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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 Arbitrator
2.6/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass.

A: Pours a clear maroon body that appears opaque in the center of a large pour. The head is a limp formation of beige bubbles that falls quickly into a mild collar. Some streaks of lace are left in the head's retreat, but there are no curtains or register marks during the drink.

S: A modest aroma of roasted grains and possibly some nuts and cocoa. No hops on the nose. When I first opened the bottle, there was a strong burst of citrus hops, but they're considerably weaker in the nose. I detect some pine needles.

T: Roasted grain with baker's chocolate: the two contribute a light bitterness that segues easily into pine needles, hemp, and some grapefruit. It's not a bad flavor profile, though it lacks the boldness and punch of some of my favorites in this style.

M: Light-medium bodied, watery finish, with a metallic aftertaste.

O: This is a fairly easy drinker. I was expecting a lot worse. Still wouldn't buy it again when I could pick from SSR, Stone 15th, and some others on the shelves right now.

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Photo of lsummers
2.79/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance looks great, a nice almost opaque brown/black with some great lacing.

I feel like it goes downhill from there, it has a caramel berry smell to it that comes out even more in the taste. I can't say I enjoyed the taste that much even if the hoppiness in the backend was nice. It just felt like there wasn't much body. It's not a bad beer, but I was expecting more. It definitly hides it's abv for sure.

Overall, I don't know if I'll ever have this again. It might be my fault I don't like any blueberry flavors that come through in my beer. But I'm overall unimpressed.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.82/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served on-draught into a plastic cup at Speakeasy's decrepit warehouse - I mean - brewpub. Reviewed from notes.

Presentation: I couldn't be turned off to a beer more. When a brewer sees no issue with serving beer into plastic cups, there's a big problem.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger head of nice cream, fair thickness, and decent retention. Colour is black.

Sm: Hops - that's it. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Hoppy, but with an unnaturally strong malt and barley foundation. It's very simple to the point that there's little to describe. I won't pretend to know what hop variety is used merely by the taste. Simple but decently built. Largely imbalanced. Fortunately, no alcohol comes through.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Standard fare. A touch too thick. Meh.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. I won't have it again. Maybe fans of the style would appreciate it more. It does hide its ABV well, but there's nothing unique or inspired going on here.

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Photo of mactrail
3.05/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours quite a dark, near black color in the tall Stella glass. Handsome off-white foam. Winey nose with a hint of hops. Carbonation and foam last well.

Not very sweet, but plenty of malt flavors. Even fuller bodied than what you'd find in stouts. It's just a big strong ale that happens to be black. Some burnt flavors but the hops take over with a lot of herbal bitterness. Very bitter aftertaste that borders on the medicinal. Better than some of the Speakeasy brews. However, that dank flavor with the murky burnt taste keeps this from being much of a pleasure.

From the 22 oz bottle bought at Coit Liquor in San Francisco.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.22/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pour is black with red hues, creamy light brown head with some larger bubbles. Nose is milk chocolate, tobacco, butterscotch, and faint herbal hop. Thick and creamy with roasted malts, faint chocolate and vanilla with a fair amount of butterscotch. Tinge of herbal hop and bitterness, very creamy but flavors are surprisingly light. Assertive carbonation.

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Photo of lordofstarside
3.23/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber to snifter, no freshness date

Pours pitch black with a finger and a half of foam, good lacing and lots of carbonation on the sides. Pretty impressive retention also, looks good

Smells of hops, strong malt, chocolate, smoke, pine, and some alcohol. There's not much to this

Taste follows the nose, which unfortunately isn't the best. Strong up front malt melded with some hops, very distinct taste of tobacco, some smoke, and alcohol

Feel is full and creamy, pretty thick. Alcohol isn't very detectable

Overall I think this might have been sorta old, but this was not an enjoyable experience. Too much malt over powering everything, nothing came together well. I'm already pretty out of it, there's no way I'm going to be able to finish it. Steer clear of this beer

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nose is all piney citrus. Flavor is like cold black tea mixed with beer. Ick. Hopefully that is going to change over time. It doesn't seem to be. And if it stays that way, it makes this a pretty weak black ale. Can't really say that I suggest this one.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Final Gravity Taproom in Roseville, CA.

Appearance - Pours near black that shines a dark ruby brown when held to any light source. The head is light tan, about a finger thick and with fair retention. The lacing is spotty with decent stick.

Smell - Musty aroma, hitting on mostly faint notes of pine. Earthy. Not much else.

Taste - Hits on pine hop bitterness to start. Earthy notes. leaf. Grassy bitterness toward the finish.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium body. Soft, bubbly carbonation. Finishes fairly dry.

Overall - Decent brew. Not a great CDA. Flavors are a bit muddled. Not much in the way of dark roasted malt character. Kinda weak.

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Photo of 20ozmonkey
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got a bottle at Healthy Spirits today. Poured into a tulip.

Beer forms a surprisingly light tan head that forms quite strongly and is dissipating fast. The beer is clear, but is so dark brown that you almost can't see through it.

Smells fist and foremost of piney and citrusy hops. Can't smell much more than the hops.

The hop flavor is actually subdued compared to the smell. Or maybe it's just an overall subdued flavor? The hops are the foremost flavor with a sort of stale coffee finish with the bitterness of the hops lingering.

Light carbonation, plain mouthfeel. It leaves an odd feeling in the back of my throat.

I was quite excited about this as I'm always looking forward to a new Black Ale, but this beer is perhaps a bit too dull. I could very easily drink large quantities of this if I were looking for an easy drinking beer, but this doesn't seem much like a "special" beer.

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Photo of Zorro
3.41/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear dark brown colored ale with a small light brown colored head.

Smells strongly of English style hops. Mild smell of patent malt. Smells of coffee and smoke and a little toffee. Slight amount of leather smell.

Starts out mildly sweet with the tastes of coffee and toffee candy. Not strongly flavored at all this is very mellow for the style. Mild carrot taste. After a while this tastes mostly like highly hopped porter.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall an OK ale, but sort of boring.

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Photo of afrokaze
3.42/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a Perfect Pint. Hard to pass up on Speakeasy, and this might be their best label yet.

A - Deep red but not quite black ale, decent lacing.

S - Lots of piney hops and a little bit of citrus, roasted malt sweetness and alcohol is present but not out of place.

T - Piney and slightly mineral hops (Cascade) with nice roasted malt that has a touch of cocoa. A little citrus bitterness at the end but leaves the palate pretty cleanly.

M - A little thinner than I would have liked, but in line with the ABV and slighlty slick on the palate, carbonation is average.

O - Another solid one from Speakeasy. A bit more work and this could be a great year-round that I'd grab often in a sixer.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I really enjoy both the concept behind Speakeasy's beers and the beers themselves. I am currently reading Akashic Books' "San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics" so this was perfect. A high school classmate and contemporary drinking buddy, Mike, came over last night and we laid waste to a bunch of bombers. Bombers are a real sticking point in my backlog as I do not like to drink them by myself. I could, but I like when others help me to do so. This one came from The Fridge and went into my fridge.

From the bottle: The cow's ear has a tag reading "94124", which is the brewery's zip code. Ha!; "Limited Series"; "This black ale beguiles you with its light body and soft maltiness - just before it unloads the hops and finishes clean. Butchertown commemorates the district of old San Francisco where the water ran red and the tide carries its secrets out to sea. It's where Speakeasy Ales & Lagers now stands today."; "Legit since 1997"; "Independently owned & operated".

The top was popped and glasses were made at the ready. The pseudo-cascade settled into a finger of deep-tan head with limited retention, quickly fading to wisps. Nose had a smoky sweetness, almost like maple syrup or maple-cured meat. Color was a deep-brown with ruby highlights (SRM = > 34, < 44) and NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium. Taste was slightly minty, but the prevailing flavor was its charcoal smokiness. Finish was dry, but I just found myself shaking my head at the (mis)use of hops in this style. I was happy enough to have drunk it, being from one of my favorite breweries, but I will not be returning to it.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.49/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Alucard4 for sharing

Look: Black with brown edges and a 1 inch head and good retention with some circular lacing

Smell: Piney hops with a chocolate background

Taste: Very similar to the nose. Upfront is a nice chocolate malt character that is backed up by the piney hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body and mildly carbonated

Overall: For the style its not bad at all would I drink it again yes. Would I buy it probably not

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Photo of flexabull
3.51/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black color with a nice off white head that receded with great lacing.

Aromas are mineral like, some chocolate, espresso, and bread dough.

Taste is mineral like, some tonic water, toasted malts, notes of coffee, and roasted nuts. Finish has a light creamy sweet quality, and mineral hop bitterenss.

Mouthfeel is light, decent crisp carbonation, but lacking body.

Overall, this is a decent, but flawed Black Ale. Not a bad beer, but not a beer I'm likely to repurchase. Pretty average...

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Photo of nitro0292
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber, no freshness date.

Pours an opaque shade, just shy of black. Light cream colored head stays around for quite a while than dissolves to a thin layer. Head has mixed sizes of bubbles reminiscent of a milk shake. Inviting. Clumps of lacing cling to the glass.

Smell is of pine hops, some citrus zest, coffee and bitter chocolate aromas. Hops aromas are the feature.

Taste is not as hoppy as the smell would lead you to believe, but still solid. Initial pineyness and bite, with the stout characteristics in the mid palate, finishing with a semi-sweet blend of chocolate, caramel and pine. Not very complex and nothing stands out, but there is nothing that makes this undesirable either.

Mouthfeel is a touch thin and carbonation is a touch light. Could benefit from some oat in the grist.

Overall this is not a bad BIPA/ABA. Very well balanced among the components for the style, stout-like qualities, IPA-like qualities. Not remarkable for what it has or for what it lacks. Give it a go if you (like me) are a fan of the style.

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Photo of greenmonstah
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle into snifter

A - Pours a dark brown, with a finger of tan head. Nice retention.

S - Hops and some chocolately malt. A bit sweet, a bit piney.

T - Bit of cocoa, caramel, bit of grassy hops. Some roasted malt. Overall not very complex, but fairly non-threatening. Decent beer.

M - Medium in body with average carbonation. goes down easy. One of the beer's strengths.

O - Overall an average beer in a style full of great examples. Not disappointing, per se, but perhaps not quite what I was looking for.

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Photo of hops202
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Stone Snifter.

Decent look - dark brown/super dark red even. Lots of persistent lacing covering the sides all the way down. Nose has some roasted malts along with pine - basically an IPA and Porter combination. Taste is fairly bitter even with the roastiness present. Tolerable. Certainly glad this wasn't very expensive.

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Photo of MexicanSkittel
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black with hints of brown when held up to a light. A vibrant off white head sat about 1/2 inch tall before falling to a thin layer.

Malty, chocolate, roasted barley, and bright hops dance in the glass. The sweeter notes over power the hops when you take a big whiff. maybe some brown sugar in there too.

I'm finding the sweeter flavors, with a slight pine aspect. Kind of lighter flavors from what the nose was leading too.

Mouthfeel ha a medium body, fairly decent consistency. I'm dissipointed with the carbonation, seems a little lower than my previous bottle. As I make it to the second half of the bomber it's damn near flat :-(

Overall this is my third go at this beer and maybe third time was really the charm but not in a good way. I'm hoping this was just a bad bottle. I will re visit again. If I can find it. No bottle date on the bottle.

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Photo of lionchow
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours clear dark brown to black with thin light tan head.

Aroma - roasty chocolately malt melds well with light piney, citrusy hops.

Flavor - Subdued, hoppiness in the aroma isn't totally carried into the flavor, very mild west coast citrus and pine flavors. Malt is well balanced against the mild hoppiness, with mellow roasted malt and dark chooclate. Well, balanced, but perhaps a bit too subdued for the style.

Mouthfeel - nice slight creaminess.

Overall a well balanced but slightly underwhelming beer.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beer Revolution

The beer is nearly black in color with a tan head. Herbal and piney hops with a bit of roasted malt and maybe a hint of licorice. A little bit of grapefruit peel and pineapple on the back end. The flavor is slightly sweet with only a moderate hop flavor to it. Some herbal and pine notes, but it's not super hoppy, though. Medium bodied with sort of low carbonation.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle, @8.2% ABV, with an ambiguously creepy American gangster backstory for this one's name depicted on the label text. How very Christmasy!

This beer pours a clear, dark brown colour, with prominent orange cola highlights, and three fat-ass fingers of puffy, rocky, and mildly bubbly beige head, which leaves some splotchy and chunky streaked lace around the glass as it very slowly sinks away.

It smells of musty roasted caramel malt, acrid coffee (the sort with stale cigarettes sitting in it), inexpensive bittersweet chocolate, untethered phenolic yeast, some muddled citrus and pome fruitiness, a further free-range campfire ashiness, and more leafy, weedy, and faintly piney hop bitters. The taste is gritty, rather grainy and toasted caramel malt, dusty dime-store chocolate wafers, a bit of edgy umami, generic coffee, and more hard to really get a gauge on leafy, piney, and herbal green hoppiness.

The bubbles are adequate in their supportive and tacitly engaging frothiness, the body a solid medium weight, and more or less smooth (ok, emphasis on the latter), with an oh so subtle airy creaminess arising from someone's latent Yuletide wishes. It finishes off-dry, the coffee and cocoa-flecked roasted malt still duly offset by the well lingering, if still indistinct leafy, piney, and dry citrusy bitterness.

For the style, this is generally all right, the juxtaposition between the two conflicting beer endpoints providing a so-called balance that lovers of such things use to justify its otherwise ill-conceived existence. So, bully for them, I'm done here, and so looking forward to that order of best of local breed Chinese food waiting for me upstairs. Happy Holidays, all!

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Photo of Mrappinin
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- inky black with a small amount of light around the edges, head is think off white and rocky, thins rather quickly sticking to the glass as you drink.
S- sweet vanilla and alcohol
T- chocolate, slight coffee , piney/spicy hops, and a boosy note at the end
M- viscous with medium carbonation make this a a very drinkable black ale

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First thing I have to say is that this is the coolest Speakeasy bottle I have seen thus far. Nice design and graphics.

8.2% ABV per the label.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a 1 inch puffy khaki head that settles to a thin cap. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark malt, chocolate syrup, and some citrus zest hops. Taste is of dark roasted malt and herbal hops. The chocolate and citrus zest aromas I was getting don't make an appearance in the taste. There is a mild bitterness on the palate each sip. This beer has a crisp level of carbonation but finishes smooth. Overall, this is a pretty good black ale but the smell is a bit misleading in terms of how it actually tastes.

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Photo of Tony49er
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Serving Type- From a bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance- Dark black, thick off white head, almost a silky black color

Smell- Pine, roasted malts, chocolate, spruce

Taste- Pine, roasted malts, chocolate, resin, coffee, a bit of an booze taste but goes down pretty smooth for an 8 plus ABV beer

Mouth-feel- Smooth silky taste, foamy head

Overall- An outstanding black ale one of my favorite black ales around and one of the best beers made by Speakeasy..If you have not tried this beer and you can get it...you MUST try it...its pretty great

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Photo of Zraly
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Heavily carbonated. Poured pitch black with a nice tan head. Lacing is very nice. Good looking beer.

Some roasted grain and smoke notes upfront. Resin and pine dominate. A bit of dirt and earth kick around. A bit of mint in the finish. Crisp and packs a bit of a punch in the flavor department. Finish is dry and the body is medium to medium-heavy. A bit rough around the edges but the feel and flavor are good.

Definitely west coast in style, I'd say this reminds me of something Rogue would make. I'd like to eat something sweet with this to counter some of deep resin flavors.

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