Holy Mackerel Mack In Black | Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"

141 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"
Florida, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jason on 06-02-2008

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Reviews: 141 | Ratings: 197
Photo of Arbitrator
1.99/5  rDev -42.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Chilled bottle into a glass. A generous extra from HonusWagner. Thanks, Michael!

A: Pours an opaque dark brown body in the glass with two fingers of fluffy, long-lasting, light mocha head. I'm inclined to think it's infected, seeing how.... robustly carbonated it is.

S: Mildly tart fruits, coffee, dark chocolate, roasted grain.

T: I tried to go without reading the label while taking my first few sips. The dark fruit presence is pretty strong, and from its mild tartness I was guessing strawberries or raspberries. I suppose, after reading the label, that this is just the influence of the pomegranate juice that it was fermented with. The mid-taste sees the evolution of roasted grain, mild coffee, and dark chocolate. The roast pulls into the finish for a stout-like close, and there is a lingering dark chocolate aftertaste with some char.

M: Overcarbed and thin, even cola-like.

D: I wasn't moved one way or another. It's a nice experiment, but I feel the flavors clash. I wouldn't have it again.

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Photo of EgadBananas
2.07/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2009 Vintage.

Looks pretty good. Thick, black, with a nice dark tan head. Good stops there really. Now, there is a great stout-like beer in here: roasted malts, nice chocolate, and coffee in the taste and the aroma...it's pleasant. But...you have to cut through this ridiculous sweet, slightly tart pomegranate taste and aroma. It just doesn't work with the stout qualities. I think maybe it would work better in lower doses, but as it sits, it's too overwhelming and disrupts the vibe here. Oddities aside, the feel is not bad, medium, good carbonation. Overall though, this just wasn't very appealing.

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Photo of cjgator3
2.2/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

2008 listed on the bottle. This is an "Imperial Black Ale" brewed with pomegranate juice and a Belgian yeast strain. 12oz bottle. Pours a dark black color with a light tan head. The aroma is dark roasted malts with a fruitiness (from the pomegranate juice). The taste is dark and roasty, with a sour finish with a strong boozy finish. They sweet and sour nature of the taste combined with the strong boozy finish make this beer undrinkable for me resulting in a drain pour. I can count on one hand how many times I have poured out a beer before finishing it, and this is one of them. Don't know if I got a bad bottle or what, but I could not stomach the taste. Overall, I was not really impressed by Mack in Black and would not purchase again.

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Photo of robwestcott
2.28/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

2009 bottle

poured cold and black from the bottle to a dogfish head shaped pint glass with a super thin, super dark, super short lasting mocha head.

aroma of dark ripe fruits, and not much else.

hmmm., this is indeed a strange one. acidic tang on the lips, the tongue and all the way down. slightly fruity, but in an over-ripe kind of way.

thin, acidic, bitter.

drinkable - nope - i'm not sure i can take more than 4 - 6 ounces.

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Photo of nrbw23
2.33/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A- Pours a black color with a very small tan head that recedes to pretty much nothing. Not to much in the way of lacing either.

S- Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, touch of yeast and something fruity I guessing its the pomegranate. Could also pick up some alcohol in there.

T- Not a real fan of this one here and tried to choke it down. Fruity flavours, mostly pomegranate, which gets quickly covered up by the chocolate, and the roasted malts. Its both very sweet and also a touch of sour in there.

M- Seemed pretty thin, watery, and also light on the carbonation.

D- Just way too sweet for me. Very different for sure. I struggled with this one and honestly couldn't finish this one.

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Photo of Kadonny
2.36/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A: A deep black color with a light brown one finger head. Minimal lacing.

S: Dark roasted malts, chocolate and some sweetness.

T: Strong ale? Reminds me of a sweet stout. Dark roasted malt flavors with burnt coffee, chocolate and a coying sweetness to it. I guess that's the pomegranite or whatever it is. Either way, I didn't really dig it.

M: Medium to heavy, light carbonation and a hint of alcohol and a funky sweet aftertaste that lingers.

D: Low for me, I couldn't finish the bottle. Sorry.

Overall not a beer I enjoyed at all, in fact I couldn't finish it. That sweetness was just left a terrible aftertaste in my mouth.

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Photo of SuperSpy
2.37/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Black and thick. No light gets through this, not even around the edges. A good half-inch of dark tan head that sticks around for a few minutes and leaves some good lace.

S - The aroma is a bit astringent and almost syrupy. I'm sure this is from the pomegranate. There is some roasted malt, chocolate and coffee, but the dominating smell is the syrupy pomegranate.

T/M - The flavor is dominated by the syrupy sweet and tart flavor that was in the aroma. Behind the tartness is some coffee, chocolate and brown sugar, but it finishes with a burnt coffee or burnt malt flavor that makes it difficult to go back and take another sip.

D - I'll admit that this is an interesting beer and probably the first time I've tasted fermented pomegranate, but it's probably the last time I will taste it in this beer. There is no way I could drink a second one of these and finishing this first one may be a little difficult.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.44/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2008 bottle. Pours black with a small bubbly tan head. Aroma of burnt malt and sweet pomegranate, which just didn't mesh together for me. Very odd smelling and not in a good way. Flavor is still burnt with roasted malt and parmesean cheese and a sweet pomegranate finish. Meh, this is very underwhelming. The flavors are just bad. Why would you add pomegranate juice to an imperial stout? It was difficult to take even more than a few sips of this nasty beverage.

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Photo of SigEp
2.53/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Ok so. Pours pitch black. In the nose there is roasted malt along with a hint of fruitiness in there and some belgian esters.

Here's my problem with this one. Too much roast malt. All you taste is roast malt. It's pretty much like an imperial stout without the real round deliciousness of that class of beers. I get a tiny hint of the fruit. Tiny. I have to search deep deep deep for it and it's almost like I can find a whisper of it underneath the stouty darkness of this thing. And the belgian character? Non existent. All the delicate, delicious flavors that the belgian yeast may have deployed have been masked by the dark malts.

Guess what I have to say is... cool it with the dark malts. Maybe replace your roasted or black patent or whatever it is you're using with cara malts.

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Photo of Freethyhops
2.54/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

a- pours almost completely black with a some ruby tones at the edges when held to light. a nice persistent light brown head accompanies the dark liquid

s- a bit of roasted malts mix with sweet malts and dark fruit esters. the aroma seems quite muted and is not grabbing my attention in the least. below average for a beer in this category.

t- an interesting mix of roasty and lighlty toasted malts, some cocoa and bitter pomegranet juice. despite the slight influence of bitterness from the pomegranets, a constant sweetness pushes this beer out of balance to the point of being cloying with fruity sugary sweetness.

m- it does have a pleasant medium-full body with smooth moderate carbonation. a nice slick mouthfeel with a bit heavier heavier viscosity. it certainly helps this beer.

d- I don't see myself ever buying this one again. it's not awful but it really doesn't provide me any reason to revisit. a strange brew that really misses the target for me.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
2.61/5  rDev -25%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thrown in as an extra by dimenthefield - what a nice guy!

Appearance -- Pours a rich, dark brown with burgundy highlights, appears black in the glass, wit one finger of pinkish head.

Smell -- Pomegranate, sour cherry, cider vinegar, dark chocolate, and smoke. Smells like an infected RIS, but it's clearly from the pomegranate.

Taste -- Sharp tartness from the pomegranate akin to sour cherries soaked in POM juice. Behind this wall of tart are sweet and roasty malt flavors akin to dark chocolate, toffee licorice, and coffee grounds.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to light in body with moderate prickly carbonation. A bit thin, but it's not too bad.

Drinkability -- I am not feeling this Pomegranate infused dark ale. The roasty sweetness and the tart pomegranate create a sort of cider vinegar flavor that made this beer a bit of a labor for me.

Your mileage may vary, but this one bummed me out.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.62/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue VI:

So we are dealing with a straight up extreme beer here. Not only is it fermented with pomegranate juice, but this is also an Imperial Black Ale.

Yeah, it's black and it does don an OK lace. Decent head retention, thin tan lacing seems to hold its own long enough to get by. Slight tart note in the aroma from the fermented pomegranate and dark malt, vague chocolate as well. At second whiff there is a mild butter and ester tone in the nose. Pomegranate leaves an odd tartness which melds with the slight roast to form a mild astringent-like flavor. Hops are minimal and let the alcoholic esters and malt sweetness run rampant. The alcohol does reach higher with a quick flash of solvent that comes off as rose-like. Dries with an astringent, burnt flavor that the palate just can't shake.

While we appreciate the concept of going down the road of "extreme," Mack In Black seems to miss its mark with throwing balance and drinkability totally out the window.

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Photo of ottovon
2.71/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: pours out a dark brown. when held to the light it has a reddish brown hue to it. a nice light brown head on this one.

S: smells of pomegranate and roasted malt. hints of molasses as well. it smells like a pomegranate syrup might. has a very sweet aroma.

T: this beer has a lot of sweetness in it. i get some roasted malt and chocolate flavors as well. overall it is too sweet for my liking.

M: this is a pretty thick (and not in a good way) and low carbed beer. leaves a weird coating on my palate.

O: not a huge fan of this beer. too much fake like sweetness.

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Photo of rtratzlaff
2.77/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I am not sure how I am to review this style wise since this is listed as an American strong ale, but the lable claims it as a Belgian black ale. The yeast used was Belgian, but I guess that is the only thing Belgian about this beer since its brewed in Florida.

It pours deep black beer in color with a one finger head that dissipates to a small island of thin off white head.

Aromas are mainly chocolate and black malt with plenty of sweetness. Not really too much fruit, but really sweet in the smell.

Flavors are really sweet with some chocolate in there as well. There's not a complex Belgian quality to this, but its really one dimensional. Is it drinkable? Yes. But something about this reminds me of a mass produced fruit beer aimed to not taste like "beer." Too Sweet.

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Photo of GeezLynn
2.77/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at Whole Foods in Tampa Spring 2010. From bottle "2009...suitable for aging 1-2 years".

Pours a root beer shade of brown into a Chimay chalice. Modest tan head fades quickly leaving a full collar.

Smell is interesting. Big, tart jammy smell of red berries followed by dark chocolate and some charred malt. I also get a little banana in there, which I assume is from the yeast.

Flavor incorporates both the fruit and the malt flavors, but they come out much more muddled than in the aroma. As things warm up, the fruityness becomes increasingly obnoxious and seems to break up any of the nice maltiness you might otherwise appreciate. Once the fruit deluge subsides, it finishes with a slightly charred bitterness.

Feel is medium-bodied with a moderate level of prickly carbonation. Alcohol is fairly well concealed.

I'll give them credit for the creativity here, but this tastes like someone took a schwartzbier and mixed in apple and grape juice. I wouldn't bother with this again. They really need to dial back on the fruit juice.

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Photo of Reaper16
2.79/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle -- 2009 vintage -- served into a pint glass

Pours a darkdark brown color; it isn't black but it comes fairly close. You can't see through it at all. There's nearly 1.5 fingers of dense looking tan head on this beer. It's pretty OK looking, all-in-all.

The first thing I notice in the aroma is the sourish pungency. It's coming from the adjunct use of pomegranate juice. This note, when combined with the (slightly acrid) roasted malts, makes for a cheap approximation of a Belgian Imperial Stout (ala Black Albert or Dark Truth). I say cheap because you can tell that the fruity sour note is coming not from the malts and fermentation but from something else, something added.

As far as taste goes, it follows the nose. It tastes like a weakish imperial stout with pomegranate juice. It totally tastes just like POM; it's an unmistakable flavor. What gets me is that it is possible -- through malt bill selection and yeast activity -- to achieve similar fruity characteristics. This beer takes a shortcut and the result is a loss in complexity. It's not a bad tasting beer. Actually, it tastes fine. It's just not remarkable in any way.

Overall, this is an average strong beer. It actually is an OK drink. It isn't bad and it isn't good. I don't see myself drinking this one again, but I'm sort of glad I experienced it.

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Photo of timobkg
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

2009 vintage, poured into a Chimay glass.

Pours a dark ruby red, with a thin foam.

The aroma is primarily pomegranate, with some sweet fruitiness behind it. There's a hint of belgian yeast.

The taste is sweet pomegranate juice, similar to Pom but sweeter, laid over a belgian dark ale. It's too sweet, so that at first it's nice, but by the end of the bottle it's cloying. Alcohol is completely hidden.

Overall, the beer suffers for being too sweet - and I like sweet beer. It may have been better fresh in 2009 (the bottle says it can be cellared for 1-2 years), but aged as it was the sweetness overwhelms everything else.

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Photo of chefkevlar
2.81/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a very deep black/brown with no light showing through. There is around an inch or so of mocha colored foam which settles to a thin layer rather quickly and leaves a small amount of lacing.

S: Smells of coffee, raspberry and pomegranate. There is also a hint of dark chocolate and something sour like a vinegar (I'm guessing from the pomegranate)

T: Sweet...actually very sweet at the start. There's an odd combination of tartness sweetness and bitterness throughout with the end tasting a bit like coffee.

M: Feels full bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.

D: Can't say I really enjoyed this beer but there is something very unique about it that makes it feel worthwhile since I only bought a single bottle.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
2.87/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a bottle into a nonic, the beer pours jet black, with a tall, dense, foamy, light tan head. Aromas of tangy sweet fruit, roasted coffee, and not much else. The nose is terribly off-balanced, and it's already spiraling into a muddled mess. Flavors are roasted forward, with a nutty coffee blend followed immediately by tart pomegranate. There are some earthy highlights in there, as well, which just adds to the chaos. This palate just doesn't seem to match up anywhere. The body is light, almost watery, and the aftertaste is a bit of char, fruit juice, stale chocolate and day old coffee. The aftertaste is a weird amalgamate of flavors that shouldn't really be playing together. The short linger in this dry, watery finish is still too long. Not good.

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Photo of JAA
2.93/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is mindblowing. Pour Jet-black with a dense one-finger dark tan head. Bought at Sarasota Total Wine, but I've seen Holy Mackerel stuff at Publix and Norman's liquors.

I would venture to say that this beer didn't need the pomegranate juice to make it notable. Smells crazy, like licorice and dark cherries, along with bitter chocolate.

Tastes much like it smells. Very chocolaty, dark fruits and more bitter chocolate in the finish. It's a quite complicated and a really flavorful beer coming from a little known brewery on the east coast of Florida.

The pomegranate juice is a bit out of place, but the beer has a solid foundation that makes it enjoyable to drink. 8% ABV.

Edit: alright, i'm getting near the end of the glass and this pomegranate juice is getting pretty gross.

Second edit: yeah, it's quite tough drinking a whole bottle. The juice is too strong. It's a shame because the taste the beer behind the juice is phenomenal.

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Photo of belgbeerdrinker
2.97/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

a: pitch black, some head settles to nice little ring, bubbly fountains on surface, decent lacing
s: roasted malts, coffee with faint tart notes
t: interesting mix of toasted malts with sweet chocolate that finishes somewhere between mildly tart and strong bitter coffee
m: starts with fizz and somewhat thin, but finish almost seems creamy
d: again, interesting but too much going on and too thin

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Photo of emerge077
3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle courtesy of EvilKeith, we opened 2 of these at Ludachris' summer bbq. Odd yet cool label of what I assume was a mackerel covering AC/DC.

Poured black with not much in the way of a head, thin ring and no lace. Didn't use a large glass, and it was rinsed. Inky black, the bubbles at the edge looked tan. Sweet and roasty aroma, some hints of oxidation.

Tart like an infected stout or porter, yet the pomegranate juice must be at work here. Dark coffee & chocolate notes, licorice, overshadowed by the bitter, tart fruit. Kind of prickly mouthfeel, strange combination. A little slick also. One generous pour was enough for me, probably won't seek this out, but it was unique to try. Thanks Keith!

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Photo of Aaron420
3.02/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter.

A: Poured a dark black with a tan almost brown two finger head that dissipated quickly.

S: Very fruity with a slight hint of alcohol.

T: A mix of malty and fruity with with almost a touch of coffee in the beginning. AS the beer warms up the fruit becomes over bearing.

M: It is a very light bodied beer for suck a deep color. With a decent amount of carbonation.

D: Defiantly would not sit down and drink to many of these, they have a pretty high abv, but also a very sweet flavor. A really cool concept but nothing I will keep stocked in the fridge.

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Photo of BamaViper1
3.03/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The Mack in Black pours a motor oil black with a 1/4 inch light brown head. The head dissipates quickly leaving thin lacing that quickly slides down the glass to rejoin the dark beer.

This beer opens with aromas of mocha which fade to bitter chocolate and sweet malt. There is also a sweet fruitiness, cherry or red plum (or perhaps the pomegranate that's supposed to be in this beer). It's almost a bit too sweet.

The nose of the nose of this beer tastes of espresso and chocolate that turns sour towrds the end. Sweetness pervades, as does a finish of sweet fruit and burned coffee smothered in chocolate maltiness.

This beer is more medium bodied, a bit lighter than expected, and there is a good bit of carbonation, maybe more than necessary, as well.

Because of the perceived lightness of the body of this beer, I would say this could be a very drinkable stout, but the sweetness overall kind of kills it. This beer has good potential, and maybe with some age it'd be better. Maybe...

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Photo of Onenote81
3.07/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Nice little extra bottle received from Kiefdog in a recent trade. Thanks!

This beer pours a jet black with a small thin tan head on top. No retention whatsoever, and no lacing either. Weak. Smells of cocoa, currants, figs, grapes, and booze. Interesting.

Mouthfeel is decent. Some mild carbonation on the tongue. I thought it'd be a bit more as a strong ale. Flavor is interesting to say the least. Right away I taste copious amounts of black licorice. If this is the "black" in "Mack in Black" I'd be severely disappointed. Not a fan of the licorice flavor. Molasses, and a faint nuttiness in there as well. Finishes roasty.

This is an interesting beer. Different, and it threw me for a loop on all counts. I don't know what I was expecting, but this was and wasn't it at the same time. Try it if you must, you may be surprised.

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Holy Mackerel Mack In Black from Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"
3.48 out of 5 based on 197 ratings.
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