Black Creek Rifleman's Ration | Black Creek Historic Brewery

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Black Creek Rifleman's RationBlack Creek Rifleman's Ration

Brewed by:
Black Creek Historic Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by spinrsx on 05-30-2012

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Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 50
Photo of headlessparrot
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

The pour reveals Rifleman's Ration to be a shockingly lightly-carbonated beer, with an aggressive pour netting no more than a half-finger of head that recedes almost instantly, though at least there's a ring of lacing on the glass.

Smell is smoky, caramel, toasted malt, roasted malt. Biscuit made from hearty brown bread. Taste is all those things, but with a balance between the malty, toasty, smoky notes and a nice caramelized sugar sweetness. Body is very lightly carbonated and rather light in body. Still, my guess is there's an element of historic authenticity here, and it's cool to drink what--ostensibly--might have been a drink of choice a couple hundred years ago. It's interesting, and decent enough, but not setting the world on fire.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at the LCBO for just over $3.00 for a 500ml bottle. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a tiny half inch head that filmed out within a minute. Medium brown color and filtered clear

S- Caramel, burnt nuts, malt, hops and molasses

T- Rich burnt nuts. Nice blend. Has the body and smooth coffee and caramel flavor. Super good malt base and a touch of sweetness

M- Creamy and a bit tart

O- Nice brew. I enjoyed this one and it is a great winter brew.

Food Pairing

This nice little brew went well with...... Crème caramel


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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Part of the black creek 4 pack.

Appearance - a very dark brown coloured beer is poured that is opaque and topped by a half finger of off white head. The head doesn't linger too long but does leave a little soapy ring around the glass.

Smell - hmmm, some coffee and roasted nut characteristics with just a faint aroma of dark fruits namely cherries.

Taste - like the nose, some moderate bitterness, some roasted characteristics with a trace of coffee and tobacco. Kind of unusual for a brown ale, but somehow works

Mouthfeel - moderate carbonation, but a creamy feel. Medium bodied and dry finish.

Overall - a pretty tasty and satisfying brown ale with sufficient presence to be noticed but also easy enough to drink that I won't hesitate to enjoy more at another time. A beer that gets better the more of it you drink, really enjoyed the last half glass. So far probably my favourite of the historic series, with only the dray horse beer left to go.

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Photo of BuckyBeerBeaver
4.09/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

While wandering through the beer isles of his local LCBO, Bucky couldn't resist the patriotic appeal of Black Creek Brewery's Rifleman's Ration Ale ("RRA"). RRA is the first in a series of twelve ‘Historic Beers of Canada' to be released by the brewery. Each of the twelve distinct beers is designed to capture the feel and flavour of a specific era in Canadian history. Rifleman's Ration commemorates the years 1810 to 1819, to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The beer that is available commercially is brewed in partnership with Trafalgar Breweries through Pioneer Brewing Ltd.

RRA was purchased in a brown 500 ml bottle with a 'best before' date of January 2013 punched into the side of the label. The label displays the image of a 19th century British colonial soldier of the line, who, as part of his service, would have been issued with an extra paycheck exclusively for buying beer. British commanders approved of beer consumption (within reason) because it helped stimulate the regional economy through the sale of grains and hops by local farmers. RRA is 5.0% alcohol by volume.

Rather than drinking at room temperature as suggested on the label, I served it at cellar temperature which was a few degrees cooler. RRA poured a translucent dark brown/red, with ruby highlights when backlit. A very aggressive pour produced about 1/2" of fizzy tan coloured head, which quickly faded to a thin collar and film, leaving some very modest spotting and lacing down the glass. The beer's aroma, as you would expect for a brown ale, was dominated by chocolate and coffee malts. The flavour began with sweet, dark malts including chocolate, and finished with a mild coffee bitterness which lingered for just a few seconds. The carbonation was quite low and completely appropriate for the recreation of a naturally carbonated, 200 year old recipe, though possibly a bit undercarbonated for modern tastes. The mouthfeel was soft due to the low carbonation, and I would describe RRA as medium bodied. Overall, weighing the beer's patriotic appeal and enjoyable taste and aroma against a rather expensive $3.95 price tag, I'd add Rifleman's Ration to my 'occasional treat' list.

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Photo of funkengruven
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had a couple of these in my cellar that I picked up last year, This poured a nice deep brown with very little head retention. Smell is rather nice, malty with a touch of hops. Taste is nice and rich, with a bitter finish. Mouthfeel is smooth, and easy to drink.

This went quite well with my roast beef dinner. A decent and typical English brown ale, I would get this again.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

props to andrenaline for including this in our previous trade
A - a clear deep cedar brown, short brown head dissipated quickly to not much of a covering
S - big hits of nuts, caramel and brown sugar, mild roastiness towards the back
T - big cola syrup to start, followed by roasted nuts and toffee, touch of leafy bitterness late in the finish along with some charcoal
M - medium body, slightly prickly carbonation, touch of bitterness but a generally full finish
O - this hits all requisite style points and started to grow on me more as I got through the 500ml bottle, definitely worth a try or 2 if you can

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Best Before NOV 2012. Poured in to tulip.

A - Medium translucent brown with a very thin film of light brown head.

S - Very nutty aroma with some bready malts and caramel.

T - Nutty flavour up front. Some caramel, toffee, maple and a slight bitterness round out the palate.

M - Light body with a slight creaminess. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Won the Hockey Playoff Poule against my cousin this year, and this was part of the bounty. Cheers Mike!

From a 500ml bottle into a pint glass.

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, off-white head with lousy retention. Head quickly vanishes to a faint wisp and a bubbly ring. Opaque rust brown in color with almost no carbonation evident. A ring remains until the end but leaves no real lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Brown malts, toffee and some light melon notes. Very faint coffee beans in the back as well. As it warms, lots of maple sugar arrives and ties everything together very nicely. Complex and interesting.

TASTE: Like the nose, this is quite nice. Brown malts, toffee and maple sugar sweetness, moving into a bitter coffee and floral hop flavors at the finish. Mild yet lingering aftertaste of toffee sweetness, light coffee notes, and some floral and light pine bitterness. Very nice indeed.

PALATE: Medium-full body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy enough on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly dry. Good weight on this one, and feels really good.

OVERALL: Really good beer here. Bold and interesting aromas and flavors, with a big, full palate to support it all. Very well done. Thanks again Mike. Those Riflemen had it pretty good.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a clear deep brown color ale with a medium size foamy head with low retention and not much lacing. Aroma of caramel malt with some notes of nuts and light dry roasted ester is pretty interesting. Taste is a solid mix between some caramelized malt with clear roasted nuts and light dry roasted malt finish. Body is about average with medium carbonation. Solid for the style though additional body would improve this beer IMHO.

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Photo of biegaman
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

All Black Creek beers pour out the bottle completely flat, without so much as even a hiss when prying off the cap. This is no surprise, mind you, for brewery aiming to recreate historic ales from the 19th century. This particular offering is modeled after brown, unfiltered ales that British soldiers enjoyed from the barrel - and indeed it looks the part.

The bouquet has a fleeting mocha roast with hints of coffee oil and toasted hazelnut. Smells like the atmosphere of a local cafe, one that grinds their own beans in-house. There is also a firm sweetness to the aroma, but enough roasted grain to keep it from running wild. A bit mild for a stout, but fairly robust for a (tradition minded) brown ale.

All promises made by the aroma are delivered on the palate. Lots of pecan-like nuttiness and mild-roast coffee flavours are appreciated. There's virtually no bitterness beyond the slight astringency of roasted grain. In fact, its almost lactose-like sweetness gives it the air of a vanilla-hazelnut cappuccino. I was relieved to find a little left in the bottle for a top-up.

Drinking flat (and by now room temperature) beer is an odd sensation, but it works for a style like this. It allows the roast, which is mild enough to frankly be considered delicate, to linger for an extended period on the palate, imprinting a coffee bean oiliness. The ultra-nutty sweetness that accompanies prevents things from turning astringent.

One thing this beer teaches us is that the riflemen didn't do so bad (granted, it'd be hard having a delicious, gratifying beer like this on rations). Another thing we've learned is that the use of exclusively local ingredients doesn't bring anything new to the equation, except maybe a better environmental track record. Either way, this is a solid offering.

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Photo of mick303
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very little head, leaves some pretty decent lacing. Colour is a really dark brown. No visible carbonation.

Aroma holds caramel malts, with some mild nutty and hop aromas in the background. Some fresh piney notes as it warms.

Taste is of thick malts, dry roasted notes, a late bitterness. Quite distinctive flavour initially, maybe come roast coffee. Finish is quite dry, roasted chestnut flavour, good length.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with a moderate body. Very unoffensive and drinkable. Malts are very full and give a nice body, but otherwise not inspiring. At room temp it is full with malty and roasted notes. Good.

Enjoyable brew. Classic to the style. Does the job for a traditional brown ale but not a lot to really get too excited about here. Worth a try for the sake of it, nice piece of history.

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Photo of NV9
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown/slight amber with very little head.

Malts, molasses, caramel and toffee smells present.

Taste is malty, lots of hops evident, good full flavou, bitter finish

Medium body, slightly watery, light-medium carnbonation.

Good hoppy beer, will drink again.

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Photo of Groulxsome
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A cloudy ruby-brown with a creamy, loose head.

Aroma: Toffee, molasses, and other malty sweet kinds of smells. Some yeastiness like the smell inside a bag of dark bread.

Taste: An assertive punch of toffee and somewhat dry grains. A little bitterness, but nothing too aggressive. It's a little sweet, so I can see how riflemen might have upped their ration by adding molasses to their version of a growler and let it continue fermenting without it spoiling the taste of the beer.

Mouthfeel: It's around medium body with very low carbonation. It feels like drinking a cask beer, which is good since that's what they were aiming for!

Overall: When people think about historic beers (or when I do at least), I often think of Dogfishhead's historic beer programme and beers that are big, exciting, and different (for better or for worse). This is not a really polarizing beer like those tend to be. It's a very solid English Brown Ale, it would be great on cask. I'd say give it a try!

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Photo of Rutager
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance. Pours a deep amber-brown with a skim of off-white head.

Smell. Toasty malts, chocolate, sweet caramel and a little vanilla.

Taste. Roasted malts, caramel, a little nutty and a tiny bit of bitterness in the end.

Mouthfeel. Medium-light body with lowish carbonation. A little bit thin for the flavours going on.

Overall. An easy drinker with some nice mellow flavors.

Thanks liamt07!

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Photo of korguy123
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500mL bottle into tumbler.

I was hesitant for some reason to pick this up. But after popping the cap and taking a sniff I'm really glad I did.

A- Clean and clear brown pour with highlights of ruby. Two finger off white soapy head with decent lacing stuck to the glass.

S- Roasted coffee and chocolate are predominant in this. There is some dark fruits an cinnamon and a little bit of licorice in this as well.

T- Dark coffee and a little bitter dark chocolate. Dark stone fruits with some sour dough bread and sweet biscuits. Cinnamon and licorice as well in the taste.

M- Medium to thin bodied, nice carbonation and a little chew.

O- I'm really glad I got this, brown ales have never interested me much but this is probably one of the most involved and enjoyable ones I've ever come across.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.74/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before December 2012. I haven't had a single lame beer from this brewery, so hopefully the ball will keep rolling - I'm not all that picky about brown ales anyway.

Pours a deep, brown mahogany colour with some crimson highlights when held up to the light (doing this also reveals the translucent nature of the brew). The head is compact, dense, tan in colour and rather creamy; unfortunately it's a bit of a fickle creature. It vanishes quickly, leaving behind naught but a soapy cap on the surface - but at least it has the courtesy to leave some smudges of lacing behind on the glass. Nice enticing aroma, and fairly firm in terms of strength/intensity. Heavy on the malts as one might hope for a brown ale - with notes of cocoa, caramel, molasses and roasted nuts. Rather mouthwatering, actually.

And fortunately my mouth was not disappointed - this is definitely a yummy ale. Lots of roasted nutty malts, caramel and brown sugar sweetness, with a slight note of milk chocolate. This leads into the earthy, leafy hop bitterness that comes forward later in the sip. Dry, malty aftertaste with more cocoa; slight sourness. Rather light-bodied, with fairly mild carbonation for a very smooth feel going down. Drinkable as all hell, but kind of watery.

Rifleman's Ration isn't a must-try, but it's still a solid brown ale. Unfortunately I doubt I can justify getting it again anytime soon - it's good, but there are other browns of comparable quality available almost everywhere, and most of them are cheaper. If you see this on the shelves and are debating whether to get it or not - I would say it's at least worth picking up (whether you're big on the style or not), but it isn't something to go out of your way in search of.

[Updated Sept. 9 2015]

Another bottle from the LCBO; a fresh batch with a slightly different label. Not sure if it's as great as I remember, but this is still a solid, traditional English-style brown ale that goes down easily. The thin mouthfeel is the only disappointing feature, but it does sort of suit this brewery's old-timey theme. If their rations were anything like this, I doubt the riflemen had much reason to complain about them.

Final Grade: 3.74, a B grade.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single bottle from the LCBO, a brew made in honour of the war of 1812 and this year's bicentennial of that bizarre, but important conflict. BBD: October 2012

Poured into a nonic. Dark chestnut ruby, nice colour on this. Head retains well despite being initially unimpressive. Patches of lacing adorn the sides of the glass.

Nose is brown bread, molasses, caramel, toffee, bittering hops.

Decent brown ale, the extra hops were certainly needed to carry this one along, but the result was a nicely balanced brown ale. Nothing special, mind you.

An English brown ale is probably the most appropriate style to brew in honour of the War of 1812. After all, without the small contingent of British forces under the command of Isaac Brock, it is highly likely that the Americans' dastardly scheme to might have paid off. And this was probably the style of beer that fueled that victory. Not the prettiest, not the most flair, not likely to be remembered throughout the annals of history, but it gets the job done. So does this beer.

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Photo of liamt07
3.57/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a tulip. Best before October 2012.

Filtered reddish mahogany, bubbly tan coloured head. Not much in terms of retention , but a bit of lace. Nose has some chocolate, a touch of roast, light nuttiness and some hops. Taste has some malt, chocolate, more roast/coffee beans and some gentle bitterness in the finish. Light body, almost watery and undercarbonated, almost like cask out of a bottle. A simple beer, not bad at all.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very drinkable British style brown ale - with a fascinating historical pretext and using only Ontario-grown ingredients - well done, Black Creek!

Pours a clear, dark brown with amber highlights. Limited head and no lacing, but enough carbonation for a reasonable mouthfeel. A lovely, earthy aroma of roasted dark malts, with hints of chocolate and lots of nuts. The nuttiness continues into the well balanced taste, which has a sweeter finish than I expected. Very malt forward, with lots of roasted and nut "brown" tones.

Missing the hops of an American-style Indian Brown, which would clearly have been my own personal preference, but definitely a beer I'd recommend and a brewery whose efforts I'll support whenever possible!

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Photo of andrenaline
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A new offering at the local LCBO, and a welcome addition to the selections...

A - Pours a nice golden brown colour with a ruby red hue, finger of head with decent retention and some sporadic lacing.

S - A tad mild, but hints of cocoa, caramel malts, touch of musty hops and leafy greens all come through.

T - Again a tad mild, but the caramel backbone and cocoa and espresso notes come through. The bitterness isn't overwhelming, which plagues many of the style, and it stays more sweet than sour. Some roasted nutty notes linger alongside a bready malt flavour.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and finishes wet.

O - This is a tasty brown ale that hits the basics of the style. I can see myself indulging in many more of these over the summer.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured a two finger head upon a deep brown body, little retention, some patchy lacing

S - dark malt, some molasses and dark fruit, grassy and floral hops

T - follows the nose, some herbal and cocoa notes, well balanced although pretty straight forward

M - a little watery (like most from this brewer), light bitterness, light to medium body with some carbonation, a very easy drinking brew

O - not a bad brown ale, not overly complex but definitely drinkable

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Photo of CanuckRover
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice well-stained oak brown. About a finger of head on it with decent lacings to the finish.

Lovely brown ale nose. Almost nutty, maybe part way to roasted chestnuts, with subtle milk chocolate notes.

Interesting starting note with an unexpected hoppy zing perking things up. The rest is standard Brown, nutty malt stopping just short of roasted. Satisfying caramel sweetness lingers.

This is a nice Canadian take on the Brown ale. Lively-ish hops made things a touch more interesting. Worth a go, and nice to have in the fridge if it's your style.

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Photo of peensteen
3.37/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brownish-ruby colour, light bubbly head, no lace at all to speak of. Smell has lots of roast, coffee, huge helping of malts in heresome chocolate but not at the forefront, molasses, some leafy hop, a little anise. Taste is fairly roasted, some anise, while cold there was a bit of lactic sour edge, some cocoa powder with a burnt malt finish. Light cask like feel, light body, light carbonation. Honestly this didn't do it for me, I understand that this is supposed to be a traditional early 1800's style brew but I don't think I gained any appreciation for 19th century brewing coming out of this all it did was make me appreciate how far we have come since then.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle from the LCBO for 4$

Appearance - Reddish-brown colour with an average size fizzy beige head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for a few minutes.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, light hops

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and just a hint of roasted nuts. There is also a light amount of hops and some caramel. It ends with a somewhat sweet malty aftertaste with a touch of lingering hop bitterness.

Overall - A decent flavour and very drinkable; but not very exciting or different. I wouldn't pick this one up again with so many other good beers to chose from.

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Black Creek Rifleman's Ration from Black Creek Historic Brewery
3.74 out of 5 based on 50 ratings.
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