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Widow Maker Black Ale | Keweenaw Brewing Company

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Widow Maker Black AleWidow Maker Black Ale

Brewed by:
Keweenaw Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by association330 on 06-13-2009

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Reviews: 80 | Ratings: 292
Photo of kzoobrew
2.97/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Cherry cola like body. I suppose in a dimly lit room or away from any direct light this may appear black. When light is brought into the equation it is apparent this is not black. Crimson brown color with a fizzy khaki colored head. The head dissipates in short order leaving scattered splotches of lacing. The style which is list is an American Brown Ale, I do not believe it was the brewers intention to make a brown ale. I have to rate this to they style the brewer intended and not the style listed.

Light roastiness on the nose set in front of a complimentary caramel aroma. Slight and subtle molasses and smokiness. The aromas are largely subdued and predominately malt. Very little hop presence enters the equation.

To be honest, at first sip the cola reference became a little too accurate. A healthy does of caramel sweetness overwhelms the palate. The darker malts work their way into the picture but do not manage to fight off the overall sweetness.

The body is light with a prickly carbonation. This beer comes of a little to watered down. Medium finish.

Sure, this beer is certainly drinkable. The real question is how enjoyable is it. I can safely say I would chose this over a BMC product all day long but would struggle to pick this up at the store again. Rather unimpressive offering, not offensive but just not great.

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Photo of beerhan
2.33/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I think black ale I expect the beer to be black. This is a brown beer that shoulda just be called bud light dark. It tastes like would chips soaked in mollases. The smell is metalic sugar. Overall a real undrinkable disappointment. Drinking it fast does make it taste much better though.

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Photo of jampics2
2.83/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz can into a snifter. Thanks to Paul for grabbing this at the brewery on a trip to the UP. 

Into the snifter this black ale goes.  Guess what?  It's black!  The dark liquid has brown edges. It features poor head retention as it quickly becomes a small film and ring. Spotty lace is left behind. Still looks appealing although flawed.   

The beer smells of caramel, a touch of roast and some sourness or acidity. The sourness is similar to what I encountered in the Lift Bridge brown ale, and it may be a sign of infection or just a house character.  It reminds me of the tartness typically encountered in a Belgian Witbier. This review is fair game since the cans were purchased at the brewery earlier this week.    

The beer has a disappointing taste - not so much to be undrinkable, but just not good.  Notes of dark fruit, cherry, mildly roasted malt, black patent malt, caramel and a sour/metallic tinge at the end.  Just not getting much in the way of a well crafted black ale, even without the major flaw.   

Some sparkly carbonation and medium to light body make this beer just very plain Jane in terms of mouthfeel.  Not a beer I'd want to try again unless it was on tap at the brewery. Too bad since Michigan is home to the fantastic Dark Horse Black Bier, which I highly recommend over this mediocre offering.      

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Deep brown, blackish, crimson depending how the light is reflecting off it. This tan head the disappears quickly.

S - Light aroma, sweet malts, lightly roasted grain and a touch nutty.

T - Sweet malt, fresh baked bread, hint of chocolate and nuttiness.

M - Light body with a bit of prickly carbonation. Slightly watery.

D - A great gateway beer. Just enough flavors to satisfy but lacking any real character.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.58/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.73/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Bobby for sharing this one.

A: The pour is a dark brown color with a short lived tan head.

S: Not a very appealing nose on this beer. Burnt malts and a definite acidity, presumably from the dark grains. A bit of a butter aroma, too.

T: A mild, mellow roast flavor along with some almost pleasant notes of creamy milk chocolate. Unfortunately, a fair amount of acidity and some metallic notes, especially on the finish.

M: The body is light to medium with a fairly light carbonation.

D: Nothing about this beer really did it for me. The nose was certainly not appealing and the flavor wasn't really any better.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.06/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkest of crimson red with an overall deep black cast. Hefty and thick tan cap of foam sits loftly with might and sticks a musty thick skim always present. Droppy globs of lacing graze the glass in medium amounts.

Soft tangy aroma of dark cherry, cocoa, molasses, black tea, and a touch of smoke.

Taste is tad more sweet and dark, from the aroma the flavors insist with a milding of cocoa and molasses dusted dark cherryness. A bit of vanilla in there as well. Herbal black tea highlights and a light puff of smokey bacon.

Nice frothy medium texture and body with an overll tame and mild sweetness thats well handled and easy going.

A nice little surprise of an ale from Keweenaw.

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Photo of number1bum
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerTruth for this 12oz can.

Pours very dark brown, but not quite black, with a fizzy inch of beige head. Lacing is minimal, with a rimjob around the edge and only a patchy lace other than that.

Smell is pretty bland, with some caramel and a very feint roasted malt ntoe. Slightly earthy too, but overall the nose is pretty weak and what's there is not all that enticing.

There is more robustness to the flavor than there was the aroma, but barely. Caramel is the dominant flavor, with a buttery, toffee like flavor toward the finish. Subtle roasted and chocolate notes as well.

Mouthfeel is pretty fizzy, moreso than I'd like. Carbonation is a bit too active in my opinion. It's also a tad too thin, leaving it feeling a bit sprtizy and watery. I know they were going for light body here but a touch more would be nice.

This beer is not bad, but it's not particularly good either. It's pretty boring frankly. Not much to it really. Not particularly memorable.

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Photo of nicksta
3.61/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

By my count this brewery hasn't made a bad beer yet. I need to make it into the brewery sometime.

The beer pours a solid black down to the bottom of the glass where it gets slightly translucent. The color turns mixtures of brown, ruby and gold at this point. The head was a tan brown. It expanded quickly and thinly and receded almost as quickly with no lacing.

The smell had hints of brown sugar that reminded me of Pepsi. There was also the barely-sweet scent of dark chocolate as well as iced coffee. The taste is lighter than you would expect. It's a chocolate/coffee brew - a bag of coffee that comes in a 6 or 7 dollar bag. Dark cocoa rolls over the tounge into hints of bittersweet roast.

The mouthfeel isn't to thick, but it does have a smooth creamy quality and the drinkability is excellent.

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Photo of jt31914
2.42/5  rDev -29%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Black with next to no head. Not anything special.

S: Smells like dark malts with faint chocolate.

T: Weak, watery, not very good honestly. Their other brown was much better with its earthy mossy flavor. This is just boring, some dark malt, but not much really.

M/D: Drinkable, but why bother?

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Photo of MIMicrobrews
3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This black ale, as you would expect, pours dark, but does let a little light shine through. With a slight head, it pours clean and smells amazing. At first waft, I got a VERY pleasant roasted malt aroma. One of those aromas that had me smelling it 2-3 times between sips... As the description on the can mentions, this beer drinks very smooth, surprisingly smooth. I thoroughly enjoyed the malt flavors as they pleased my tastebuds. The aftertaste was very clean, almost sweet. This left me wanting more...

Unassuming - as the name and appearance would lead you to believe this is going to be a massive drinker... It was unbelievably refreshing and one I will continue to enjoy as long as they continue to produce it. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this brew. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a quality ale. Cheers to the yoopers!

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Photo of drizzam
3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the can into a clear pint glass. The can shows a busty woman holding a drill that killed many miners with it's production of fine dust inhaled by miners. Let's hope this has a better ending...

A - Poured a deep dark brown with ruby highlights when held to a bright light. Nice thick and fluffy two finger light tan head that leaves spotty lacing.

S - Sweet caramel malt aroma, molasses and maybe just a hint of smoke.

T & M - The taste basically mimics the aroma. Roasted malt carries a slight sweet caramel flavor followed by a smoky finish. .The smoke is more prevalent in the taste than in the nose. There also seems to be a bit of a metallic twang. Medium bodied, finishes crisp and fairly clean.

D - Not a bad brew, but I have had better examples of this style. It seems like there is a lot of room for variation in American Browns so what you get varies from brewery to brewery. I could buy a 6'er of this for a warm Summer day. Decent beer.

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Photo of BierFan
3.34/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce can into a pint glass.

Appearance: Two fingers of tan head. Dark brown body. Almost black. Decent head retention and lacing.

Smell: Leaves a bit to be desired. Practically no smell. Reminds me of Guiness Draught.

Taste: Roasty at first than some molasses sweetness sets in. Finishes kinda bland. Could use more hops to make it more interesting.

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Photo of david131
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- A very dark brown with some light getting through at the edges. The off white head is thin and splotchy.

S- Honey, roasted malt, toffee, chocolate, and a hint of earth.

T- Sweet roasted malt, toffee, oats, and honey. Pretty mild, smooth, and enjoyable.

M- Smooth with a nice carbonation bite. Just right.

D- Not too shabby. Goes down nicely. Nicely balanced.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.79/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I poured into a pint glass to two inches of mocha head. It is dark brown in color. It smells sweet and malty. It tastes pretty much the same. As dark as this beer is I expected some roasted flavors, but I did not detect any. It has a creamy feel to it, kind of nice. It is a very easy drinking beer.


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Photo of crossovert
3.74/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Another experience with craft beer in a can which sadly can't be recycled for homebrewing.

Pours into my pinta dark brown/black. It looks mega stout like. It also has a small foamy tannish/off-white head tat leaves some lacing.

Smell is a mix of dark malts and sugar, namely brown sugar. There is a hint of nuttiness and not much hops.

Tastes roasty, nutty, dark, with some can taste in the first few sips and hints of chocolate and coffee. The mouthfeel is pretty good, it is light, but not watery, it helps this beer to go down really smooth. That being said, it is a bit too light, seems like a good summer session beer but nothing too amazing flavor wise.

Overall it is a highly drinkable brew, nothing I would grab again probably, but worth a try at least.

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Photo of GRPunk
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Can poured into an imperial pint glass.

A- A moderate pour left about 1-finger of light brown head that quickly dropped to a medium lace that left nice sticky spots on the glass. The body was a deep, brown-black with reddish edges.

S- Initially I picked up a chocolate aroma with some earthy hops. Things were tilted to the malty side just a touch with more caramel scents coming through later. It was a bit on the subdued side.

T- I got a lot of roasted malts intitially with light chocolate and smoky accents. There was a faint nuttiness in the finish. Not a lot of depth. It might be a good "gateway beer." There was enough flavor to call it good, but not a lot there that could offend.

M- It had a lightish feel with prickly carbonation.

D- It's a pretty easy drinker. It's flavorful enough to keep it interesting, while easy enough on the palate to drink more than one in a sitting. It may not be the first American Brown that I'd reach for, but it keeps up with many that I've tried. One of the better offerings from Keweenaw.

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Photo of kegger22
3.39/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Keweenaw Widow Maker is a darkly translucent brown with a one inch off white head that shows decent retention. The aroma is just plain musty. The taste reminds me of some schwartzbiers that I've had, even though I know it's billed as a brown ale. Light roasted coffee malts, but I cannot find the hint of molasses mentioned on the label. Light to medium bodied and more than ample carbonation. Drinkability is good.

Widow Maker is a good, not great, beer. It still doesn't remind me much of a brown though.

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Photo of degerbah
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark brown, almost black with plenty of head. Head sticks around for a little time before dissapearing completely. The smell is is mostly coffee with some sweet malt. Taste is mostly coffee up front with a malty aftertaste. The body is pretty light and very drinkable. Still goes down easy as it warms up.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
2.56/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Dave for this can. Had it on 10/26, from notes.

Pours near black with an oddly light tan head. The cap is creamy, 2 fingers high and surprisingly good retention and no lacing.

Smells kind of lame, I'm sorry. Weird, tainted roasted malts, stale cereal grains. Macro vegetable thing going on here. I didn't want to keep my nose in the glass much longer, but the aroma was light overall.

Taste begins with a malt sweetness, no complexity. Some tarred malt flavor, but its subtle. Not too much going on here, and what is going on isn't that great.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side, properly carbonated but a higher FG might help the flavors and body. Tolerable drinkability considering the lack of substance and flavor going on here, but I wouldn't want to have it again.

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Photo of mwa423
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours jet black, closer to a stout then any brown I have ever seen. The only thing brown here is the dark tan head that stayed through every inch of the glass. If every stout looked this good, I would be happy about it.

S - Sweet and malty with light hints of roasted malts. Great smell for a brown ale.

T - Some roasted malt, sweet caramel, closer to a stout or a dry stout then any brown, but it has all the drinkability of a brown.

M - The mouthfeel on this beer is truly exceptional. It fills the mouth but goes down as smooth as possible.

D - The great taste and exceptional mouthfeel make this an exceptionally drinkable beer. Good job Keweenaw!

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Photo of shadow1961
3.72/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Keweenaw Widowmaker Black Ale pours a thin head over an opaque cola-colored brew. Carbonation is sedate- nose is a bit of sharp burnt espresso. Flavor is more of that smoky espresso flavor- maybe some dark bread. Can't really detect much of a hop presence- but those burnt flavors do just fine keeping this from being too sweet. Mouthfeel is light yet round and semi-dry- a bare hint of some kind of herbal hops does show up in the aftertaste. Like everything else of theirs I've tried, this is a modest, but good solid session brew.

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Photo of GitcheGumee
3.93/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer has a nice appearance. It is very dark/black, with a dark amber color when held to light. There is a nice light colored head, but it dissipates very quickly. There is some nice lacing present.

Smell: Strong scent of roasted malts. There also seems to be some sweetness/caramel scents as well.

Taste: The strong roasted scent translates directly into the flavor. The initial part of the sip is mild sweetness. This beer is kind of hard to describe...really mellow, yet flavorful. The end of the sip features the strong roasted taste. Little to no hops scent or flavor.

Mouthfeel: It feels very thin. This is partly due to the very low carbonation. It almost feels watery, which is surprising from a beer so dark. No problems here, but it seems slightly "off".

Drinkability: This beer has a great level of drinkability. Like the can says, "don't be afraid of the dark." There's no reason to be afraid of this beer...it's fairly tame; which seems to be both good and bad for this beer. I wouldn't call this a great beer, but I am a repeat customer because it's so easy to drink. I enjoy grilling steaks and drinking a few of these. The price is also a nice feature...and of course, it's from da UP!

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Photo of CRichardsMN
4.02/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep dark brown with a creamy white head similar to whipped cream. Head cascades to a distinct line and is retained throughout the entire drink. Heavy lacing on the glass.

Light scent but very nutty. Slightly bitter, tart note.

Roasty, toasty delicious. No tartness (from scent) to be mentioned and finishes with a mild bitterness. Reminds me very much of a dry stout.

Much more carbonation than expected and you can feel the beer move all of the way from the lips to the back of the throat. Fills the mouth completely but does not coat.

Served cold but did not diminish as it warmed up. Incredibly easy to drink and I could nurse these all night.

Purchased this beer on a recent trip to the UP of Michigan after visiting the Keweenaw Brewing Company bar in Houghton. Tried the sampler platter while I was there and this beer is almost as good from a can as it is from the tap. Well Done!

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Photo of WJVII
3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My buddy Mike's wife picked up a few growlers of different brews from Keweenaw and this was the style I received-Thanks Mike and Ranee!

Poured into a pint glass from a growler, this brew has the thickness and color of used oil. There is little carbonation due to it being in a growler for about 5 days, but with an aggressive pour I got a decent light brown head that settled into a thin cap. The aroma is strong of burnt malts, some coffee, slight breadiness, and a little nuttiness. The taste is as expected. Heavy, dark coffee, with burnt sugars, and a mild hop presence in the finish. Nothing over the top about this brew. It is solid, but not "special". Have had these flavors before. Worth a try, the growler will be finished today, but nothing extra-ordinary.

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Widow Maker Black Ale from Keweenaw Brewing Company
3.41 out of 5 based on 292 ratings.
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