Butchertown Black Ale | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

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 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 Sammy
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Cannery. Its the way they make the style, a very good aroma of hops and roast .Black with a big head and lots of lace. The taste does not deliver, its muted,herbal but it is a smooth mouthfeel. Chocolate malt. Not the bold taste I have come to expect in the style.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 BlurryVisi0n
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Almost opaque black (in reality super dark brown), not too bubbly. Head came off thick originally almost two fingers length settling to a 1/3" after a sip.

Smell: Malts but comes off light.

Taste: Very rich malty ale. Taste is very sticky and the feeling of barley and caramel. You know what floral as well....this might not be called a black IPA but it might as well be.

Mouth: Medium carbonation, absolutely no complaints...just smooth.

Overall: You see it in the cooler buy it, you definitely won't be disappointed. This beer is a true black IPA without the advertisement. Salud.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 jdense
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle from The Beer Mongers PDX, poured into Ovila chalice 12.9.11.

One finger light tan head, medium-fast dissipation, bubbles clinging to sides of glass surrounding very dark brown opaque body. Nose is citrus, minimal roast, mild resin with some floral aromas. Taste mirrors nose, grapefruit, mild resin on backend, got increasingly bitter and sweetish as the beer warmed. Mouthfeel is medium, a bit light on effervescence, ABV well hidden. A nice change of pace for ABA, fairly light mouthfeel and minimal roast makes this fairly drinkable, though with this exploding style they'll need to ramp up the hops a bit to keep up with the CDA arms race.

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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 argock
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a Shaker pint glass at Mellow Mushroom (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with chestnut brown edges and short cap of off-white head with nice shades of lace.

S: Light nutty roasted aroma with modest citrus note

T: The flavor has much more teeth than the aroma with a dark but not black maltiness with no acrid elements, light caramel, and a citrusy hoppy note in the finish.

M: Relatively low carbonation with moderately dry finish and minimal aftertaste.

O: A solid black ale that could use a little more roast and citrus hopping but overall quite good and enjoyable.

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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 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 peacebone116
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Listed at 8.2%ABV, I poured this ale from the bomber into a Delirium sinfter on 11.7.11.

A: Midnight black liquid fills my glass topped with a significant off-white head. The head recedes eventually, leaving wisps and delicate lace at the leg and clinging to the sides as high-water marks.

N: A not-overpowering aroma of roasted grains (a smack of coffee and chocolate) rises from the glass. As it warms, there is a slight detection of citric pine from the hops, but this is very and only becomes more distinguishable after tasting and as the beer warms.

T/M: Roasted coffee/bitter chocolate and grains dominates the palate of this big black ale. Not overly complex, but definitely delightful and tasty, there is a nice citric piney note on the back. The beer is full bodied, but not heavy, with a medium mouthfeel. It has a bit of an oily texture, presumably from the hop oils.

This beer is more stout-like than I expected, but I really appreciate the hop presence. It makes for a delightful sipper on crisp Bay Area evenings in the fall.

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