County Dark Ale | Wellington County Brewery

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County Dark AleCounty Dark Ale

Brewed by:
Wellington County Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Wellington’s most decorated beer is a dark traditional ale with a rich bouquet, matured slowly to deliver exceptional smoothness and balance.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-22-2001

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Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 124
Photo of Haydn-Juby
3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

L: A light brown appearance. One finger of a somewhat quickly dissipating head. Lacing was non existant.

S: Sweet malty notes. Caramel, a bit of milk chocolate, and some toasty notes as well.

T: Reminiscent of an English brown ale. Caramel is the dominant flavor in this one, but I also get some fruity notes. Some toasty notes make their way through. Some raisin-like sweetness comes through. A little bit of milk chocolate also pokes its head out.Slight hop presence is detectable: earthy, English hops. Rather sweet as a whole but still very drinkable.

F: Medium body. Carbonation is a bit prickly, but overall it feels okay.

O: It's okay, and definitely easy to drink. Maybe a bit too sweet and high an ABV for a proper session but it's a decent beer. This could be an amazing introductory to craft for a beginner, but it's relatively passable for someone who is already expanded deeply into craft. It's good though, just not amazing.

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Photo of kevinlater
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

473ml can into nonic pint. "enjoy before 2014 oct 07". consumed on june 16, 2014

a: a deep brown coming out of the can, pitch black with brown/ruby highlights without any light through it, but then passing some light through it reveals that this beer has a deep and glowing brown-and-ruby-red hue. three fingers of tan head. looks amazing

s: roasted malt, toast, nuts, hints of chocolate and maybe even mild coffee, slight raisin

t: follows the nose but has a slight woodiness to it, which adds a nice layer of complexity. big roasty character all around, milk chocolate and burnt brown sugar as well, with shy raisin notes in the background. i'm even getting hints of licorice and prune on the back end. wow. finishes with a gentle bitterness, drying your palate for the next sip (or gulp). the roasty flavours linger forever. mindblowing taste for a 5% abv beer

m: light mouthfeel, rather watery. light-to-medium carbonation

o: a thin but flavourful and drinkable dark ale

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Photo of patre_tim
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown with an amber tinge when held to the light, filtered, little carbonation, 2 fingers of beige head. Some lacing.

S: Dark toasted malts, light earthy hopping, caramel, toffee, some coffee.

T: Dark toasted malts, some burnt caramel, a little coffee.

M: Medium body, medium low carbonation. Bready.

O: A nice English Brown Ale. Nothing to make it stand out but its fine.

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Photo of The-Jolly-Imbiber
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 341 mL bottle into a pint glass.

Huge, 4-finger frothy head. Dark reddish brown, even when held up to the light.

Only a faint aroma coming from the foamy head. Once the head settled, the smell was a semi-sweet, metallic one. Maybe a little bit like nutty caramel. As the beer warmed up, the smell got even better.

Taste was a bit on the gentle side, though still with some bitterness. Bitter caramel, perhaps. The taste was good, to me.

Mouthfeel, there's a moderate amount of carbonation, which is nice.

Overall, a good beer.

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Photo of Derek69
3.69/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A well crafted dark ale, not too strong, not too sweet. Perfect amount of head that dissipates fairly quickly, not a lot of lacing. Thin body, easy drinkability. Flavourful yet unoffensive. Aroma is mostly roasted malts and toffees. Not bad at all, also not spectacular.

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Photo of SebD
3.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice dark ruby/brown color to it. It has a nice light beige head that dies down moderately fast and leaves little lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of toasty/buiscuity malts, nuts, caramel and some chocolate.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some toasty/buiscuity malts, some nuttiness, sweet caramel and bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel: It has a med/high carbonation with an average balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavors and aromas.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

341 ml bottle served fairly cold into a pint glass. Part of the brewmaster's choice section of beers at the LCBO beer #2 of 6.

Appearance - Brown cola colored beer with 1.5 fingers of sticky looking off-white head which dissipates moderately. Very few bubbles present inside the glass. Red hues when held up to the light as well. Sparse lacing left behind

Smell - Dark, malty with trace elements of chocolate and a biscuity aroma as well.

Taste - Beer flavored, rather grainy tasting with some dark chocolate and a touch of cocoa in there as well as biscuit flavored. Pretty decent melding of flavors for an enjoyable Ontario brew.

Mouthfeel - Dry finish, medium-high carbonation and a lingering biscuity / chocolate infusion aftertaste. A bit too fizzy for my liking.

Overall - Pretty decent brew, not my favorite of the ones I've had from this brewery but this is a very solid beer for newbies to craft and just interesting enough that it remains a highly accessible and drinkable solution in Southern Ontario.

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Photo of yabud
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A good way to describe this "Dark" is as a Dark Ale for the non-Dark ale lovers. Very subtle in its "darkness"...

Quickly dissapating head, milk chocolate in colour, primarily toffee aroma... mouthfeel was silky smooth, caramel-ish taste, a very easy drinking dark in drinkability.

Enjoyable, but not recommended if you're looking for a "true" dark ale. Tastes like a 3.5% or so - not a bold dark to say the least.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Believe Wellington has brewed this well and offers a good example of the English brown style.

The can pours a luminous dark burgundy colour with an impressive head and good retention, leaving lacing down the sides of the glass. Nutty aroma of roasted malts that also strikes me as very true to the style. The taste is well balanced, with a caramelized malt sweetness that moves to highlight the roasted malts in the body, before a finish that is both bitter and sweet.

Although not my own personal first choice of beer styles, think this would appeal to any fan of the British Brown.

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Photo of Kremlock
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brown in colour with hues of mahogany and orange. Pours a nice 1 inch that then settles to a thin film. Very clear.

S: Coffee, hints of smoke, a bit grainy. Hints of hop aroma is present in the bachground.

T: Grainy, some roasted notes present. Hints of smokiness but not enough to overpower the malty flavours. Some molasses and hop flavours are very low.

M: Low carbonation, light bodied, dry finish.

O: lightly flavoured, malty yet not too sweet. Bitterness properly balanced yet does not overpower the malt. THis is a good session beer.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

473ml can purchased as a single from the LCBO booth at the Toronto Royal Winter Fair.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" beige head over the clear brown brew. Head is promptly down to an uneven skim, with slow-falling lace. Aroma is nutty and malty, pretty much stereotypical brown in my book.

Taste starts with a peek of sweetness from the nose, light powdered chocolate in the middle, and a lightly tart close. Mouthfeel is smooth, with good drinkability. Nice standard brown.

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Photo of jaz58
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A decent brew.

Sadly there was a non existent head. It disapated very quickly.

Clear and effervescent in the glass. A ver ygood coffee / cola colour.

Chocolate, toffee noise with a hint of hops.

Mouthfeel was average.

A nice coffee flavour with a balanced bitters to finish.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark hazelnut brown with great clarity. Thin film of an off-white frothy head.

Aroma: Burnt caramel and lots of semisweet malt presence. Some roasted malt notes of chocolate.

Taste: It's watery but there is some flavor. The first half is all caramel and slight molasses malt character and the second half and finish is a little roasty like in the nose. Decently bitter for the style but with an odd soapy water taste near the end.

Mouthfeel: Thin but with a good level of carbonation. Easily drinkable.

Final Thoughts: The further into this one I get, the less there is to like about it. The watery profile overtakes the flavor over time. I've had 3% abv beers with more flavor than this one. It's too bad because it started out very promising.

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Photo of liamt07
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can from the LCBO, 473ml into a pint glass. Best before May 11, 2012.

Dark mahogany in colour with some brown highlights. Beige head and a fairly thick collar and film retains. Nose of toasty dark breads, some roasted nuts and a bit of chocolate. Taste has some dark malts, a bit more bready, some lightly charred notes (smoked and/or woody). Hints to some chocolate. Not too bitter and a bit drying. Fairly neutral finish in terms of flavour, but there's a slight metallic note. Lower medium carbonation and a decent mouthfeel. A nice brown ale, and something I could revisit. Again, I think this could be quite lovely off a hand-pull cask.

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Photo of scott451
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. A clear dark ruby with a two finger tan head that soon diminished to a thin layer. Some minor lacing.

Sweet caramel smells with some toasty notes. Burnt toast stands out in the taste. Tapering off to a sweetish mild hop finish.

Fairly low carbonation. Medium body. Not bad overall. A rather unique flavour profile. Just not anything to write home about.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.09/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

473ml Can

Appearance - The beer pours a light brown colour with a small fizzy beige coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some faint lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for maybe 2 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Chocolate, malts, roasted nuts, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste chocolate mixed with malts and and a bit of a smokiness. There are also some notes of dark fruits and a slight metallic taste. There were times where I could taste cola as well.. The beer finishes with a chocolatey malty aftertaste.

Overall – This beer just didn't do it for me. The taste wasn't great and it seemed thin and watery at times. I would not buy this beer again, there are way too many better beers in this style available to me.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - poured a solid two finger head that slowly faded to a nice thick collar - decent patchy lacing - dark chestnut colour

S - dark malt and fruit

T - dark malt and fruit with chocolate notes, some biscuit, nicely balanced

M - light to medium bodied with good carbonation - bitter on the back end with some metallic notes

O - a solid brown ale that is sessionable and I will grab it again I am sure

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep brown, opaque cola colour. A thin, half-finger tan head lasts about thirty seconds and after that there's nothing but a thin cap and collar left. I probably served this colder than intended so the smell is pretty muted; roasted grains, caramel and dark fruits. The odour sweetens and intensifies as it warms.

Taste is decent without being very notable; some sweet caramel/toffee and biscuit malts at the start, baker's chocolate and dark fruits, with some dry hop bitterness in the finish that doesn't really linger. A little sweeter and thicker as it warms, but overall this is one of the more bitter/drier EBAs I've had in recent memory. That isn't a problem, but the whole thing does seem a bit watery. Average carbonation, maybe a little high for my liking, and thin-to-medium bodied.

This stuff tastes ok and is plenty drinkable but there's not much to the flavour. Like a less-sweet Big Rock Trad. I'd say give it a try, but don't expect anything more than a drinkable EBA.

[Updated Nov. 20 2013]

I've had this a few times since my original review, but mostly because it's in their samplers - and this bottle also happens to be pulled from an OCB Fall 2013 sampler. I like Wellington's beers in general, and after coming back to this one a few times, I've come to appreciate it a little more. I'm still not a big fan of the mouthfeel - but over the past few weeks, I've been reviewing a lot of brown ales that I haven't tried in years. This is one of the better ones so far. An ideal beer to convert a fan of the Rickard's/Keith's dark ales to craft beer, and a solid local alternative for Newcastle fans. Do yourself a favour and serve it only a little cooler than cellar temperature.

Final Grade: 3.61, a B grade.

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

A: Pours a deep, dark amber-brown with a small, foamy tan head with nearly no retention or lacing.

S: Roasted, biscuit, and caramel malts are predominant, joined by candied and dark fruits - plums and cherries, particularly - and hints of chocolate and yeast.

T: Mildly roasty biscuit and toffee malts with something of a buttery character, giving way to caramel, breadiness, nuttiness, and faint, woody hops.

M: Body is on the heavy end of light; the carbonation is smooth with a nice initial crispness, but feels a bit gassy. The bittersweet finish of roasted malt and nuts lingers just long enough and gives a touch of astringency.

D: A solid brown ale, tasty if simple and a bit gassy (excepting that, it's quite sessionable); be sure to let it warm a bit before you drink to get a fuller flavour. I suspect I'll enjoy its heartiness more in the winter.

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Photo of 604growler
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer smelled exactly like prunes to me which I appreciated. It has a very subtle taste though. The smell is strong and the taste is very light. I love the contrast and it's a unique beer. If you want something that is enjoyable for a session and still off the beaten track this would be a fine choice.

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Photo of ludachris
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rich mahogany brown with glowing amber highlights. One finger of whispy egg white head is yeilded after a strong pour, that's not too keen on staying around long.

Like other offerings from Wellington I've had, the nose is subtle and complex and takes some time to appreciate it. Lightly roasted, with suggestions of toasted malts, toffee, raisons and plums with the latter becoming more pronounced as the beer warms.

Toffee coats the tongue while the dark fruits make a flash appearance in the back of the palate. Lightly roasted malts impart a subtley dry character in the finish which is accompanied by notes of toasty, buttery malts with suggestions of vanilla and oak. Like the nose, the taste is quite subtle and took me some time to discern all of the things going on, but it's time well spent.

Lighter bodied and creamy smooth. Good balance throughout. The only minor complaint I have would be the carbonation which could be a tad more assertive.

Overall, another great offering from Wellington's! I think its quaffability, with the light body, average ABV, and subtle qualities to it actually take away from the overall experience of the beer. It tempts you to take mouthfuls in short intervals but it's more delicate than that and needs time for its complexities to be soaked in. The first time I had this was in a pub setting with a meal talking to friends. I'm glad I revisited it with just me, the computer in front of me, and as much time as I needed. A good quaffer and a good brew to sit down with and enjoy. I myself prefer the latter.

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Photo of kwjd
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with thin off-white head and some small lacing. Smells like toasted nuts and and caramel. Flavour has a mild bitterness, even though I don't taste any hops, with a lot of nutty sweetness. Smooth carbonation. Overall an ok brown ale.

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Photo of ZorPrime
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

473 ml can received from liamt07 in a recent trade. Cheers buddy!

Amber color, quite dark too. Nice white/beige head, but disappear fast. Aroma is caramel malts with some burnt notes. Similar on the taste side. I get no hops. Refreshing beer. Thin body. Well balanced and tasty enough for a day to day beer. Not a high end beer that will make your taste buds go nuts.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.19/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

473 mL can into a nonick pint glass.

A - Fairly aggressive pour produced a snap, crackle, pop sounding creamy head that dissipates into a cap fairly quickly. Deep red, amber colour, but not quite brown. Quite a bit of carbonation.

S - Buttery malts, some citrus, bread, and maybe some yeast in the aroma.

T - Quite malty. Not a whole lot of complexity. Reminds me of a dunkel lager.

M - Goes down smooth with a little carbonation in the mouth and lingering flavour.

D - I could have a few, but I'm not sure I'd want more than one in a sitting since it's just not interesting enough.

A decent Ontario beer but not my favourite by a longshot.

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Photo of PEBKAC
2.33/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

My uncle brought a pack of this stuff & the Arkell Bitter back over the border. Would I have been happier with some suspect prescription drugs? Only time will tell.

Poured into a DFH rounded pint glass. An inch of milky, cream-colored froth develops over a filtered, orange hued, dark wood stained body. Really appetizing.

Smell is boring. Hard water, aluminum, hay, a touch of menthol-like hops & maybe anise, & some caramelized cereal.

Taste is dusty/dry malt, slightly burnt hulls, earthy carob, bland metallic hops, & a slight phenolic edge near the finish(a bit like stamp glue) before it goes numb.

Carbonation & overall feel is your only relief. Crisp & just barely sharp. Thin body(though it sometimes comes off as chalky), a dry finish, & minimal aftertaste.

These six packs are completely boxed, & the winter has been pretty cold, so I don't think the elements effected these much. No best by or bottled on date. The bottles are pretty beat up, so they probably traveled quite a bit before reaching their destination.

As far as the beer goes, it's just a semi-tolerable, ho-hum thirst quencher at best. Bland & inoffensive enough to be swallowed & forgotten while concentrating on those Doritos you're hoarding.

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County Dark Ale from Wellington County Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 124 ratings.
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