Black Sheep Ale

Black Sheep: Ale (England: Bitter: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Chestnut brown. High level of carbonation in the clear body. Large, loose, off white bubbled head.

Nose: Crisp. Nutty. Dry roasted peanuts dusting.

Body: Slick hop oils and bitterness. Nutty – chestnuts. Light orange notes. Soft vanilla. Light nettles. Earthy.

Finish: Nutty. Earthy. Bitter. Turmeric. Light spice – paprika. Hop oils. Light vanilla. Light lime notes.

Conclusion: Been a while since I first had a beer from the Black Sheep brewery. Growing up a lot in Yorkshire they were one of the earliest ales I tried. Returning to it, I initially found that it did not really live up to memories. Which may have been expected. It definitely showcases the influence of the more earthy, and slightly spicy British hops. Initially it feels quite simple, with a lot of influence of slick hop oils and an accompanying rustic bitterness.

However, shortly after,about a third of the way into the glass, some soft orange and vanilla notes grew out of the malt, mixing with the spice character and making a more welcome and complex ale. It is still a bit too heavy on the earthy character, the finish is long lasting but the one note emphasis can get wearing.

It is very much calling to the more traditional earthy ales, and not bad at that, but, for me, it holds onto that one style too heavily. If it was just slightly more lightly done, I feel the more subtle notes underneath would have blended better for a much superior ale.

Still, not an unpleasant ale, and impresses more as the beer goes on, finally the more subtle notes get more of a showing near the end, mixing better as the more earthy notes withdraw.

Overall, not up to my memory of it, and a bit too earthy as you may have guessed, but solid characteristics does redeem it somewhat, especially near the end.

Background: Is that time of the year, back with the family and raiding their kindly provided beer selection. So it is time for a few of the more traditional British ales. In this case a beer from the Yorkshire Black Sheep brewery. I may be biased towards Yorkshire things. I also hold Game Of Thrones is a documentary about how honest upstanding northerners get screwed by evil untrustworthy southerners. So, yeah, bias warning. Drunk after watching the Christmas Doctor Who. The most important part of the day.

EDIT: I accidentally reviewed this one twice – fairly similar notes, but with a few differences – check out the other set of note here if you care to.