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 rstone57
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. torpedo into a pint glass

Color is charcoal black with finger's thick creamy head.

Smell is roasted malt.

Taste is a unique combo of roasted dark chocolate, malts and hops. Medium body was a mild carbonation.

Unique beer and one of my favorites that Speakeasy does.

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

A- pours coal black with a finger of light tan head. Decent head retention with some lacing.

S- soft aromas of roasted malt and dark chocolate with a note of char. Very woody hop aromas with a bitter orange citrus peel and some dank hemp qualities. Hop oils blend in as well.

T- initial burst of roasty malt and bakers chocolate hits the palate at first. Woody hop flavors soon take over with notes of hemp, pine and orange citrus peel. Finishes with a bitter bite and an astringent char.

MF- slightly oily slick mouthfeel with a light medium body and average unassuming carbonation.

D- decent drinkability.

Overall a good brew.

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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 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 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 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 hoppymcgee
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Picked up a 22oz. counter-pressure filled bomber of this at Bierkraft in Brooklyn, NY. Poured into a Narragansett pint glass.

A: Dark, but slightly translucent, brown with a beautiful "tight bubble" head that starts as a monster but then dwindles down.

S: There's not much going on here. I mean, I know I'm a little stuffy but I don't get anything in the nose here.

T: Now we're talkin'. Very well balanced - not too much hop or malt component. Slight chocolatey aspect too.

M: Good, but could have a little more body for 8.5% ABV.

D: The best feature of this beer. No problems here.

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Photo of afksports
3.86/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is from my iPhone, and I'm enjoying this one on tap in a snifter at Amity Hall during NYC Craft Beer Week. Shout outs to the bartenders!

The appearance of this one is great fun. Lotta foamy head, dark rich browns and blacks in the pour. Stupendous lacing (swore to myself I'd use another adjective with lacing at some point).

Enjoying the happy hour atmosphere, I'm not getting much from the aroma. Honestly it's hoppy but pretty plain, maybe a bit citric, but I'm not too impressed. Mouthfeel is good, but finishes a bit weaker than if expect for this abv and darkness. Drinkability is good though, due in large part to the taste. Speakeasy got that part right.

It's rich, sweet, malty, but balanced with hops that don't let anything overpower the other. It's like a porter except with Indian spices. The finish isn't clean, but this is still one I'd come back to.

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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 david18
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When I bought this beer I totally misread the IBA, just thinking it was another IPA from Speakeasy. It was odd when I got it and it was as dark as it was but Southern Tier does it with their Iniquity, so what the hell. This was a very good beer but I thought it could have been a little more hop forward than it was.

Very dark color, ok aroma, good flavor. This is one to get if you see it.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is dark with a khaki head. Very small head that left fast. Leaves a light lacing. The color is black with light brown edges, pretty interesting color once you taste and smell it.

The smell is super citrus and dry bitter hops. There is a bit of an earthy background with a bit of the ABV present as well.

The taste is very hop forward, as expected. It presents itself with some citrus and pine hops and the malts present something different. There is a very earthy taste that lingers in this, not roasted malts or chocolate, just earthy. It is not strong either, it is just a faint background taste that distracts from the hops a bit.

The mouthfeel is thick and a bit chewy. I like my IPA's oily and bitter, but I feel like the malts paired with the hops bring down some of the great characteristics these hops have.

Pretty drinkable, but I would of preferred a regular hoppy golden IPA. This is good for a dark IPA, but I preferred Port Brewings Black Lie IPA.


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

On tap at The Red in Santa Cruz. Pours a really dark ruby brown but not quite black. Not difficult to see through it with some backing light. Head is creamy and tan. Aroma is graham, bread crust, and a fat dose of piney hops. Flavor is similar but the emphasis is even more hop-focused. A touch of dark wheat bread crust gets steamrolled by big herbal resinous hop flavors, with piney and citric accents. Nice solid bitterness with no astringency. Pretty significant alcohol burn. Mouthfeel is nice with a medium body and great carbonation. The only flaw here is the booziness. This is the west coast version of a black IPA for sure: just enough malt to contribute to the complexity, but not so much that it turns into a cloying undrinkable mess.

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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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