Black Creek Dray Horse Ale | Black Creek Historic Brewery

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Black Creek Dray Horse AleBlack Creek Dray Horse Ale

Brewed by:
Black Creek Historic Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Sammy on 10-21-2012

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Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 30
Photo of jaz58
4.2/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tall glass

Ruby, coffee colour

Thin head

Subtle nose with warm Carmel

Typical IPA taste, lemon, grapefruit and soft toffee finished with a generous bitter.

Round mouthfeel.

A nice winter brew. Special brew to commentate the anniversary of 1812.

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Photo of HATS4BATS
3.82/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Throwback; interesting combination of thin body with burst of after-taste. Dark brown. Huge deep-sugared barley nose partnered with medium carbonation. Drinkable, watery and light evolving into an unmistakable and distinctive earthy malt mouthful that doesn't impose; traces of carmel. Combination of marketing and product result in an enriching session ale.

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Photo of liamt07
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a tulip. Best before April 2013.

Burgundy, with a very mild offwhite head produced even with a hard pour. Some bubbles and a thin film retain. Nose has roast and a hint of smoke up front, some coffee notes and some toasty nutty notes. Fairly nice, and simple. Taste has more roast, light nuttiness, a bit of chocolate and some darker breads. Lighter end of medium mouthfeel, low carbonation - I could see this being absolutely crushable on cask. I quite enjoyed this glass.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a light, ruby-highlighted, auburn-brown coloring with a thin, sparse coating of off-white head. Aromas of chocolate and nut sweetness, with an overall amaretto characteristic. Flavors are bitter and roasted on the forward tongue, with a rich, roasty, syrupy/sugary sweet blast of caramel, nut, and chocolate. This brew will poke your sweet tooth with an ice pick. Thin, smooth bodied in mouth, with a roasted overtone into the aftertaste. Cloying and sugary sweet blast through the aftertaste, as well, with a slick, light finish that has a slightly cloying linger. This thing is like liquid candy. I guess it might keep people warm in the olden days of Canadian history.

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Photo of biegaman
3.67/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This dull-ish looking brown ale turns a sleek, lustrous, clean-tone of mahogany when held to the light. Handsome. As part of the 'historic' beer series, I wasn't expecting any head - indeed, there is none. I've no issue with flat beer but, as far as looks go, it could use a few bubbles to spruce things up a bit.

The aroma exudes strong mocha notes and hints of milk chocolate covered nuts. While it's obviously roasted barley at play, the bouquet doesn't possess any kind of grainy element (roasted or otherwise). Instead, the impression is that of tiramisu with blackberries or a spongy coffee cake drizzled in dark caramel.

Unfortunately, the flavour is nowhere near that rich. We can all but do away with any lavish items off the desert menu (save maybe the coffee cake) and instead feast (or not) on an over-roasted loaf of rye bread and a dollop of plum preserve. It is not exactly rich or opulent in the mouth, but it is substantial enough to satisfy.

The beer has a firm frame with traces of mocha, nut and toffee layered throughout. An earthy, tobacco-like bitterness concludes matters with a tight back-end grip that suffocates much of the pleasant chocolaty notes. The bitterness fades instantly after the swallow, however, leaving the aftertaste more or less blank.

Dray Horse Ale - named after a work animal - simply get's the job done. It is hearty yet quenching, delivering just enough roasted, nutty malt flavour to satisfy. Like all Black Creek offerings it is entirely serviceable to all levels of beer drinkers, though mainstream drinkers are likely to enjoy it best.

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Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A sasaparilla and malty beer. Chocolate brown coloured body, little head. Pleasant good drinkability, toffee, chocolate malts, nothing off nothing offensive. One can do worse.Carbonation is suitable. Better than any yellow fizzy stuff.A transition beer.

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Photo of korguy123
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A continuation of the "Historic Beers of Canada"
The 1812 release was very good, I actually went back and stocked up after. Hopefully this one continues to be a success.

A- Almost completely opaque dark brown pour. There is a super frothy light tan head standing 3+ fingers high. It slowly deflates leaving lots of sticky lacing on the glass.

S- Light coffee, light biscuits, there is a little metallic aroma followed by a touch of homemade peanut butter. There is a bit of oats in the back.

T- Light coffee, peanuts, a touch of grass, some caramel.

M- Light body, low carbonation.

It's very plain and straight forward and that's nice for a change.

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Photo of peensteen
3.55/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut brown colour, light ring of white head, light lace spots as well. Smell is roasted with bits of chocolate, bits of coffee, caramel, toffee and sugestions of hop. Taste follows the nose with roast and bittersweet chocolate, nutty toffee and caramel, mild hop bitterness as well. Light-medium carbonation, light-medium feel almost cask like and quite pleasant. Overall this is a serviceable brown ale, though not something interesting enough to have me coming back for.

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Photo of TerryW
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Walnut coloured, next to no head, just a ring and partial film. Does give a little spotty lace, though.

A very simple beer. All earthy malts and treacle. Slightly watery mouth feel, little in the way of carbonation. A little dry up front. Easy to drink. Interesting just because it is so basic.

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Photo of mick303
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chestnut brown colour with some whispy film and lacing. Initially a smallish bubbley head. 3.25

S – a pretty rich dark stewed sweetness. Cherries, and a sizeable malt character, some light chocolate. Some dark fruit esters in amongst the dominant maltiness. Nuttiness comes, some clove, vanilla. 3.75

T – a nutty maltiness, with some bitterness that is earthy and mildly peppery/spicy. Full caramel maltiness, light toffee, maybe vanilla also, some dry earthy hops. A flavourful, and fairly tasty brew, it doesn’t really intrigue but as a malt-forward beer, it does combine some good and interesting flavours, aftertaste is not great. 3.5

M – light bodied, with an upfront crisp dryness, mildly metallic, carbonation is moderate/high, with a long drying astringent aftertaste, slightly leathery. Needs to be quenched with another sip. 3

Could be better, but as it is it’s a pretty satisfying light session ale. I wouldn’t call it amazingly rich and complex but it gets the job done flavourwise and the (harsh) dryness on the finish makes another sip a necessity. 3.5

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.49/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before April 2013. Glad to see another entry in this series from Black Creek - this brewery knows how to make a quality dark session ale, so whether it's an English brown or this American one, I don't think I need to worry about this being anything less than good.

Pours an opaque, brown chestnut colour, with some reddish tinges under the light. Topped with one finger of dense, off-white, creamy head that wilts away over the next few minutes, leaving a scant cap and narrow collar behind. The aroma is mostly roasted malts, with milk chocolate and coffee being most dominant, and some nutty, vaguely fruity undertones.

Not as rich as it smells, but still tasty enough to keep me content. Toasted bread, hazelnut and a touch of toffee come through, but the coffee and chocolate detectable on the nose are quite subdued here. Finishes with some mild, leafy, almost herbal bitterness accompanied by some dark fruit notes. Lingers for a while in the aftertaste, but not a particularly dry affair; rather there is just enough sweetness from the malts to counter the dryness of the roast and hops. On the thinner side of medium-bodied, with the mild carbonation giving it a smooth mouthfeel. Drinkability is this one's main attraction.

I won't lie, I don't feel that Black Creek's Dray Horse is an especially impressive brown ale, and I don't like it quite as much as the last entry in this 'Historic Beers' series - but there is nothing particularly bad about it. In all fairness, it's still a good beer in a straightforward, utilitarian way - drinking multiple bottles would be easy in theory, but serviceable brown ales are not that hard to find at lower price points, so I can't enthusiastically recommend this one.

[Updated Dec. 19 2013]

Another bottle, this time contained within their 'Historic Beers' sampler pack. It is fairly sweet, with a mild hoppy bitterness in the finish to counter that, and some acidic notes in between to keep things interesting. This isn't one of my favourite Black Creek brews - I'd stick with their Rifleman's Ration, or their flagship stout for that matter over this one, which is a fairly forgettable dark ale.

Final Grade: 3.49, a B-.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.47/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown with a slight reddish tinge, low to medium visible carbonation, filtered and no head.

S: Typical brown ale. Dark malts, cocoa, chocolate milk, molassis.

T: Typical brown ale profile, following the nose. Dark malts, cocoa, molassis. Good, refreshing, not overwhelmingly impressive, just a good take on a brown ale. A slight fruity undertone, and crisp bitter at the end that’s not potent, nor does it linger.

M: Medium light body. Low to medium carbonation

O: Love the historic spin on the horses that helped build Canada’s great canals, establising her economic and political history in the 1800’s. I studied this at the University of Guelph and its nice to have a beer that reflects on that part of our history. The beer itself is an okay brown ale, but the history is what boosts this beer in my mind. The label is great too. Would go well with old Canadian fare, old English fare, bbq, and chocolate.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.42/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is the first Black Creek beer in which I've been disappointed. Picked the bottle up at the LCBO today and it is quite flat - no head whatsoever. Scant bubbles across the slightly hazy, dark chocolate with ruby highlights pour.

A nutty aroma of roasted brown malts with a strong tea undertone. The flavour is well balanced yet unremarkable, suiting an English mild or British brown style. Roasted and caramelized malts including nut, toffee and chocolate tones, with some ending bitterness and a nicely dry finish.

Love the idea of a beer brewed solely with Ontario grown ingredients and have enjoyed most of Black Creek's earlier efforts. Would try this again next year, but won't be buying any further bottles from this batch.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.41/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

The second offering in their series, glad to see it make it to the shelves in Northern Ontario.

A - Pours a nice dark brown colour, thin layer of head after an agressive pour with no retention or lacing.

S - Light caramel, hints of milk chocolate and espresso, and a butter caramel finish.

T - Decent flavour profile with the espresso taking the lead, followed by the milk chocolate and butter caramels. A leafy green hop note lingers alongside some fresh coffee grinds.

M - Watery and too thin for my liking, definitely in need of a carbonation boost.

O - A tasty brown ale that, although a bit weak on the presentation and mouthfeel, still offered up a decent flavour profile and pleasant aroma. Glad I picked up a bottle, though I think this would be better on tap.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.39/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

The final bottle of Black Creek Historical Series 4 pack,

Served cool into glassware.

Appearance - Dark brown, semi transparent in color and clarity. Auburn hues. Minuscule half finger of head that is poured but dissipates in nothingness leaving only a faint white wisp of what used to be the head. Beer is dark enough that carbonation isn't visible.

Smell - Malted barley is the first things that grabs your attention, maybe a touch of treacle and some other rough grains, slightly earthy as well.

Taste - Alot like the nose with the course grains shining through. Mild hop bitterness turns into a roasty nut quality that is pretty good. Pretty straightforward and simple and reasonable well executed.

Mouthfeel - A grainy slightly coarse mouthfeel, with lower than average carbonation and a thin , lighter than average body. An unusual pairing, the coarseness of mouthfeel how it seems as if little bits of grain stick to the roof of your mouth and yet the body is light, but somehow it works. Dry finish.

Overall - Definitely not a bad beer, by any stretch of the imagination, but isn't overwhelming either. Pretty non-descript, but wouldn't turn down another.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.39/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Left the yeast in the bottle. No head to speak of and a clearish ruby liquid.

S - Nose is a a lightly toasted graininess. Barley tea comes to mind.

T - Faint fruit and a coarse roastiness. Some coffee and mind hops. Lightly bitter and a quick clean finish.

M - A little on the watery side and very faint carbonation.

D - An OK drinker. At first I thought this one had gone off due to the lack of foam, but I think it's meant to be like this. Flavours are decent and lend themselves to drinkabililty, as does the light mouthfeel. A good deal more chuggable than your average macro, if you're into that sort of thing...

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Photo of TheHammer
3.34/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Very dark brown, body with a decent amount of carbonation in the body but a complete lack of head. The body is a dark brown that is nearly completely opaque.

Smell: A nutty macadamia nut smell dominates the nose with a hint of coffee and cocoa backing it. It's decently potent, and warming doesn't really help it either way.

Taste: Robust mild molassess malt to start that turns to a more roasted character as it progress as nutty or cocoa notes come forward before a light hop dust rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: This beer went flat awfully quick, and the complete lack of head doesn't do it any favours. The transitioning however is very smooth and well done, it's very plain, to the point simple. However I guess it's supposed to be a throwback to the times so perhaps low carbonation wasn't unheard of back then.

Drinkability: No problems getting it down, and it's the lighter end of medium bodied. It walks a very fine line though between a nut brown and a more roaster porter, but it does it well.

Final Thoughts: All in all, the carbonation needs work. It strikes me that they were trying to go for more of the porter/stout creaminess in this brown, which I think works well, it just isn't prevalent enough for my liking. It's worth a try.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.19/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

500ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $4.75

Appearance - Brown colour with a small size off-white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some faint lacing. The head lasted for around 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel, chocolate

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel, and hops. There is also a chocolate sweetness and a bit of a tobacco/burnt type of flavour.

Overall - Mouthfeel is pretty watery and the beer is quite boring. The taste is fine, but for the price point there are much better options. Not a repeat purchase.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a clear medium brown color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and minimal lacing. Aroma consists of dry caramel malt with light grainy notes. Taste is also dominated by some dry caramel malt with some notes of grainy cereal. Body is about average with good carbonation. Run of the mill brown ale with dry cereal notes.

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Black Creek Dray Horse Ale from Black Creek Historic Brewery
3.47 out of 5 based on 30 ratings.
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