Headstrong Black & Tan | Big Hole Brewing Company

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Headstrong Black & TanHeadstrong Black & Tan
30 Ratings
Headstrong Black & TanHeadstrong Black & Tan

Brewed by:
Big Hole Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Black & Tan

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by cratez on 03-28-2010

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 30 |  Reviews: 21
Reviews by Bestuurder:
Photo of Bestuurder
2.69/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I've had black and tan before, but this is not the best I have encountered.

The colour is a dark ruby amber, fairly brown in fact. With a heavy head, yet very light in body. Carbonation is fairly low and there was some lacing throughout consumption.

Aroma is lacking. Very hop and dry malt. Would be better with a bit more chocolate malt to the stout; which by the way, is not all that present or good for that matter. Mild notes of burnt ash and walnuts can also be found, yet not distinctly.

The taste is, at best, average. Quite watery in fact. The ale comprises the bulk of this brew, and is a medium bodied ale at that. Hops and malt again are there, with a mild graininess that at first is refreshing, but trails into disappointment.

The body of this brew could be heavier, and it should be. It's like it should be an ale and an ale only, maybe with a splash of stout in the mix. This is not what a black & tan should be. There is little carbonation and the bulk of the brew is watery and adjunct filled.

I do not think having another could make this beer any better than it is. I will not be purchasing this brew again.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.23/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured slowly into a nonic glass. Dark caramel-black hue, with about a pound of thick, foamy head. Took quite a while for it to finally recede to a decent level for sipping. Lots of lacing.

Nose is hard to detect. Notes of roasted chestnut, dark malts.

Dark coffee, malts, a bit of burnt marshmallow Finishes with a tinny sourness. Not entirely unlike a black and tan, but it much more resembles a mild porter.

All the carbonation is killed by the massive head, so it's quite watery. A creamy texture to it that reminds me of a Guinness-made half-and-half.

Tastes alright, nothing too exciting. Probably will stick to making them myself.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.38/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

473ml can. Made by the same company, but in Utica, NY. Contract brewed?

This beer pours a clear, very dark ruddy cola brown colour, with a teeming amount of puffy, foamy beige head, which settles slowly, leaving a nice band of webbed lace around the glass. It smells of toasted biscuit malt, dry chocolate, earthy nuttiness, and soft piney hops. The taste is bready, doughy malt, medium chocolate, mildly bitter grassy/weedy hops, and a subtle warming metallic/mineral character lurking under it all. The carbonation is fairly sedate, the body approaching middleweight, but kind of thin, even though it's smooth enough. It finishes off-dry, a bland nutty cocoa character going the extra round with some equally game(y) drying hops.

I can't seem to like or dislike this particular offering, whether taste-wise or marketing-wise. Roaming buffalo label lore - good, weird production origins - bad. Roasted nut/chocolate character - good. Strange edgy hop/rock drying offset - bad. A beer that abuses its inherent duality, that's for sure.

 1,037 characters

Photo of Sammy
2.94/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Recent LCBO product. Pours medium brown body, with abundant white soapy head. It is very lacey. Aroma is malty and also cheesy. Taste: mostly a malt experience, with significant but not enjoyable bitterness, until the sediment roasted malt at the end of the can. A tad below average mouthfeel.Some drinkability, but a 500 ml. can is too much.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
1.97/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Can: Poured a light color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of light roasted malt with light residual sugar. Taste is also dominated by light roasted malt with residual sugar and thin finish. Body is quite thin with good carbonation. Bland with a body way too thin for the style. No need to try this one again.

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Photo of ThinkAgain
3/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of spinrsx
2.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

473ml Can

Appearance - Opaque black/brown colour with a huge off light brown coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 6 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, grains, coffee, smoke

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a low amount of carbonation and the taste consists of coffee, chocolate, breads/grains and malts. There is also a bit of a smokiness and a bit of a harsh tasting cheap alcohol flavour. It finishes with a malty and roasted coffee aftertaste.

Overall – I'm on the fence with this one. At first I found the taste a little harsh and regretted my purchase. But towards the end of the beer as it warmed up I acutally didn't mind the taste all that much. Either way, it's nothing spectacular and I wouldn't buy it again.

 823 characters

Photo of RedAleMan
3/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of uno99
2.89/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I enjoy the headstrong pale ale brewed in Canada, and I respect its price/quality ratio, so I was excited to see this can on the shelf.

A: I was also excited when I saw it in the glass. huge head that sticks like rib sauce to the glass and a nice ruby orangy beer. 4.5

S: kind of metallic. maybe its the hops which i also smell distinctly. not what I'd call a pleasent aroma. 3.0

T: if caramel could rot and go bad, thats the best way I can describe this. quite dry fortunately and decent bittering finish - but bad none-the-less. 2.5

M: Quite bitter which i normally like, but thin and overcarbonated. A little sticky too. 3.0

D: I suppose you could do worse for $2.05 at the LCBO but with so many other choices.... 3.0

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Photo of SebD
3.18/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: It has a nice dark brown colour to it. It has a nice beige head that dies down slowly and has some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of a graininess, bready malts, some caramel and citrucy notes.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a grainy/bready taste to it with a bit of coffee, caramel and slight citrucy notes coming from the hops.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a watery feel.

Drinkability: It's a good drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavours and aromas.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.21/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Tallboy can picked up at the LCBO. I've had a few Headstrong brews before and they were serviceable drinks, if not especially memorable ones.

Pours an opaque dark-brownish-black with only a few crimson-coloured highlights under the light. Two fingers of lofty, creamy tan-coloured head that gradually seeps away, leaving behind webs of stringy lacing. Decent aroma but nothing very interesting or enticing - dark roasted nutty malts, burnt sugar and coffee grinds. Sweet and earthy.

The taste is similar to the nose, with more nutty roasted malts, toasted grains, caramel and milk chocolate. Some sour fruity raisin notes. The pale ale qualities are noticeable toward the finish, where the earthy and herbal hop bitterness becomes more prominent. Some lingering astringency in the aftertaste. Pretty light-bodied, with high carbonation that makes it more crisp than I expected. Disappointingly watery.

Decent stuff, the dualistic nature of the blended styles is at least interesting, but it still feels a little watery and not especially well done. I can't work up much enthusiasm for this brew... if it strikes your fancy, give it a shot, but don't expect to be blown away.

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Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of TheBeeraholic
3.25/5  rDev +13.2%

Photo of oldp0rt
2/5  rDev -30.3%

Photo of MattPS
2.5/5  rDev -12.9%

Photo of Viggo
2.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

500 ml can from the LCBO.

Pours a clear orange/brown, some burgundy highlights, very thick and foamy light tan head forms, slowly settles down to a thick ring and layer around the glass, tons of lace chunks stick, looks good.

Smell is okay, pretty bland and very light, lots of graininess, some biscuit, caramel, a bit of fruit and some floral, a touch of citrus, almost a bit of vomit, iron, not so good.

Taste is slightly better, still very bland, some graininess, a bit of bread and biscuit, toasty, corn, light citrus and floral, sugary sweetness near the finish, a bit of alcohol as well, not good for the low ABV.

Mouthfeel is light bodied, pretty thin, medium carbonation, a bit of warmth going down. Not so good.

 724 characters

Photo of wordemupg
3.01/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

473ml can poured into pint glass

A a dark brown cola with two fingers of thick mocha head that slowly fell to a thin film that leaves lots of lace

S dark malty molasses with a little milk chocolate

T a little more chocolate then the nose and has a sour raisin thing working against it

M a little thin and it could use some more bubbles

O take it or leave it, I'm not impressed or offended

for the price its not bad but this one looks better then it actually was

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
2.76/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Very dark brown colour, the outline of my fingers were visible under a brite lite on the other side of my glass. Foamy tan head with low carbonation dispersed leaving thin sheet lace. Looks not bad. Feint smell of brown sugar with equal parts metallic is distracting.

The taste offers toasted malts, some nuttiness but there is an earthiness and a sharp, cleansing mouthfeel that seems a bit out of synch. Very thin body disappoints.

More pale ale than stout, but either on their own might have been a better idea this is worth a try given the scarcity of the style, but nowhere good enough to be a sessional.

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Photo of DrJay
2.52/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Very dark brown with faint chestnut highlights. An inch of dense, tan foam settled slowly, leaving a lot of clumpy, streaky lacing on the glass. Looks nice. Doesn't smell very good though. Notes of malt and piney hops, some caramel and biscuit, but the hops have an unrefined character -- cat piss, sharp floral, not good. The flavour was little better, kind of fruity in an unappealing way with some hop bitterness, roast, and caramel sweetness helping things out. Lingering coarse bitterness. Light astringency, lightish bodied, moderate carbonation. I'm not a fan of this. If it's truly a black and tan mix, then (at least) one of the base beers is way off -- whichever has the majority of the hops I'm tasting. Seems like they're using high alpha hops for flavour and aroma rather than something a bit softer in character.

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Photo of kwjd
3.09/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is my first black & tan, so you may want to take my review with a grain of salt.

It pours a dark amber brown, with thick white head. Quite beautiful really. It falls apart a bit at the smell and taste. I get some of the roasted malts from a stout, with a bit of floral hop bitterness. I get some fruitiness and grain too. Fairly smooth mouthfeel, yet a bit thin. Not bad, but I don't think I need another of these.

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Photo of biegaman
2.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This offering happens to be more like 'black with a tan'; its darkish, dusky body is actually translucent and brims with a gleaming rash of bistre. The surface appears the sight of a building implosion; there is plenty of dust kicked up against the sides of the glass, banks of debris piled along the perimeter but only rubble left floating in the center.

The aroma, which contains little of anything reminiscent of either a pale ale or a stout, blindsides the senses with a heavy, lumbering metallic twang that clangs the nostrils as if they were church bells. But what could cause such sinus splitting cacophony? The logical answer might be the can itself given just how tinny and iron-rich this scent is...

But I'm leaning towards a different culprit. It's a familiar smell, I've noted it before in poorly brewed beers (bottles included). My best guess: poor ingredients. A combination of stale grains and cheap, synthetic adjuncts. There is a predominance of dry, grainy oats and cloying corn syrup. Together with the iron, it's not a terribly appealing smell.

It isn't, however, that bad of a taste. The maltiness isn't so thunderous that it shook the ground, but there's enough to feign the flavour of a watered down stout or sufficiently malty pale ale. It is nearly palatable enough to make me rethink my earlier statement about stale ingredients but I think I'll maintain my reservations until all is said and done.

With every beer, a good mouthfeel is indispensable; for this particular one it's a really good thing they got it right because it's responsible for making what is otherwise a cloying and insipid beer a half-way decent quaff. Its carbonation and bitterness are both brief, but sizable, and provoke the tongue just enough so as to animate the palate.

Headstrong Black & Tan has just enough of the right stuff to feign passing for a half-way decent pint and is just agreeable enough that I don't have to feign enjoying it. Still, I reckon I could make a comparable black and tan myself and, besides, I bet ten times out of ten I'd opt for pale ale or stout respectively rather than simultaneously.

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Photo of shamus
2.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

headstrong does make some surprisingly decent beers including their Munich lager and Pale ale but this is just a disappointment.
It even looks like it's going to be good with a super-creamy head, however it smells like melted crayons. that's a smell that pretty much prejudices me for how it's going to go down and when i try it I am all but ready to pour it down the drain, save for the fact tat it's all I've got for the evening. In other words it's okay but nothing especially exciting.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.11/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hesitant but I gave it a shot. Apparently and 'expert' blend of ale and stout.

A - Dark brown pour, almost black with red around the edges. Not bright but not opaque. Brown two finger head is fizzing down fast. Good chunks of lacing and a half finger of retention.

S - Earthy, roasty, cola. Cold strong coffee?

T - Cola, coffee-ish, some burnt something or other and roasted notes. Not a good combo. I guess the pale ale element is there but it doesn't mix in any way I like.

M - Good carbonation, light to medium body. Slightly sweet then bitter finish.

O/D - Meh. I could take it for a while. It's not offensive, just not interesting. Maybe I don't like b&ts but it just doesn't jive with me. Drinkable, but not interesting.

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Photo of a74gent
1.84/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

This one pours pretty nicely with two fingers of foam in a mug.

The smell is a nonevent, but it goes downhill fast from there.

The taste is just bad followed by a worse astringency that lingers. Just not good..

The mouthfeel is a little thin with no coatability.

I can't even drink one of these and wouldn't want anyone else too.

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Photo of Wordslinger
2.75/5  rDev -4.2%

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Headstrong Black & Tan from Big Hole Brewing Company
Beer rating: 2.87 out of 5 with 30 ratings
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