Bad King John
Ridgeway Brewing

Bad King JohnBad King John
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Style:
Stout - English
Ranked #82
ABV:
6%
Score:
84
Ranked #37,943
Avg:
3.71 | pDev: 11.59%
Reviews:
57
Ratings:
125
From:
Ridgeway Brewing
 
England, United Kingdom
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  8
Gots
  23
SCORE
84
Good
Bad King JohnBad King John
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View: Beers
Reviews: 57 | Ratings: 125 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by MichialTanner1:
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MichialTanner1 from Texas

3.22/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An impulse purchase, due to the label and my interest in English history. There is no way this beer could be as bad as King John himself, who was allegedly poisoned with a toxic ale.

Poured into a Spaten klug, this is almost an opaque black with a beige head that dissolved into nothing within about a minute. This would be hilarious if King John had been beheaded. However, there's really no lack of carbonation to the bottom.

If given a taste test, I would have thought this to be an English Porter. It isn't heavy or bitter. It's good, but not great--and opposed to the description on the label, it is actually "subtle". This would be a good pub pour and I really like the kind of sour, Worcester style smell to it rolling out of the mug.

So, I would say that this is at least as good as Henry III, maybe even Henry II. If they make a King Edward I, it had better be a Wee Heavy...

Aug 03, 2015
More User Reviews:
Photo of interzen
interzen from England

3.01/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

500ml bottle poured into a nonic pint glass

Look: Flat cola. Seriously. Starts out fairly promising with a very dark pour (some ruby highlights if you hold it up to the light) with a head that had pretty much gone by the time I'd finished pouring. The net result looks like a pint of Coke. Not a good start.

Smell: Quite an earthy smell - lots of roasted malt and biscuity smells in evidence. Some dark fruitiness on agitation but the roasted smell dominate.

Taste: Again, quite earthy - roasted malts are very much to the forefront. Not a lot to distinguish it from other porters, let alone stouts.

Feel: Consider this as a porter and it's not too bad - fairly easy drinking with a medium/full body. Taken as a stout it's an epic fail for much the same reasons, in which case it's positively anaemic.

Overall: Is it a stout? Is it a porter? This is a beer with an identity crisis in more ways than one. It's not that it tastes bad; I like my beers malty and this one isn't too bad albeit a little one-dimensional. I think it's trying to be two things at once and doesn't really hit the spot on either count. Compared to something like Sam Smiths Oatmeal Stout, Bad King John is looking pretty woeful. Not a drain pour because I enjoyed the taste, but I can't see me seeking this out again.

Jan 13, 2015
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oberon from North Carolina

3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I have to say the label has caught my eye in the past but I never pulled the trigger until today,BBC magazine called him the worst Briton of the 13th century,now thats sayin something.Poured more of a cola color than black,alot of reddish tint,a thinner but well retained slight off white head atop.Fruity malt,iron,and light bitter chocolate in the nose,its full on English malt.A little thin in the mouth,but it goes down real easy.Flavors are not intense,at least not for the American craft palate,but its got decent complexity.Some bitter chocolate and fruity flavors meld into a pretty good earthy finish,intense finish maybe for the Brits.I actually think its decent,not intense,not great.

Mar 03, 2010
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Pegasus from Texas

3.69/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque dark brown body, crowned by a moderate, dense, dark tan head, which retains fairly well. The lacing is utterly glass-coating, and quite superb.

Aroma: Lots of roasted barley up front, followed by a fairly strong dark fruit presence, possibly dark plums, or figs.

Taste: Opens with bitter cocoa, and a sharp infusion of earthy hops. As the taste progresses, the hops reach ascendency, while the bitter cocoa is drawn out to a strong and lingering presence. Finishes with a lingering,earthy and bitter hop presence.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and very pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: Would have benefit ted from a more moderate hop selection, the hops were simply too earthy.

Presentation: packaged in a custom 19.9 ounce (500 ml) brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium brewing chalice.

May 19, 2013
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Suds from Missouri

3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 500 ml bottle, this beer pours as a nearly solid black color (with brown highlights in the shallows if held to the light). It presents a tightly packed brownish-tan head, and makes for an impressive beer. The brew has a nice roasted malt aroma...chocolate, biscuit, and grain in front of a backdrop of English hops. The malt is front and center in this beer. There's also a notable yeast flavor and aroma in the brew. Occasional fruity qualities appear and fade, particularly raisin and plum-like. Fairly clean, moderately light in body, with a bitterness that comes in in the mid-taste. Fairly sweet as well, more than expected. This is a satisfying and very enjoyable brew.

Mar 14, 2009
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feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.28/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

"Bad King John is black...bitter...intense...like the ruthless man it honours. Do not come here looking for subtlety!"
So the label says...it says other things, too...forget about that, I'm gonna drink it!

Dark brown body, slightly crimson at the edges...lush cocoa head atop
Beautiful aroma, nice and roasty-toasty...just bitter enough, yet creamyand inviting. Nice balance of hops and malt here.

Drink it!
Dark and rich, deep and malty...black,cocoa flavors,some espresso tinges, dark essences dwell beneath...darkness always licks up from below...Full bodied, long,malty, rich and tasty finish...really well-balanced, everything is in order here.

A beer fit for a bad king, that's for sure. I'd have more if it weren't so damned expensive.

Feb 28, 2009
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lackenhauser from Maryland

4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown in color bordering on black. Minor tan colored head on top. Low aroma-some minor nutty notes as well as a tinge of cocoa. Killer malty and mildly roasted flavor. Slight graininess that brings out the roasted quality even more. Slight chocolate and espresso flavors. Mild hop presence. Very well balanced flavor wise. Good mouthfeel. Nice lingering dry taste. Very very drinkable. I love the whole package.

Aug 15, 2009
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Bad King John is black... bitter... intense... like the ruthless man it honours. Do not come here looking for subtlety!"

--label

Bad King John must be a badass since the above quote is next to a drawing of a black haired woman in a white dress who is hanging from a noose. Has any 6.0% English ale ever been intense? Compared to what? Let's find out whether Ridgeway's boasting holds any water.

Pecan brown with generous orange and amber highlights (on the coaster)... dusky cranberry (when backlit). Since the brewery calls BKJ a 'black ale', might they mean schwarzbier rather than stout? A lack of opacity makes the question a valid one. The sand colored crown is a mass of sticky bubbles that does a pretty good job of glass decoration.

The nose is... subtle (honest, I didn't come here looking for it). Roasted barley leads the way, followed by a hint of herbal hoppiness. Bitter should trump sweet, although I have no illusions that the bitterness will be *intense*. King John better start channeling his inner badness on the palate.

Label hyperbole aside, this is better than average beer that's more bitter than average (given its country of origin), but it's far from special. Even though English stouts are fully capable of being this light, I'm thinking that schwarzbier is a more appropriate style choice.

Flavors include bitter dark chocolate shavings mixed with a generous handful of hop cones and black tea leaves. The relative shortage of malt means that depth, complexity and flavor linger are in short supply. The finish is impressively dry and could almost be considered crisp.

Regarding the body/mouthfeel... as an American stout it would be a 2.5. As an English stout it would be a 3.0. As a schwarzbier (which is what I've settled on) it's a 3.5. Short version: light, no creaminess, acceptable carbonation.

Ridgeway Bad King John isn't bad (in a good way) and it isn't bad (in a bad way). It's a slightly better than average black beer that is more bitter than most. That's probably the only reason why this hophead is giving it above average scores. No how, no way is it worth $6.09.

Dec 04, 2008
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Sammy from Canada (ON)

3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Premiere Gourmet. Good example of English sublety, nothing too bold just the balance of a little roast, a little Shwartzbier black, a bit above mouthfeel, a bit of licorice as in a porter. Pours black, nothing harsh, delightful with a meal. Really a shwartbier.

Sep 21, 2009
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evanackerman from Minnesota

4.23/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

beer pours a nice dark black color with a tan head

aroma is prunes and roasted malt

taste is delicious roasted malt with a nice slight bitter finish, hints

mouthfeel is medium bodied, and very very smooth, light carbonation.

overall, this beer is quite delicious. Described as a "black ale" on the bottle, it is as fine an example of a british stout as I've tasted. worth a try.

Nov 09, 2008
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morebeergood from Massachusetts

3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Deep Ellum this past weekend. Served in a standard pint glass. Dark brown color to the body. Decent sized head. Not a lot of aroma noticed. Roasted barley flavor was there, but not a lot else. Pretty smooth beer so I found quite easy to drink. But honestly, this beer did nothing for me and seemed run of the mill. Didn't stand out in any which way.

Jan 14, 2009
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage from California

4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11/9/08- Purchased at Bottle Barn, in Santa Rosa, CA. $5.49 price tag.

Presentation- 500ml bottle, did not check for freshness info. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Black, but not as black as I have seen in a stout. Beyond full one in plus some head. Good 1/2 inch remains for the duration. Leaves some small chunks and some pacthwork of lace.

Smell- Beyond roasted malts. Deep burnt chocolate, frangrant bitter hops and a charcoal-campfire smokey nose.

Taste- First few sips reveal a light metallic note. Quickly fades though. Nice bitter and lasting hoppy flavor with added burnt smores campfire like dark chocolate.
Melds together nicely, but the hops play the main role.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth with a medium to lighter carbonation. Long lasting bitter lashing. Lightly creamy.

Drinkability- Very nice english stout. Do away with that metallic beginning and lower the carbonation a touch lower and you have almost world class. Very drinkable as is though.

Nov 09, 2008
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Mebuzzard from Colorado

3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nothing like an awesome name for a big, bad, bold stout. Let's see if this stout is....well, stout.

Pours a very dark brown. Almost black. Ruby tints around the walls betrays the blackness. Nice, thick and somewhat creamy head. Looks lush.

Aroma isn't wonderful, but not bad. Not as strong as I thought it would be. Cola and roasted malt dominate. Semi sweet but sharp at the same time. A bit weak, though.

Taste is better. Roasty. The cola supplies some sweetness and an odd background taste...not quite plum. Light on the chocolate and coffee. Earthy and some anise on the end. Not quite sold on this beer.

It's not bad. Easy drinking. Would drink again

Mar 04, 2011
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meatyard from Florida

3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Jan 19, 2012
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SkeeterHawk from Texas

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

I picked this beer up the other day at the downtown Spec's. From reading the bottle I am expecting something like Arrogant Bastard, but I don't know that an English beer can be that aggressive. Let's see...

Appearance: Pours a very dark color that looks like it would be pretty clear if you held a bright enough light up to it. There was a small head of tan bubbles after a pretty aggressive pour. After a minute or so, there was still a pretty solid ring of cream around the top of the beer at the glass. there is a pretty decent amount of lace left on the glass after drinking, so it is a pretty good looking beer overall.

Aroma: My initial impression was of a toffee drink with a shot of vodka in it. Man, that can't be good. Going back in, I don't get that like I did right after the pour. Now there is some earthy British hops starting to come out to mix with the sweet malt that is still dominating. As the beer is starting to warm, I am getting roasted pecans. Interesting.

Taste: The beer overall is pretty thin bodied and this is one of the first things you notice about the sip. There are dark caramel malts giving a bit of a toffee impression, but the malts have a bit darker edge to them than the aroma alluded to so they are a bit acidic when mixing with the hops in the finish. There is a little contribution from the alcohol and it really just adds some heat and dryness to the finish that it didn't really need because of the attenuation and the hops.

Opinion: This is an OK beer and probably one of the best that I have had from this brewery yet. I don't know what that is saying, but there you have it. The beer itself is a bit harsh on the finish, but it has a decent amount of flavor. Would I drink it again?...probably. Would I seek it out? No, the Bastard is much better.

Feb 24, 2011
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tempest from New York

3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Tap and Table. Appeared just barely black with red highlights. This stout was drinkable and true to style, but uninspiring. The character is flat and lacks depth. There's just a roasted barley taste with a touch of dark chocolate. Yes, it nice. Yes, I'm a little tough on this beer. But there's a lot of potential for this style.

Mar 19, 2011
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thepeter from England

3.35/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a brownish red with minimal head turning to film and decent lacing. Smells of rich sweet roasted malt some dark fruits and maybe some plum. Tastes like a sweet or a milk stout not enough hop presence or any complexity really. Not bad but nothing special. Feel is a bit too carbonated at first, again nothing special here. Not a bad beer but nothing I would buy again.

Sep 13, 2011
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vinicole from England

3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Vey dark brown. Very little head.
Roasted malt bouquet and not much else.
Caramel and lightly toasted brown bread. A hint of sweetness.
The body lets this beer down. Watery.

Nov 28, 2013
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dedrinker from Kansas

3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Darkest wood veneer with a thin white-ish head.

Faint aroma of roasted malts and some hints of dark fruit.

The flavor was a light roasty malt with some bitterness. I would say that if it was a little dark chocolate and black coffee I perceived, then it was an inferior brand of chocolate and coffee - Hershey's and Maxwell House instant.

Not bad though overall, just a lot less than I was being lead to expect.

Medium/full body with a dry, lightly burnt malt bitterness on the finish.

Dec 07, 2010
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omnigrits from Texas

3.35/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a perfect pint glass.

Nice dark colour with ruby highlights around the edges, but little in the way of head or lace.

There's some coffee and chocolate in the aroma, but already I can tell that this one's a bit thin.

The taste backs up my suspicions. What's there is good but there's not much of it. Distinctly underwhelming. There's a nice roasted malt flavour with more coffee and chocolate, and a decent bitter finish to it. Not much sweetness, which is to my taste because I prefer a drier stout.

The body is seriously lacking.

Despite all the faults it's a fairly decent and quite drinkable session stout if you're not looking to wreck your palate with a roasted malt bomb or get hammered with a 10% RIS.

Jul 03, 2010
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BlackHaddock from England

4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle (bottle conditioned): best before 17 Feb 2013, poured into my Abbot Ale glass tankard 9 Apr 2012.

Looks good: tan head on an exceedingly dark body.

The nose and taste are a great blend of dark chocolate, liquorice, bitter coffee and burnt prunes.

Not rich in body but flavoursome and interesting: a fine brew.

Apr 09, 2012
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kevgod from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +7.8%

Jan 07, 2012
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metter98 from New York

3.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear dark amber in color and has a thin layer of beige bubbles on the surface.
S: Aromas of dark fruits stand out in the nose.
T: The taste is dominated by flavors of roasted barley while the finish is rather fruity with notes of cherries.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and is very smooth.
D: I could easily drink a few of these in one sitting.

Sep 26, 2010
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.47/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at a Shelton Bros event during Phila Beer Week. Thought it was from cask the way it was presented - filled to the brim of the glass, flat and still. Sipped it down slowly - very clean and thin in body and taste. Lightly sour/acidic coffee roast flavor, no chocolaty undertones, no hops, little discernible malt flavor. Every so often, I gave it a swirl - absolutely no carbonation. Not sure if that's the norm with this, but it certainly affected the feel, smell (which was super weak, coffee/malt-syrup sweet), and possibly flavor.

It's a decent stout, arguably a porter. It was black, showing rusty red with a half sip left. I'd give it another shot at some point, but I'd consider it a semi-bland table beer.

Jun 11, 2011
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t0rin0 from California

3.75/5  rDev +1.1%

Dec 17, 2012
Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 125 ratings