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Butchertown Black Ale | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

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very good
66 Reviews
Butchertown Black AleButchertown Black Ale

Brewed by:
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Butchertown Black Ale celebrates the long forgotten neighborhood of San Francisco, Butchertown, where our brewery stands today. The nearby creek was once the home to over 16 slaughterhouses and was a thriving neighborhood till shipbuilding took over the waterfront in the 1930s run up to WWII.

This beer is a play on the senses: black as night, but with a deceivingly light body and a bold dry-hopping regiment more akin to an IPA. Butchertown pours black/brown with a thick, lasting toasted marshmallow head. It has aromas of pine, orange, tangerine, pink grapefruit, & light coffee. Flavors of grapefruit, pine, currants, and red wine come through before overturning to a malt depth intricacy of dark toasted bread, pumpernickel, subtle notes of dark fruits and hints of dark chocolate, tobacco and leather.

Added by capra12 on 09-04-2009

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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 195
Photo of Totalpackage411
5/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite brewery right now, glad I finally got to try this one. This is a very smooth beer with a nice hoppy after taste. One of the better beers from Speakeasy but I still have not had one I don't like from here. This is a limited release so if you see this one you better take advantage. Chill it on ice before opening and enjoy a nice refreshing cold craft brew.

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Photo of austincsuf
4.7/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into cold pint glass...

A- real dark appearance, looks like a pepsi, it is a black ale so kind of expected...2 fingers of head which is dark colored as well

S- definitely some roasted notes, also picking up some fruit/citrus possibly

T- geez thats some tasty craft brew...super refreshing and a great light roasted aftertaste definitely worth TRYING

M - light carbonation, full body flavor

O-really one of my favorites, this beer has it all, dark bodied appearance w/ full flavor that leaves a pleasant aftertaste, and at the same time really easy to drink, could slam 3-4 of these real quick and at 8% that's a good thing..

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Photo of BrewMaven
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'm fairly new to this style, but if this beer is a representative example, I'm hooked! Great head, smells and tastes like MORE and only $6 for a bomber? Sign me up!

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Photo of CHickman
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours very dark brown that borders on black, with the brown color only showing around the edges when the light hits it. The tan head was 2 fingers, very thick and foamy, leaving excellent foam lacing coating the sides and rings as it went down; an outstanding looking beer.

Smells of sweet malt, coffee, caramel, toffee, roasted grains, bakers chocolate, grapefruit, floral hops, herbs and cocoa powder; the sweet chocolate notes stand out the most and the ending citrus and floral hop aroma mix well with the malts and roasted grains, which smell like charcoal or burnt wood. A great smelling nose that is very complex and full of everything that makes beer enjoyable.

Tastes like it smells, but more rich and full of flavor, with sweet malt, coffee, caramel, toffee, cocoa powder, roasted grains, bakers chocolate, grapefruit, citrus hops, lemon zest, floral hops, flowers, herbs, pine cone/piney hops, brown sugar and spruce tips or some other spice like tea leaf or pepper; the sweet chocolate notes start things off, followed by herbs and floral hops and then some more sweetness like caramel, vanilla or a Frappuccino. The hops let this brew end bitter and still sweet, completely hiding the ABV.

Mouthfeel is creamy and very smooth, with a medium chewy body, mild carbonation and a nice sweet bitter finish.

This is what a craft beer is all about: the total beer experience that smells good, looks good and tastes great. Factor in that the price ($8 for a 25 oz bottle) was reasonable and I will seek out the beer again and suggest everyone tries it.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown, nearing black. Creamy off-white head.

S: Lots of resinous piney hops and some roasted malts in the background.

T: Pine galore. The pine aroma leads into a quite strong bitterness with not much else making its way out. A good representation of a growing style.

M: Medium bodied and well-carbonated. Somewhat dry.

D: Quite drinkable--had no idea the abv was so high until I looked this one up on BA this morning.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown-black color with a finger of frothy khaki colored head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted chocolate malts with some pine hops and a bit of citrus, and some coffee and bready smells.

T - Starts off with a mix of roasted chocolate malts and grapefruit and citrus hops with a bit of bitterness. Through the middle, some pine hops and a bit more bitterness comes through with some coffee and a bit of bready malts. The finish is a mix of chocolate malts, pine hops, citrus zest, and some roasted coffee.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and bready finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nicely balanced Black IPA with good malty flavors and just enough hops.

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Photo of dudecandle
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into chalice:

A: Black body, large, thick head.

S: Cinnamon, a nice piney hop, some blueberry, vanilla and coffee.

T: A few layers of hops, piney like the smell, but some herbal and possibly citrus as well on the finish. Big on the coffee and vanilla in the middle, sandwiched between the hops. Mouth is left with some good blueberry-coffee taste.

M: Reasonable, moderate black ale body.

O: So many layers to the flavor bring this up, even though it doesn't quite pop at any one point. Solid, creative and different black IPA.

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Photo of colforbin73
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is sort of an inbetween beer, having the high imperial-ish ABV but the style is sort of nebulous, not a stout, not a porter, not quite a black ipa. i like it though -- not mind blowing but very satisfying.

pours a dark brown/black with a small tan head -- the head peters out quick and you get sort of a chocolate milk type residue on the glass. there's a good amount of hops in the nose with only minimal malt presence.

the hops hit first in the taste, but it is not an overly bitter beer -- strangely it is sort of like the hop bitterness is where you would expect the roasted malt. i am thinking this beer used black patent and a touch of chocolate malts and left the big roasty/crystal malts out.

gets better as it warms a touch. this may be the best "black ipa" i have had yet.

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Photo of plaid75
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep black hue with a one and a half finger frothy off white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a serious dry hopped citrus.

The taste was a full citric hop experience.

The mouthfeel was light considering the ABV.

Overall a nice hop driven hefty IPA.

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Photo of HamdenHector
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: dark brown with mahogany at the edges; 2+ finger head the receded slowly to a thin cap; nice lacing;

S: piney hops with roasted malts in the background;

T: roasted malts throughout; bitterness comes in mid-palate and fades in the finish; hides the alcohol well;

M: creamy; medium to full bodied; moderate carbonation;

O: really enjoyable; one of the best black ales/black IPAs I've had;

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew was served from the tap at Rattle N’ Hum in New York, NY. It arrived in a stemless pilsner glass showing a pitch black coloring. It held a two finger head of latte colored foam, showing nice retention. Lacing was spidery and patterned, with a ghostly film to finally top the liquid. No haze or sediment was noted, and carbonation appeared average. The aroma was bright with raw black licorice, big phenolic plastic bitterness, deeply charred malts of coffee and caramel, fusel booze, sweet floral hops, light lavender, and vanilla coolness. Our first impression was that there was a nice depth to the malts, but not so as to overwhelm the hoppiness. As we sipped, soft char of caramel and coffee came into focus, with the musk of a big basement, and a light balance of hop bitterness. The middle peaked with herbal hops to wash, but these are quickly enveloped by chemical phenols and malts, adding thorough bitterness throughout. The finish was lighter, with citric hop bitterness to mix against the continued blackness of malts, and warming booze and musk. The aftertaste breathed of smoke and sour char, bittering plastic phenols, and bitterness of coffee malts. The body was full, and the carbonation was light to medium. The mouth was coated with a nice syrupy film, with stickiness to the lips, and a light metallic dryness and sheen down the palate and tongue. Each sip gave good slurp, sip, and soft cream, with lighter froth. The abv was appropriate, and the beer drank easily.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the aroma and the feel. The former was sweet with char, inviting musk, and creaminess. The hops did start strong, but did tend to get lost in the bitterness of char and phenols with excessive warmth. Regardless, the flavoring was nice, and very warming for a chilly day in the city.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.11/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood - served in a goblet.

Dark dark auburn body with faint crimson highlights. Puffy desert sand stand of foam leaves behind pasty lacing; good retention.

Light roast barley, weak coffee, and herbal hops in the nose.

Rich malt, toasty and dark with a woody note. Herbaceous citrus-kissed hops add lots of flavor and a moderate bitterness. Dry hopping works so well for this style. Finishes dry and toasty with hints of black bread, pine, and earth.

Medium-light bodied, well carbonated with mild astringency and a nice alcohol kick.

A very satisfying example of the style and a fitting re-incarnation of their anniversary ale (which was an "Indian Black Ale" last year as well).

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Photo of elNopalero
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tried this from the bottle and thought there were enough differences as to make it worth revisiting.
Appearance-wise this has a creamy foam head atop a thick black ale, with a lightly perceptible roast aroma and a pinch of hops. The real difference comes across in the taste and body. For starters I feel like it pours out maltier, thicker, and richer from the bottle, although it’s lacking as strong a hop presence as you might find on tap. The roast profile is rounded with some blunted edges to it. Still enjoyable, don’t get me wrong.

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Photo of Jason
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

Towering head drops a near perfect lacing on the glass, black nearly all the way. Pungent hops, piney, minty, faint tobacco, dark berries, burnt toast, resiny, slightly dank and floral alcohol in the nose. Smooth, deep creaminess, semi-thick body. Very pungent hoppiness, bitterness is less assertive in comparison but still tackles the palate. Growing warmth, mildly boozy, grapefruit rind, hemp seeds, peppery, floral, roasted bite, currants. Semi-dry hoppy finish.

There is a whole lot going on here, a lovely mashup of flavors which in the end all seem to work together. When I think of bigger American Black Ales this is what I am looking for ... Speakeasy should re-think the limited release on this one.

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Photo of Kendo
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bomber into a pint glass. Body is black with mahogany edges when backlit. Pretty big (2-finger) light-tan, foamy head on top. Some thick rings of lace left behind.

S: Nice - what I like in an American Black Ale: chocolate malt, roasted barley and a touch of piney hops.

T: Given the nose, I'm a little bit disappointed by the taste, though the first impression is more a knock on the mouthfeel - which seems a bit thin - than the taste. As for taste, I get roasted barley, roasted coffee beans and then piney hop bitterness. At times that roastiness becomes char or charcoal-like. I was hoping for some chocolate malt, but all-in-all, even without it, this is solid. Very porter-like with all that roastiness - if it wasn't for the hop bitterness at the finish. Aftertaste is a battle between roasty flavors and the hop bitterness. Alcohol warmth felt in the belly, but otherwise not noted on the palate or in the taste.

M: As noted above, it's a little thin in feel, and at first I thought the carbonation was too sharp. That seemed to improve, however (or I just got used to it).

O: Pretty good. Have had mixed experiences with Speakeasy beers, but I'd say this one's a winner.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.04/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a Speakeasy Ales and Lagers glass

A: Pours deep brown with a ruby hue and a creamy mocha brown head that settles and laces very well.

S: Roasted malt, some coffee, light chocolate, and a touch of pine.

T: Pine bitterness up front, followed with roasted malt, sweet chocolate, faint coffee, a bit earthy, with some light citrus on the finish.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, creamy smooth.

O: Very tasty brew.

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Photo of hoping4hopps
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Went to a local corner market to get a lagunitas cappuccino stout but ironically this beer was placed in front of the beer I had my sights set on. After a brief contimplation I purchased this 22 oz bomber and proceeded to open it. It was as the label said a black ale. Toasted and roasted the malt bill was present but lightly. Followed by a palate full of hop flavor. I over all like this beer and glad that after reading the "limited series" label I'm happy I was able to try something different.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a present from my wife. I finally got around to trying it today.

Appearance- black color, nice looking thin head that dissipated pretty quickly

Smell- bready malt, chocolate, coffee

Taste- starts out a little bit sweet, coffee flavor, gets a little bitter towards the finish but not much, mellow flavor as well

Mouthfeel- medium bodied

Drinkability- I thought this was really good. I will probably be buying some more. I enjoyed it very much.

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Photo of Klym
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a surly pint glass.

I'm usually very skeptical of speakeasy and have been burned more than once by them but decided to give this a try.

To my surprise, I found this to be a really sessionable black ale. There's a fantastic hop blast in the nose, which mostly comes through in the taste with bakers chocolate and toasted crust. The tastes really come together nicely and it made for a very enjoyable drink. Cheers to a good brew from speakeasy!

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Photo of Nickls
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A - Deep mahogany brown nearing on black in hue; good lightly tan head with decent retention

S - Grassy and piney hop aromas; not much noticeable; hint of chocolate malt perhaps; but nice strong West Coast IPA aromas

T - Burst of juicy hoppiness including pine notes and darker fruitiness; solid malt balance though a little sweet; touch of chocolate as well

M - Medium to thinner; carbonation is a little prickly at the end

D - Nice sipping brew; the chocolate and dark fruits slow this down for me a bit, but still nice

Overall, an interesting brew in the juxtaposition, though Black IPAs are starting to be a more common trend.

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Photo of tempest
3.99/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had a glass at Oliver's in Astoria. My big complaint with black ale is that they're usually just hoppy porters—thick and roasted with vague hops buried under the malts. No so here. In fact, I'd call this my favorite Speakeasy beer. There are a clean, clear dark chocolate and roasted grain flavor next to, and complementing, the big citrus hop character. The body is no thicker than a pale ale, making this a little dangerous, but very tasting and pleasing. Give it a shot.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 ounces are in my hand, thanks to my co-worker Tina! Let's go on to the beer:

The head forms two finger's thick on top above a body that is obsidian colored. As the beer's level drops, creamy and spotty lace sticks around the glass. The straightforward aroma of sharp bittering hops make their mark from the start. Subtle notes of cocoa and vague fruits offer a second dimension to this hoppy dark ale.

Sticking to the theme of the India Black Ale, Butchertown is strong, roasty, and bitter. The hops bring a side of grapefruit and strong piney and bittering flavors. A little dark cocoa and roasted malt brings this beer together. Despite its listed 8% ABV, I can't find the alcohol. The beer is nearly full bodied with a smooth body and a lingering mix of biiterness and chocolate in the aftertaste.

Don't mess with Butchertown. This is not only flavorful, but strong enough to knock you down. Aficionados of the style should seek this out.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a really nice black ale, I wish there were more of these around. my second beer from speakeasy in as many days, both impressive in some fashion. this one pours inky black with a brown tinted soapy white head. looks like a bubble bath on top, almost 3 inches tall and sticking tightly to the edge of my English bubble pint. the nose is dark barley, char, bitter chocolate, and hops. west coast in nature, the hops here are dank and oily, pungent, and offer a fruity element to contrast with the really dark roast on the malts. bitter hints of coffee on the finish of this one, and a round almost oatmeal body on it gives it a silky smooth feel. its a bigger beer, maybe unnecessarily strong in alcohol content, not that you can taste it, but just that I want to drink more of this stuff than my limits will let me before being wasted. a bomber is plenty, but if this were closer to 6%, a sixer would not be too much. overall a nice brew, expertly crafted, and perfect for the fall season. I will continue to explore the speakeasy lineup new to Colorado.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Note: Midnight Run was brewed to celebrate Speakeasy's 13th anniversary.

Sampled this at the Speakeasy Brewery last night. Only $3.00 a pint! Following review written from notes.

Served in a clear, plastic pint.

Appearance: A short, sticky, dense, khaki-colored, bulls-eye-shaped crown sat atop a nearly opaque black body (brown shone through at the outermost edges). Tons of sticky lace. Nice!

Smell: Oily herbal hops, roasted malt, toffee, and white chocolate. Midinight Run had a much smoother and sweeter smell than all of the other IBAs I'd had. I really liked the change-up.

Taste: Caramel and white chocolate led things off; earth and pine melded with a touch of alcohol in the finish. Good sweet-to-bitter transition. While enjoyable, this wasn't as special as the smell; it was a little more run-of-the-mill.

Mouthfeel: Prickly, bitter, and dry. Alcohol was detectable, but not too strong. Medium-bodied. Moderately carbonated. A tad harsh.

Drinkability: If the guys at Speakeasy could get the taste and mouthfeel to line up better with the smell, this beer would be a knock-out. Still pretty good as it stands.

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Photo of capra12
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed @ Rattle n Hum on 9/1/09,

Appearance: Deep Mohagundy with light cream colored head.

Smell: Piney and grapefruit hops.

Taste: Opens grainy, in the middle piney and bittering hops come through the graininess and just before the finish a hint of malts and alcohol come in leaving a bitter and hoppy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied and slightly coarse.

Drinkability: Definitely worth a try and I would definitely have another.

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Butchertown Black Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
3.8 out of 5 based on 195 ratings.
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