooth, with a lurking, abashed creaminess. It finishes off-dry, the sweetish biscuit malt waning in intensity, in the face of a growing herbal hoppiness.

A reserved, enjoyable enough, and still quite tasty, crisp British pale ale - more or less well balanced, and a candidate as a decent potential sessioner, were I ever in a joint that offered such an option.

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Photo of brentk56
4.2/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy burnt orange with a rocky head that leaves a few splotches of lace behind

Smell: Toffee and a stone fruit, tea-like aroma

Taste: The toffee arrives first, but by mid-palate, the fruity tea-like flavors arrive, accompanied by a mineral element, as well; after the swallow, the sweeter toffee and fruit elements balance out nicely with the bitter, earthy flavors; a bit of woody character in the finish, as well

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A fantastic session beer that ranks with the finest of what gets imported from the British Isles

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.78/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pourred a very nice copper brew with a with a thick foamy head that disapear a bit quickly. Good malt nose and taste until I feel the sharp sour and metallic aftertaste. Wow, such a great start but a very disapointing ending. Below average for this one but I would still be curious to try other product from this brewery.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.5/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Poured from a bottle into a Hoegaarden pint glass in low altitude Galway, Ireland, on December 8th, 2010. Pours a clear dark gold with a thin head that does not retain well. Moderately appealing.

Sm: A light fresh scent of malt, barley, maybe a hint of roast? Difficult to discern individual notes with my broken nose. What I can detect is nice.

Taste: A flat open to a one note body with an off finish. Not well balanced nor well built for a pale ale. I do like the main note of the body, but the rest needs work.

Mf: Too wet until the finish, which dries it up nicely. But the texture of the finish contrasts sharply with the smoothness of what precedes it. Unpleasant.

Dr: Won't buy it again, especially at this price.

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Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a tall pilsner glass. It had a nice amber color with a huge foamy head. It left great lacing behind.

S - It smelled of yeast and fruit-like flavors.

T - Very good. Nice hoppy balance with some clove ot floral tastes.

M - It was nice and soft on the tongue.

D - It is a very drinkable ale. I wish it was more readily available where I live.

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Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev +11.4%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle into pint glass, L31 bottle code. Pours slightly hazy deep orange/copper color with a 1-2 finger dense and fluffy off white head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, brown bread, light nuttiness, herbal, grass, light pepper, light pear/apple, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with well balanced dark/bready malt, earthy hop, and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, brown bread, nuttiness, herbal, grass, light pepper, light pear/apple, and yeast earthiness. Light earthy herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, brown bread, nuttiness, herbal, grass, light pepper, light pear/apple, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice robustness and balance of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester notes; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Quite restrained on yeast fruitiness which was surprising. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, crisp, and lightly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 4.4%. Overall this is an excellent English bitter style. All around great robustness and balance of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light copper color, with a short white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of honey, light malts, pale hops, some caramel and a touch of mint.

T: The taste is well balanced with lightly sweet flavors of honey, caramel and a little spice up front. Then a decent pale hops presence comes in to provide a little bitterness. The malt character is hearty but not heavy at all. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, very good representation of style, this is a very nice session beer to drink several of throughout the entire evening.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.56/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. bottle for $3.79 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, medium amber body with a frothy, inviting, off-white head. Thin traces of lacing.

Smell: Toasted grains with a bit of caramel alongside a spicy-scented, fragrant hop aroma.

Taste: Biscuity malts with a touch of graininess and caramel sweetness. Sip of black tea. Very, very faint fruitiness. Spicy, floral English hops. The bitterness is initially mild but resilient, and increases as you head towards the dry, bittersweet finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A rather full-flavored session ale with a keen drinkability. Worth a try.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.86/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Blurry orange-amber; looks for all the world like an IPA. The head is very light tan... which I first saw when it came spouting up out of the bottle after I popped the cap. It's stiff, sticky and leaves a respectable amount of lace in chunky rings. The superior surface also pits, or rather craters, with impressive vigor.

Earthy hops are present in the nose, but their strength is muted. I can also appreciate lightly toasted caramel malt and grain. The flavor follows the nose, but is more aggressive. Sweetish malt and earthy, somewhat spicy, hops coexist nicely. The malt-hop balance favors hops, though not hugely so. A pleasant fruitiness appears with warming.

The hoppy bitterness is gentle, but insistent. Black Sheep would be a good starting place for someone who wanted a gradual introduction to American APAs or even IPAs. The finish is medium in length, increasingly bitter and finishes on the dry side. It reminds me of the mouthfeel that I get after drinking strong, unsweetened tea. The body is middle-of-the-road for a pale ale; no complaints.

Black Sheep Ale is a good to very good English Ale that--due to the sub-5% ABV--should be an excellent session beer. I will definitely buy more if I run across it again.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours crystal clear somewhere between a golden yellow and an amber. Finger tall off white head that dissipates quickly leaving only the thinnest ring of bubbles at the edge of the glass. Very light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Aromas are primarily of sweet malts with hints of caramel and toffee.

T: Upfront the flavors are sweet caramel/toffee malts followed by some graininess and then finishes with a peppery bitterness. There are some hints of earthiness to the hops as well.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Crisp.

O: Good beer for the style which is not one of my favorites. The beer is very drinkable but personally I would not go back for another in a single sitting, on the other hand I would not refuse this beer if I came across it again.

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Photo of russpowell
3.49/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber with a 3 fingers+ offwhite head. Head retention and lacing are good

Smell: Ever so slight malt sweetness

Taste: Some caramel, grainy bitterness, & some nutiness & fruitiness. Finishes dry with a hint of smokiness

MF: Slightlyl under carbonated, but otherwise blanced

Drinkable enough. Try this this I've had this on prior occasions & it had more malt character, rough crossing for this sheep?

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Photo of Jason
4.13/5  rDev +11.6%
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 smcolw
4.18/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very impressive three-finger head that leaves a thin tight ring on the glass as I consume the beer. (The remained much like the remaining bubbles of a rootbeer float) Slightly cloudy, dark honey/amber in color.

More caramel malt aromas than anything else. Comes across as buttery and sweet. Very little hop in the smell.

The body is quite creamy. The hop is no longer missing--in fact, it defines the taste from sip to swallow and aftertaste. This is a very traditional English bitter, perhaps the very best I've ever had in a bottle.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.76/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served in a tumbler.

Gotta love it when awesome customers travel to the UK and bring you back some tasty beverages. This stuff pours a clear brass topped by a finger of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises lightly-toasted biscuit, mild grass, and sweet flowers. The taste brings in more of the same, with a stronger vein of sweetness stemming from the biscuit, though this serves only to perfectly balance the grassy and flowery hops. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, this stuff is not gonna set the world on fire, by any means, but it is a very tasty, very easy-to-drink little brew. Something tells me it would taste just grand (Wow, did I just say that? Who am I, a middle-aged upper-class Victorian woman?) from a hand engine...

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.23/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is transparent and amber hued with a soft white head. Biscuit and bread aroma. A simple beer with a touch of bitterness in the finish. Notes of toasted grains and a subtle earthy quality, perhaps mushrooms. Light bodied and while unexciting, certainly drinkable. Worth a try.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.68/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice copper hue with a frothig offwhite light khaki head forming large bubbles and dwindles at a moderate pace. Aroma has a great ripe plum and fig fruity tone that jumps out with the initial smell. Some earthy herbal qualities are tucked beneath a sweet bread malt profile. Flavor is balanced not overly sweet or bitter in either direction, very much an English session ale finishes pretty dry. Some definite hop character with some mineral water tones, a bit of caramelized fruit and earthy herbal hop flavor blend nicely. Mouthfeel is well rounded medium bodied dry semi bitter finish left behind on the palate between each sip. Drinkability overall is prett solid, I would just rather drink a 10 dollar six pack instead of this for 3.99 a bottle. Worth a shot especially if your into English ales, I will see this beer again when in the mood.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On the palate it isn’t powerful and moving, but it does give a somewhat smooth, sweet, and deep flavor. And overall, that is enough for me to enjoy it. It won’t take a place among my all time favorites, but it is worth trying for the smooth flavor in itself. And on a total side note, the cap has a cool design I thought (I collect them).

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Photo of Gagnonsux
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color is golden copper with very good carbonation. The thick, chucky head has excellent retention and leaves thick lacings. The aroma is of English malts with an almost honey-like sweetness in the mix. A touch of hops adds a little something to the malt smells. The first couple of sips seem overly bitter, but then as Black Sheep warms up, a nice fruity malt flavor comes to life. A decent English hop flavor comes in towards the finish. Still, I find this a little too bitter and hopped for the style. Which is strange, because I love an APA to be this hoppy. This isn't bad, but not an EPA I'd be too tempted to buy again.

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Photo of jwc215
4.13/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours light amber with nice clarity. It has a decent-sized head that slowly descends to half its size. Some lacing sticks to glass.

The smell is bready, floral and earthy.

An earthy spiciness at the start. A firm sweet malt soon follows. Grains and cedar is present. The cedary taste enhances the flavor. Nicely balanced between malt, hops and yeast. A mild sweetness intermingles with mild hops. A woody spice ties it all together. The firm maltiness becomes more pronounced as the drink progresses, but never becomes too sweet. It has a medium body with a full taste.

It's smooth and dry. The flavors stay on tongue for a good while.

This one is easy to drink. A nice example of an English "session" pale ale. Its unique flavors make it stand out.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.23/5  rDev +14.3%
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.

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Black Sheep Ale (Special) from Black Sheep Brewery PLC
3.7 out of 5 based on 563 ratings.
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