Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale | Dark Horse Brewing Company

very good
1,244 Ratings
Dark Horse Reserve Special Black AleDark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 05-28-2002

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,244 |  Reviews: 594
Photo of Jon_Hendricks
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a very dark, hazy mahogany beer, as good as black in appearance.

Overall: It has the aroma of coffee grounds, black tea, caramel, nutmeg, bitter chocolate, soy sauce. Tastes very smooth, full but slightly metallic mouthfeel, toasted and nutty malt ’bittersweetness’ ending in more roasted bitterness. Very good black ale, but too roasted and dry for a porter. Seems to finish like a stout.

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Photo of Raime
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale.

Dark Horse just doesn't put enough beers out there often enough. They have some absolute gems, and a mostly very solid portfolio with minimal amounts of misses. Black Ales are quickly becoming a new favorite style of mine and I'm hoping this one is something special. Let's drink it.

Look - From the twelve ounce bottle hard poured into a dimpled pint glass. This beer pours black as a sunless wasteland with a three finger deep mocha colored head that is of depths I seldom ever see. The pillowy nature is a sight to behold and it looks as thick as Donald trumps skull. Immediate retention amongst a slow dissipation. Carbonation is unreadable do to the darkness of the liquid swill. Lacing and stick is excellent.

Smell - In the initial sniff directly from the bottle I was detecting a lot of hops along with a lot of chocolate. Upon pouring it the nose is pure dark chocolate but a small touch of grape like scents. Coffee as well in medium roasts. Smells stouty.

Taste - Something funny is going on with this beer. At first, when it was quite cols it was all straight up dark chocolate. Now that it has warmed again that odd grape flavor is dominating with a noticeable amount of the dark chocolate coming in halves. There isn't anything else to this flavor profile. Old bottle? Infection?. I mean it doesn't taste BAD per say but it isn't all that great either.

Feel - Beer is moderate in the mouth with a very high level of creamyness and a low to medium amount of carbonation. Swallows easier than I had expected and this aspect does retain the chocolate as it sits but the swallow once again brings forward the grape flavor.

Overall - Even with the apparent age this was still a solid enough beer. I do not blame the brewery, I blame the shop for how old this thing must be. It looks beautiful, and the feel is pretty nice but the taste was surely off. I will try again fresh and re-review it..

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Photo of chuckgietzen
3.79/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Near black opaque body. Viscous with an oily, beige collar. Roast and chocolate scents leap out. Piney hop character emerges as the beer is allowed to warm a bit. Nice flavor. Medium bodied. Bitterness is gentle on the palate. Solid.

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Photo of cbutova
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of them been sitting in the fridge for just about too long.

A- 12oz pour into a snifter with a pitch black body and a semi-dark mocha brown cap. That head is thick and creamy with good retention. Several extended webs and sheets of lacing deposited by a small foamy ring.

S- Heavily roasted with a focus on malts. The grains provide a deep delivery of toasted almond nuttiness, burnt barley, milk chocolate, coffee and brownie desserts; somewhat luscious. Despite the intense malts earthy and slight citrus hops poke through.

T- Starts out with a barrage of kilned grains covering the spectrum from brown to pitch black. Toasted nuts like walnut, medium caramel, licorice, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso beans, smoky burning wood (a touch of scotch) and charred barley come to mind. Once again hints of pine, citrus and earthy hops. Bittersweet caramel ash character.

MF- Medium-heavy bodied overall with a certain slickness about it. Texture falls between chewy and puffy while carbonation is on the lower end. Finish leaves the palate coated in burnt bitters.

Black is the key word here. Decadent depth of blackening here with heavily smoked and burnt flavors melding with dessert tones of chocolate and coffee. Embrace the dark side; perhaps even a bit too much here.

 1,287 characters

Photo of madelf66
4.39/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Jackjaffar
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Gkruszewski
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Dovers
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of NSXAG
3/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of avalon07
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was an inch and a half of foamy, tan-colored, long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: A decent aroma of coffee, chocolate, hops, and malt.

T: Tasted of a strong coffee element, a good shot of chocolate in the finish, light hops (lighter than most ABAs), and roasted malt. Not quite what you normally expect from the style (this is mainly due to the lighter than average hoppiness), but still a good flavor. It does get a little less interesting as you go along, but solid nonetheless.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is a strangely likable beer. It has a couple of flaws, but is quite drinkable.

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Photo of MJP77
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of DrMindbender
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of TimBell
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Chris-1911
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Wizzle32
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Wheels2532
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of ADTaber
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Tony_Lj25
3.59/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very standard dark ale, more bitter than coffee notes, light mouth feel, not heavy.

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Photo of tim007007
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of M_chav
3.16/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Wolverine48092
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of fscottkey
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: [4.25] Beer looks deep black with some ruby highlights when held to a backlight. There is a decent 1/2 finger of chocolate Frosty colored head. The beer looks inviting. The bottle lists the ABV (7.5%) but I can't find a date code.

S: [4.25] Based on the name I was expecting a Black IPA smell. This is straight up porter/stout. Coffee, chocolate, roasted malts, toasted marmallow. Really nice scent.

T: [4.25] Follows the nose. Perfect roast malt flavor with hints of coffee and cocoa to back it up.

M: [4.25] Sticky and coating. the beer clings to the glass and the palette. The carbonation level is right and the beer feels really solid as you drink it.

O: [4.25] I do not read about beers before I drink them. The name "Black Ale" made me expect a Black IPA. To me this is not a Black IPA. but a delicious stout. Great roasted malt qualities on the nose and the tongue. The beer feels slick and smooth as you drink it. There is no sense of the alcohol anywhere.

 985 characters

Photo of WastingFreetime
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Bone53
4.51/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2/13/14

Appearance: Thick pour; Black with no light coming through. Mocha brown head

Smell: Dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, slight dark fruit, grains

Taste: Dark roasted coffee and dark chocolate, slight dark fruit, smokey ash, hops come through the finish

Mouthfeel: Light medium bodied; Thin for the style, but drinkable with a bitter finish

Overall: Im very impressed with this beer. They packed big RIS aromas and flavors in 7.5% abv. If the mouthfeel was thicker, this would be near perfect. I didnt realize this was a year and a half old til i was half way done with the six pack. I think the age has done wonders to this beer

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Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,244 ratings.
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