Widow Maker Black Ale
Keweenaw Brewing Company

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Style:
IPA - Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
Ranked #538
ABV:
5.2%
Score:
80
Ranked #46,309
Avg:
3.5 | pDev: 16.29%
Reviews:
101
Ratings:
358
From:
Keweenaw Brewing Company
 
Michigan, United States
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  8
Gots
  82
SCORE
80
Good
Notes: Don't let its looks deceive you. Clean and smooth, easy on the hops and easy on the palate; this light bodied ale has a surprising depth of malt flavors with pleasant hints of a smoky molasses.
Reviews: 101 | Ratings: 358 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by woodychandler:
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.6/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

CAN you believe that my CANQuest has become so well-known that some places WANT me to review their beers? At the GTMW, I mentioned my mission and said that I had just copped two of their beers in sixes and they asked which ones and handed me one each of the other two as I left the park. Keweenaw, this review's for you!

I got a finger od mocha-tan head with good retention. I have to agree with calling it an American Brown Ale. It looked like a Schwartzbier in my glass, but it was an ale, not a lager. Fair dinkum! Color was a deep, dark brown/black. I would have said black outright were it not for the traces of brown at the edges when held up to the light. Nose was very roasty and I could certainly buy into the "smoky molasses" of the label. Mouthfeel was medium with a lot of smoke on the tongue. Hell, this was approaching a Rauchbier and in a CAN! I began to weep at this point. I may have to become a Yooper ... It was incredibly smooth and eminently drinkable, even on a hot day. Still, I wish that I had had some smoked oysters, salmon, and cheese to go with it. This would be a welcome addition to Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Night at RichWood Manor. Mmmmm. Finish was malty, sure, but by that time, I was enraptured by the smokiness. Yow!

In other, unrelated news, from the CAN: "The Keweenaw Brewing Company, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, was founded with the goal of turning beer drinkers into craft-beer lovers. Don't let its looks deceive you. Clean and smooth, easy on the hops and easy on the palate, this light bodied ale has a surprising depth of malt flavors with pleasant hints of a smoky molasses. The 'Widowmaker', a pneumatic drill that operated without benefit of water to lubricate the bit and cut the dust, was introduced to Copper County mining in the 1890's. While greatly improving productivity, the drill became known as the 'Widowmaker', killing many of the miners who used it from illnesses related to prolonged dust inhalation. Don't be afraid of the dark! From a Family of Fine Ales"

Aug 17, 2009
More User Reviews:
Photo of TheSixthRing
TheSixthRing from California

4.03/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Apache Trout Grill in Traverse City, MI

Appearance - Served up in a pint, black with cola brown edging a mostly barren surface on top. A few small spots make up the lacing.

Smell - Fair aroma with hints of roasted malt, a bit of caramel and some chocolate.

Taste - The strength is moderate, but the flavor profile is spot-on. Fair caramel and some toffee sweetness is met by a mild but consistent roast undertone. A touch of chocolate hits mid-taste. Aftertaste is solidly balanced with mildly sweet and midly roasty character.

Mouthfeel - Light-bodied with moderate carbonation. Light, easy drinker with a fair, crisp and refreshing finish.

Overall - Another reason why I detest "American Black Ale" as the 'official' name for hoppy Black IPA's or CDA's. 'Black Ale' is non-descript for a lot of brewers to describe some brews they make, whether they be stouts, porters or whathaveyou. I would best describe this as a session porter, and great one at that.

Oct 17, 2017
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BigRizz62 from Maryland

3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sep 30, 2015
Photo of MrOH
MrOH from Maryland

1.18/5  rDev -66.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Very dark brown, minimal head, shit retention and no lace
Smells like weak, stale coffee with an underlying sourness
I don't know if I can properly describe how bad this is: slightly ashy/smoky, acetic, watery, blah
Very thin and watery mouthfeel
Tastes like someone mixed in equal parts a schwartzbier, rauchbier, flemish brown and seltzer water. I get the feeling that this beer sucked in the first place, and then got infected.

Oct 10, 2018
Photo of groovemonster
groovemonster from Michigan

2.9/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Ok let me say this, I hate giving poor reviews. especially for a michigan brewed beer. being a michigander i wish everything brewed here would be awesome but that isn't so.

I like the can idea and i wish more micro-breweries would do it. I also like black ales so i was hopeful for this one. I thought this beer was quite malty with a emphasis on sweetness. virtually no bitterness and a somewhat sour aftertaste. whu=ile this may be a good beer to some a thought it lacked the robustness i seek out. You can get all fancy about your impression of a beer and that fine but when it comes right down to it you either like it or you don't...and with this beer I didn't. I may try some of their other varieties in the hopes they appeal to my tastes, but i won't be drinking this unless it free!

Disclaimer: I cant smell but it hasnt curbed my ability to enjoy fine brews. it has only curbed my ability to tell you what it smells like
i ALWAYS drink from the bottle...i almost never know what the beer looks like...not even sure why thats important.
i dont know the difference between a growler and a snifter, and i dont think anything shaped like a tulip should have beer in it!

mouthfeel? that just sound offensive...:) is this a serious thing?

i am an irreverent beer snob!

Dec 10, 2011
Photo of saltytom
saltytom from Ohio

3.66/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dec 17, 2014
Photo of beerprovedwright
beerprovedwright from Georgia

3.95/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My sister from Marquette, MI brought me this beer. Four plus finger head of light brown foam, the thick clinging lace. Color is black, tar black, a 38 on the SRM beer color chart. Smell is thick smoke, caramel, black cherry, malt, and pepper. Taste is intense, with flavors of dark cherry, caramel, coco, grapefruit peel, and pine. The flavor is bold and full, and tart. There are tastes of coco, black cherry, caramel, grapefruit, smoke, and hops. Mouthfeel is full and rich, but sort of sticky and has a drying effect on my upper palate. Not a beer I can get around here, but when I travel to Michigan again, I will look this beer up.

Apr 11, 2011
Photo of THECPJ
THECPJ from Delaware

3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark brown with a reddish hue and 1 finger off white head.

smell: roast, patent, coffee, malts,

taste: roasted malts,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, thin to medium body,

overall: a nice brown ale almost porter like with the roast characteristics. glad I got to try it.

Cheers,l
The CPJ

Jul 27, 2011
Photo of EricCioe
EricCioe from Montana

3.58/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Before the review, a quick story. I had this in a can at a place called the Hardwood near Sidnaw in the UP. I ordered a 7&7 right when I got there when I saw Busch Light and Miller Light as the only tap handles. A waiter came up to the bar and asked the bartender Michelle (Mee-shell, my bell ...) if they had any Bells beer. She said, "oh no, not another one of those 'what kind of microbrews do you have' guys. NONE." Like it was some awful thing. But then we're pretty far from any big town, so whatever. But then I saw a Keweenaw Brewing sign on the wall, $3 a can, so I asked if they had any. She gave me a can, asked if I wanted a glass. Then I: "thanks. It's cool that each area is getting back to having its own brewery like before Prohibition." She: "yeah, that is kind of nice." Long story longer: some craft beer people are obnoxious about it. But if you put it in a way that's more about the local guys vs. the big guys, I think anyone can understand the appeal.

It pours a dark brown, maybe black. Good head, slight lacing. A nice looking beer. I really like the cans instead of bottles, too. It smells a little roasty, but it's a bit thin on the nose. On the tongue it's dry, nutty, slightly roasted, but in the mouth it's a bit too thin. It's a beer that one could drink several of and not get tired of, and the price was right at the bar, too. I was shocked that there was a beer this good at a place that out of the way. A decent beer.

Oct 03, 2010
Photo of gopens44
gopens44 from Virginia

2.88/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Looked like it was supposed to I guess - pitch black with about 1/2" of foamy beige head. Nose brings forth the roasted malts just fine, which meld with the earthy hops. Taste is just not great. Slightly tart, very little hop character and a tone of that whole roasty maltiness. From a taste standpoint alone, if this beer were rebranded as a Schwarzbier, it would probably make more sense. Probably the worst thing about this was the nearly criminal wateriness of the beer. Thin is what this beer should aspire to be.

Aug 29, 2016
Photo of JDizzle
JDizzle from Indiana

3.5/5  rDev 0%

Aug 23, 2013
Photo of weizenbob
weizenbob from Michigan

2.54/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce can Purchased at Tom's in Acme (6.99/6-pack). Canned June 27, 2011. Poured into a nonic pint glass. The pour yields half a finger of tan head that disappears in a flash of bubbles. Lacing? Forget about it. What's left is a glass of beer that is not black, but cola colored. It is nothing for the eyes to behold.

The aroma is sweet with strong licorice notes and roasted maltiness that is somewhat akin to espresso. It smells a little thin but the aromatics that are there are mostly pleasant.

The flavor is really something to behold. Wet cardboard? Check. Cooked vegetables? Check. Still, there is some subtle but pleasant roasted malt action going on in the background. As far as balance, the brew leans sweet and malty with strong implications of vanilla. It seems they skipped the hops for this one. My mouth is a little confused, but I can roll with it.

The mouthfeel is thin. The body is light. The carbonation is a bit stinging. On the positive, the alcohol is completely hidden.

What a train wreck of a beer this is. It has the look and feel of a cola with a deliberately sweet flavor to boot. Keweenaw's cans all boast the goal of "turning beer drinkers into craft beer lovers," and I see what they're trying to do with Widow Maker. But that doesn't atone for the fact that this is just excruciatingly bad beer. Recently the price point of Keweenaw's canned beers has fallen drastically, to the point that they are a pretty decent value now. Still, I can recommend Widow Maker to neither the initiated nor the uninitiated. Blah.

---

The Two-Schlitz Scale: (reference my profile for an explanation)
I do not give a Schlitz for Widow Maker Black Ale. In fact, after this, I feel the need to wash my mouth out with an ice cold Schlitz Tallboy.

Aug 05, 2011
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speedvagen from Ohio

3.25/5  rDev -7.1%

Aug 03, 2014
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Jodawn from Texas

3.25/5  rDev -7.1%

Sep 13, 2013
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Christov from Michigan

3.25/5  rDev -7.1%

Aug 25, 2012
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cb8282 from Michigan

4/5  rDev +14.3%

Dec 06, 2014
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Sastha from Illinois

4.6/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oct 28, 2019
Photo of TheBrewo
TheBrewo from New York

3.61/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This brew was served from the tap at Diablo’s in Royal Oak, Michigan. The round arrived in generic pint glasses, showing the ruby-hued blackness of cola. It held a gentle, cakey light brown colored head that retained well. Lacing was patterned and crystalline. No haze or sediment was noted, and carbonation appeared to be light. The nose offered notes of mildly roasted caramel and black maltiness, vanilla metallics, printer paper, white sugar sweetness, corn and starchy adjuncts, light black coffee roast, hazelnuts, faint dried grassy hops, and mineral water. Our first impression was that this was a pretty standard black ale, all around, with an airy and watery flavoring that was more dilute than robust. As we sipped, the taste began with clean brown, black, and distant coffee maltiness, decent roast and smoke of grain, bitter ale yeastiness, white chalk, honey, and icy metallics. The middle came to a peak with continued black and brown maltiness, but with a cheapness of glass, lightly citric and grassy hops, confectioner’s sugar, and corny, wheaty adjuncts. The end washed through with corn syrups, that same dull black maltiness, white sugar cloy, salt water taffy, soy sauce, chalk, and old dollar bills. The aftertaste breathed of corn husk and planty chew, burnt tobacco leafiness, roasty and metallic black and adjuncty graininess, wheat crackers, white and cooked brown sugars, and pervasive chalky yeastiness. The body was lightly medium, and carbonation was medium. Each sip gave pleasant slurp, smack, cream, and froth, all leading to a wet and satisfying finishing pop. The mouth was left cooled and with tannic puck. The abv is appropriate, and the beer glugs back easily.

Overall, the best thing about this beer was its ease of drinkability. While the aroma and taste weren’t necessarily bad, they just lacked a certain vigor that other black ales possess. You will find bits and pieces of the desired components here, but none of them are there in full. Perhaps if they bolstered the grain bill with more roast, or dry-hopped the hell out of it they could build something a bit more robust and savory, but the product at present is just not fully up to speed with some of its competitors. That said, this is a great beer for relaxing with some buddies at the bar if you’re looking to throw a few back, or to ease someone into the craft beer scene with.

Mar 26, 2014
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XmnwildX12 from Minnesota

2.5/5  rDev -28.6%

Nov 04, 2014
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Navalartichoke from Virginia

2.9/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Aug 29, 2015
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blissfulNemo from Michigan

3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Sep 23, 2019
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Giggy from Michigan

3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Apr 12, 2018
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FlyingHellfish from Michigan

3.25/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Sep 17, 2013
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DiscOn from Ohio

3.25/5  rDev -7.1%

Aug 27, 2012
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boonejag75 from North Carolina

4/5  rDev +14.3%

Mar 17, 2013
Widow Maker Black Ale from Keweenaw Brewing Company
Beer rating: 80 out of 100 with 358 ratings