Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale | Dark Horse Brewing Company

very good
1,249 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,249 |  Reviews: 594
Photo of brutalist
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of Rifugium
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at TJ's, Paoli, PA

Poured pitch black with a small creamy tan head that receded to a thin patchy layer. Aroma heavy with dark roasted malts and espresso; if this hadn't been listed as a strong ale, I would've assumed it was a stout from the smell of it. More roastiness in the taste, dark malts, ash, coffee, a touch of cocoa. Pretty one-dimensional, but still pretty good. The thinner body is the only indication really that this isn't a stout. Fairly smooth with a drying bitterness in the finish, pretty easily drinkable overall.

 551 characters

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of BugTownPub
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of Dchandler422
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of TimP2115
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of Lynn
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of Pat316
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of Tyrawlings
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of ChugginOil
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh bottle with new labeling. Thanks again to raymo55 for the extra!

I have had this awhile back on tap and now its time to try it out from the bottle.

Chug-a-lugs out of the bottle into a pitch black abyss that boasts a pillow of 3inches of light hazelnut colored head. There is some sticky tan lacing.

The nose has a decent amount of cocoa, tobacco, ash, roasted malt, and molasses. Pretty inviting but could use a little "boost".

The taste has some dark bitter chocolate with some leather, tobacco and bakers chocolate. The malts really go to work here but there is also a small amount of hops to add a nice bitterness to the brew.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a suiting amount of carbonation. Smooth and pretty damn drinkable.

Overall, this is a great brew that is put into a misleading category. This is labeled on the bottle as a black ale, on BA as an American Strong Ale, but it really tastes like an American stout! Tasty stuff. Once again, bravo Dark Horse.

 985 characters

Photo of EnJeiBee
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - It pours a thick, syrupy black with a thin tan head

S - The nose fits the profile of your typical stout. Dark roasted malt and burnt chocolate

T - The flavor profile starts off like a stout, filled with dark roasted malt, but finishes with a fairly hoppy bite. Overall, it reads more like a Black IPAs than the stout that it appears it to be.

M - Much lighter on the palate than I would've assumed it would be when I poured it.

O - This is an interesting brew that I fill fits the bill of what we're calling Black IPAs better than an American Strong Ale. The hoppy finish catches you off guard, but overall, the flavor profile is somewhat basic. I wish there were some more subtle flavors in there.

 707 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into an RR -tion glass. This one has been sitting a while, but I don't know how long. At least a year.

Appearance - Pours a nearly black body with a small mocha head. The head fades quickly, but some of it clings to the glass. It's not as black as it looks in the glass, as some light penetrates at the edges.

Smell - Smells like a stout, really. Roasted malts in the form of coffee mostly. But there's also a very nice fruit quality to it. Raisins and plums and all the other cliched fruits that we smell in beers. Nice complex aroma.

Taste - Taste is a bit more of a departure from the stout category, though. Starts off quite hoppy with an ample dose of the roasted malts. Coffee flavors, as well. The middle is where the stout drops off, though, and it becomes more of a Cascadian (or whatever you want to call it). The hop flavor becomes significantly more prominent and gives it a hefty bite in the finish.

Mouthfeel - A little on the thin side for what it is. It almost feels boozy as a result, even though I don't think it is. The lack of a body makes it drinkable, but it doesn't retain the malt flavors as well. Medium high carbonation.

Overall - A pleasant beer, for sure. I'm enjoying it as it keeps me guessing as to what I'm supposed to be tasting.

 1,288 characters

Photo of bringmetobelgium
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of Jefe73
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of PhineasGage
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of Caterwaul
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of stakem
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a snifter. The brew appears black in color with a quick dissolving thin tan cap. In no time at all, there is just a pen-line of bubbles around the rim of the glass. When held to the light, it shows some clarity around the edges with some lighter brown coloration. A few spots of lace cling to the glass.

The smell has a hint of dark fruity sweetness coupled with anise. A bit of roasty grain imparts a bit of chocolate feel to the aroma. There is some citrus aspects present along with a touch of alcohol which brings the focus back in line with the fruity quality somewhat like raisins and plums. A light amount of cardboard/oxidation is present as it warms up.

The taste is dry and roasty with almost a charcoal feel and semi-sweet chocolate. That dryness quickly blends into a black licorice flavor coupled with some raisins and dark fruity alcohol. A bit of citrus hops and then a blend of roasty grain and fruity esters collide into the finish. The aftertaste has an earthy feel about it that flirts with almost tasting mineral-filled.

This is a medium bodied brew with a very light level of carbonation. It is a decent arrangement of flavors but all together I just scratch my head and dont quite know what to make of it. To me, it sort of comes across like the makings of a black lager but without the crispness and it carries a bit more bold character across the board. It isn't bad, but then again it isn't something I would be terribly excited to have again either.

 1,495 characters

Photo of xnicknj
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of kevgod
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

Photo of JayQue
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a stout...maybe and Imperial Stout...but a stout all the same. Pours a jet black color with absolutely no light getting through. A small dark tan head that fades to a ring around the glass.

Good smell of roasted malts. More complex taste. Roasted malts, chocolate, a little vinuous thing going on and a touch of coffee...all stout-like characteristics.

Mouthfeel is a little light (for an Imperial Stout) but not in the least watery or weak. Goes down smooth, no hint of high alcohol.

Overall a solid, very drinkable beer with a higher alcohol content but not an alcohol taste. American Strong Ale? Probably not.

 623 characters

Photo of steamwhistle123
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of gafferjohn
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of whartontallboy
3/5  rDev -24.4%

Photo of johnhenryconway
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of DocJ87
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,249 ratings.
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